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Since one of the unique aspects of this novel is its ending, this review contains some spoilers. For this re-read, I picked up the Kindle version of the updated edition. When I decided to revisit A Knight in Shining Armor which was the second romance novel I ever read, after Savage Thunder , I confess that I was almost afraid to re-read it for a couple of reasons.
I know, I know. As the novel shows, time and experience leave their mark on a person, and that certainly includes me as a reader. Also, just as I remembered, Dougless did enough crying for the both of us. Poor Dougless Montgomery, with her overachieving family and her inability to find her dream man. I understand that Dougless feels legitimately victimized by Gloria, who is herself an insecure girl feeling very threatened by the lovely young woman her father lives with he shares custody with his ex.
Gloria takes her anger out on Dougless by lying and pouting and generally behaving like an adolescent. This was still a shocking scene the second time around, and seemed just as uncharacteristic of Dougless as the first time I read it. Anyway, once our villains are out of the way, Dougless is left to fend for herself, so she does something that is very characteristic of her and breaks down in tears.
However, any reader familiar with this novel know just how many tears Dougless sheds throughout the story, even if those tears play an important role in connecting with Nicholas. Nicholas is Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck. Soon this confusion turns to anger, since he believes Dougless to be a witch, and this conflict marks the start of their relationship.
I like the way the novel is constructed, with the first half taking part in the twentieth century, and the second in the sixteenth. The very beginning, however, takes place in the past, and the very end in the present.
This juxtaposition very much pleases my pattern-loving brain, and feels well thought-out. It also underscores the fact that both Dougless and Nicholas are on personal quests, and that they both need to make fundamental changes.
Finally, I think this construction helps us understand, and perhaps, accept, the ending. But more on that later. Without giving too much away, Dougless believes she has the answer at one point, but Nicholas remains.
Then something important happens between them, and he does go back to his own time; however, when Dougless checks her history sources, she discovers that the worst has happened to Nicholas. Because, in reality, Dougless is there to save herself as much as she is to help Nicholas. Her experiences in the 16th century will be a test of those qualities that usually fail her: confidence, a strong sense of identity, and ultimately the ability to make good choices for herself.
Eventually, Nicholas begins feeling an uncanny connection to Dougless, and following a series of dramatic incidents he believes her claims of having come from the future to help him. However, there is one thing she asks him to do that he feels he cannot, and this becomes a source of tension with his family as well. The end of her stay is highly dramatic, alternating between joy and despair, with a final sense of bittersweet accomplishment. And it is here, dear readers, that I must talk about the ending and other details that will definitely spoil a first reading.
Readers wanting a more complete opinion can keep reading below the spoiler line. A Knight in Shining Armor has many of the hallmarks of its time: melodrama, bigger-than-life characters, and a redheaded heroine who fights for the love of her life.
These, I think, make the novel feel a little dated. But buried deep beneath all the drama and passion is a lovely meditation on history, and memory, and the ways we can and cannot control how we are remembered. It is these insights, the realism with which life in a different time period is approached, and the courage of the ending that make this novel worth reading.
The novel ends with Dougless being sent back to her own time, alone. She has managed to keep Nicholas from marrying Lettice, and both the date of death on his tomb and the history books attest to the fact that he lived a long, fulfilling life.
No longer seen as a playboy who got himself beheaded for treason, the Nicholas ultimately remembered is a scholar and architect who never married but whose son from a pre-Dougless union goes on to make the Stafford line prosperous. Instead, on the flight back from England she meets a man who eerily resembles him, and the book ends with their sharing a meal on the plane. This is a bold move for a romance novel ending, but for me it works. You see, I find most time travel romances highly problematic for me for a couple of reasons.
Second, because the way this compromise is attained is usually to make the alternate time period completely comfortable and attractive to the person who will be displaced. In the end, how could either Nicholas or Dougless love someone willing to abandon their family and duties?
Nicholas, interested though he may be in modern life, will always have a sixteenth-century mentality. Dougless, for her part, needs to face the challenges of her own time, and not escape into a fantasy world. With her odd speech, wondrous medicines, and offbeat knowledge, she might naturally be thought to be a witch, and her fate would not be as benign.
Therefore, to me it makes sense that they cannot end up together. So the novel uses the trope of a reincarnation of sorts. Reed Stanford is the architect Dougless meets on the plane. And at this point, Dougless understands that she will, in a sense, reunite with Nicholas through this man who so uncannily resembles him.
That would have cheapened the ending for me. As I mentioned at the start, I had a difficult time with Robert and Gloria throughout the novel, because they seem like cartoon villains.
