Title: Honor’s Splendour
Review number: 19
Genre: Romance / Medieval
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Summary: In the feuding English court, gentle Lady Madelyne suffered the cruel whims of her ruthless brother, Baron Louddon. Then, in vengeance for a bitter crime, Baron Duncan of Wexton—the Wolf—unleashed his warriors against Louddon’s main. Exquisite Madelyne was the prize he catured…but when he gazed upon the proud beauty, he pledged to protect her with his life. In his rough-hewn castle, Duncan proved true to his honor. But when at last their noble passion conquered them both, she surrendered with all her soul. Now, for love, Madelyne would stand fast…as bravely as her Lord, the powerful Wolf who fought for…Honor’s Splendour.
Why did I read the book: I am reading Julie Garwood’s backlist.
Duncan of Wexton has always lived by the rule of discipline. He is tough knight, a Baron who has pledged allegiance to King William II and has put his duty as a landlord ahead of the need to be a loving brother to his three younger siblings. His is an ordained world and there is no room in his life for laughter or joy. Until he gets acquainted with chaos personified in the form of Lady Madelyne . She is the sister of his sworn enemy, Baron Louddon , another favourite of the king. Louddon has raped and badly injured Duncan’s sister and as revenge, Duncan destroyed his castle and captured Madelyne whom he expects to use as pawn in their battle of wills. But as soon as they have their first interaction he knows that he will never let her go.
It doesn’t matter that she drives him crazy or that she subverts his whole household into loving her. She even manages to turn his crazed stallion into a lamb who feeds from her hands. Everything without even realising what she is doing – she is the epitome of innocence and she has no idea of her true value because her whole life she was treated as a pile of nothing by her father and brother. But she is also courageous as she tries to cope with her fears and her feelings towards Duncan. They eventually need to get married so he can fully protect her and then their lives together start with Madeline realising that her power lies in the way she fiercely faces him, even when she is shaking inside. The moment they both realise that theirs is a bond of love is as sweet as it is funny.
Her interactions with his family are deliciously amusing and she becomes mother hen to everyone. But she is also so absent minded that she goes about her way suffering her near-death experiences which gives everyone near-heart attacks. Duncan succumbs to the unavoidable by eventually letting joy into his life and with her help, bridges the distance between him and his brothers and sisters.
All secondary characters are interesting and fully developed and I particularly liked Duncan’s sister storyline from her suffering after being brutally raped to her interactions with her fiancée, Gerald. The moment he avenges her is truly a moment of triumph.
As usual with Julie Garwood’s stories we are presented with a rich story of love in a well-researched historical background: The machinations of King William’s court are interesting to read and the scenes when they have to attend the Court to face Lauddon are extremely well written as are the battle scenes when have a grasp of the gruesome business of killing people. Madyline is caught in the middle of it a couple of times and her distress is so palpable, it is heartbreaking.
Honor’s Splendour is sweet, exciting, funny at times and sad at others. Truly, a gem.
Notable quotes/ parts: When she has a fever and starts hallucinating , thinking that everyone around her are characters from Homer’s Odyssey. It was completely hilarious to read as she struggles with the fever for three days whilst battling Duncan’s brother thinking he is a Cyclops!
Additional thoughts: The historical background when the story is set is a time of turmoil for England. William II is less than a respected King. No one seems to have liked him, specially not the Church with whom he had many problems. He was killed by an arrow while hunting in a quite controversial accident. Henry, his youngest conniving, brother, assumed the throne after his death. Both appear in Honor’s Splendour. And we have some glimpses of what could have been their interactions.
Verdict: I love novels set in medieval times and this is one of the best I read.
Reading next: A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh