A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, August 24, 2015

Begun by Time by Morgan O'Neill- Guest Post+ Feature+ Review + Bonus feature for The Thornless Rose

In 1945, a man disappeared into thin air...

In the final days of World War II, Catherine Hastings meets the man she wants to marry. Flight surgeon Jonathan Brandon isn't just handsome—he's everything Catherine could hope for in her betrothed. But her dream of a happily ever after is shattered when Jonnie disappears shortly before their wedding...leaving Catherine bereft, broken-hearted, and with a lifetime of unanswered questions.

Arthur Howard is smitten with the lovely Catherine the moment he sees her. He's certain he's found the woman he wants to marry. Yet behind Catherine's sparkling green eyes is a haunted look—the look of a woman who has known loss. But can he love a woman who still grieves the loss of her fiancĂ©? Now Arthur wants answers about the man Catherine intended to marry.


Begun by TimeBegun by Time by Morgan O'Neill

Begun by Time by Morgan O'Neill is a 2015 Entangled Publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is the prequel to “The Thornless Rose”, which was originally released in 2014. I loved that book so much, I was thrilled to discover we were invited to learn the back story which will be Catherine and Jonnie, and to some extent, Arthur's story.

In 1945, as the war is coming to an end, Catherine falls in love with Jonathan Brandon, and they embark on a whirlwind courtship, become engaged and are planning a wedding, when suddenly Jonnie disappears, simply vanishes into thin air, leaving Catherine confused and deeply saddened, but ironically, she is not angry because she knows Jonnie didn't back out on her. Something terrible happened to him, but the worst part is not knowing the circumstances of why he vanished or what happened to him, leaving Catherine in an odd state of limbo.

When a few years pass, Catherine meets a wonderful man named Arthur Howard and for the first time in a long while she feels like living again. But, she is still haunted by Jonnie, so Arthur, wishing to give Catherine some kind of peace of mind begins a discreet investigation into Jonnie's disappearance. But, what he uncovers is shocking and only leaves them with more questions than answers.

Time travel romance is one of those hit and miss things with me. It has to be done just so or I end up rolling my eyes at the absurdity of it. But, this storyline is smart and well written with realistic situations and characters.

The historical setting in post war England was obviously researched , creating a very authentic atmosphere, giving the reader an idea of what it was like to live in this era of time.

Catherine is a sensible girl who is nice, caring, responsible, and head over heels in love with Jonnie. His disappearance changes her noticeably, even though she remains a sweet girl, her character takes on a new dimension and her innocence seems to disappear right along with Jonnie, and her character seems to become more cautious or wary, and she gives off a palpable vibe of sadness and grief.

Jonnie is obviously in love with Catherine, and the reader will certainly wonder about his sudden disappearance. There is never a doubt in Catherine's mind or in the reader's mind that Jonnie is an honorable man, one who would not have simply walked away from Catherine without an explanation. His story is central, but in this prequel we are only introduced to him and given a hint about what is to come later.

Arthur arrives at a pivotal time in Catherine's life and the chemistry between them jumps off the page. It's a different sort of feeling this second time around though, and a slower, more mature relationship develops between the couple as Catherine grapples with moving on after Jonnie's disappearance since she still has no idea what happened to him, and I guess the obvious question would be, what if he suddenly reappeared?

I think Arthur senses this in Catherine and while he knows she is in love with him, he also understands her conflicted feelings, which is why he seeks answers. He is a wonderful and patient man who must love Catherine very much because not every man would want to seek out answers concerning his future wife's former fiance.

Now, if you have read “The Thornless Rose”, then you already know what direction this story is going to take. You also know what happens in the future, so for me at least, there were no real twist or surprises. In fact, if I'm remembering correctly, Catherine tells some of this story in the next book, but it was a great idea to write out a prequel so we can better understand the events of the past, because there is an assurance now, that while things didn't work out quite like they were supposed to, Catherine was happy in her life with Arthur. I must also confess, that while I really like Jonnie, in this book , I was very drawn to Arthur, maybe even developing one of those 'book boyfriend' situations.

The real enjoyment I gained from the book came in getting to know Jonnie a little better, but mostly from meeting Arthur whose role is more critical than is stated. I enjoyed the in depth portrayal of the events leading up to “The Thornless Rose” and the insight into Catherine's mind set, her personality and feelings in 'real time' as opposed to her looking back on these events in “The Thornless Rose”. It was interesting to see how her relationship with Jonnie compares to her relationship with Arthur and why the couple felt to strongly about learning the truth behind Jonnie's disappearance.

Jonnie's experiences and episodes with the paranormal are not chronicled in any minute detail, but we are there when he has his first encounter, so to speak, and are privy to his thoughts, and fears when he starts having these odd episodes.

Does it matter which book you start with? Well, truthfully, you would be just as well off either way, but in this case I recommend starting with “The Thornless Rose”. If you have not read that book, and want to start with this one, then you will want to keep in mind this book is simply a gateway to the next one. “The Thornless Rose” is one of the best time travel books I had read, and this one, for me, made my understanding richer and deepened my love for this story. I recommend reading both books, because they certainly compliment one another and make great companions to each other. Either way you will love this story!

