A Knight's Vow
by Lynn Kurland, Patricia Potter, Deborah Simmons, and Glynnis Campbell; historical (2001)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13151-2


All four stories, okay make it three (I have no idea what Glynnis Campbell's novella is all about), revolve around a vow a knight has made. These three are very readable stuff and I still have no idea what Glynnis Campbell's novella is all about.

Let's start with Lynn Kurland's The Traveller. It's a new one from her, so if you're one of those conned into buying her recent trade-sized reissue of novellas, you can buy this one and not gnash your teeth. However, it's a standard Lynn Kurland time travel novella and as usual, connected to virtually everything she has written before. Really, this author's fictitious clan must be the only one in history to have their members marrying so many time travellers. One is pushing it. This - what, fifteen? - many is really pushing the boundaries of my ability to suspend my disbelief.

In 1299, rogue knight Sir William de Piaget takes a vow to protect all women in distress. In 2001, Julianna Nelson, hating her diet, takes a nibble of Godiva chocolates and gets thrown back to 1299. (Don't cheat your diet plans - this is a public service announcement from Lynn Kurland.) The usual happens - her acclimatization, the instantaneous hotties between de Piaget and our chocolate-lovin' damsel in distress. In short, strictly typical time travel romance, Kurland-style, although the healthy dose of humor and likeable characters go a long way in making The Traveller a cute and adorable read.

I like Patricia Potter's The Minstrel best of all, because it actually has some melodramatic I-can't-live-without-your-love mawkishness that works. Duncan makes a vow to his dying mother to marry for love, even if he doesn't believe in love. Now he is honor-bound to do just that, marry for love. But to separate the money-mad women from genuinely lovelorn ones, he decides to masquerade as a nobody. Who, who - ah, a minstrel, that's who! A woman who falls for a minstrel must be loving him for himself. No problem!

Thing is, his bardic skills are a bit rusty after years of misuse. But one day in the woods he encounters this woman who plays the lute very well (please get your mind out of the gutter), and he asks this woman to teach him how to play the lute. Again, please get your mind out of the gutter. Seriously, what do you think this is? An Emma Holly swing-all-ways erotica? He falls for her, not knowing she's actually a highborn lass. There could be misunderstandings, but the author instead uses the revelation hours to only reaffirm the two lute-playing lovebirds' trust and love. Nice. And poignant too.

Then we have Deborah Simmons' The Bachelor Knight. This is also a nice one. Berenger Brewere, the knight in question, is asked by the daughter of the man he pledged his vow of service/favor/debt-repayment to marry her for the usual reasons (don't want land to be seized by greedy neighbors, etc). Guenivere (no, I didn't make a spelling mistake) however is determined to keep this marriage strictly business, even if Beren wants to go all the way.

I love Beren. He's a bad, naughty dude. Guen, however, is strictly nitwit who is too blind to see a good thing before her. She doesn't grovel enough, but hey, what the heck, Beren makes up for that irritating wench's presence. Nice fun, this story.

And no, I still haven't figured out what Glynis Campbell's The Siege is all about. I'm not saying the story is incoherently plotted. I just find it hard to care about what is going on. The story begins with our heroine Hilaire risking being caved in just to - get this - retrieve her harp. Turns out her home is being stormed by her persistent suitor "The Black Gryphon". She trips, blacks out, and is rescued by a handsome, charming knight she falls for instantaneously. Turns out he's the Black Gryphon, but don't tell our heroine.

And yes, Hilaire is as stupid as you can imagine and more. No survival instincts, no logical reasoning skills, but she is very good at childish tantrums though, she's not as "hilaire-yoos" as the author would hope. Anyway, she's 17, but I think I've just insulted 17-year olds everywhere. The Black Gryphon dude, thrice married and hence much older than Hilairyoos here, administers the Sugar Daddy treatment to Hilairyoos and I feel like a reluctant party to some child-abuse affair.

Maybe Black Griffy has laid siege on the medieval Lolita Home for Childlike Petulant Nitwits instead of some castle.

Still, I wouldn't let Hilairyoos and her Mack Daddy ruin my fun. A Knight's Vow, with three out of four novellas making the grade, is a cut above most anthologies floating around the market at the moment. I really like this one.

Rating: 88


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