Malcolm's Honor (Harlequin Historical, Vol. #519) - Jillian Hart

Malcolm le Farouche felt his blood race at the thought. Yet, was rage or passion the reason? He knew only that though Elinore of Evenbough would share his bed by royal command, the warrior-trained beauty was not to be trusted...with his life or his heart!


Le FaroucheĀ—"the Fierce." The epithet added luster to Sir Malcolm's dark reputation as the greatest knight in the land. But how would Elinore refute his deep suspicions of an alliance with her treacherous father? For her soul called out that this man was her true mate born!

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In the year 1280, Sir Malcolm le Farouche ("the fierce") is the greatest knight in all the land. He is sent as a kind of bounty hunter to round up the Lord of Evenbough when the man is suspected of treason and murder. When Malcolm finds the lord's daughter, Lady Elinor also in attendance, he gathers her up as well, unsure if she is equally guilty as the father. Better safe than sorry, it's decided everyone shall go to see King Edward.

Though innocent of wrong doing, Elinor (who goes by Elin for most of the novel) fears her fate will be tarnished through guilt by association, possibly meaning an end by execution. With her lady's maid, Alma, in tow, Elinor decides to make an escape attempt. Making a meal for Malcolm and his men, Elin mixes in a low dose of oakwood, mildly poisoning everyone... not enough to kill them, just enough for them to have bad enough intestinal upset for her to have a window to get away without capture. That's the plan, anyway. But much to her surprise and dismay, Malcolm pushes through his discomfort and does successfully capture her not far outside the camp.

 

Once in front of King Edward, Elin's father is swiftly handed off for execution, but Edward decides there's not enough evidence against Elin to condemn her, and her father's lands remain quite valuable. Edward's skeevy nephew, Carodoc, tries to make a grab for Elin's hand but since Edward apparently doesn't entirely trust his own family, he puts forth his decision to marry Elin to Malcolm. Malcolm's initially not fully onboard with the idea but once told that if he declines he will be banished from court and Elin WILL be executed, seems like there is little choice in the matter. So after a quick ceremony, off our newlyweds go back to the newly dubbed Le Farouche homestead...where you'd think things would kinda chill out for a bit, but nah.

 

Within mere hours of these two uniting, there are NUMEROUS attacks on their lives and home, with even more to come in the following days. It just does not let up! There's even yet another guy showing up claiming he has marital dibs on Elin! But on the upside, conflict often tends to stir up heightened emotions in people, and it's no different here. Though he's still struggling with learning to trust his new wife, Malcolm does definitely feel a growing interest towards her in general. He's impressed with her training in combat and healing arts (though he sometimes suspects her of sorcery), he's amused by her feisty side, but he's also baffled by her --- the way she has a "fragile cut of face, lithe grace, and womanly curves" but also physical strength and self-confidence to rival any man's. Prior to meeting Elin, Malcolm had taught himself to be content with putting all his energy toward being the most dedicated knight to the king. But maybe, just maybe, there IS, in fact, more to life than that ol' "punching the clock" business. Maybe there's something to be said for a coming home to a quiet night at the house and a soft woman to curl up with!

 

Though they might have had an unconventional start, Malcolm and Elin grow to have an adorable, realistic "I'm calling you on your BS" banter between them that kept me laughing and nodding. Those who have been in long-term relationships will appreciate the style of playfulness these two have. True, they developed theirs rather quickly, but the way Hart lays it out still makes it somehow believable, like they were just one of those couples that would of course find each other when the timing was right.