I would like to start off this review by saying that I have traditionally been a fantasy nut and a romance hater. As a general rule, I have felt that the genres were rather clear-cut, like factions in an ongoing war about what is “good reading” and what isn’t. One day I read a Danielle Steele novel and have bitterly resented the waste of those twenty minutes ever since. So when a friend of mine suggested that I read this romance novel she loves by the name of Stardust of Yesterday, I quickly changed the subject to divert her attention and stop the horror. However, she eventually got her way by wearing me down incessantly like some sort of romance novel fascist, and I reluctantly picked it up. After putting it down a couple days later (I read it straight through the weekend), my expectations were blown to pieces. I never knew that a romance novel could be, well… so cute.
“Egad!” you say, “This isn’t genre-y at all! What are you thinking writing a review about this?!” Well, the sad truth is that sometimes, certain authors just market to the wrong crowd, especially when the genre lines blur. But I will contend to the day I die that this book was not meant to be a romance book. Okay, well, it has romance… a lot of romance… fine, the book centers around a romance. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this book should appeal to anyone with a fantasy bent. Really. Well, besides its medieval base, just look at the synopsis and you’ll see, too.
The story goes that Genevieve Buchanan, after losing her job, takes up an offer she just can’t refuse. The offer is really an inheritance: a castle in England. Oh yeah, and she gets a “blank cheque” (proper English for an unlimited expense account – what no girl should be without). So she goes away to her castle in the English countryside, hoping to find peace and happiness (yeah right, like that ever happens). However, the ghost of a medieval knight haunts this castle. As we later find out, our ghost Kendrick has been put under a (gasp!) curse that means he can never find peace until he obtains ownership of the castle. This is either by having our heroine, Gen, sign away the castle, or to kill her.
Naturally Genevieve wouldn’t be pleased about this and wackiness ensues until… yes, you guessed it… they fall in love. This, of course, causes all sorts of problems between the two besides general cheekiness. For instance, he is incorporeal, and she is… well, very much real. So they can’t touch or do any of the stuff that normal people get to do (metaphoric internet romance anyone?) And that’s about as much plotline as I can give without spoiling. Sorry.
Still with me? Good, because this book is so much more that its overview. Ms. Kurland kept me entertained the entire time with the antics of her characters. Whether they were fighting or making up, the situations were almost always funny. And the chocolate consumption alone is enough to make you want to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s in one sitting just from the cravings it produces. You kind of sit there and wonder how Genevieve can keep her heroine-like figure after the 50th milkshake (which is, of course, why this book should have been in the Fantasy section in the first place.)
Overall, this book gives you humor, romance and believable (i.e. grumbling, macho) knights, along with heroines who feel right at home in footy pajamas. No other romance novel (and not too many fantasy novels either) that I have ever read has been able to pull it off with the pleasing pace and flow (and not to mention chutzpah) that Ms. Kurland has given in this book. It is obvious that she cares for her characters and their development as much as I did. And I really, really did.