Train to Yesterday
by Nell Duvall
Review by Julie McGuire
Five Star (ME) Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594146633
Date: 20 February 2008 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Penny Barton, Marketing Director for and heiress to HyperTrans Railroad, arranges a special marketing trip on the company's new high-speed rail. Barton designs a trip for HyperTrans's investors that is both introduction to the twenty first centuries high-speed rail travel and a sneak peak at the adventure-filled, romantic, and sometimes dangerous – both physically and politically - rail travel of the 1850s. To ensure the investors get their money's worth, Barton hires actors in period costume, and dresses in 1850s garb herself. Her family has invested a great deal of energy and money in developing the new high-speed rail, and Penny is equally invested in providing an authentic historical experience for current and potential investors.
When Penny meets handsome and debonair Fletcher Dawe on the train she is surprised by the depth of her attraction to the man. She admires the authenticity of his costume, his speech and his historical knowledge of 1850s Ohio. She is delighted when Fletcher Dawe seems to return the attraction. And she is disappointed when Dawe makes an unexpected stop and disembarks from the train before the inaugural trip's scheduled conclusion. Penny is determined to find him once the trip is over. From there things get complicated. There is no sign of anyone named Fletcher Dawe associated with HyperTrans. Dawe is equally dumbfounded when he can't find Penny Barton. He assumes she is a saboteur out to destroy the railroad. When Penny chances upon a old photograph of Dawe from the mid 1850s, she realizes she must find a way to travel back in time.
Those who are more technically inclined and wonder about the execution of Penny's time travel may be disappointed that the phenomenon is never fully explained. And for skeptics like myself, it does require a bit of suspension of disbelief that Penny just happens to find a place to light – coincidentally with Dawe's aunt – when she first time travels back in time. However, watching how our twenty first century heroine learns to adapt to life in pre-Civil War Ohio is intriguing. It is also interesting to observe Penny as she explores the Barton family's role in the longevity of rail travel.
Nell Duvall's Train to Yesterday is a fun and educational read. I enjoyed getting immersed in the 1850s life on the railroad, which Duvall describes expertly. Duvall's depictions of Ohio during that time period are also vividly portrayed, with interesting facts and authentic historical details. Duvall clearly did her homework.
Although both science fiction and romance are not the usual genres I read, I've come to know Duvall's work through the Internet Writing Group, and have long admired her strong writing, attention to detail, and historical accuracy. I was rewarded with a quick read, simple but well-paced plotting, and good characters that I cared about. Even this skeptic was cheering for Penny and Barton, concerned with what would happen to them. Regular readers of science fiction and romance, along with newcomers to the science-fiction/romance subgenre will be pleased that in the end, love does conquer all.