The last thing that Gillian Metcalf remembers before she passes out is being aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, where she witnessed a dog disappearing as if it were a phantom. Now she’s aboard the riverboat, Ida Belle, traveling down the muddy Mississippi. It is 1870, where men carry guns and throw knives. It is a time where reputations mean everything.
Before she can determine how she’s miraculously stepped from one world into another, she is being forced to marry Zachary Creighton. Trouble follows the man and it looks like she’s along for the ride.
As she attempts to understand why she was sent back to 1870, she struggles to come to terms with her own desires that tempt her to surrender to a man she barely knows.
Zachary Creighton, a gambler with one goal: to win back Creighton Manor. Marriage was not part of this plan. To keep peace with his reluctant bride, he makes a bargain with her. He needs someone to tutor his nephew Tyler, and she needs a roof over her head until they can annul their sham of a marriage.
Never did he expect his bride to be embraced into the family fold by his grandmother, Lotti. However, the biggest surprise of all is that he finds himself falling for her charms.
When the reason for Gillian’s appearance into Zachary’s world is finally revealed, their love for each other will be tested. Gillian will have to make a difficult decision before she can find happiness. The stakes are high, but Zachary will risk it all to win Gillian’s heart.
From Bob Medak, All Books Reviews
Review: I found this to be an interesting and imaginative story, well written and researched for the time and setting. The characters were fleshed and believable. The metaphysical, mystery and romance angles of this story are well conceived; an enjoyable read.
Gillian grabbed her head as she came out of her drugged-like sleep. The veins at her temples pounded in time with her heartbeat. She forced her eyes open and stared at the ceiling. For a moment, she couldn’t understand why the ceiling didn’t resemble the smooth plaster one in her bedroom, or why she felt like she was swaying back and forth, when she knew she hadn’t moved. Turning her head to the right of her, her vision latched onto a hairy arm dangling over, what she assumed was the edge of her bed. Why was Jerry in her bed and why was she lying on the floor? She frowned. Hadn’t she broken up with Jerry? For one awful, horrible moment, she thought maybe she had really gone through with the wedding after all. She rubbed her eyes as her muddled thoughts began to organize. Then she remembered: Her conversation with Samantha, the Queen Mary, and then the vanishing mutt. “I passed out. I dreamt the dog led me …” It was a dream, wasn’t it? Where was she? She sat up abruptly, more confused than ever. Again, she felt the swaying. If she didn’t know better, she’d think the ship was afloat, but that was impossible since the Queen Mary lacked the capability of going out to sea.
The person on the bed stirred, bringing her attention back to him. She crawled to her feet. She looked down at the man's face, which was turned toward her in slumber. Gillian swallowed with some difficulty as her gaze locked onto the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. He had jet-black hair, a strong chiseled face with a slight cleft in his chin. He looked like he hadn’t shaved for a few days, making him look a little scruffy, but this did nothing to sway her opinion. Her eyes took in the rest of him. Long limbed, his feet hung over the edge of the bed. He wore faded red colored … she supposed they were long johns. She frowned. Strange attire, but she had to say he filled them out rather nicely. But, who was he? How in the world did she end up in a room with him? She didn’t condone casual flings. She glanced down at herself relieved she still wore what she had on last night. Perhaps this meant nothing happened. Maybe they were simply two fools who had too much to drink. She scratched her head. She only remembered the one cocktail. And where was Samantha?
She needed to go back to her room and now, before the guy woke up. She had no intentions of making this awkward situation even worse.
She grabbed her purse off the floor and tiptoed toward the door. She glanced back to see if the man stirred. She tripped and cursed as she stumbled and fell to the floor with a thud. At the same moment, she felt something whiz by her ear, slamming into the door above her head. She slid her gaze up, her eyes widened in alarm when she saw the end of a knife sticking out of the wood. The gorgeous man had tried to kill her! She whipped around to see him jump out of the bed. She picked up the boot she had tripped over and threw it. A perfect shot, the boot slammed into the side of his head. She scrambled to her feet and lunged for the door. The doorknob didn’t budge. It appeared to be locked from the inside and she needed a key to open it.
This couldn’t be happening.
She whirled around to face her attacker, praying the boot had somehow miraculously knocked him out. Her shoulders sagged when she found him standing there. His shockingly blue eyes narrowed, pinning her down. She swallowed the lump in the back of her throat.
Zachary’s mouth dropped open and he stared at the woman before him. If it hadn’t been for the boot slamming against his skull, he might have thought he dreamt up this alluringly beautiful image before him. Her hair was long and deep auburn, almost the color of autumn leaves with all its gold, brown, and orange blending to perfection. She had it pulled high above her head with some kind of bow that constricted it from falling down. His gaze lingered over her face, mesmerized by her clear sun-kissed skin with just a hint of freckles sprinkled across her nose. Features of an angel, but her attire would tempt a saint to do wicked things. His eyes rested on her dark garment, which hugged her in all the right places. He felt his body respond to every luscious curve revealed to him.
Where did this intriguing woman come from and how did she happen to be in his room? He’d locked the door before he went to bed last night, and he must still have the key in his possession, or else the woman would have fled by now. “Who are you?”
“Who am I?” she sputtered. “Who are you?”
She was a defiant little chit. Under other circumstances he would have admired her spunk. He crossed his arms against his chest. “Since this is my room and I hold the key to your freedom, I suggest—”
The woman let out a deafening scream and charged toward him. “Hell and damnation.” Before he could react, she grabbed his arm and flipped him, slamming him to the floor in one fluid move. His six foot, one hundred and eighty pound frame lay there like a rag doll. He stared up at the ceiling with what he knew could only be a stunned expression plastered to his face. How in the world did this little slip of a woman flip him over her shoulder?
“It really worked! The self-defense class really paid off.” The woman spoke, her voice laced with amazement over her accomplishment.
He rolled his head toward her. “Who are you?”