today’s book: In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer
Yesterday we kicked off the summer-long Road Trip Reads Giveaway where we will be visiting all 50 states on the pages of recently released books. Because road trips are always better with friends – and books – right? So grab your fave snacks, a cold soda or bottled water, an upbeat playlist and let’s head to…
today’s stop: Washington, D.C.
IN THIS MOMENT by Gabrielle Meyer
SERIES: Timeless #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance / Time Travel
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2023
Maggie inherited a gift from her time-crossing parents that allows her to live three separate lives in 1861, 1941, and 2001. Each night, she goes to sleep in one time period and wakes up in another. Until she turns twenty-one, when she will have to forfeit two of those lives–and everyone she knows in them–forever.
In 1861, Maggie is the daughter of a senator at the outbreak of the Civil War, navigating a capital full of Southern spies and wounded soldiers. In 1941, she is a navy nurse, grappling with her knowledge of the future when she joins a hospital ship going to Pearl Harbor. And in 2001, she’s a brilliant young medical student, fulfilling her dream of becoming a surgeon.
While Maggie has sworn off romance until she makes her final choice, an intriguing man tugs at her heart in each era, only complicating the impossible decision she must make, which looms ever closer. With so much on the line, how can Maggie choose just one life to keep and the rest to lose?
April 18, 1861
Most days, I could pretend that my life was normal. I was a twenty-year-old woman searching for my place in the world, trying to decide my future. The only difference was that I had three normal lives, and on my twenty-first birthday, just eight and a half months from now, I would have to choose which one to keep and which to forfeit. Forever.
As I stood in my home on Lafayette Square, pulling long satin gloves onto my hands, it was easier not to think about the daunting choices set before me, or the other paths I occupied. I had become adept at living in the moment—a skill many people wished they could master, though it had come at a great cost to me.
Here, I was the daughter of an important US Senator and had served as his official hostess since my mother died. We were also on the cusp of the American Civil War.
But at the moment, we were late to the White House.
“Papa,” I called from the foyer as Saphira, my maid, handed me the second glove. “Mrs. Lincoln does not like when we’re late.”
Papa finally left his office and joined me, pulling on his own gloves. “I’m surprised she didn’t cancel,” he said, his usual good mood snuffed out by the stress of the week.
“She’s waited her entire life to be in the White House.” I smiled, knowing how much Mary Todd Lincoln reveled in being the First Lady. “She’d hardly let a little thing like a war dampen her plans.”
Papa smiled for the first time in days. “I’m sorry to be late, Margaret. I was distracted.” He accepted his cape from Joseph, our butler and man-of-all-work. There was agitation and worry in the tilt of Papa’s distinguished eyebrows, and I suspected it was more than distraction that had made him late.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
Papa tried to wipe the worry from his face. “Nothing to concern you with, my dear. Just work.”
“When you are one of President Lincoln’s advisers, work is not just work.”
Saphira lifted my blue velvet cape over my shoulders, but I didn’t take my eyes off Papa. He was never difficult to read. He’d been a minister and a military man, once upon a time, and held himself with confidence and purpose. Now he was a senator and close confidante of the president. But I’d never seen his shoulders stoop so low or his face filled with such grief.
“I do not wish to ruin your evening.” He put his hand at the small of my back and guided me toward the front door. “The carriage is waiting, and this is supposed to be an enjoyable dinner party.”
He nodded for Joseph to open the front door, allowing me to glimpse the gloomy evening. The day had been cold and dreary, with constant raindrops falling upon the roof of our townhouse and turning the streets to mud.
“You do not need to shelter me from the truth,” I said as I set the hood of my cape over my dark brown curls, intricately woven together by Saphira’s talented hands.
“I do not,” he agreed, offering a placating smile. “But this is my problem, not yours.”
Wet mist hit my face, though Joseph lifted an umbrella over my head. He and Saphira were two of the three servants we had employed since arriving in the capital. We’d only been in Washington for five months, but I had quickly acclimated, since I also lived there in 2001. Much had changed, but many things were still the same. And it was much better than living in the wilds of Salem, Oregon, where Papa had moved me last year to run for the Senate.
The rain splattered mud everywhere and caused the white stucco of nearby St. John’s Church to look like it was weeping. I hiked up my silk skirts, hoping to avoid the mud as Papa held my elbow and helped me to the carriage.
The driver jumped off the top of the vehicle and opened the side door. I accepted his help as I stepped into the carriage and arranged my voluminous skirts around me. The width of fashionable hoopskirts, especially here in Washington, had become extravagant—as had most things among the upper echelon of Washington society. I couldn’t imagine what my fellow medical students at Georgetown University Hospital in 2001 would think of the clothing I wore in 1861. I shuddered to think of walking into the ER in my hoopskirts and silk gown.
