by Susan Plunkett, historical/time-travel (2001)
LoveSpell (Timeswept), $5.50, ISBN 0-505-52463-5
Susan Plunkett's Bethany's Song is the sequel to early this year's Alicia's Song. The premise is this: three sisters who burst in la-la-la songs at the drop of the dime (Amazing Grace is a particular favorite) decide to la-la-la a recently buried witch. Witchy, see, had been kind to them before, so the least they could do is to screech over her grave. A grand fog covers them when the sisters depart, and when the fog dissipates, each sister finds herself stranded alone somewhere and sometime in the last century.
Apparently this is Witchy's way to helping them find true love. Nice way - terrifying the girls, separating them, and then leaving them without modern plumbing. I say she's just annoyed by the singing.
This one is Bethany's story (duh). When the fog dissipates, she is stranded in Juneau, Alaska in the year 1895. Bethany is a schoolteacher who has experienced a really horrifying accident two years back, and now she just want to be left alone to teach kiddies.
She is found by Matthew Gray and his friends while the men were burying Matthew's father. Matthew's friend Jeb and Jeb's wife Megan nurse Bethany back to good health, and now Bethany and Morgan bat goo-goo eyes at each other. The school also needs a schoolteacher. Gee, I wonder where they can find one. Bethany soon impresses everybody with her "Eat this, Martha Stewart!" amazing kiddysitting.
Matthew Gray is an interesting character. He is wracked by guilt because he blames himself for his mother's death. He also mourns his late wife. Bethany's trauma is well-done too, and she is really such a smart heroine, I think.
Then I realize to my dismay that the author is turning this story into Bethany's Pity Party. Look, she has no uterus, and her scars, oh, how can Matthew, who treats her so well and so nicely, stand a woman like her? He must HATE her so! She must NEVER be loved by anyone, because she is - oh! Boo-hoo-hoo. Bethany keeps pulling traumas and more traumas plus what seems like a zillion petty excuses just to prolong her (and my) pain. The whole relationship between she and Matthew soon degenerate into a "He kisses her but she draws back so he believes she doesn't want him and so he stays away, and she believes he is staying away because he can't stand her just like she thought so she is now so sad and miserable, oh-oh-oh, and when he sees her sad, he tries to comfort her, but she can't believe he can love a horrible uterus-free woman like her so she must not respond and when she draws back he believes that zzzzz" farce.
Too bad. The characters are really well done and the plot and secondary characters are very good too. But the pity party goes on too long way past its welcome, ruining everything. That, and Bethany's irritating tendency to start Amazing Graceing at the slightest provocation. Bethany's Song flies high, but just can't hit the high notes, alas.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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