As Carmen's first review as our "Official" Turnback Tuesday Host, she is reviewing Honor's Splendour.. taking us back to a time in English History fraught with conquest and control. *Shauni
A truce broken, no matter how temporary the pact, sets Baron Duncan "Wolf" Wexton into revenge mode. "An eye for any eye," he says. In retaliation (for more than one atrocity), Duncan takes Madelyne, his enemy's sister, as his captive and gets waaaaay more than he intended. Why Duncan gets a life!
As unwilling as Madelyne is to be forcibly removed from her brother, Louddon's home, her courage and empathy stun Duncan (opening scene + her rescue = WOW) and actually demonstrates little love for her big bro. Madelyne cowers over Duncan's commanding presence, but when she sees his refusal to harm the innocent, along with the loyalty and respect his army affords him, Madelyne recognizes an honorable man beyond the "wolfish" exterior. A gradual admiration takes root and they proceed to discover each others splendors.
When once Madelyne declared "He was a man without conscience, a warrior without a heart", Duncan's overtures begin to take a softening effect. While indignant (and dejected when she has to explain her role as a pawn in the pending war would have no impact upon Louddon), Madelyne suddenly ascertains:
"her ability to concentrate was always in jeopardy whenever she was around Duncan. She didn't understand her reaction to him, but accepted it all the same. The baron was able to worry her without speaking a word. He disturbed her peace of mind, confused her too. When he was close to her, she wanted him to leave. Yet when he was away from her, she missed him."Sounds like infatuation to me! Better yet...it's love (yes, I'm swooning...). The realization of feelings was not embraced by either, it's a romance after all, but the culmination, the surrender, was quite decadent *Garwood-inducing blushes!*
Now this is where it gets muddled for me. 71% into the book and Garwood hadn't broken my heart. Naturally, I prepared myself for an onslaught. The grudge Louddon carries against Duncan escalates to despicable levels (although you'll be repulsed by him early on, let me assure you), there will be lies to deflect and protect (but those, fortunately, don't lead to turmoil), and I was half-convinced an underestimated character would ruin the outcome of a momentous ruling! *Exhales...* Garwood came through in fine form as her genius dictates. But having said that...is that what I missed? The torment, the torturous path to HEA? Is that what Honor's Splendour lacked for me? How screwed up am I?!
While I enjoyed the book immensely, the premise was very similar to Garwood's Lairds' Fiancee series (The Bride and The Wedding), I felt Honor's Splendour lacked emotion. There were brilliant exchanges, but I missed Garwood's quintessential dialogue. I remain unresolved in my opinion of Madelyne. While I loved her journey of self-discovery and the ardor she felt for Duncan, I couldn't decide if she was a headstrong intellectual or a...NOPE. I'm going to stop this tirade. Truth is, some books resonate more than others. Perhaps MY head was foggy during the read (I am coming off a horrid sinus infection). I don't want to explore why I didn't care as deeply as I usually do because I can guarantee it did have a tremendous impact on another reader.
Honor's Splendour is a commitment to cherish the one you love for its value is beyond measure. On this, Garwood leaves no doubt.