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REVIEW: Honor’s Splendor by Julie Garwood

Dear Ms. Garwood:

Honors SplendorI want you to know that I open myself up to ridicule from any number of blogland sources such as my blogging partners, Jayne and Janine, Keishon, Maili, and who knows else by writing this love letter to you. Alas, I cannot let this week of thankfulness pass by without referencing at least one of your books that I have read so much that is poor cover fell off. So I am hiding this review on Thanksgiving where I can be quietly be thankful for this book whilst the rest of the US blogland is sleepy from gorging on turkey and mashed potatoes. (As an aside, the Thanksgiving episode where Jerry plays with the mint boxed Superman whilst girlfriend is drugged upon Trytophan is hilarious).

This was one of the first of your books that I had ever read and the opening scene is unforgettable.

They meant to kill him.

Baron Duncan of Wexton land is standing naked, tied to the pole in the bitter winter. Even at his seemingly weakest moment, his enemies still fear him. They stand a weapon’s length away to spit at his feet and mock him. Duncan is unafraid. He acknowledges he may lose his feet to frostbite but even as he stands there, his men are climbing the walls so that they can carry out the plan against Baron Loudden.

Madelyne, Loudden’s half sister, is watching this. Madelyne is a gentle soul. She cannot allow this atrocity of Loudden’s to be executed. She creeps out and frees Duncan and then performs an incredibly selfless act. This action forever changes the dynamic between Duncan and Madelyne. Duncan has come for Madelyne to revenge Loudden’s defilement of Duncan’s sister. “An eye for an eye” Duncan says to Madelyne.

Madelyne understands but tells Duncan that it is of no use. Loudden has no respect or love for her as Duncan and his siblings have for their sister. Loudden will not understand this act as Duncan intends. Duncan believes that Madelyne is just trying to get him to leave her there and totally ignores the family dynamic that Madelye is trying to explain. What we readers come to understand early on is that Loudden’s feelings for Madelyne are quite unnatural and that he will pursue Madelyne.

Madelyne was sorely abused by her family, other than the family priest. She has little self worth. Duncan sweeps Madelyne off to the Wexton land where Madelyne gains a true family even though she has to fight through bitterness and hatred directed toward her by Duncan’s family. In true Garwood fashion, Madelyne wins over everyone with her kindness and her ineptness. She’s so loveable even Duncan’s fierce stallion falls for her in a hilarious scene. Your characteristic gentle humor is sprinkled throughout the story. Every trite and hackneyed plot device and characterization seems to be included in this book: heroine gets illness, reveals terrible mistreatment during fevers; loves small animals; is kind to the servants; gentles the fiercest of men. But you know, it wasn’t hackneyed when I first read it and despite the familiar conventions, I still enjoy this book on re-reads. Thanks for writing gentle love stories with good humor and lots of passion.

Best regards


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Katharina
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 04:31:42

    Oh I love love love this story. In fact, I adore all of Julie Garwoods medievals, I can’t count how many times I’ve reread them. Garwood’s books have something that doesn’t work anywhere else. Her stories are betimes totally illogical and silly, the heroines are feisty, little baggages (a trait I normally run in the opposite direction when I only hear it) whereas the heroes are arrogant brutes with a soft core. Yet combined together it works splendidly. As you wrote, Jane, her humour is spread throughout the story and captures me everytime with full force. Her books are comfort and guilty pleasure reads, and especially my copies of Honor’s Splendor and Ransom have “suffered” a lot. But to be fair, my other (medieval) copies of her books look well read too *g*.

  2. Rae
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 06:00:39

    Jane, I’m afraid I’ll have echo you and Katharina. Guilty pleasure = Julie Garwood’s medievals to me, too. Ransom and The Wedding permanently grace my nightstand, ever ready to give me that quick hit of feel good romance. Here I thought I was the only one Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

  3. Tara Marie
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 06:20:23

    This is by far my favorite Garwood. I’m sitting here with a huge sappy smile on my face, remembering how wonderful Madeline and Duncan are together. It may be filled with trite and hackneyed plot device and characterization, but it doesn’t matter because it completely works.

    I have long since passed on the rest of my Garwood “keepers” but this one continues to have a prime spot on my keeper shelves.

