Saturday, March 4, 2017

"For Love and Honor" by Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund delivers the third (and presumably final) book in her medieval YA romance series with For Love and Honor, and it's her best yet.

Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one that, if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?

When I read Jody Hedlund's An Uncertain Choice, where three knights vie for the hand of Lady Rosemarie, I fell hard for Sir Bennet. While he was not ultimately the knight for Lady Rosemarie, I couldn't wait to read the rest of his story, which has finally arrived in For Love and Honor.

Sir Bennet is driven by the need to right the wrongs committed by his brother, which is why he leaves the service of the Noblest Knight and returns home, and it's why he agrees to a match with Sabine.

Though Bennet's motives for marrying Sabine have to do with responsibility and duty, the reader (as well as the other characters in the novel) quickly sees that Sabine is his perfect match. She is witty, smart, and caring, and she shares Bennet's love of beautiful artifacts. She is not afraid to assert herself and stand up for those she loves, even at risk to her own safety. Yet she is also horribly insecure about her appearance, a fault which leads to some of the major conflict in the novel.

Bennet is a lover of beauty. This can be a weakness, as I pointed out after I read An Uncertain Choice:
While he appreciates beauty, he has an aversion to things (and people) that are not beautiful. Rather than showing compassion to a young boy with a deformity, he appears repulsed and then shifts his attention away from the boy.
This aspect of Bennet's character certainly comes into play in For Love and Honor as he is tasked with wooing Lady Sabine. Though he does not know of Sabine's blemish at the beginning, he can tell that she is not physically stunning. Yet as he gets to know her, she becomes more beautiful to him.

While much of the book is about Bennet and Sabine's courtship, there is also plenty of action, adventure, and peril. The book is written for teens (presumably girls), and it contains powerful lessons about body image, confidence, and being who God made you to be ... yet it's also enjoyable for those of us who are well past our teen years! I would hand this book to any girl at my school without reservation—teenage Becky certainly could have benefited from a book like this a few (I won't say how many!) years ago. 5 stars.

Note: This is the third novel in Hedlund's An Uncertain Choice series, but it stands alone.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of the other An Uncertain Choice books: The Vow (prequel novella, 4 stars), An Uncertain Choice (#1, 5 stars), A Daring Sacrifice (#2, 4-1/2 stars).

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award,  best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the author and publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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