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Saturday, June 3, 2006

Honor's Splendor by Julie Garwood

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.

The first time I read this book was years ago, while I was at a friends birthday. I saw the book, picked it up and read the first line.

They meant to kill him.

These words left me both curious and somewhat uncertain as to whether I'd ever read the book. But my friend Jayne assured me that it was well worth the read and to take it home. And so I did. It wasn't until weeks later when I found it sitting on my desk, that I gave the book a fighting chance to prove itself. And it did. My goodness, it did. Each time I re-read it, I love it even more.

The novel begins with Madelyne rushing out to save Duncan Wexton from the cold, where her evil step brothers men were holding him, wanting him to freeze to death and no one be the wiser. What Louddon's loyal men didn't count on, was Madelyne coming to Duncan's rescue to recitify the injustice. Terrified to the bone but determined to assist Duncan, Madelyne makes quick work of releasing him and then bringing him to a temporary sanctuary in the chapel. From there much to her chagrin, she continues to hold up a one sided conversation, as well as scolding Duncan for believing her brother would stick to their truce and act honorably. Madelyne then realises that being left out in the cold for so long had affected him and she needed to find a way to bring feeling back to his body. And fast. So she did the first thing she can think of, to help him.

She carefully lifted her clothing, still remaining decent, and pulled Duncan's feet towards her stomach and warmed them.

It was the most unselfish act Duncan had ever witnessed. And he was completely undone by it.

And it was the one move that Duncan, the ever strategic planner, had not planned on. What had started out as an act of revenge on Duncan's part, had dramatically changed and altered the future for them both. The revenge he sought could not hold a candle to the innocence Duncan saw in Madelyne, nor the fierce desire and possessiveness he felt towards her. As the book progressed, Duncan began to see Madelyne as more than a pawn in his quest for vengence, but the only woman to please and infuriate him at the same time. He could not fault her for her brothers misdeeds. Instead, his protective nature kicked in and he was a man intent on protecting what was his. And Madelyne, was his.

Both Duncan and Madelyne come across several issues which demonstrated a life together would be near to impossible, but as the romantic formula goes..they work it out. Along the way, we get to know the Wexton clan - who at first refuse to welcome Madelyne for she is the enemies sister, but eventually Madelyne is able to win them all over and acts very much like the glue to hold the family together. In addition, we get to see both Duncan and Madelyne kick ass in the end and boot Louddon's sorry ass to the kerb to get what he deserves. Jerk ass prick.

I will always have a soft spot for this one. Not only because it was the book that reeled me into the romance reading world, but because it had everything I could ever want to read about. Duncan was oh so swoonworthy, making me sigh with contentment so many times over the way he felt towards Madelyne. I simply adored the way he felt his life was built around her and how he roared in absolute grief when he thought she was lost to him. Oh my, I do love his protective nature. And even better, he was the first to put his heart out there and tell Madelyne how he truly felt. *sigh* Thats a GREAT hero right there.

He's the type of hero that makes reading romance novels worth it, the type of Real Man that Mailyn was discussing just the other day. He's a fierce and strong warrior, a devoted and loyal brother, and a man who loves his woman unconditionally. What's more, once he has his mind set on a goal, there was no going back. To hell with the dramatic consequences. Once he realised that Madelyne meant more to him than he could ever have thought, he fought tooth and nail to make sure she stayed where she belonged. With him. And nothing was going to rip her away from him. And I loved him even more for that.

As for Madelyne, I didn't get annoyed be her at all. I thought she was courageous and came a long way from the character we met at the beginning. I liked how she was honest even though she didn't want to be; I liked how she protected Gilard, Duncan's youngest brother even though she didn't have to; I liked how she helped Adela, Duncan's sister, deal with what had happened to her in the past, and the way she brought the Wexton family closer together -- even though that could not have been easy. I loved the way she sassed Duncan and drove him nuts trying to figure out how else she'd complicate his life. But most of all, I loved her unwavering trust and faith in Duncan especially in the end when she defied convention and spoke with her heart to prove her loyalty to her Duncan, at the expense of her reputation.

This book definitely belongs on my keeper shelf. It's just, amazing. And if you haven't read it, I suggest you run not walk to grab this one from the bookstore/library..and read it. :)


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i love this book, i read it almost everyday!

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