Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jude Deveraux: A Knight in Shining Armor

A Knight in Shining Armor: B+

In her hardcover debut, Deveraux (The Taming) offers an imaginative romantic historical fantasy, whose virtue of unpredictabiity is undermined by plodding, graceless prose. Vacationing in England with her lover, Robert, and his spoiled teenage daughter, heroine Dougless Montgomery is abandoned by them in a remote country churchyard near the tomb of Nicholas Stafford, an earl who died in 1564. Almost immediately, an armor-clad swashbuckler materializes--Nicholas himself, reincarnated in the 20th century to clear his reputation, having been unjustly convicted of treason. Intrigued by his plight, Dougless agrees to help Nicholas learn his accuser's identity and restore his good name. They become lovers, and their adventures briefly lead Dougless back to the 1560s, allowing Deveraux to portray that period from a contemporary woman's perspective, as well as 1988 through the eyes of a confounded Elizabethan nobleman. Well-detailed historical highlights and a heartwarming conclusion...

I am in the minority of my romance-reading friends when I state that while A Knight in Shining Armor is a decently entertaining read, that it is nothing special. Perhaps it was with too high of expectations I read the book – hearing from all of my friends how wonderful the book was certainly led me to think it was going to far more excellent than it was. Or perhaps I am merely hard-to-please.

Dougless starts by being an insecure and lost heroine, her insecurity is so pitiful and she is so exploited by her boyfriend, it is clear that character growth is in order – which does happen as she meets Nicholas, who comes from the past when he hears her cries inside a church.

They meet, dally about in the present day (in the 1980s), then do some time-traveling to the past where Dougless is confronted with medieval life.

Their love is strong and Dougless returns to her time as a stronger and more confident woman. And Nicholas? He is there, but not as you would imagine him to be.

The ending was different and was a surprise, one that I didn’t love overly much in the love story, but in the greater scheme of things, fit the story well. And I’m glad for Dougless’s change. However, the story itself and the romance itself isn’t extraordinary, as I had hoped it to be.

A worthwhile read, but nothing over-the-top special.

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