BY: REBECCA MARKS
It’s April 2001. Boston attorney, Maggie Jones, is reeling from the after-effects of an abusive marriage. Having been pushed back into the dating scene by her best friend, Maggie reluctantly participates in a Revolutionary War reenactment in Lexington, Massachusetts, but she’s not interested in the blind date her friend has set up. When a sudden lightning strike catapults her back to 1801 New York City, she is both confused and afraid. How will she—a woman—survive in the past with no means of support?
The answer seems to lie in the dashing young tutor to Alexander Hamilton’s children, Ethan Danvers, with whom she falls deeply in love. When a young woman they know is wrongly accused of murdering an abusive boyfriend, Maggie begs Hamilton to take the girl’s case, convincing the incredulous Hamilton to allow her to be co-counsel. But Ethan was seriously injured by the young girl’s boyfriend and seems to remember nothing of the incident. As he is the only witness, Maggie is frightened about what will happen to her client if his memory doesn’t return—as well as what will happen to her if he should succumb to his injuries…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In About Time by Rebecca Marks, Maggie Jones is a Boston attorney at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Participating in a Revolutionary War reenactment, she is hit by lightning and thrown into the past—to 1801, the time of Alexander Hamilton. The first person she meets is Ethan Danvers, the tutor for Hamilton’s children. Maggie and Ethan fall deeply in love, and Maggie fears what will happen if she is sent back to her own time—and what will happen if she isn’t…
A sweet, heartwarming love story, the tale also gives a vivid account of what life was like in the early 1800s—no indoor plumbing, yuk—with descriptions that make you feel like you’re right there. A great read.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: About Time by Rebecca Marks is the story of a young woman who travels through time to find her soul mate. Maggie Jones is hit by lightning and bounced back in time from 2001 to 1801. Confused and frightened, this Boston attorney discovers that she is in New York in 1801, and the first person she meets is a dashing young man named Ethan Danvers. Ethan is the tutor for the children of Alexander Hamilton, who is a prominent attorney of the time. Maggie has a hard time convincing Hamilton that she is also an attorney, but he cannot deny that she knows the law. And when a young woman who has befriended Maggie is wrongfully accused of murder, Maggie convinces Hamilton to let her be co-counsel on the case, even though women attorneys are unheard of at the time. Maggie also falls in love with Ethan, but she is afraid she will eventually be called back to her own time, and then what will happen to their love?
Charming, clever, and fast paced, About Time will grab and hold your interest from the first page to the last.
Maggie Jones smelled the gunpowder in the air, and she began to tremble, despite her best efforts to hold herself together. Inching closer to the edge of the battlefield with her friend Abby, she said, “What’s happening?”
Abby grabbed Maggie’s arm and pulled her closer. Maggie resisted, but Abby’s tight grip on her skin through the scratchy wool dress was too painful, so she let herself be dragged across the dew-moistened grass. BANG! Another shot rang out. The banging in her head had been recurring for some time, but Maggie realized this must be real—not an imagined sound. Captain John Parker’s Lexington militiamen, dressed in rag-tag uniforms of many colors, were assembling in a straight line across the midsection of the field. Their muskets, bayonets attached, pointed up and rested on their shoulders. Next, His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment, the first Foot Guards, the fifth Foot Guards, and the sixteenth Dragoons marched across the green toward the minutemen. Their red coats were all identical, their boots obviously shined and spit-polished, even in the predawn dusk. The marching band members on the British side had coats the color of yellow mustard, perhaps to distinguish them from the soldiers so they wouldn’t be targeted. Maggie kept thinking the constant rat-a-tat of snare drums and high-pitched whistling of fifes seemed incongruous beside a group of people who wanted nothing more than to annihilate each other.
“Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels,” the leader of the British regiment—Maggie thought his name was Pitcairn—ordered the ragtag militiamen, who stood their ground, silhouettes against the lightening sky.
“You never told me his name,” Maggie said.
The spectators were starting to hush, pushing in a wave along the ropes loosely hung around the perimeter of the battlefield. A bunch of local cops were telling them to stand back. The sun was starting to rise, which, Maggie hoped, would make it a lot warmer. Her legs were shaking so badly she wondered whether she’d be able to stand up much longer. If she squinted, she could almost make out the sign on Starbucks about a hundred yards away. At this point she knew she’d do anything for a mocha latte. She wondered why she’d agreed to participating in this reenactment, wondered whether she was so desperate to meet a man that she’d go through this freezing, annoying, itchy charade.
“It’s Jonathan. He’s the one in the maroon coat. His pants are a kind of khaki color I think.”
“There’s only one maroon coat?”
“Just look around at the ones on the ground, and hopefully you’ll pick the right one. There aren’t going to be that many. He’s probably the youngest.”
Now someone—it was hard to tell who, but possibly the leader of the “colonists,” John Parker—was yelling that no one should shoot, but all of a sudden there was a burst of gunfire, not isolated but breaking out across the Lexington green.
