Marcus Richards, PhD, has a perfect life: full-time as a history professor, part-time as a medieval history re-enactor. But when his former student, Bethany, vanishes, she leaves her mother an enigmatic letter, written in modern English on a scrap of fourteenth-century parchment. "Find my daughter!" her mother begs. Marc knows time travel isn't possible. But when he goes to England, he gives a mysterious time-portal a try.
Landed to his surprise in Cornwall in 1356, he faces all the dangers of a world unlike the comfortable realm in his history books. Marc is soon caught up in the ways of knightly service, land management, and a murder investigation. Above all, he meets the woman of his dreams -- who will change the course of his life forever.
He steeled himself for -- what? How did this work? What would he feel? What would happen? "Pray for me."
Sheila's voice, and the dog's, shattered and spun into an unreachable distance. Marc felt the morning sun lose its heat. The hallway grew colder than cold, as though someone had opened a walk-in freezer and vented its chilled air all around him. He blinked again to try to take it all in. Above all he must discern how this happened. He must remain objective, learn as much as he--
He let out a yelp. Through the open door, a wind that hadn't blown a moment ago lashed him with rain. It soaked him to the skin in moments. From a second doorway down the hall to his left, rushed a stout woman. She reached behind him and slammed the open door to the garden, shoved him away from the door, and muttered irritated words Marc couldn't understand. Glaring, she urged him down the corridor, berating him while he tried with unsteady steps to follow. Mid-sentence, she switched to sharp French.
Norman French. Anglo-French. He gaped at her. "Allez!" she scolded. "Entrez-vous de la pluie."
Come in out of the rain.
He gave her a nod, wiping cold drops out of his face, mind reeling, body numb. Marc allowed the woman to tug him through an arched door.
He stopped in his tracks, jaw slack with disbelief. Before him stood the real article: anauthentic medieval great hall, complete in every detail. The floor was covered with rushes. Under a carved granite chimney, a huge fire crackled in the hearth. Vibrantly colored tapestries on the walls chased the chill. Aromas fought with each other for air space. Marc inhaled deeply, breathing smoke, baking bread, and roasting meat. He also perceived refuse, sweat and unwashed clothing. Menservants clad in rough wool set up tables perpendicular to the walls. From a grouping of elaborately carved chairs, a woman settled an infant in a wooden cradle. A toddler hid just enough to peer past her, sucking on a finger.
Struck dumb, Marcus stood silent and dripping.
"Maude," said the woman in clear, cultured tones, "what have you there?"
"A vagrant, lady." The woman Maude brushed her damp hands down a plain woolen gown. "I caught him in the hallway. Sans doute he wished to steal grain from the pantry."
He tried his rusty French. "I do not steal."
"So!" the lady said on a laugh. "You are not mute."