Across the Chasm
by Richard Grabmeier
Authors Press

"I do not know what it is but it's almost like you came from somewhere else."

This innovative fantasy follows the time-traveling adventures of Chris Redding. Pieced together through journal entries, it tells the story of Chris, his wife, Gail, her daughter, Maureen, and Maureen's friend Lisa. Upon first meeting Lisa, Chris remarks, "I was struck by a feeling unlike any I'd ever experienced. It could have been her black-brown eyes that awakened a strange restlessness, an eerie uneasiness in me such as animals might display before a storm, a feeling somewhere in the recesses of my mind that this was not the first time our spirits had touched." Though Chris feels uneasy, he is intrigued. Questions flood his mind. "Why was I so mesmerized with her the moment we met? And why had she so obviously reacted to me in the same way? What was the bond that invoked the sense of familiarity? How could that feeling exist when we had just met? Had we met somewhere in the past, in another time, another life?" As a believer in reincarnation, Chris wonders if this could be a small memory of a past life that has slipped through the veil between present and past.

After a couple of fitful nights of sleep, Chris wakes with a fever and shoulder pain. His dreams are realistic and disturbing but not as much as his high fever and pain. He is admitted to the hospital, where things take an even stranger turn. When Chris again awakens, he hears the distinct sounds of Spanish being spoken in a room he doesn't recognize. A beautiful young woman named Christina Louisa Marco tells him he has spent the last four days at The Ranch of the Golden Hills. Chris soon realizes this is the woman he envisioned in his dreams before being admitted to the hospital. But even more baffling, when Christina hands him a mirror, he doesn't recognize the face staring back at him. "This is a nightmare, I thought, first I wake up in Mexico or at least the southwest of the United States and now I find I am someone else! Someone else in another time, wounded by an Indian war lance! What the hell was happening?" In fact, he doesn't even remember his own name, and when he is brought the saddlebags he was carrying when rescued, everyone assumes he is Chris Rondo. Of course, if Chris Redding has been transported to another's body in the nineteenth century, what is happening to his body back home? Will he make it back to his family? And what is he to make of his strange attachment to Lisa and his growing affection for Christina?

Fantasy romances often use time travel as the backdrop for creating a story. This one is certainly one which uses the genre to its full advantage. The lead character is well-rounded, conflicted, and not entirely sympathetic. He makes decisions that seem irrational and self-indulgent, bringing much pain to those he loves in both the past and present. Yet, many of those decisions are brought about by the dubious outlaw who occupies his body in the present while he returns to the past and Christina in Mexico. The author does a good job of keeping a complicated storyline from becoming bogged down and confusing. He is a master storyteller who is adept at making both of his character's worlds ring true. The writer deftly captures the confusion that would arise from one having awakened a century in the past. He is also a proficient historian and offers a wonderfully informative narrative about politics between Mexico and the United States just before the Civil War. His descriptions of the yet unsettled West and its way of life are spot on in this time travel fantasy. This is a fast read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

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