There was no denying that noise wasn’t just in Maggie’s head. It was a series of real musket blasts, and now the redcoats and their marching band, playing “Yankee Doodle,” were shooting and advancing toward the colonists, and for a moment Maggie forgot herself and started rooting for the “Americans.”
Then all hell broke loose, and the colonists were falling, the British still advancing. She couldn’t tell exactly how many, but it seemed as if there were a couple hundred of them, while the colonists, spread out as much as they could across the field, numbered only fifty or so. Unfair fight, she thought. Then she reminded herself the Americans eventually won, so it didn’t feel so bad. She chided herself for getting into the game. The air was so thick with musket smoke, it was hard to see more than two feet in front of your nose.
“Come on, let’s go,” Abby yelled back to Maggie, and then she disappeared into the haze and the confusion.
Maggie tiptoed across the field. This was April. It had rained a couple of days ago, and the ground was spongy. She felt some mud creeping up the sides of her shoes. That’s why they wear those hateful boots, she thought. Then, as she was deciding whether to scrap the entire thing and run away—escape to her warm apartment—she almost tripped on something, and when she looked down, it was a man in a maroon coat.
He grabbed her ankle, perhaps to steady her, but she took a header and landed on top of him, and he threw his arms around her.
Her first thought was to scream, but he was holding her so tight she couldn’t get any sound out.
“Are you Maggie?” he asked, his mouth buried between her breasts. She tried to pull away, but he had her and wasn’t letting go.
“I’m Maggie. Are you dead?”
“Obviously not,” he said, laughing a little. “And you’re a knockout. Abby wasn’t lying.”
“Let me go,” she said, but either he wasn’t paying attention or he was ignoring her. “Let me get up.”
Finally, he loosened his grip, and she scrambled off him as quickly as she could, one shoe falling off and her stockinged foot sinking into the murk almost up to the ankle. She pulled it out of the mud and stomped down to shake off the moist dirt.
“Ouch—you stepped on my knee,” he said, sitting up. “I’m supposed to be wounded, and you’re supposed to take care of me, not wound me more.”
BANG! The musket fire wasn’t as close-by now and not as loud, but every time Maggie heard another gunshot, it brought her back to that night—the night she stopped denying that her marriage was over. BANG! Harold Gottlieb—her husband of four years—was in the living room, touching that woman’s arm. BANG! He was in the foyer, helping her off with her coat, lingering just a moment too long behind her as he slipped it off her shoulders, his hands moving slowly down her sides, stopping just at breast level, as if she or the coat might fall on the floor if he didn’t hold on tight. BANG! He was in the kitchen, bending down with her in front of the oven door, pointing to the eight-dozen baby quiches Maggie had slaved to bake from scratch because Harold didn’t really like much of anything else. BANG! The woman’s husband was looking for her, but she and Harold were nowhere to be found, except that the bathroom door was closed and locked. BANG! The two of them emerged giggling, moments later, his hair tousled, her face flushed—he saying that she’d had trouble turning on the hot water.
Trouble turning on the hot water? BANG! What kind of fool have I been? Maggie had felt the color drain out of her face. Then the woman’s husband had slipped the coat haphazardly around his wife’s shoulders and started to push-pull her toward the front door, but Harold had followed the two of them, touching her hair, placing her hat—a boiled-wool winter cap the color of baby diarrhea—on her head and patting it. Then he’d pulled it down on the sides and patted the top of her head again, while her husband pulled on her arm to get her out of there.
Maggie looked away every time the woman’s husband tried to catch her eye. She felt a combination of embarrassment and fury, each emotion fighting the other for domination. She didn’t let him make eye contact. The husband must feel even worse than she. She found herself wishing he’d punch Harold or at least slap his face. Even though she’d never held a gun, in those awful moments she fantasized about what it would feel like to pick up a heavy, lethal weapon—feel its heft—and blow Harold’s brains out. BANG!
“Hey, where’d you go?” Jonathan was still lying on the ground, but he was gripping his knee with two hands. “You’re supposed to be tending to me, but you look like you’re in another world.”
She didn’t know what she was supposed to be doing. Abby had talked to her about it, excited that there was this “cute guy,” a friend of Abby’s husband Steve, who’d just broken up with his girlfriend and was very interested in meeting her.
“This will be the perfect opportunity,” Abby had said. “You can do this fun reenactment, and then it will be less like a blind date, you know?”
She’d only half listened. She’d allowed herself to be fitted for the itchy, ugly costume but had refused to wear the button-up boots. They were so tight that her toes were numb even before she could get them off. Now she wondered whether she should have worn them. Her shoes might be ruined from this mud.
She looked down at him. “Sorry. This all happened so fast, I’m not really sure.”
Abby had gone on and on about the annual Revolutionary War battle reenactment, how her husband Steve, a history teacher, really got into it, how Paul Revere and some other people had made that midnight ride and saved the colony from complete devastation by the British, and so on and so on.