Papa took the seat across from me as Joseph closed the door and the carriage began to move toward the White House. If it hadn’t been raining, we would have walked, but the mud was so thick, our shoes and clothing would be ruined by the time we got there.
“This rain is such a nuisance,” Papa said, trying to change the subject, but I could still see the concern in his eyes.
I leaned forward and put my hand on his knee. “You can trust me, Papa. What is troubling you?”
There was nothing he could tell me that would shock or surprise me. I knew more than he did about the coming war—things he could never imagine—because I also lived in 1941 and 2001. When I went to sleep here, I woke up in 1941, and then I woke up in 2001 the day after that, with no time passing here while I was away. I knew how the future would play out for America.
I just wish I knew how it would play out for me.
I wanted to tell Papa that our nation would survive, though the cost would be devastating and we would lose our beloved president and friend. But he didn’t know I was a time-crosser and would not understand. Besides, I didn’t want to risk changing history by telling him the truth.
He must have seen the determination in my face, because he said, “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that there are spies in Washington sending information to Jefferson Davis in Richmond, and we have no idea who they are or how to find them. It’s almost impossible to strategize when we don’t know who is carrying our plans to the south. Now that Virginia has seceded from the Union, the risk is even greater.”
Everyone had been preoccupied with war for months, but this week was different. It had been six days since Confederate soldiers in South Carolina fired upon Fort Sumter, three days since President Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand volunteers to defend the Union, and one day since Virginia joined the Southern cause. We’d known it was coming, yet it felt like the final blow. Virginia lay just across the Potomac River from Washington, and at any moment the Virginians could cross the river and overtake our defenseless capital. With only a handful of soldiers to protect the president, they could easily win this war before it even started.
Papa placed his hand over mine and gave it a light squeeze. “I can see the news distresses you. Put it from your mind, Margaret. It is not your burden to carry.”
“It is no more distressing than the other news we’ve had this week.” Just beyond the windows of the carriage, the White House came into view, shining like a beacon of hope amid the storm clouds. If I was going to learn anything more from Papa, I needed to hurry. “Do we know where the spies are getting their information? Are they in the White House? Congress? Could one of them be at the gathering tonight?”
“I’m afraid it is entirely possible, but I don’t want you to worry.”
“How could I not worry? What if I inadvertently give information to the wrong person?”
“You don’t know anything you shouldn’t. Besides, as I’ve said, this is my problem, not yours.” He stared at me for several moments, dropping his chin to really look at me. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”
I leaned forward, a smile tilting my lips. I knew my dimples undid his resolve. “I can help. I have connections, Pa—”
“If the spies move within our social circles, I can find them.”
“It is far too dangerous. These spies are risking their lives, and they would not hesitate to take yours. You know nothing about espionage.”
“Most of the people spying for the war effort know nothing about espionage.” I leaned a little closer. “Where do you suspect the Southern spies are getting their information?”
He sighed. He’d battled my strong will before and knew I wouldn’t give up. “We don’t know if they are getting information through their work or if it’s coming through social connections. What we do know is that they are passing along vital information that only the people closest to the president know—so they are working at the very top.”
The carriage rolled to a stop at the front door of the White House and jolted as the driver climbed down. My mind spun with the possibilities of who might be spying on the president and his cabinet. Did I know them? Was it someone I was close to? Would they be sitting next to me at dinner tonight?
The driver opened the door, and Papa stepped out, looking relieved to end the conversation. He extended his hand to me, and I allowed him to help me alight from the carriage under the large portico of the White House.
When my skirts were settled about me, Papa tucked my hand into the crook of his elbow. “Forget I mentioned any of it, Margaret.”
I could not forget what he’d said. If spies were working in the social circles I moved in, I needed to be careful.
“Don’t look so serious.” Papa lifted my chin with his gloved hand. “If we’re fortunate and God Almighty shines His favor upon our cause, the war will be over before it starts. Everyone knows the South is bluffing, and when the fighting gets underway, they’ll soon realize we are serious. They’ll come to their senses, and we’ll have a resolution we can all live with.”
Even as he said the words, a cold wind sliced through the White House portico, portending a future I knew to be far different.
Gabrielle Meyer, In This Moment
Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2023. Used by permission.
Gabrielle Meyer has worked for state and local historical societies and loves writing fiction inspired by real people, places, and events. She currently resides along the banks of the Mississippi River in central Minnesota with her husband and four children. By day, she’s a busy homeschool mom, and by night she pens fiction and nonfiction filled with hope. Connect with her at her website.
Gabrielle Meyer is offering a print copy of In This Moment to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer? Have you ever been to Washington, DC?