One Knight Only

Julia Latham
2007, Renaissance Romance ([Late] 1480s England)
Avon, $5.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061235164
Part of a series

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Warm

There are very few things I wonít finish - books, movies, and, unfortunately, food. Yet there have been some rare instances in which I will lay a book down or walk out of a movie (food - usually never). However, if I had not been reading One Knight Only for review purposes, it would have been abandoned early on within the story.

Anne Kendall is a maidservant whose former lady (a woman she helped in a previous book by impersonating her) has just married and, on top of that, Anne is rejected by her family. Because sheís floundering, she jumps at the opportunity to help Lady Rosamond by impersonating her and traveling to meet possible husbands. Why? Because the real Lady Rosamond overheard a plot to harm the king - and knights from a secret order, The League of the Blade, have gathered to escort her safely to London so she can identify the guilty lords. To distract the guilty from the real Lady Rosamond, Anne acts in her stead, hoping to prove herself to the Bladesmen, so they will invite her to join.

While posing as Lady Rosamond, Anne runs into someone from her recent past; a man she could have loved who desired a noble marriage to lift his own circumstances. Sir Philip Clifford is a knight who rose up through the ranks to gain what prestige he has, yet he has always dreamed of more. Once he sees Anne, he knows she might be in over her head and despite some doubts, they both arrange it so that he can be one of her guards as she seeks a husband for Lady Rosamond.

As they travel to various castles, Anne and Philip grow closer. He realizes that she is a strong woman but seeking something she may not be able to obtain. She realizes that she does care about Philip despite his goal of a wealthy wife and understands that there will never be anything attainable between them other than a strong sexual attraction. As threats against the real Lady Rosamond and Anne begin to materialize, Philip recognizes he doesnít want to lose Anne.

There is really nothing overtly wrong with this book, yet it was a deadly dull read. Neither Philip nor Anne did anything to really annoy me, although Anne was a too sacrificial towards Lady Rosamond, which caused more than one eye-rolling event for me. The real issue is that the book lacked chemistry and romance. Apparently the couple was attracted to one another, and apparently they fell in love during their journey. But I don't know when that happened, because the tension, romance, chemistry, and even desire, were missing.

The plot of the story was certainly different - a servant, not nobility, wanting to advance her lot in life, at a time when social mobility was difficult, by joining a secret order of knights. However, the journey to meet the various lords was tedious and the resolution too long and drawn out. There are so many characters introduced that I had to backtrack often to remember which did what as they appeared again within the story.

While the premise of this book is different, it lacked momentum. As a result of its flaws, I simply wanted One Knight Only to be over and I doubt Iíll ever pick up another of Julia Lathamís books. This book proves the axiom that you can't judge one by its cover; if only Philip or Anne had been as interesting to read about as the cover was to look at.

-- Heather Brooks

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