Maggie had zoned out after the first few moments. She’d been so out of the dating loop for so long, her first instinct was to say no, but Abby was her best friend and had always been there for her during the divorce, so Maggie felt a little obligated. She did remember Abby’s saying it was all choreographed, but she couldn’t remember how or in what way.
“I am your man, and I’ve been shot by the dastardly Brits. Have a little compassion, wench.”
Maggie forgot herself and laughed a little, which seemed to encourage him. He let go of his knee, and his leg fell back down on the ground, making a little splat sound.
“So you’re supposed to bend down and tend to me. I’m wounded. Maybe mortally.” He rubbed his eyes with a muddy hand, as if he were crying, leaving a slash of dark brown from his forehead down his cheek to his chin. “Give me a kiss.” He puckered up his lips, but some of the mud seeped into his mouth, and he turned his head and spit it out.
“Oh,” she said. “No.” She crossed her arms over her chest and stepped back a foot or so.
“You are beautiful,” he said, sitting halfway up, leaning on his elbows. “Hot. Abby said you were a looker, but she didn’t tell me the half of it.” He somehow stared through her with that dirty face. “Take your arms away. I want to see the whole picture.
Gripping her arms even more tightly around herself, she glared down at him. Behind the mud, she saw the blue eyes, sandy-blond hair—and lots of it—a handsome face. Abby hadn’t lied.
But he was winking at her, which was offensive, and grabbing for her leg. Another narcissistic, self-satisfied man was not what she needed right now. She might never be able to trust any man again.
She shook her head slowly side to side, backing up out of his grasp, feeling her forehead tighten into lines.
“Lighten up, Maggie,” he said. “I’m just messing with you.”
“What else did Abby tell you?” she said. “Didn’t she mention I don’t like to be messed with?”
“No sense of humor?”
He didn’t answer, and the silence was awkward.
Maggie shifted a little bit. “What happens next?”
It seemed as if a thousand people were staring at them from the sidelines, and she felt naked in front of them, despite the fact they couldn’t hear the conversation.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“A little,” she said, drawing her arms even tighter.
“We wait here until they come with a stretcher. Shouldn’t be long.”
“You get to ride out of here on a stretcher?” she asked.
“Yeah, but you’re supposed to minister to me first.”
“Minister to you?”
“Yeah, you’re my loving whatever, horrified that the Tories shot me down,” he grumbled, sulking in the mud.
“What does that mean—ministering?”
“It means a little kiss, right here,” he said, pointing to his pursed mouth. She ignored him, a harsh tssk emanating from her lips. “Ah, don’t be that way, Maggie. Abby said you’re kind of, um, needy.”
“Needy?” Maggie wished she could find Abby and slap her. How dare Abby, who had professed such care and concern, tell this total stranger things she wouldn’t dream of telling anyone but her best friends.
“Well, she didn’t exactly use that word,” he said, seeming to forget about his “play” wound and his injured knee. “She said you got divorced.”
“Oh, so that means I’m needy?” She wondered whether he was back-pedaling now because he was at least sensitive enough to see how freaked out she was, or whether Abby had actually used that word. Maggie had already made up her mind that this was no love connection, no matter how much he might try to make up for his crude behavior.
He put his hand to his head, rubbing his temple. “I’m afraid we’ve hit up against that ‘women are from Venus’ thing.”
So, he reads pop-sociology books, she thought. She was ticking off the red flags on the “con” list. So far, except that he was cute looking, there wasn’t too much on the “pro” list. Before she could think of something to say back, the stretcher had arrived, and two other “colonists” were hoisting him up onto it.
“Ow, I’m in pain,” he said, clutching at his chest.
“You’re all right, sir,” one of them said, patting his hand. “Please try to be calm.”
“I want my sweetheart to come.” He reached his arm out to Maggie, barely touching her hand. She cringed a little, happy he couldn’t quite reach.
“You may come with us, miss,” said the colonial EMT. “We are bringing the injured to Buckman Tavern. The tables in there have been repurposed as pallets.”
“Oh, I need an ale bad,” moaned Jonathan.
“I need to get out of this getup,” Maggie said, to no one in particular. “It’s driving me crazy.”
“I thought it would be fun to keep the costumes on all day,” Jonathan said. “You really fill it out great.” He raised his head from the stretcher and looked directly at her chest.
She threw her arms around herself again. “This is the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever had to wear. I can’t believe it looks decent.”
“Well, you definitely rock it,” he said, leaning back on the stretcher. “I can’t wait to see you in real clothes.” He closed his eyes. “Or no clothes at all.”
The two colonials carrying the stretcher snickered. Maggie blushed. “In your dreams,” she said under her breath.
As they hurried across the field, the crowds who were still there applauded and cheered for them. Jonathan reached up and waved, tapping his chest with a closed fist as if to accept their concern.
Maggie put her head down. “This whole thing makes me feel completely ridiculous,” she said.
Their little rescue party had reached the tavern, and Jonathan hopped off the stretcher before they approached the steps. “So we’re meeting Steve and Abby for drinks, right?”
© 2019 by Rebecca Marks