I do hope their will be future installments in this plotline. It is certainly a unique twist on the time travel trope and is really very absorbing. I recommend this book to those who like historical, paranormal, and time travel romance novels.

Buy Links:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Begun-Time-Entangled-Select-Historical-ebook/dp/B0122RZM92?tag=entangpublis-20&link_code=ur2&creative=9325&camp=211189

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/begun-by-time-entangled-select/id1021176025?mt=11

Title: The Thornless Rose

An Elizabethan Time Travel Novel

Author: Morgan O’Neill

Publisher: Entangled/Macmillan Select Historical

Publication Date: December 29, 2014

Genre: Historical/Time Travel Fiction


No one ever knew what really happened to Dr. Jonathan Brandon back in 1945. He simply disappeared from a London pub, leaving behind an unsolved mystery and his fiancĂ©e—Anne Howard's grandmother. Seventy years later, Anne herself is haunted by the strange tale, along with inexplicable hallucinations straight out of Elizabethan England. Including a scarred, handsome man whose deep blue eyes seem to touch her very soul....

Anne wonders if there isn't something more to the story. Is it even possible that Jonathan disappeared into England's dark past? And why does Anne keep hearing him whisper her name? Because now she too feels the inexorable pull of the past, not to mention an undeniable attraction for a man she doesn't even know.

It's just a matter of time before Anne will step back into history, and face a destiny―and a love―beyond imagining...
Buy Links:
The Thornless Rose by Morgan O'Neill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the best time travel romance stories I have read in a very long time. This novel has all the elements that make a great story - romance, action, intrigue, and suspense. This is the way stories should be written!!
Anne Howard happens upon an old trunk belonging to her grandmother and discovers a handful of old letters that were not from her grandfather. When she asked about the letters, her grandmother decides it is time to tell Anne the story of Jonathan Brandon, a man she was set to marry until he simply vanished without a trace in 1945.
While her grandmother moved on with her life, married, had children, is content, she had always wondered what really happened to Jonathon. Anne, intrigued by the story, sets out to do a little research, only to find herself thrust back into the 1500's and face to face with one Dr. Jonathan Brandon. That's right- the one and the same man her grandmother told her about.
This book is copyrighted and is the property of Night Owl Reviews
For the full review go to http://www.nightowlreviews.com
Team Work, Dream Work ~ How Morgan and O’Neill created the Elizabethan Time Travel series.

How many writing teams are there? We know of a few, but its rarity speaks to the difficulties of working together to create something as complicated as a novel, let alone a series. When we first began to work as a team, we had different styles and ways of approaching a scene. Our individual styles are still different, but we’ve learned to blend and edit our work so readers can’t tell who wrote what.
In addition to the blending of our writing styles we have to deal with the inherent complexity of time travel fiction. Our stories are woven with many threads, and in our Elizabethan series, it's particularly intricate because we have to contend with three separate eras – the present day, the WWII era, and the sixteenth century. They must be blended together on every level to make a cohesive whole.
To make things even more complicated, we wrote the prequel, Begun by Time, after the publication of The Thornless Rose. It came to us that readers would enjoy a firsthand account of the story of Catherine Hastings, Jonathan Brandon, and Arthur Howard in the 1940s. How did Catherine and Jonathan fall in love? What happened after he vanished? How did Arthur help her move on? We wove this together with the plot of The Thornless Rose, keeping in mind that continuity must be maintained with our work-in-progress-sequel, Ever Crave the Rose.
Blimey! Burnouts are avoided by lots of chocolate and wine!
We work hard to create rich and memorable time travel stories, with characters who will not be easily forgotten. And we hope our readers agree.


A chance meeting at a writers' conference brought Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O'Neill Cordes together, two award-winning authors who connected because of a mutual love of time travel fiction. Collaboration ensued, the search for a pen name the first step in their working relationship. Their maiden names provided the solution - and "Morgan O'Neill" was born. 

Cary and Deborah's backgrounds are uniquely suited to writing stories steeped in atmosphere and history: Deborah has a Master's Degree in history and is a dedicated genealogist; Cary is a
talented linguist in French and is currently a student of Latin. They've traveled to Europe's ancient and medieval sites many times, with Cary living on the Continent for five years. 

The Morgan O'Neill time travel novels have received a number of literary awards, including two finalist wins in the Booksellers' Best Awards, two semifinalist wins in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, first, second, and third place wins for the Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Golden Rose Contest, a top ten finalist award in the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference Zola Awards Literary Contest, and a top ten finalist win in the Orange Rose Contest.
Author Links:


  1. Thank you so much for hosting us today and shining a spotlight on Begun by Time and The Thornless Rose. These are the novels of my heart, and I hope your readers enjoy our small glimpse into a past filled with love and adventure!

  2. Hi Julie and everyone. Thank you for hosting us today. We had such fun delving into young Catherine and Jonathan's lives, love and heartache in the time when the time travel began. Happy reading!


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