So Dev, thank you very much :)
When There is Hope by Jane Goodger
published by St. Martin's Mass Market Paper in May 1996
When Susan Butler dies in a car wreck, she is transported back in time to 1888 and into the body of Margaret Johnsbury. Trying to deal with the fact that she isn't dead is only the beginning of what she must learn to accept. Not only must Susan overcome her grief at losing a husband she loved and the baby that died with her, she must struggle with the legacy that the former Margaret left her. Claiming amnesia, and calling herself Maggie, Susan begins the new life she's been given. At first, Maggie doesn't understand why everyone hates her. The servants hate her, the neighbors hate her, her husband hates her. Maggie hasn't a single friend in the world, but she is determined to change that. Beginning slowly, she first tries to win everyone over with her cheerful personality, but they are all unimpressed. Convinced she is playing some monstrous joke, no one believes for a minute that the person they knew as Margaret has changed her personality the way she changed her name. Once Maggie finally learns of the cruel things Margaret has done, she understands and sympathizes with everyone's distrust and dislike.
Carter Johnsbury hates his wife, and justifiably so. She has practiced deceit, treachery and adultery since the day he married her. She's selfish, lazy, and vicious. In fact, she doesn't possess a single redeeming quality. Still, he cannot understand what she hopes to gain by pretending to have had a change of attitude. Determined to learn her game, he waits for her to slip back into her previous behavior, but she remains consistent in her optimistic, kind and loving outlook. While wanting to believe the facade she presents, Carter is unable to reconcile his painful past with the wonderful present, and he remains torn between the miserable witch he is certain she is, and the loving wife he wishes she was.
Genre: romance, time-travel
The Story: I don't think I need to go over it with the synopsis above.
My Opinion: Really good. I've always liked stories where the outgoing heroine irons out the stiff shirt hero :P which is pretty much what you get in When There is Hope, only with a twist... Susan is given a second chance and she intends to use it and so put all her efforts into adapting, getting to know her new surroundings and making amends for the old Margaret. I like her optimism and how she doesn't let people discourage her. I was a bit worried that Susan would wallow a bit too long on the fact that she's been brought back in time and the loss of her husband and baby... but she doesn't. Dev thinks that Susan got over it too quickly, me thinks that she got help from the angels to take away the pain and sadness... because everytime she'd think of her "past," she'd have a calming feeling.
As for our hero, Carter, I really liked him as well. I like stiff shirts, LOL :) But in Carter's case, it's warranted. After what he went through with his wife, his attitude and bitterness are not surprising. At first, he's suspicious, but little by little, he starts to trust Maggie and only to have his trust shattered again. I like the fact that Carter didn't give in to easily, i.e. trust the new Maggie immediately, and have their romance blossoms quickly. Instead, both have to work at it... but once he was sure, he stood by and up for her.
My favorite part is when Maggie becomes depressive and wants to die. I mean, for such an outgoing person like Maggie/Susan to want to give up, things have to go really bad. Then, when Carter realizes it and his fears. I thought it was sweet and it had my heart squeezing so hard for Maggie/Susan.
The only thing I dislike is how bad the previous Margaret was... because once Susan becomes her, she's the one who has to suffer the aftermath of it and deal with it... and it sure wasn't easy. Oh and I wasn't too fond of the ending either... not that it was bad, but I'm not too sure Susan/Maggie did the right thing... anyway, I'm not going to spoil it for you guys :P
My Grade: B+. I don't think that everyone would enjoy this book, but it worked for me :P