Desert Isle Keeper
A Knight in Shining Armor (#40 on our Top 100 Romances List)
An AAR Top 100 Romance
originally published on June 8, 1997
Back when A Knight in Shining Armor first came out in hardcover, I bought it, read it, loved it, and immediately started reading it again. I was at a friend’s house sitting by her pool one afternoon and was pronounced “anti-social” because I had my nose buried in the book and was pretty much ignoring the conversation around me. So I said to my two friends, “Let me read you a little something, and maybe you’ll understand why I can’t put this down.” So I started reading. Two hours and a sunburn later, the two of them were fighting over who was going to take the book home that night.
It was my first triumphant conversion to the wonderful world of romance.
Okay, so why does everyone love this book so much? I can’t speak for everyone, so I’ll tell you what I think. It has something to do with change, and how love can enact that change. It has something to do with the thought of actually being able to change the past. And it has something to do with the thought of a love so powerful, so pure, so timeless that it will literally span the ages.
When we meet Dougless Montgomery, she comes across as a total lamebrained pushover. She’s in a relationship with a guy who takes complete and utter advantage of her, so much so that in the early chapters of the novel you want to crawl into the pages, give her a good slap and shout “snap out of it” a la Cher in Moonstruck. The couple’s long-awaited vacation to England doesn’t turn out to be the dream Dougless was hoping for. Mr. Charm brings his equally obnoxious daughter along for the ride.
Dougless finally stands up for herself, only to be left alone in an English churchyard with no money, no passport, no man, no nothing. She starts sobbing atop the tomb of a long-dead knight when low and behold, the knight is suddenly standing beside her saying, “Well witch. You have conjured me. What do you ask of me?” He is Sir Nicholas Stafford, and he died in 1564. Dougless called him forth somehow, yet she has no idea how to send him back. So the duo embark on a history lesson of sorts, delving back into Nicholas’ life to try to find the key that will unlock the portel back to the past. It’s a journey that will lead both Nicholas and Dougless back to 16th century where they will have the opportunity to “put right what once went wrong”.
One of the most entertaining features of A Knight in Shining Armor is the “fish out of water” that Devereaux allows readers to experience – not just once, but twice. First it is Nicholas’ turn. For a 16th century man in modern England, he does a marvelously good job of adapting, mostly because he thinks of the trip as a holiday. He belittles the quality of the clothes, loves tea, becomes completely fascinated by anything remotely electronic and, because he is a learned man, looks with awe on bookstores. He tries to keep Dougless at arms length, but the two quickly become so protective of each other that it becomes impossible for him not to experience real “affection” for her.
From a reader perspective, Dougless’ trip back in time is infinitely more interesting, although not quite so amusing as Nicholas’ adventures in the 20th century. When Dougless arrives in Old England, Nicholas doesn’t know her. Determined to stick close and solve the problems that led to his premature death in the first place, Dougless passes herself off as the niece of the King of Lanconia (Devereaux afficianados will recognize her “credentials” as coming from her prior novel The Princess. Until Nicholas’ sceptical mother can verify her claims, she keeps Dougless on at Court for entertainment value. Dougless knows a lot of songs and proceeds to fill the castle with Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes galore. In the meantime, she does her best to convince Nicholas that the two of them meant something to each other, going so far as to bake him brownies and fried chicken in an attempt to trigger his memories. She eventually spends so much time in the past that she gets used to wearing layers upon layers of clothing and eating fifteen course meals. Devereaux gives a real history lesson in the daily practices of life inside a nobleman’s keep.
I don’t want to give away much of the plot because it is one that I have always found completely beguiling. Nicholas and Dougless don’t fall into bed immediately and it isn’t love at first sight. They become friends in need and build a relationship that grows stronger and stronger with each passing day. . . year.
Witnessing Dougless’ growth is equally fascinating. The mousy, put-upon schoolteacher has no choice but to accept the responsibility of what has been forced upon her. She begins to deal with her circumstances intelligently, yet she never sacrifices her basic innocence. For that is what Dougless is – an innocent who has trouble coping with the harsher aspects of life. Believing herself lacking in inner strength, she calls Nicholas forth. And it is not until after she is separated from him that she discovers a hidden depth of fortitude.
I don’t know that I have adequately expressed my thoughts on this all time favorite. It entertains me. It teaches me. It moves me. It makes me wish I could conjure up something half as magical. But most of all, it makes me believe that there is a knight in shining armor out there for everyone.
|Reviewer:||Laurie Likes Books|
|Review Date:||December 28, 2017|
|Book Type:||Medieval Romance | Time Travel Romance|
|Review Tags:||1500s | knight | The Montgomery/Taggert Family series | Time travel romance | Top 100 Romance|
I loved this one when it came out but never went back to re-read it because of the ending.
I know I’m in the minority but I never liked this book – I read it when it came out and HATED the ending. Reread it years later as it always appears in best ever lists and still didn’t like it. Loved “The Princes” and “Sweet Liar” but do a hard pass on this one
Oh This is where everything began. This is the book that drew me in and hooked me to romance for life. I read it in french in my youth and just loved it. It wasn’t the cover that catch my attention (definitely not) but the title « Vint un chevalier », a very original title indeed. And then I read it and then I was screwed because it was so good. I loved it so much that I re-read it much later in english (and I’m not usually a « re-reader »). And you know what : I prefer the french version. There’s something in the langage, the accents, the tone, I don’t know, that I find more fit somehow. Or maybe it just because it was my first romance, kind of (I read 2 others before this one but they didn’t have the same appeal). I won’t say that I haven’t read better books since but AKISA will always have a special place in my heart.
Love, love, love this book. Even the title errors (that I didn’t notice when I was a more ignorant reader) don’t bother me. Carla Kelly’s are the only other books I can love even with title errors.
I remember finding it sweet when I read it years ago, but I never returned to it or thought about it again.
Great review! I remember sobbing when… sorry. I think I need to go reread it to see if it still does it for me. I can hardly believe it was published in ’89. It seems like a lot older than that.
This is one of the first romance novels I ever read. And I read it many times because I didn’t have many others to choose from. I can’t say I’ve had any desire to go back and re-read it, though.