Not being a fan of time travel stories, I put off reading ‘A Knight in Shining Armor’ by Jude Deveraux, even though it makes its way onto a few lists of recommended romance reads. Surprisingly, I actually did enjoy it.
It contains a number of similarities to the movie ‘Kate and Leopold’, in that the reader is exposed to the reactions of the transported person to their new surroundings, encountering the unfamiliar customs, foodstuffs, machinery inventions and so on. It also has the suspense and urgency element of people needing to find a way of returning to their original time in history, in time to prevent or facilitate future happenings.
Dougless Montgomery considers herself to be a failure when compared to her high achieving siblings. With her low self-esteem, she’s allowed herself to be used by her boyfriend whom she lives with in America. While on holiday in England in 1988, she has a huge argument with her boyfriend and his teenage daughter, ending in them abandoning her in an old English church without money or passport.
As she weeps against the tomb of a 16th Century English Earl, she wishes for a knight in shining armor. Her cries are heard by Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck, to whom the tomb belongs only now, he is standing right before her. He tells her that her weeping has summoned him from the year 1564, where he was awaiting execution for treason, a crime which he didn’t commit. It takes quite a while for Dougless to believe he’s really who he says he is, and for her to join him on the quest to discover who had framed him. The longer they spend together, the closer they feel toward each other. Having discovered love, and believing they’ve also discovered who’d betrayed Nicholas, they begin to plan a life together in the 20th Century. Without warning, Nicholas is returned back to the 16th Century. However, history hasn’t been changed – Nicholas was still executed.
Again weeping in the church, Dougless is taken back to 1560, four years prior to the execution. Even though she’s been invited by Nicholas’ mother to live in the Stafford family home, she has her work cut out for her trying to get her warnings through to Nicholas, as he has no recollection or recognition of her at all and makes it clear he doesn’t trust her. Time is against Dougless, as certain events begin being set in motion for other events to still occur as they are printed in the history books.
Dougless isn’t the typical strong-minded heroine and she may be hard to relate to in the beginning, as she is too much of a doormat with absolutely no spine. Therefore, the first twelve pages of chapter one can make the reader question whether they really want to bother reading more of the book. Fortunately, it improves markedly, when the boyfriend and his daughter are no longer actively interacting with Dougless. She does develop some spunk as her character grows throughout the book.
The name ‘Dougless’ annoyed me, particularly at the beginning of the story. It slowed down my reading, as I kept pausing in my mind, checking that yes, that’s the female character that’s being referred to.
Nicholas isn’t a stereotypical knight. He doesn’t swoop in and meet every need of the ailing heroine. He is strong, masculine, loyal, loving, intelligent, and they share a connection that takes them time to understand, accept and develop. Ultimately, they rescue each other, with their souls being intertwined across 400 years. The downside is that he’s still a chauvinist, both in the 16th and 20th Centuries. Nicholas approaches so many of the modern items with raw fascination.
By three-quarters of the way through the book, I was really rooting for Dougless and Nicholas to end up together, but wasn’t able to imagine how the author could conceivably make it happen. Well, she didn’t. It wasn’t a predictable ending. Romantically, it was disappointing, though more ‘realistic’, if realistic can be applied, expected or anticipated in a time travel story. People will probably either love or hate the ending, with it being bittersweet.
Some of the historical facts from the Elizabethan era were very interesting but half of them were presented in a fashion that was more of a lecture or a history lesson, rather than being woven more into the story. We were told rather than shown, and it sometimes dominated the story, leaving the developing relationship in the background.
In A Knight in Shining Armor, Jude Deveraux has created a realistic time travel experience that’s a touching story.