A Knight's Vow

Lindsay Townsend
2008, Medieval Romance (1130s England)
Zebra, $3.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 142010361X

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Warm

For the most part, A Knight's Vow is an inoffensive Medieval. I know that may seem an odd thing to say, but that is what I was thinking during most of the book: "Well, it's a bit dull, but at least I'm not offended." Too many near misses between the hero and heroine, though, moved the book from being innocuous to frustrating.

Guillelm de la Rochelle fell in love with his childhood friend and asked for her hand when he was 19 and she 14 years old. Alyson's father turned him down, saying Alyson was destined for the church. Guillelm left to fight in the Crusades and returns home seven years later to find his father dead and Alyson ensconced in his home as his father's betrothed, though the official ceremony had yet to take place. He quickly marries her himself and they go about the business of setting the castle and land to rights as they tiptoe around each other.

And that's about it. There is not much going on here. Guillelm and Alyson clearly still love each other, though neither will admit it. Alyson has some secrets she doesn't share about Guillelm's father and how cruel he was to Alyson, and Guillelm has some issues about his mammoth size and how he's sure no woman could love a hulking killing machine such as him. This is the basis of the conflict and it became frustrating to read scene after scene where Guillelm decides that Alyson does care for him and he will take a chance on love, only to withdraw again. I've never read such an insecure Medieval knight.

Guillelm's second in command, Fulk, takes an instant dislike to Alyson. He fears that she will take Guillelm away from his true mission in the Holy Land and so he plays several rather dirty tricks on her - which she doesn't share with Guillelm. While Guillelm does see Fulk's enmity, he does nothing about it, which sets up Fulk's Big Move against Alyson toward the end of the book. This section was completely over the top and so far removed from the blandness of the preceding action that it felt like it belonged to another book.

There were some very nice moments between Alyson and Guillelm as they got reacquainted and reminisced about their childhood friendship and past history, but these moments only put into starker relief how artificial their conflict was. So, while I do see some promise in this debut author's future, it was certainly not realized in A Knight's Vow.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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