"In this lively historical novel . . . charged with subtle period detail and boasting fully developed characters, Allen's work is sharp, smart, and well focused."-Publisher's Weekly
After years abroad, Jasper Wainwright returns to Beaufort, South Carolina, home of his unruly youth.
Slavery and Sea Island cotton have made this summer seat of plantation owners one of the wealthiest and most cultured cities in America . . . and also the most hotheaded, secessionist city in the South. Jasper's cousin, Henry Birch, wants him to marry his niece, Cara, a pianist and the prettiest girl in the county. Believing slavery doomed, Jasper has no desire to settle in the South again and so resists both Henry's matchmaking and his growing fascination with Cara. Then anonymous letters in The Charleston Courier give Jasper an inkling that maybe the South could change.
Though his freed slave, Jim, who travels with him, is antsy to leave, Jasper lingers in Beaufort. Amid a whirl of parties, waltzes and duels, Cara is never far from his eyes or his thoughts. As cries for secession grow louder, Jasper works desperately to convince Beaufort planters that gradual emancipation and transition to a wage-based economy could avert the coming storm of war. Will Beaufort be another Pompeii, its civilization disappearing in a cataclysm it refuses to foresee?
"Wildly imaginative . . . Allen creates an intricately detailed, remarkably inventive universe . . . with characters that are both layered and believable. Quite an adventure." -Kirkus Reviews
When the Universe knocks . . . it's time for a sci-fi urban comedy!
Cait wanted nothing to do with Atraxis. Whisking her off to another planet while she was on her way to work was annoying enough. Moving in upstairs was just too much. As a divorced mother, she had enough troubles with her children and her job creating affordable housing in San Francisco. She certainly didn't need aliens from across the Universe hounding her for the Tamaranth, the ancient crown of Trajallax.
Yes, Atraxis might be an intergalactic conflict mediator with a lovely British accent and very nice parents. Yes, he might come from Tivolea, an incredibly advanced society whose language was music; yes, he might travel across the universe in minutes and turn his skin blue at will. But none of this meant Cait had time to go gallivanting to other galaxies with him. Saving planets was not in her skill set. Nor did she want to marry him and have his (blue) child. And now her former sister-in-law was dating Atraxis's former brother-in-law (this could get ugly), her daughter was having ADD problems at school, and her ex-husband was dropping his baby off for her to watch so that he could go antiquing with his new wife. Yes, the universe might be knocking at her door, but Cait had no time to answer.
A novel of city Buddha-mind walking, love, and breaking free.
When Sara's husband, Mark, goes to the East Coast for law school, Sara stays behind in her beloved San Francisco. Their marriage will be BCDR -- bi-coastal, dual rental. It's only for three years, Sara tells herself. An admirer of efficiency, she intends to keep loneliness at bay by moving in with her erratic sister, Amanda, and by staying busy at work in her newly promoted position as a manager for a large consumer products manufacturer.
But Sara's tightly controlled world starts to crack when she accepts the help of an inscrutable mentor and begins volunteering at a domestic violence shelter on the weekends. As mercurial Amanda does her best to disarray the order of Sara's life, challenges at work and at the shelter test Sara's resolve and illuminate the fissures in her careful structures. To top it off, Sara finds her mentor far too helpful when she knows she shouldn't be seeing him at all . . .
Karen Lynn Allen writes with a wide-ranging imagination grounded in a sense of wry humor. Her first novel, Pearl City Control Theory, is a comedy of manners that reflects her experiences in corporate America. Her second novel, Beaufort 1849, is historical fiction about the birthplace of the secession movement in South Carolina. Her latest novel, Universal Time, is a sci-fi comedy set in San Francisco and a host of extraplanetary locales.
Karen spent her early childhood in San Francisco and later childhood in Edmonds, Washington. At seventeen, she returned to California to study English and industrial engineering at Stanford University. Careening from Chaucer to circuits sometimes made her brain hurt, but no doubt it was good for her. After graduating she worked at several large corporations, alternately frustrated and amused by surreality of it all. Writing was always her true love, however, and eventually she made her way back to it.
Karen has lived in San Francisco the past thirty years where she and her husband raised their three children in a house with eighty-eight stairs to the front door. These days she enjoys walking, bicycling, art museums, tai chi, meditation, and travel.