Stars in their Eyes
Lynn Kurland’s stories have always been a comfort read for me. Handsome, chivalrous heroes matched with independent, caring women, all with the fantasy of travelling through time to find true love. I picked up Stars in Your Eyes excited to once again delve into this world, but I quickly became disillusioned with the story and found no comfort from the read.
The future for Phillip De Piaget has always been about securing his family’s place as one of the most influential in the court of Henry the Fourth. As heir to the Earl of Artane, Phillip has spent his adulthood learning about court politics and creating alliances that will benefit his lands and title for years to come. Agreeing to wed the mad daughter of a Scottish lord and taking their lands as dowry will give the earldom a place from which to defend themselves against any threats from the north and give Phillip holdings away from the influence of his sire. On his latest attempt to get his betrothed to the altar Phillip is instead met at the castle by a young woman who indeed seems mad but is nothing like the coarse Scottish lass he’d been expecting.
Imogene Maxwell has her own future laid out for herself. Her latest job on a film shoot in England is just the first step in her career as a successful production designer in Hollywood. Having no support from her family, Imogene has advanced through sheer determination and has not allowed anything to get in the way of her dream. When strange events begin happing around her during her stay, Imogene dismisses it all as fatigue and pushes even harder to find something that will impress her director. However, while on location in a quaint Scottish village her awakening to the paranormal takes a giant leap as she is thrust out of 2015 and straight into the arms of a noble knight who has no patience for anything that hints of magic.
Somewhere within the many stories Ms. Kurland has written about her fictional De Piaget family she has become too dependent on a strict formula and her heroes and heroines are almost interchangeable from one book to the next. Phillip is written in such a way that I could pluck him out of his own story and place him as the hero in another without even noticing the difference. To fit the mold of a De Piaget hero, he has been made to lose the wide-eyed wonder readers have seen in his previous appearances, and is now more interested in mundane things like politics and land holdings.
The attitudes towards time travel in this book have become so blasé that rules established previously are now rewritten to suit the need of each story. Characters in 13th Century England talk about traveling to the future as if they were traveling to the next county. We get quick glimpses of previous characters who have made their way through the numerous time gates in England but they mostly serve as counterpoint to Phillip’s almost maddening refusal to accept that spectacular things have been happening to his family for so many years. There is no magic anymore to the time hopping. I would probably been happier with the story if both Phillip and Imogene had just been people meeting and falling in love within their own era and not been star-crossed through time.
Even the romance has fallen into the rut where the reader is told the characters are in love but very little is written to show that love unfolding. A clean romance can be just as effective as the steamiest story as long the emotions develop well between the principals. But here, there is little chemistry between Phillip and Imogene. Her feelings towards Phillip change so rapidly from attraction to love that I had to go back to confirm that I hadn’t missed some portion of the story. They barely speak to one another on a deep level so all the courtship we get is two of them making calf-eyes at one another while Phillip plies her with his charm and she scoffs at his Medieval ways. Truthfully, they barely like one another until the midway point of the story and by then it was too late to make any real emotional connection feel believable.
Putting the romance aside, neither Philip nor Imogene are fully fleshed-out characters, and both suffer from being completely one-note throughout the story. He is introduced as the aloof future heir to one of the largest earldoms in England, more than happy to turn a blind eye to the peculiarities of his family. She is the youngest daughter of a straight-laced family who wants to break out of their mold and be creative. It could almost work as an “opposites attract” set-up except that neither one of them seems to really grow from their relationship with the other. Phillip’s ideas change not because of Imogene herself but more from the confrontation of what she represents as a time traveler; and Imogene stays too focused on her own goals until the last beats of the story when her brother forces her to decide what she really wants from life. Considering that for the bulk of the book Imogene is set on working in the movies and not being beholden to her family legacy, her final actions just scream convenient plot device rather than an organic growth of her self-perceptions.
Stars in Your Eyes could have been a great relaunch for a well-loved series, with a new generation of characters and a renewed sense of magic in their world. Unfortunately, the overly complicated story has nothing new to add to the series and isn’t entertaining enough to stand on its own. I might read it again later to see if less anticipation will help the story, but in truth it was probably the final book I will pick up from this author who has been an auto-buy for so many years.