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By Pauline Baird Jones

Hard Shell Word Factory, 2006 ($14.95)
Trade paperback

ISBN: 0-7599-4603-5
e-Book ISBN: 0-7599-4592-6

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Melanie "Mel" Morton has done some crazy stunts for her television show, Make Mel Cry Uncle - SWAT training, fire fighting, search and rescue, swimming with sharks - but none was crazier then her latest adventure, making a HALO jump from 30,000 with a Navy SEAL team. That outing was a piece of cake compared to what happens next.

Mel's father died in Viet Nam, and her mother passed on soon after. She was raised by her widowed grandmother, who told her countless stories about her grandfather Norm, a radio operator on a B-17 who died in World War II. When her grandmother began writing about his experiences in the war, Mel helped her, and when she died with the work unfinished, Mel carried the project on. She had attended the yearly reunions of the surviving crew members of the Time Machine since she was a small child, and knew all of them well except the pilot, Jack Hamilton. That was about to change.

When she returns to her home, the same home she'd grown up in, from the SEAL jump, she finds an envelope marked Private and Urgent. It contains an 8 x 10 photo of the Time Machine and crew, with a business card with Jack's name and phone number. When she looks more closely at the photo, she sees something - or rather someone - who shouldn't be there. That night she gets a phone call from Jack, telling her they have to meet because "we're almost out of time." The next day he shows up with a wild and improbable story. He can take her back in time, where she can save her grandfather's life and change history. Sure, no problem, where are the guys with the straight jackets?

But somehow Jack makes a compelling argument, and Mel accepts the challenge. The impossible becomes possible, and she soon finds herself in 1942 England. The rest of the story is magical, romantic, and funny. It's a hoot to see Mel, a thoroughly 21st century woman, trying to cope with the culture, and the uncomfortable shoes, of wartime England. When she joins the crew in a mission to occupied France, the reader can imagine what it must have been like inside the bomber, trying to complete their mission under terrifying circumstances. In this homage to the Greatest Generation, Jones takes us on a wild and often poignant ride through time.

OUT OF TIME is the 2007 Eppie recipient. Ms. Jones has published six other novels, which have won several awards. Her next book, due out in the fall of 2007, is THE KEY, her first venture into science fiction.

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