(A Time-Travel Romance)
DESCRIPTION: In 1944, war-fueled tensions in the town of Shoenberg, Texas exploded one night. A suspected German spy, newlywed veteran Kurt, was hung by an angry mob while his wife, Liesl, looked on helplessly. As she cut his dying body from the branches, her heart died with him, even
as she determined to fulfill Kurt's dream of founding a flying school.
In 1996, the pilot Colin Castle prepares for an air show with an experimental plane, a vintage replica made to modern specifications. His stern father lies in a hospital bed, near death; Colin desperately wants to prove to the old man, and himself, that he hasn't wasted his life in the skies chasing dreams. True, his business partner Jakob seems strange, obsessed with talk of time and physics and some deep guilt buried in his Texas roots, but the man's a first-rate mechanic. All they need is investors to get their dream off the ground, and an air show victory will get them that and more. Maybe, in the process, his own nightmares of failure will end.
During a test run, Colin accidentally triggers a hidden switch in his plane... and finds himself fifty years in the past, facing a cold-hearted woman who's a dead ringer for his long-deceased girlfriend Karen. Before vanishing, Jakob told Colin he would have one week to find and help someone named Kurt - but Kurt's been dead for two years, and his widow, Liesl, couldn't care less what this stranger has to say... even if he looks strangely like her murdered husband.
REVIEW: A fast-reading romance with a paranormal flavor, it never quite lives up to the potential of its characters and premise. The attraction between the two lost souls is so overwhelming and immediate that the lengths to which both go denying it grows tiresome. The key to the plot is the idea that Liesl is so perfect and beautiful that three men (four, if you count Kurt and Colin as separate men and not reincarnations of the same soul) will go to any lengths to acquire her. One of them, naturally, is the town's villain, a petty and corrupt man who owns most of Schoenberg and won't rest until he finishes the job. There's a dated, sexist subtext here that didn't sit right with me, especially since Liesl didn't seem quite that special aside from the pedestal everyone insisted on placing her upon. Sideplots deal with the importance of family and how parental love (or lack thereof) hurts even grown children; these helped flesh out the story, adding a little weight and substance. As for the time travel element, it's light enough sci-fi that I almost classified it as Fantasy, especially with the heavy reincarnation angle; once in the past, Colin even starts remembering specific details of Kurt's life, driving home the idea that there's only one "true" soul mate for everyone and the only way to find happiness after losing them is to hope for a miracle - or an obsessed German mechanic. It all builds up to an air race where everyone's dreams are on the line, though most of the tension takes place on the ground. Everything wraps up a little too neatly. There's a nice vintage-plane feel to the setting, and it had some good moments, but overall I didn't care for the dated message.
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