Time After Time
by Constance O'Day-Flannery, historical/time-travel (2001)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-80806-4


Despite starting out as flat as cardboard, Time After Time is a very readable story. Free - okay, almost free - from the author's soap philosophy of destiny, twin flames, and other ying-yang thingies that plague her last few books, Time After Time is instead a slow-moving tale of emotional healing.

Kelly Brennan is jaded about life after the love of her life, her husband Michael, passed away a few years back. Life isn't fair, she rages, and love sucks. While working herself up over this fact during her old college roommate's wedding, she wanders around the woods on the wedding party grounds and ends up in... 1888. A young girl, Lizzie, mistakes her for a fairy and decides to take her home to keep her as some sort of wish-granting pet. Kelly, utterly bewildered by her surroundings, plays along until she reaches Lizzie's house. A stereotypical warm Black former slave-turned-loyal-servant Clara takes her in, but the real shock is when Kelly sees Lizzie's father, Daniel Gilmore. The man is a dead ringer for Michael. And little does she know, she is a dead ringer for Michael's dead beloved wife.

After I get past the irritating but necessary "adjustment period" of Kelly - you know, how she keeps asking for the phone and goes into hysterical denial over the year she is in now, and how she keeps blabbing to Daniel about the wonders of the 21st century, oh puh-leese - which is around 100 pages or so, I finally find a warm, really romantic love story about dealing with beloved spouses' deaths and finding love again. Of course, falling in love with dead ringers for the late spouse may not be exactly what shrinks call moving on, but still. And this time around too, Daniel and Kelly do display some romantic chemistry. Daniel is a noble hero who tries so hard to be a good father, a far cry from those usual let-my-daughter-run-wild-because-I-hate-her-mother morons that populate this sort of stories. Likewise, Lizzie isn't mute or sullen, she's actually very likable. I didn't call for the exterminators even once during the reading of this story.

It is only that, egad, Kelly can be annoying during her denial phase. Which silly woman would keep telling everyone she meets she is from 2001? It is one thing to be in denial, but it is another altogether to be stupid. Likewise, poor Kelly is sometimes used as a sprouting soapbox for the author's suspiciously Communist ideology. For instance, Kelly rhapsodizes about a Thomas More-like author whose book, written in the 1800s, suggests a 21st century where there is no country, no race barrier, everyone is united under the Human Race banner and work their butts off for the common good. And Kelly thinks that the idea that doctors and waiters being paid equally as they contribute to the Common and Equal Good Of The Human Being is the best idea since sliced bread. I think so too. Medical school can go fly - why waste my time studying like mad to be a brain surgeon when I can bum around and work at McDonald's and still get equal pay? Nice ideology, if a bit oversimplified, dumbed down, and definitely unimplementable, perfect for slackers. And I'd love to see Bill Gates get paid $3.00 an hour too.

Where was I? Oh yes, despite the tendency to ramble into laughable ideologies and a sometimes too petulant heroine, Time After Time is a pretty good read. A very good book compared to this author's last few outputs, I must say. If this book has done away with the overdone "readjustment period" phase of Kelly's and stick to the love story, I may have a keeper in my hands.

Rating: 83


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