|The Gilded Knight barely has enough going on to make a satisfactory anthology entry, let alone a full-length Regency novel. The characters are left to repeat the same scenes, over and over, and since neither of the leads are particularly interesting or sympathetic, it makes for a dull reading experience.
Lady Nell Simmons knows that itís time for her to move out of the estate she shared with her late husband. The new viscount wants the place for himself. But Nell has a daughter, Delphine, who comes down with strange fevers. Every time she gets sick, Nell fears that this time, she wonít recover. Her late husband was distant; theirs was hardly a love match. Delphine dreams of the day a Gilded Knight, one like the beloved statue in the garden, will ride in to rescue them and make everyone happy.
A knight does arrive, but heís no gilded hero. Heís Sir Charles Blake, and heís only making an appearance at the estate in order to persuade Nell to remove herself to London. His older brother is the new viscount and wants the house. If Charles completes the deed, his brother will pay off Charlesís gambling debts. Since Charles is basically a wastrel with no money, he reluctantly agrees. The estate, which belonged to his grandfather, was the scene of many unhappy summer holidays for Charles, whose bullying cousins and brother never let him forget that he had a lame foot.
Charlesís plan is to move the widow out and return to London as soon as possible. But Delphine is sick again, and Nell refuses to move until spring, for reasons she wonít explain. Against his will, Charles finds heís drawn to the sickly little girl and her mother. So he visits Delphine, and has conversations with Nell. Over and over.
Nell is annoying in more ways than one. Her reasons for not wanting to move until spring are patently ridiculous Ė she was once told by a gypsy fortuneteller that sheíd only be truly happy in one house. So sheís afraid to move because her new home might be an unhappy place. When Charles points out that sheís been miserable in this house and perhaps itís not her one true Happiness House, Nell is dumbfounded. She never thought of that! The idiocy of the fortuneteller bit aside, Nell appears to have the reasoning power of a gnat. But she bites her lip and her tears well up a lot, thereby demonstrating to Charles how brave she is.
Charles makes the shift from drunken gambler to caring father figure, but it all seems pat and false. Heís been basically drinking his life away, and it only takes one sick kid to show him the error of his ways? He explains that his father refused to buy him a commission because of his lame foot, plus there were the brothers and cousins who picked on him, so I guess thatís his excuse for becoming a wastrel. Charles just didnít have much depth to his character. Plus, hereís a man who gets falling-down drunk most nights, yet when he arrives at Nellís home, he becomes a virtual teetotaler. It didnít ring true.
The plot revolves around Delphineís illness and Charles and Nellís growing attraction. Delphine was a decent secondary character and was more interesting than the adults, though thatís not much of a recommendation. All in all, The Gilded Knight is a pretty dull Regency read.