Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux ***

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux is an AAR Top 100 Romance novel, first released in 1988 and apparently re-written and re-released in 2002. I read the 1988 version.

I have only read 1 other Deveraux, a paranormal about the Devil, which I like pretty well. AKISA is a time-travel novel, written before Outlander, that has time travel in 2 directions: the hero travels from the 16th c to the present and back, and then the heroine travels to the 16th c and back.

One thing I liked about The Time Traveler's Wife and Outlander was how time travel was handled, and what happened when you change history. Actually, in both, history is never changed: it is as it was - in other words, what happened in the past always did happen. Claire was always in the past with Jamie - he didn't have 2 pasts, one where there was no Claire and then another where she existed. And Henry's time travel was the same: it was as it happened, he didn't go back and change history.

Deveraux takes a different tack: history changes from as it was 2 times, so we have at least 3 different results. However - she never explores how much changing the past might change the future (or the present) in untold other ways. In fact - when the heroine is put back into the present, although the hero's 16th c death date has changed - and all his houses are now standing and owned by present descendants, nothing else has changed. Her life is no different; her boyfriend has had a change of heart but nothing else. She has the same parents, the same siblings, all doing exactly what they were doing before she went back in time and changed history. When she returns, the travel books now have different information; the tour guide now lauds the hero's past life instead of laughing at his rakishness. But life as we know it has not changed one iota.

Wouldn't changing the past have many more repercussions? Not in Deveraux's world.

Ok, the plot: heroine Dougless has a surgeon boyfriend that she is desperate to marry to prove her worth in life. Her backstory: her family is wealthy but doesn't let the kids inherit til age 35, and they must make it on their own before that. He apparently strings her along but we learn at the end how he has resented her wealth and her "playing" at being poor. Basically, we learn that he and she have not been communicating at all, and she is portrayed as pretty pathetic.

She certainly cries a lot.

When the boyfriend ditches her, without money, passport, plane ticket or clothes, in England on a vacation, she conjures up her Knight - the hero, Nicholas, born in the 16th c, wearing full armor. Why sometimes he is called Colin and sometimes Nicholas really never makes any sense, although there is a mention at the end that makes you think, Oh, this is why, but not really.

He adapts pretty quickly to 20th c life, all things considered, and lucky for him, he arrived with money which needless to say was incredibly valuable. They were able to sell it to a rare coin dealer and live quite well for the few days he was around (or was it weeks? I never got a true sense of time passing.) They decide he has been called to her for a Reason other than love - when he arrives and they do some checking, he died the day he left, slumped over a letter he is writing to his mother, 3 days before his scheduled execution for treason. They deduce that he needs to find out who betrayed him, since he says what he did wasn't treason at all.

I guess he couldn't have been called forward for love, then. She and he dance around their attraction, but he's a ladies' man and proceeds to flirt with and neck with anything in skirts, which irked me - wasn't he the hero?? It's sorta explained why he gets so cozy with Arabella, a descendant of a woman he dallied with in his own time: he thinks she will reveal what is written in his mother's diaries, just discovered in Arabella's home. yeah right.

The betrayer IS revealed, but Nicholas doesn't just magically go back, and so they continue on their journey - and finally DO IT at which point, whoosh, he gets swept back to his time. Hello?

Of course, she is grief-stricken and bereaved - alone again, no man, wah wah wah. What a cry baby. Then she discovers more information that Nicholas needs and Whoosh - she gets swept back to HIS time. But - oops - it's before he went to her, and he doesn't recognize her.

She somehow manages to charm everyone but him into letting her stick around, and she spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to revive his memories of her. He shows 1 sign of remembering, and she then works on him until he relents. He doesn't really remember but he has these feelings or something. He feels her soul calling to him, both in the past and the future. He feels what she is feeling, and can find her wherever she is. She has this connection as well, but only in the past, apparently.

When I finished reading this book, I thought maybe I'd give it 4 stars. But as I write this review, it's slipped to 3 stars and is just barely hanging in there. She was a whiny crybaby who just couldn't stand up for herself - and I didn't really see that much growth in her, even after her sojourn to the past. The whole plot device of her trying to stop his marriage to Lettice is incredible. First, in the future, he realizes that if she falls in love with him, she will grieve when he returns. He decides to lie to her, telling her he is in love with his wife (Lettice) in the past so she will not fall for him. Of course she does anyway, but it does color her feelings - he is, after all, a married man. (but he doesn't love Lettice one teeny bit.)

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ALERT - I've already revealed a lot, but from this point on I actually let the cat out of the bag, feed it and change its litter - exposing the ending. So if you don't want to know, click the close or back button on your browser or step away from the computer NOW.

Then, in the past, she tries to stop the marriage because she learns that Lettice is actually the betrayer that causes his death (that was change of history #1 - after he goes back, he no longer dies before the execution, but is actually executed). But she was so inconsistent - she didn't want to leave him, but she couldn't imagine staying, letting him marry Lettice and sticking around anyway. She has decided (not "figured out" because she isn't sure) that if she has sex with him in his time, she will be catapulted back into the future, so she plans to never have sex with him, just follow him around like a puppy. He actually asks her if he is supposed to remain celibate because of all this. I mean - come on!

Plus she just cannot grasp the fact that he is marrying Lettice out of duty and honor to his family and that what he is doing is morally the right thing to do, especially for his time. She's like a dog with a bone and just won't let it go. Hello, Dougless? Are you really just going to stay in the past, celibate, and watch him?

No she isn't: he leaves Lettice at the altar, rushes back and they do it like bunnies until sunrise when WHOOSH she is back in the future. And in the future, it's only a couple of minutes later. All signs of him are gone - everything that was in her tote that she used in the past is still there. But now - his tomb has a death date much later. He has lived into his 60s. But, she learns, he never remarried. What a fucking waste! He lived another 30+ years, making architectural and health history, but alone. His son - who died in the first iteration of history - lived and went on to prosper and now they're a wealthy family with several holdings.

So - she gave him up for that? So his family could be wealthy? But then, in a way, she had to give him up, or live in the 16th c, celibate. Assuming that is really what sent her back...

She then flies back to the States and meets a fellow on the plane that we are lead to believe contains Nicholas' soul, maybe by reincarnation, and that's the end. ??? So she might get her HEA (we aren't told), but Nicholas sure didn't. He got to boff her a couple of times, and then he just held out to the end, for all we know hoping she'd return. (Well, he probably got some but never married.) A lot of reviewers found that disappointing, but somehow this book still made it to the AAR Top 100, in 32nd place. In fact, there are 2 reviews at AAR, both A reviews.

I didn't hate it, so I'll stick with 3 stars. Maybe I should re-read it to see if I feel differently at some point.

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