Saturday, July 31, 2010

Honor's Splendour by Julie Garwood *****

FIRST READ IN NOVEMBER 2008, now as audio book. Below is my first review and at the end I made some notes about the audio book.


Isn't it funny how the very end of a book can change your mind about your rating? I was truly liking it all the way through, and then the ending grabbed me and left that afterglow I require for a true save-it-from-a-fire keeper.

This is one of Garwood's medieval romances, set in England in 1099. Lady Madelyne is at the home of her brother Louddon when Duncan, Baron of Wexton, comes to kidnap her in retribution for Louddon's rape of his sister Adela. The baron is captured and is left to freeze to death, tied to a post, when Madelyne frees him. She takes him into a building to help him warm up and holds his freezing feet to her body - a pivotal moment early in the book, when she shows her generosity of spirit and begins unwittingly to win him over. She intends to let him go and escape from Louddon herself, but Duncan takes her with him, telling her she belongs to him.

Over the next several days, Madelyne travels with Duncan and his men back to his home, and he keeps her close and under his protection but vows not to seduce her, a vow he keeps although he sleeps next to her every night. At one point, Madelyne is wounded in battle, right near Duncan's home, and she spends several days in a fever, not knowing what she is doing or saying, and Duncan stays nearby the entire time.

On a forum, there is a current thread about besotted heroes - although Duncan doesn't recognize and acknowledge his love for Madelyne until much later in the book, his actions are those of a besotted hero. His alpha-ness does not extend to forcing seduction in any way, and he's protective of her in all ways. Madelyne recovers and goes on to win the hearts of Duncan's brothers and sister as well, and she also makes a lot of changes in their home and their way of living, so that soon all the servants and vassals are also under her spell. Duncan arranges for a priest to come and wed them, so that Madelyne will not have to go back to her abusive brother.

There are still many obstacles in the way of their eventual HEA - Louddon the brother is the cause of most of them. They have to travel to London to meet with King William II and Louddon is apparently quite thick with the king. He tries to convince the king he was ambushed by Duncan who then kidnapped his sister as revenge, and that he did not do anything to Duncan's sister Adela. Well, if I were to list all the obstacles, I will meander into spoiler territory - suffice it to say, none of the obstacles involves any misunderstandings between Duncan and Madelyne, and that in itself is refreshing.

It's an AAR Top 100 for 2007, and now that I'm done, I know why! 5 stars

====July 2010 ====audio book====
I finished the audio book today. The narrator is Anne Flosnick - I loved her reading of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, and have looked for her other readings. However, somehow her reading of this one was just a little odd to my ears. Maybe she was trying to capture the essence of a medieval romance which is different from Esme Lennox - after all, that was more a contemporary mystery, no romance at all. Something about the way she said "her" - huhhhhhhhh - dragging it out for long seconds - really seemed overly dramatic. Of course, not just that one word, but using that style of being overly dramatic and really enunciating and holding out syllables in that very high-British style - I dunno, it wasn't as pleasing as her Esme Lennox reading, I'm afraid.

But I did still love the ending.

1 comment:

Cindy W said...

That ending is AWESOME!!!!