For Love & Honor

For Love and Honor
Jody Hedlund
Zondervan, 2017

Lady Sabine was born with a skin blemish on one arm, which she keeps concealed to prevent accusations of witchcraft. Resigned to the fact that she will very likely never marry because of it, she throws herself into her interests, the chief of which is collecting priceless art and artifacts. When her grandmother arranges for them to visit a neighboring lord to view pieces of his collection that are for sale to counteract a debt his family owes, Sabine is eager to make the journey. Little does she know that her grandmother hasn’t been completely transparent about the real reason for their visit.

Sir Bennet is also resigned, but to the fact that he will be forced to marry a woman for her money to save his land and people from the danger imposed on them by the debt incurred by his brother. He only hopes that she will be passably attractive and decent to talk to, but that is proving hard to come by once he admits the truth of his situation to prospective matches. But much to his surprise, Lady Sabine is beautiful, kind, and shares his passion for art like no one else he’s ever met. Bennet sets out to charm her, as instructed by his mother and her grandmother, and quickly finds himself falling for her.

As impressed with the man himself as she is with his art collection, Sabine begins to dream of a relationship that she knows is unwise to hope for. She wouldn’t be able to hide her imperfection forever, and once revealed she knows he will reject her just like all the rest. But before either one of them has a chance to tell the truth about their situations, circumstances change. Will a relationship built on deception be able to withstand the dangerous battles that ensue as time to repay the debt runs out?

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Historical fiction in general has been and probably always will be my favorite genre, but I sometimes go through phases within that arena. For a while there I was really into cowboys and the wild west. Before that I went through a wagon train phase. Now, it appears that I’m entering into a castles and medieval love stories stage. It all started with this book (and it’s sequel) and now the I’m on to For Love and Honor.

Somehow I missed that this was the third book in a series whenever I put it on hold. It was excellent all by itself, totally fine as a stand alone novel, but I got the feeling towards the end that a couple of characters had more to their story, so I think I’ll have to go back and read the first two to find out. And to feed my medieval hunger.

This story is told in alternating first person narratives, switching back and forth between Sir Bennet and Lady Sabine (any thoughts on how to pronounce that? I went with Sah-been.). That is a little nontypical within this genre, at least in my experience, so it was a little different for me and I had to pay attention at the beginning of each new chapter to be sure I knew who was speaking.

The main themes of For Love and Honor are outlined in the title. Both Bennet and Sabine long for love, though Sabine is pretty certain she will never marry because of her blemish and Bennet feels like he is giving up his chance to love by marrying for money to save his family. Bennet is honorable to a fault, bordering on stupidity at some points, which Sabine is quick to point out to him. There is plenty of peril to keep things interesting, including a specific threat that somewhat surprised me about a third of the way in, placing the Sabine in an impossible situation that Sir Bennet must somehow rescue her from.

Everything wraps up nicely with reconciliation and forgiveness for misunderstandings. I really enjoyed this book and the message about loving a person despite their imperfections because no one is perfect. There is a great line towards the end about how God made us imperfect because He is the only perfect being and I think that’s true. Definitely worth a read, and I am planning to check out the other two in the series as well.

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