Soulmates across time. A love that was meant to be.
In present day, Laurie, tired of corporate life, takes a much-needed vacation at Farthingdale Dude Ranch.
The very first night a freak blizzard combined with a powerful meteor shower takes Laurie back to the year 1891. When he wakes up in a snowbank, his only refuge is an isolated cabin inhabited by the gruff, grouchy John Henton, who only wants to be left alone. His sense of duty prevails, however, and he takes Laurie under his care, teaching him how to survive on the wild frontier.
As winter approaches, Laurie’s normal fun-loving manner make it difficult for him to connect with John, but in spite of John’s old-fashioned ways, the chemistry between them grows.
Sparks fly as the blizzard rages outside the cabin. Can two men from different worlds and different times find happiness together?
A male/male time travel romance, complete with hurt/comfort, true confessions, a shared bed, fireplace kisses, the angst of separation, and true love across time.
Time Travel and Me by Jackie North
I am a voracious reader, and even when I was a kid, I loved time travel books. There are a bunch of good ones out there for kids (The Ruby Ring, When Marnie Was There, A Wrinkle in Time, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Time Garden, Charlotte Sometimes), and I devoured them!
What drew me was not the “clever kids having adventures” trope, though that was fun. No, it was the idea of going Back In Time. I longed to escape and was desperate to get away from a home life that was hectic and scattered and unpredictable. I wanted something simpler, more structured, more gentle and slow-paced.
I wanted to wear a bonnet and button-up shoes, a gingham dress that went to my ankles, and an apron. I wanted to carry my lunch in a tin dinner pail, and drink cool well water from a dipper. I wanted to carry a slate and do sums with a slate pencil. In short, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls, minus the grasshopper plague, the prairie fires, and Nellie Olsen, of course. (Although Nellie, to her credit, made a very good foil for Laura.)
Now that I’m grown, my own life is very simple and unhectic. You’d think it was boring, but I call it peaceful. I live inside of a rhythm that suits me. When co-workers ask me what plans I have for the weekend, I have to scramble to come up with something suitably entertaining because the reality of what I have planned would not be pass muster.
The irony of all of this is that now that I’m writing my m/m time travel romance series, Love Across Time, I put my characters through the most hectic and rugged experiences imaginable. They do not get to drink cool well water from a dipper until they’ve been through the fire of adapting to a time not their own. They are misunderstood and isolated, experience hunger and wild weather, and function with a 21st century mentality in a world that simply doesn’t understand them. They represent one of my favorite tropes: Fish Out Of Water.
All of my characters get an HEA, of course, but I like to be mean to them first. There are all kinds of ways that allow me to do this and contrast our time with theirs. Take, for example, the food. With a Lucky’s and a Whole Foods nearby, I can have pretty much any food I care to eat. But for my characters, well, that’s another story!
Take this moment from my new book Honey From the Lion. Laurie (the protagonist hero), through the magic of blizzards and meteor showers has been transported back to the year 1891.
He’s given shelter by John Henton (the love interest), who is living out the winter in an isolated cabin with the job of looking after the railroad’s surveying equipment. (John just wants to be alone, and yet Laurie has nowhere else to go, and voila, Cabin Fic happens!)
John, as a dutiful host, serves a meal that consists of bacon, potatoes, onions, and cornbread. (And oh, my gut clenches at the thought of surviving on this fare, but that’s what folks ate in the year 1891 on the high plains of Wyoming.)
On the table is a bowl of something white and lumpy that is meant to be butter. Laurie comments (or complains, depending on your point of view) that butter should be yellow. John replies with the sagacity of his age that butter is the color it is when it’s churned, not the color you want it to be.
Partly this is fun, because it lets me show how Laurie thinks (and yes, to me, butter should be yellow), and how John thinks. I’m pretty certain that John would say what my Nana used to say when I wanted something my own way: “What do you want, egg in your beer?” Although now, I think the Cool Kids would say, “Why you gotta be extra?” Which is pretty much the same thing!
As the story develops, Laurie comes to adore the food John serves because he comes to realize how much effort it takes to not only prepare it, but also to gather the food, to keep the cabin warm, and to help them both survive until spring.
To bring this back to the time travel trope, Laurie gains a new perspective on how easy his own life in the 21st century was, and how hard John’s life is in the year 1891. Time travel is like any other travel, it opens your eyes wide to the differences that separate us, and makes you appreciate how we are the same under the skin.
For your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt where John is serving up dinner; he doesn’t know that Laurie is from his future, but instead, that he’s come from Back East:
When Laurie went to join John at the table, John had just placed the last of the food down, and was bending to light a kerosene lamp, which cast bright silver circles on the wood.
John sat down with his back to the fire, so Laurie took the other seat with his back nearest the door. He could feel a cold draft coming from somewhere, but was distracted by the meal that John had prepared. There was a plate of fried bacon slices, a bowl of cornbread bricks, and a bowl of what looked like fried potatoes and onions. None of it resembled Laurie’s idea of what supper was. Still, he didn’t want to be rude.
“What’s in the jar?” asked Laurie, pointing.
“Tomato preserves,” said John with a bit of a grunt, as if Laurie should already have known that. “There’s butter, if you want it.”
Laurie looked where John was pointing, which was at a wooden bowl with several pale lumps in it. It might be butter, but it actually looked like old white frosting scraped from a can.
“That’s not very yellow,” said Laurie, reaching for it. “Butter is yellow,” he told John, nodding his head to emphasize this.
“Maybe back east, where you come from,” said John. “Out here, butter is the color that it is when it’s churned.”
Laurie gave John a mock salute and points off for being so gloomy and serious. And just as he reached for the plate of bacon, John lifted it and scraped off half onto Laurie’s plate. He did the same thing with the hunks of cornbread and fried potatoes and onions, each dish divided neatly and fairly into two portions.
“Help yourself to the butter and tomatoes,” said John. With his fork gripped in his fist, he began to shovel in the food, slowly and methodically, as though it gave him no pleasure at all and was merely sustenance. Which, as Laurie considered it, in 1891 was how it probably had been.