My Heart Stood Still
Thomas McKinnon is almost too well-suited to be the hero of a time travel romance. He has degrees in both history and law; he easily made millions on the stock market so he doesn’t have to waste time at a job; and he spends his days traveling, mountain climbing, and renovating old houses. And he sees dead people.
Thomas is strangely haunted by a picture of an ancient castle, so he buys the castle sight unseen and plans to renovate it. But he soon discovers that the castle is inhabited by a garrison of rowdy medieval ghosts, and by their mistress, Iolanthe MacLeod, a beautiful, lonely woman who was murdered there nearly eight hundred years ago. Iolanthe recognizes Thomas immediately. She has dreamed about him ever since she was a child. What is the connection between them?
The relationship between Thomas and Iolanthe grows slowly into a powerful love, made all the more poignant by the fact that they cannot touch one another. Fortunately for them, this book is related to Lynn Kurland’s other paranormals, which feature handy time-travel spots. Thomas soon gets in touch with other Kurland protagonists, who teach him to sword-fight and help transport him to a time just before Iolanthe’s untimely death. He plans to rescue his beloved and bring her to the present. But will the living Iolanthe even remember Thomas, whom the ghost Iolanthe had loved?
This book is thick with entertaining secondary characters, most of them ghosts, who leaven the emotionally intense story with lots of humor. I also very much liked the romance in this book. Both characters are likable, especially the melancholy Iolanthe. The physical barrier – he’s alive, she’s dead – that keeps them from so much as kissing lends the romance a sort of epic power that I don’t readily associate with Kurland. I was touched by the fact that the hero and heroine of this book actually plan to stay together, forever, even though there can be no physical component to the relationship.
I didn’t like it so much after Iolanthe had been rescued from the past, however. After all that build-up, I was hoping for a passionate consummation. Instead, our hero and heroine worried about money and insecurity and lack of privacy: all things that I worry about in real life. That drained much of the magic from the book for me. Also, the time travel element seemed much too convenient – to the point of being contrived. For example: it sure did come in handy that Thomas just happens to speak fluent archaic French, didn’t it?
My Heart Stood Still is funny and romantic. I thought that the end lacked the emotional punch of the rest of the novel, but it’s still definitely worth reading. I predict that fans of Kurland’s trademark blend of romance, humor, and the paranormal will be particularly pleased.