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Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt
Book 3 in American Journey Series
ARC, e-book, 295 pages
John A. Heldt
April 14, 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel

Source: Received from Author for Review at Romantic Historical Reviews
Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the "time-travel professor," and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, Indiana Belle follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

**This Review was Previously Posted at Romantic Historical Reviews**

Indiana Belle has so many things going for it that it really defies a distinct categorization. It has a romance thread that runs throughout. It is packed with a little mystery, intrigue, and adventure from the earliest pages. There is the historical setting and some significant events. Oh, and let’s not forget the very critical element of time travel!

I have been a fan of Heldt’s works since I first read back-to-back The Mine and The Journey in 2013 (both are from his other book series, The Northwest Passage). All of his books include an element of time travel and that was one of the elements that originally drew me to them. In Indiana Belle the time travel element involves some tunnels, some gypsum crystals, and some scientific formulas. While time travel does require some level of suspension of reality, and maybe it’s presentation here isn’t what most would expect for a method time travel, I found it creative, possible, and achieved the point of bringing Cameron back to 1925. The novel also tackles the age old idea that if you travel back in time you must be careful to not change the past or it could affect the future. Cameron wrestles with this premise as he does not wish to let a historical murder happen on his watch. Seeing how he struggles with this and what decision he ultimately makes is one of the central concepts of this novel. Some of the best scenes of this book were with Cameron making continuity mistakes while back in 1925 – some were things that I would never have even thought of.

The romance element is a very light, but critical, part of the story. What happens if you fall in love with someone who isn’t from your time? It served as more of another obstacle to time travel and the completion of Cameron’s mission than anything else. The scenes were sweet and grew from a natural place.

Heldt does an excellent job here of bringing to life the Roaring Twenties; from the quiet mid-west town, to the speakeasy parties, to the big church revivals, it has it all. Cameron sees it as a simpler time initially, but it is full of its own problems, like the KKK and women’s struggle for rights. Some of these elements are obvious while others are atmospheric, but all contribute to a well-formed time. Heldt also tends to cover an event of significance in most of his novels and here we get a little bit of the Tri-State Tornado of 1925. Having survived a tornado myself, it felt very real.

There was only a small element that I questioned while reading, and I thought that it might resolve at some point in the novel, but ultimately wasn’t…Cameron comes from 2017. I wondered at the choice to set it in the near future at the time of publication instead of the current year. Additionally, how the difference in perception of that being a future date for us now, but come a couple years the entire novel will occur in the past. After reading, the resulting analysis: It didn’t seem to have an obvious purpose to me.

While Indiana Belle is the third book in the American Journey’s series, it certainly is successful as a standalone novel. I have not read the first two books yet (September Sky and Mercer Street) and did not feel like I was missing out on anything. I have a feeling Geoffrey Bell, the professor referenced in the book description, probably has connections to the first two books based on some allusions to other time travelers and maybe we learn more about him there, but you still come away with a full understanding and appreciation of Indiana Belle on its own.

There is a little something for everyone here and would appeal widely to both men and women!

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Buy the Book: Amazon

Also by John A. Heldt:

September Sky (American Journey #1)

Mercer Street (American Journey #2)

The Mine (Northwest Passage #1)
[My Review]

The Journey (Northwest Passage #2)
[My Review]

The Show (Northwest Passage #3)

The Fire (Northwest Passage #4)

The Mirror (Northwest Passage #5)

Find John A. Heldt:
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Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Let me try to track down even one of the books listed. Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. I have enjoyet those of his that I have read and have the others for review. Hope you can get your hands on them and enjoy!


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