Once A Cavalier
by Linda O Johnston, historical/time-travel (2000)
Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12847-3


Once A Cavalier gets high points for telling a story set during 1666 England, where the Black Plague is killing people left and right. The hero and heroine are both well-versed in medicine (for their respective eras, that is), and how they try to save children during this dark era makes a good, solid read.

Larryn Maeller is a doctor who is still grieving over her sister's death. While taking some much needed R&R at a London mansion, she finds herself drawn to the ghost of Thomas Northby, the late Duke of Seldrake. What does the ghost want? She doesn't know, but she gets a chance to find out when she finds herself soon back in time at 1666.

Thomas is defying the royal decree at that time that all immediate family members of a Black Plague victim must be quarantined with the patient to prevent the disease from spreading. He houses the kids of these afflicted folks at his estate. Larryn soon finds herself taking charge with her doctor skills. But someone is trying to kill her, and look, it's 1666. Isn't that the time where the Great Fire sweeps through London?

Still, while the scenes of healing and Larryn's adaptation to the old days make good reading, the relationship between her and Thomas leaves a lot to be desired. There isn't much time where they actually sit down and interact. It's always she doing something and he something else, and she will be going all burning up with jealousy when she sees him with some flirtatious lady. I'm also not given any knowledge or insight into Thomas's psyche. I'm told repeatedly he's arrogant for his time, but what else? As individuals, Larryn and Thomas are fine. As a couple, they don't actually click enough for my liking.

Once A Cavalier is a refreshing change from the standard stuff in the market nowadays. It even tries to weave in some ghostly mythology instead of being just another Oops! She hits her head and get sent back in time! time travel. It's just that I wish there have been more fire, more quiet times between Larryn and Thomas.

Rating: 81


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