  4. Angie
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 08:23:12

    This is actually the last Garwood I re-read. And though this book didn’t make it on my top 13 comfort read list I did recently, it just as easily could have (I chose two other Garwood’s instead. Ha)

    I know there are people who hate, despise, ridicule Garwood’s historicals, but I think there are just as many–more given her sales numbers and the reprints and rereleases–who love her despite her head hopping, sometimes inane characters and trite storylines. We don’t care because something in her books (her humor, the simplicity of the love stories, the likeability of her characters) grabs us and won’t let go.

    I love me some Julie Garwood historicals! (except those Rose books, I never loved those, sadly).

  5. Katharina
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 09:42:21

    I didn’t care for those western historicals either, same goes for her regency stories, though they were better than the Rose series. IMO Garwood’s real forte is writing medievals. Hmmmmm. :-)

  6. Charlene
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 10:12:07

    I love this book! It’s one of my favorites by Garwood. And how thankful am I that she has a new historical coming out? Soooooo thankful!

  7. Angelle Trieste
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 10:44:31

    Oh…this is one of my fave medieval romance novels. Garwood does medieval very well.

  8. Julia
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 14:26:10

    I have read most of Garwood’s historicals, but not this one. I enjoyed all them a lot, so I’ll probably look for this one, since it sounds great. They are great confort reads.
    I’m glad to hear she is writing another historical, I didn’t enjoy her contemporaries as much as the historicals.

  9. Nicole
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 15:23:11

    Garwood was one of the first romance authors I read, so I’ll always have a special place for her. Trite, yes, but oh so loveable. Definitely a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure indeed.

  10. Maili
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 15:42:21

    Huh. That’s all right because, well, everyone has to have at least one Connie-Mason author in their reading lives. (Please note I didn’t say Cassie Edwards.)

    Seriously, seriously – I acknowledge that Garwood is a good storyteller, which IMO is a good thing because I find that readers regard storytellers (usually with deep affection) more highly than they do for novelists.

  11. Kelly
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 20:30:25

    I love this story but then again I love all her historicals (the Rose series wasn’t as well loved or re-read like all her others). My first Garwood was The Bride (it was also my first historical). I was instantly hooked on her stories.

    When her new books came out I would buy them as soon as they hit the shelf but I would wait for the weekend to read them. I knew once I started reading a new Garwood book I couldn’t put it down. Hubby called them my Garwood get-aways, a mini-vacation spent in my favorite chair reading.

    Since then I have reread her books so many times I’ve had to replace a few because they were getting so worn.

    Of course, just thinking about them makes me want to pull one or two of them out for a re-read. Thanks Jane for putting me in a Garwood re-read mood…*G*


  12. Kristie(J)
    Nov 23, 2006 @ 23:10:05

    Alas, this one didn’t stand up to the test of time for me. It used to be my favourite but I tried reading it about a year ago and all I could think was the heroine was such a twit (I know! I know! It’s almost sacrilege to say that about this book). I decided then and there not to try and reread any of her books. Instead I thought I would just keep my fond memories of how much I loved them years ago when I first read them.

  13. Karen Scott
    Nov 24, 2006 @ 18:30:36

    Oh I loved this book! My fave part was the scene where Maddie warms his feet, totally romantic.

  14. Jill Monroe
    Nov 24, 2006 @ 19:28:03

    Spoiler Alert:

    This book is the reason I let the dh put his cold feet on me when he first comes to bed.

    This was my first Garwood, and I adored every moment of it.

  15. Paige
    Nov 05, 2007 @ 23:57:19

    i have to say that al of the garwod books that i have read have been fantastic and can even stand up there on my favourties shelf with the likes of bronte, austin and gaskell. Im not saying that the woks are something of great literature and that was never there intent . What i am saying is that they have the same immesurable qualty to engulf u in a different world with characters that if they dont drive u insane with laughter make u want to become reaquaited with the at every opportunity.
    I dont think that there guilty pleasure to me hey are the residences of old friends.
    ps i like the western series and im a sap so what would i know

  16. Shaima
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 02:49:32

    The Bride & Ransom were def my fav. Garwood stories! But I’ll have to finish reading HS to decide if it’s as good. Though knowing Garwood, I’ll doubt I’ll be disappointed.

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