Thursday, April 29, 2010

Till There Was You - Lynn Kurland

Summary: Zachary Smith is finished with high-maintenance women, impossible clients, and paranormal adventures. He wants an ordinary life and a happily-ever-after with a fresh-faced girl next door. But when he walks through a doorway into a different century, he knows his life isn't going to turn out quite the way he planned.

Mary de Piaget is passionate about two things: training her father's horses and avoiding wedded bliss. But when she finds herself facing marriage to the most perfect knight in England, she fears more than her freedom, because only she can see the malice behind perfection. And then a chance encounter with a strangely dressed traveler kindles her hope for a different fate.

But to change Mary's life is to change Zachary's future--with disastrous results. Yet how can either of them face the alternative... (Summary from book - Image from )

My Review: My mother called me up the other day and told me about this book. Let me type that again -- My MOTHER told me to read a ROMANCE NOVEL. For those of you who know my mom I think you need to stop and recognize the magnitude of that recommendation. Now, before I get an angry phone call from her about how I made her sound like a trashy book reader, let me clarify. My mom is a fan of, among other things, clean romance novels (and by “clean” I mean if there’s sex, you don’t read about it). You can imagine that these are quite hard to come by. So, when I found myself in possession of a gift card I scooted myself over to the bookstore and sheepishly picked up a copy and set to reading.

Let’s all agree that romance novels, at least the ones with hot pink covers, rarely have any basis in reality and any hopes the reader might have for realistic relationships, meaningful characters, or an original plot need to be chucked out the door. Most of the time I’m okay with that since I usually read to relax and escape from whatever is bugging me that particular day. Till There Was You pretty much covered the spectrum of things that can’t happen – the most obvious being time travel. I knew it was coming, having been forewarned by my mother, so it wasn’t a complete shock and I was able to get over it pretty quickly and settle in to what was shaping up to be a pleasantly romantic novel. There was lots of chivalry, romantic tension, and a girl who, thankfully, had a mind of her own.

All was going along swimmingly until the last third of the book when something happened (I won’t say what) and the entire setting of the novel changed. This change, and the assortment of depth-less characters that came with it, completely threw me out of book. While their stories weren’t terribly important to the current non-plot, I felt like I had started over in a new book and I didn’t particularly like it. I never did get the chance to settle all the way back in before the book was over.

While this story is a technically a stand-alone novel, it did make frequent references to other characters who obviously had their own novels. I’ll confess that I found it a bit distracting not knowing exactly what had happened in these other stories (likely an intentional omission designed to get me to read all the other books) and I often felt like I was stuck on the outside of an inside joke. If you are interested in reading this series, you might want to read some of Kurland's other books (though I can’t attest to their content) and can find out the order to read them here.

My Rating: 3 Stars. If I were rating this solely against other novels that fall into the romance-novels-without-sex category, then it might rank higher. Unfortunately for Ms. Kurland, it's getting judged against Ella Minnow Pea, The Help, and House of Gentle Men.

Sum it up: If you are looking for a clean, purely romantic read, you will find it here. Just try not to get thrown out of the book.

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