"Engrossing Native American Time Travel"
A LOVE BEYOND TIME is the tale of a female white
anthropologist, Ryan Burke who travels back in time to 1876
Montana to the site of the Little Big Horn confrontation.
Burke arrives at the site in 1999 to participate in an
important dig and immediately finds conflicts and
mysteries. Sacred objects are disappearing from the dig.
She is a cultural anthropologist whose objective is to
record the memories passed down to descendants and thus she
has contact and befriends the tribal community. After a
storm destroys her tent, she is given an old tipi by one of
the elders, who also beseeches her help in stopping the
removal and thefts. One night after the vehicle has
borrowed breaks down, she walks the long distance back to
the camp and goes directly to sleep in the tipi. She wakes
in 1876 in the middle of the last great tribal campsite on
the eve of the battle of the Little Big Horn.
It turns out that she is in the tipi of an indian warrior,
Sunkmanitu Ceye a Pelo or Wolf. Indian custom designates
that her presence indicates her serious intentions toward
this warrior but her appearance is a mystery. Wolf also has
troubles of his own, having fallen in battle and not
remembering very much. Another warrior, Iron Soldier
maintains that he saw Wolf die on the field and that this
warrior is a ghost. Wolf seeks counsel from a tribal elder
and finds support for himself and the advice that he is to
consider this strange woman a wife, she is wakan or sent by
their gods and has a great purpose here. They do develop a
relationship and fall in love as husband and wife. Ryan
also finds intellectual satisfaction and personal happiness
living with the indian nation though she knows what will
happen here. Custer is already on his way to meet his
fate. She also knows that honor compels her to complete
her task of helping to trap the thief in the future whether
or not she remains in the past with Wolf as her heart longs
to do. It had been determined that she must set a trap for
the thief by making a spirit bundle in which she will
place one of her earrings. She must bury it in the right
spot for the thief to dig up and thus set a trap to reveal
him. The elder in the present day seems confident that she
will come back and be able to help trap the thief.
Not usually a TT reader, I was engrossed by the story.
Aitken did a fair amount of research into Lakota customs
and she also put a bit of mystery in the story as well.
There is an unusual twist in that Ryan and the actual hero,
the present day Dillon Wolf (a Lakota who is a lawyer and
activist) do not physically meet until the end of the book.
They do fall in love in the past though, I just won't say
how. I will say that they do meet, fall in love and marry
according to Lakota customs in the past.
At first I felt that Iron Soldier, the villain in the past,
was a little heavily drawn and maybe unnecessary since the
battle with Custer was only days away but since the Indians
actually won this battle, he was necessary to provide the
motivation for the heroine to return to the future and
conclude the mystery. He proved to be the device to break
her link to the past. Also, I may be easy to fool, but
I was surprised by the identity of the villain in the
present. Ms. Aitken did give us hints but she fooled me
with a decoy.
Judie Aitken has a hit with this debut effort. Not only did
her research enrich the story, there was enough story to
sort the romance. She created good, strong supporting
characters in both eras. She dealt realistically with how
our modern sensibilities might perceive Lakota customs and
is no apologist. She does not try to justify overly to
modern morality but she has Wolf remind Ryan (and us) he is
a man of his time and that the Lakota look on things a bit
differently than whites did and do. The conclusion was a
little quick for me and I wanted a few more chapters to
bring the H/H together. Overall, a nice balance with the
bulk of the story taking place in the past and the HEA in
I want to thank the list for bringing this book to my
attention. as I might not have read it otherwise. It was
worth the read and I hope that Ms. Aitken tries her talents
in other areas of romance as well. She might write an
excellent romantic suspense or mystery.
Lisa Baca / December, 2000
Copyright © 2000 for PNR Reviews
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted February 14, 2002