This is maybe my favorite romance novel of all time. Plus I believe the idea of reincarnation which Devereaux explores in a few other novels but not not nearly as successfully as she does in this one is insanely romantic. This is probably just me being a total sap but the idea that their souls found each other over time is just heart wrenchingly amazing.
There are so many amazing parts of this book—the humor in the first section as Nicholas explores and devours modern culture and when Dougless tries to seduce him. And the development and nitty gritty details in the latter half. An amazing accomplishment of a novel and one I think every newbie romance novel reader should experience at least once. Even though, often HFNs are for the chars we have been following throughout the book, and in these cases, we only meet the male half of the pairing in literally the last few pages of the book…?
I need to think about this some more. Suppose will have to reread to find out. Jude Deveraux is still my favourite classic romance writer and her Highland Velvet is my most favourite romance ever, but A Knight in Shining Armor is the book that caused her books to gradually drop out of favour with me.
Holly : Oh, interesting! Not in this book. Nicholas has a son from a previous affair, as I mentioned in the review, and he becomes the heir. Holly : Neat! I obviously need to remedy this! I have so many feelings about this book. So she was a gateway author for me. I remember that the ending worked for me.
And your explanation makes sense. I can see how it would not work for some readers. I cried a river when I read this book oh so long ago. This book will stay with me forever. Maybe because I was so young when I read it.
I was way more invested in Douglass than in Nicholas or in Douglass-and-Nicholas. I tend to be more heroine centric anyways. So the ending worked for me, because Douglass got a worthy partner. That never occurred to me, but I can see why hero centric or Nicholas centric readers would be pissed off on his behalf. We think of it as romance because Jude Deveraux is a romance author, but if it was a debut novel by another author, would we still consider it to be a romance?
What a great review. I read it when it first came out or so and though I cried a lot at the end, I also loved it. I find it interesting that so many readers today dislike the ending. My impression is that this was not as much the case in the s. When I first joined the online romance community about a decade after it was published, there was a lot more love for it in the community. Although there generally was a HEA, bad things could happen to the characters along the way.
I have a terrible memory for the details of books and tend to remember instead how they made me feel. I liked this book, and wanted to read more by JD as a result but never found another by her which felt as good. A point which occurred to me on reading the last comment — is an ending good enough if someone has to explain why it works? I think the answer is yes, because you may feel that the ending works without actually going further and thinking about it to understand why you know it works.
I seem to be the odd woman out here. It was the first and only book by Jude Deveraux I had ever read and it forever turned me off this author. Anytime I see her name on a book I have no interest in even looking at it.
I immediately move on to something else. The brief glimpse we got of Dougless and Reed in Sweet Liar, where Dougless is very pregnant, only cemented that ending in my mind. I stopped reading Deveraux quite a while back, though I still consider this book one of my favorites. Azure I want to see that in the sequel as well. Samantha notes that she met Dougless, who was married to Reed and was very pregnant.
This is the book that got me hooked on paranormal romance—reading and writing. The second time, not as strong but the book still touched my heart. Dougless needed a HEA so bad, it hurt.
A Knight in Shining Armor (Reprint) [Paperback]
Since one of the unique aspects of this novel is its ending, this review contains some spoilers. For this re-read, I picked up the Kindle version of the updated edition. When I decided to revisit A Knight in Shining Armor which was the second romance novel I ever read, after Savage Thunder , I confess that I was almost afraid to re-read it for a couple of reasons. I know, I know. As the novel shows, time and experience leave their mark on a person, and that certainly includes me as a reader. Also, just as I remembered, Dougless did enough crying for the both of us. Poor Dougless Montgomery, with her overachieving family and her inability to find her dream man.
A Knight in Shining Armor
Once upon a time…as a fair maiden lay weeping upon a cold tombstone, her heartfelt desire was suddenly made real before her: tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, her knight in shining armor had come to rescue his damsel in distress…. Abandoned by her lover, thoroughly modern Dougless Montgomery finds herself alone and brokenhearted in an old English church. She never dreamed that a love more powerful than time awaited her there…until Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck, a sixteenth-century knight, appeared. Drawn to him by a bond so sudden and compelling that it defied reason, Dougless knew that Nicholas was nothing less than a miracle: a man who would not seek to change her, who found her perfect just as she was. But she could not know how strong were the chains that tied them to the past—or the grand adventure that lay before them. Overall This is my go to book. When I'm down, when I'm happy, I love this book.
Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux