The Ballad Of Jack O'Dair
by Linda O Johnston, historical/time-travel (2000)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52404-X

Linda O Johnston's writing style always reminds me of a Suzanne Vega song. Her prose, like Vega's alto, can get flat at places, but it is always compelling enough to keep me reading. This one is no different, And with a title like The Ballad Of Jack O'Dair (how romantic sounding!) and that lovely cover - nice.

Jessie Jerome, like most time travel heroines, are sad enough to be in love with the subject of a ballad she is researching. Yes, she's in love with a hero that may or may not exist. (This doesn't beat the saddest time travel heroine I've read - that heroine in Patti Berg's If I Can't Have You actually buys a dead actor's house and sleeps in his bed because she's so in love with the dead actor. Creepy or what?) Anyway, she sleeps a night in a hut reputed to be Jack O'Dair's, and wakes up next morning in 1890s Alaska.

Then she meets Jack O'Dair, larger-than-life hero-to-be, and gets the first true, five-dynamite, grade A orgasm of her life.

Jack is like a law enforcer in the lawless gold rush of Yukon, and soon Jessie is helping him, suggesting methods she saw on TV (yes, Senator, TV is pretty influential on impressionable minds). But she knows that Jack's fate is to die in an avalanche while carrying out his last act of nobility. Can she stop that?

I love Jack, despite his stereotypical emotional baggages - he's a hero, a noble hero, how can I resist? Jessie is a pretty smart heroine for all her neuroticism, and I have no trouble rooting for them. But with a title like The Ballad Of Jack O'Dair, I am expecting a lyrical, maybe even paranormal romance. When this story peters out into a standard whodunnit tale halfway through, I am pretty disappointed.

Nonetheless, I find the entire premise compelling, and Jack O'Dair... what's his hotline? Might come handy if I need a spot of rescuing myself. This story isn't exactly grade A keeper stuff to me, but hey, I've no problems with it either. After all, wasn't it Bonnie Tyler who sang that we are all holding out for heroes?

Rating: 80

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