REVIEW: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight by Anna Klein
All’s Faire in love and war…
Connie leads a double life. During the week, she is an up-and-coming designer and dressmaker, creating sleek, elegant gowns for the wealthy elite. But come the weekend, Connie becomes Lady Constance, a member of the House Felicitous at the local Renaissance Faire, creating beautiful historical garments for herself and her friends and teaching dancing to fair attendees. Fearing loss of business should her stylish clientèle discover her extracurricular activities, Connie keeps her professional life and her faire life carefully separate. However, everything changes when she’s saved from certain death by Sir Justin: a rising star in the joust and an actual knight in shining armour.
Behind his mask as Sir Justin, Dominic is confident and charismatic, but out of his armour, his courage fails him, and to his own horror he finds himself accidentally pretending to be his own best friend. Suddenly, he is in Connie’s life as two different men: the elusive Sir Justin who courts her over the internet and from behind a suit of armour and Justin’s ‘best friend’ Dominic who hangs out at her apartment and helps her move. The lie only grows bigger and Sir Justin finds himself faced with the most frightening challenge he can imagine: extricating himself from his lie and winning Connie’s heart as his true self.
But there’s something rotten afoot at the Faire, something that threatens its future, the community that has grown there, and even Sir Justin’s life. Will Lady Constance find the courage to step up and risk everything to defend her friends, save the Faire, and rescue her knight?
Dear Ms. Klein,
In a world of uber confident billionaires and SEALs, I like a beta hero every now and then. Throw in a touch of Cyrano and luscious clothes and I knew I wanted to try this book. Plus any book which manages to legitimately include “bodice ripping” gets a rousing “Huzzah!”
Connie and Dominic are both a little shy and use their alternate personas of “Lady Constance” and “Sir Justin” to give them some costume courage. Their weekend hobby and delight, the Foxingwood Faire, is a mix of past, present and future characters. Everyone from Roman centurions, medieval knights, belly dancers, pirates and clockwork characters mingles together. A crowd favorite event is the fairly authentic jousting – with women jousters too! – and it’s here that “Sir Justin” and “Lady Constance” meet.
Dominic literally rides to the rescue and makes such an impression that Connie and the other faire goers are dazzled. When he wears her favor during his tilts, the romantics swoon. But when Dominic seeks her out in the real world, his courage fails him and thus starts his bumbling dual life – something that induces bro-ly eye rolling, ribbing and fond exasperation in his roommate Lucas. I loved the relationship between these two as Lucas gets as “invested,” as he calls it, in the progression of his friend’s romance as Dom is. To be fair to Dom, one of his reasons for not immediately asking Connie out “in the real world” is the fear that she’d think him a crazy stalker for having tracked her down but as Lucas reminds him, to keep up the charade might also come across as creepy and weird, too.
Connie carefully keeps her two lives separate since her usual clients for her designer dresses are society ladies who might frown or worse sneer at Connie’s weekend world. One woman in particular practically keeps Connie in business but Joanna Marshall sometimes comes off to Connie as slightly imperious and a touch demanding. Still Joanna’s efforts to recapture her husband’s wandering interest via new dresses helps pay the bills. When a minor disaster strikes Connie, it’s Joanna and oddly enough “Sir Justin’s” friend Dom and his roommate who come to Connie’s rescue. Her friend might call “Justin” Sir Hotpants de Sexy, but it’s Dom who is there in person when Connie needs him.
As the story continues, it manages to keep Connie and Dom’s growing friendship and their interactions fresh and believable. Lucas along with Connie’s friend Claire keep them grounded and trying not to overthink their emails and text messages. Meanwhile back at the Faire, the other inhabitants of Foxingwood cheer on Justin and Constance’s romance at the lists.
But what about the nefarious “something rotten” at their make-believe world? Well it ties together the various plot threads and brings out the best in the honest faire participants. It also shows Joanna in a whole new light. But I got a teensy bit bored with the minutiae of faire bylaws and boggled at the thought that this could actually be a moneymaker for someone. Not to caste aspersions but how much moolah is there in dressing up and speaking in faux Ye Olde English every other weekend?
The moment has to come when the jig is up and the truth is revealed. I braced myself for shock and tantrums but was pleasantly surprised. By this point Connie and Dom are beginning to have feelings for each other and neither one acts like an idiot or indulges in Big Mis behavior so beloved in romance novels as a way to drag out the conflict for another few dozen pages. As Connie reasons, no other man had ever gone to this length to court her before.
The resolution of the final conflict brings out the best in the loyal faire people and gives Connie a chance to be the heroine of the moment for Dom – a lady saving her knight in shining armor. It also gives Connie the courage to begin to mingle her faire life with her real life as well as the freedom to let her artistic muse design the dresses of her heart. I imagine soon that “Sir Justin” and “Lady Constance” will continue to cause faire goers to swoon and sigh over their romance while Sir Justin’s gambeson will be the best designed and sewn one there. B
Amazon link The Modern Woman’s Guide To Finding A Knight