Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Book Review: Time Plains Drifter

Time Plains Drifter
Cheryl Pierson

ISBN  978-1-935048-35-0
Class Act Books
December 2009

Jenni Dalton, reluctant teacher of a few obnoxious high school students, gets roped into a star-gazing field trip and ends up being swept into the past, specifically Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1895, with her students. As they are figuring out what happened and why everything has suddenly changed, marshal Rafe D’Angelico happens to find them wandering aimlessly and rather stunned.

Rafe is not your average, ordinary 1895 U.S. Marshal, however. He’s an angel of sorts, having been dead for 16 years and brought back on special assignment. When he finds Jenni and the students, he’s barely returned to life and trying to figure out why and how, with help from an experienced angel, Becket Jansen. Still enraged at the man who killed him and his brother, Rafe’s only interest is in taking revenge.

I have to first say that I don’t tend to read Time Travels. My brain doesn’t want to accept that it’s possible and so stories using this theme have to work hard to get me to buy into a concept I don’t buy into enough to keep me in the story. A difficult task, as I can be stubborn when I put my mind to it.

So, when Time Plains Drifter yanked me right in and kept me in the story despite my reluctance, I had to give it pretty high marks just for that.

Already familiar with Cheryl Pierson’s work, having read Fire Eyes not long ago, I was not at all surprised her characters were very life-like and very enjoyable. They are drawn well, with enough detail but not too much, and the hero and heroine are attracted to each other from the start but don’t jump the gun into “love and forever” with no more than appearance. They study each other, allowing time to determine their interest and whether a relationship could work. They are both flawed, both struggling with their own issues, and both equally capable human beings. Becket Jansen is a fun secondary character and reminded me a bit of Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life. Josiah Kemp is a truly evil villain, but not totally evil – very realistic. Jenni is relatable, necessary for a romance heroine. Rafe’s brother Cris is nice to get to know. But Rafe is the real star of the show. He’s a complex character you can’t help but root for and sometimes wish to hug.

I say Rafe’s the start of the ‘show’ instead of the ‘book’ because it feels like a show you’re watching as you read. I could always see where they were without a bunch of extra description slowing the pace. There were sometimes repetitive spots that could have been edited out with no loss to the story, but it didn’t keep me from being pulled right into the action.

Any review of this novel has to include a look at what makes it more unique than I expected. It’s a sci fi time travel historical romance. That of itself allows plenty of unique quality, but along with that, it’s a theory of good vs. evil, a ‘what happens afterward’ story that doesn’t preach, but does make you ponder. As I read, I couldn’t help thinking that my refusal to believe in time travel could be similar to someone’s non-belief in the here-after. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. After all, I’m buying the premise of the story in general. I’m not dismissive of spirits and such. Hey, you just never know.

Since I’m a critical reviewer (and alas, a Virgo), I do have to mention that I had some trouble keeping track of the students and occasionally wondered where one of them came from. That could partly be because I was reading a few different books at the same time, though. There is also some adverb use that could have been restructured (and since this was an ARC not fully edited, maybe they were before the final version).

The mention of a ‘new’ character toward the end that affects the end of the story was slightly disconcerting. I had to wonder if I’d missed the earlier reference to her and would have been more comfortable with her insertion if she had at least been mentioned along the lines first. I think it was meant to be a surprise to the reader, though, and maybe a purposeful point to ponder. Surprises do happen. 

The end of Time Plains Drifter isn’t really an end. It feels like the author means this as a statement as well as a hint of a possible sequel. Overall, TPD keeps you guessing and actively involved in the story. It makes you think and question. And it’s fully entertaining. I’ll definitely watch for the next Cheryl Pierson novel.
Legalities: This novel was provided by the author for review as an electronic ARC. No payment was made or accepted.


Dawn Wilson said...

Great review, Loraine! I'm glad you were able to enjoy this story despite your feelings about time travel. It's always an interesting fantasy to explore in fiction.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Dawn, thanks for coming by. Indulging in possibilities is always a good thing, whether or not you end up buying into them. ;-)