I discovered Lynn Kurland’s books around 4-5 years ago and blissfully read my way through her entire back list. I’m unabashedly a big fan of her writing. A couple of years ago on a reader forum somewhere I read that her books are full of anachronisms and I realized that she has quite a few harsh critics. But I love her stories and characters so much that I just cannot get worked up about the stuff that obviously bothers others. So because this one wasn’t available on Fictionwise the day it was released I did something I never do anymore—I bought it in print. And I am so glad I did. I had to force myself to read it slowly as it’ll probably be a year until her next release.
With Every Breath is another of her time travel stories, pulling in characters from previous books and novellas. While this stands alone quite well, it’s certainly more entertaining if you’ve read the other related books. Heroine Sunshine (Sunny) Phillips is the sister of Madelyn, heroine of A Garden in the Rain. Sunshine is drawn back to the year 1375 when Robert Cameron comes knocking on her door seeking help for his wounded brother. They fall in love, adventure ensues, and danger sends them running, eventually catapulting them back to the present. Only when Sunny wakes up, Cameron isn’t with her, and Sunny has to assume he’s lost to her. But not long after her return she meets business tycoon Robert Cameron—her Robert Cameron (she recognizes his scars, so she knows it’s him), only he has no idea who she is. Sunny is hurt beyond belief that he doesn’t know her while Cameron is strongly drawn to this woman who apparently knows him, but he has no idea how. Apparently when the two came back to the future they wound up in different years.
(This is probably the kind of thing that drives LK’s critics up the wall. There’s little logic to this time travel business in her books. To me, that’s the charm. Your mileage may vary.)
There are numerous interesting twists to this story starting with Cameron’s amnesia when it comes to Sunny. I’ve only read a handful of books with an amnesia plot, but to the best of my recollection, this is the first one I’ve come across where the hero is the one suffering amnesia. Cameron quickly falls in love with Sunny again, but things are complicated because he’s engaged to a bitchy woman he doesn’t love, but agreed to marry out of loyalty to the woman’s father. Sunny is still in love with Cameron, but doesn’t want him coming around her while he’s still engaged to another woman.
There’s a section in the middle of the book where Sunny is constantly crying and running away because there’s Cameron only she can’t have him because 1) he doesn’t remember their shared past, and 2) he’s engaged to someone else. It was starting to get old and I was on the verge of deciding that I didn’t like Sunny very much, when she finally decides to suck it up, trust Cameron, and wait for him to be free. That change on her part did not come a moment too soon, because I dislike characters who run from their problems. Sunny reverts to the Sunny we met in the very first part of the book who dealt with everything head-on. Whew. I suspect this inconsistency in Sunny’s character will bother some readers.
But Cam, now he totally redeems the book. Cameron was easy to like—a hero who combined the best characteristics of both alpha and beta heroes. He’s been in the future for 8 years before he sees Sunny again. He was aided by Alistair Cameron (a descendant of one of Robert Cameron’s brothers) and in a mere 8 years has adapted to the future, become well established in the business world, and earned himself a fortune. Don’t fictional heroes have all the luck? Interestingly, he is unaware that there are others like himself who have traveled from medieval Scotland to the 21st century. There’s a very poignant moment when Cameron realizes he’s not alone.
A part of the plot involves the fact that someone is trying to destroy Cameron and his business. Because he doesn’t want Sunny harmed by those trying to harm him (and that includes his fiancé), he wants to postpone dumping his fiancé and having a public relationship with Sunny. This part of the plot seems a little far-fetched until we learn who’s been manipulating everything behind the scenes. It’s a fun little mystery, but it doesn’t overwhelm Cam and Sunny’s story.
In the end, this is a largely character-driven romance with two characters I liked very much, especially Cam. Ms. Kurland’s appeal for me is her ability to convey genuine emotion with smooth prose and a good bit of gentle humor. She scored again and I happily recommend this book.