This was it…the Grand Finale of the series and I was very excited. Each new installment was like a reunion of sorts because the recurring characters were always so involved and close to the main characters in each new book, but this story really was the big reunion- unity of the characters and unity of their purpose.
I felt like this was the bonus story that was just for the fans in a sense. Like an encore performance. The plot was written in such a way that all the previous couples come together in Harrisburg where it all began with Jamie and Sophie, but there were also several scene changes that gave private updates with each couple moving through the separate individual issues they were still working through as couples. I found each of these private times with the various couples heartwarming and poignant because it was nice getting what happens after the happily ever afters. These couples were going through a variety of things based on the personalities and past experiences of the couples. Some were struggling with fear that their spouse would leave them and return to the future, some had the postpartum baby blues, some were dealing with jealousy and feelings of inadequacy, some were dealing with exhaustion from pregnancy and child reading, some were dealing with grief from losing a child or other family members disappointing them.
So they were dealing with life stuff, yeah. It gave a rougher feel to the plot and pace with all the scene jumping. I did have to pause a few times to digest stuff before I could move on and I certainly was kept on my toes paying attention for the switches and what was going on with each household. I got a little turned around and had to regroup so I’d remember who was with whom and their backstory so the current circumstances would make better sense. That is not to say that the writing was confusing. I guess I’m just saying that there is a lot to digest in this one with such a huge cast of characters of which I needed to keep track.
Now that being said, there were fresh characters and plot to keep things even more interesting. I will give fair warning that the new plot threads was only given equal page time at best. I didn’t mind this level of balance, but others might so I didn’t want anyone disappointed by different expectations. Not only did I not mind, but I liked how the new romance was not told in isolation, but was woven through with all the other things going on.
It’s the waning days of the Civil War and the time travelers and the others have decided that they are going to attempt to alter history and save Lincoln from being assassinated. They come together for the purpose of celebrating the new babies in their midst, but also to finish plotting out their mission to defeat John Wilkes Booth and his ilk.
But then the unexpected happens and mayhem ensues. Mark Battaglia appears in the past to surprise his sister. Mark was left alone after the death of his grandmother and he missed the sister he was so close to so he pursued his sister Jessica into the past. His arrival stirs up more than one beehive. Jessica’s husband Travis struggles with the arrival of a most beloved protective brother in Mark who is no more enamored with Travis then Travis is with him. Emma and Hannah are his best friends and former professional dancing partners. They eagerly pounce on him wanting to catch up on what happens in the future and also want to dance their old routines with him. Rayne knows him from when he danced in her concert tour and she too eagerly wants to spend time singing and dancing. Mark tried to learn all he could to prepare himself for living in that era, but he really wasn’t prepared for what his casual behavior with his friends, his usual big brother-mode and strong modern opinions about women would do. He manages to make four husbands jealous and one brother ready to commit murder all in a few days. Scandalicious!!!
And if Mark’s presence wasn’t distracting enough, Sam Powell’s younger sister and the youngest Butler, Jake want to get hitched when these two families share a less than harmonious history together. Sam has to decide if he’ll back his sister for her chance at happiness or continue the feud his parents started years in the past. Amanda is confident that Rayne will win Sam over and she’ll have her Jacob.
Against the reunion backdrop, Mark and Gabrielle meet, court a little and feel the pull of love. Gabrielle has been burned in the past for being open and honest about her decided opinions and she doesn’t know what to make of a man who wants honesty no matter what and treats her and her black maid both like an equal. Mark had no plans to enter a serious relationship, but the minute he spots Gia, as he calls Gabrielle, he is a goner and he doesn’t fight it. Will she take a chance and trust him particularly when she learns the secret behind his odd speech, manners, and unusual open-mindedness?
This was all capped by a lovely epilogue that summed up and glanced into the golden future when all was said and done. My smile was big, but I felt bittersweet about saying good-bye to characters to which I have grown comfortable and familiar. They are like old friends from whom I did not wish to part.
This is not a series of stories that will knock your socks off with explosive action, thrilling moments or sweltering passion, but it offers all those things in gentler amounts. These are comfort reads where the reader can curl up with these stories like they are a good friend and just relax. All will turn out well and there is not much doubt in the reader’s mind even if the characters take a while to figure it out.
Lovers of gentle Civil War era time travel romance should give these a look-see.
My thanks to the author who provided my copy of this book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.