A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter
Published by Bethany House Publishers June 05, 2018
Genre: Drama, Christian, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.
After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.
Kristi Ann Hunter delivers the first book in her new Recency series Haven Manor with a story filled with witty conversations and a challenge to one’s idea of real trust in God.
When I receive a book by Kristi Ann Hunter I can be assured of two inclusions: that I will laugh a lot and I will find myself pondering her faith challenge even after I finish the last page. It takes a special talent to be able to write humor well into a story that could very easily be dark given the subject matter, and Ms. Hunter proves once again that she absolutely possesses this talent. She begins the story perfectly with a scene taking place in the ballroom of one of London’s Ton. Graham, Lord Wharton, has tired of the never ending balls that fill the typical London season just as he has tired of the same eligible, yet lacking personality, debutantes vying for the richest men. He has almost convinced himself to leave when a strange sight catches his eye, sparking laughter and curiosity. A hand reaches from a gathering of potted plants to snag passing drinks and delicacies, a hand belonging to a woman Graham has never before seen. Kit FitzGilbert is in London to secure the future of a woman and child under her care and has taken a moment before she attends to business to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of a ballroom once again. Never intending to be noticed, she is surprised when a very handsome gentleman speaks to her from the area behind her hiding spot. Lord Wharton is everything Kit used to admire in the peers of the Ton and his unexpected kindness and humorous conversation are a welcome respite from her daily battle to ensure the care of those under her roof. But this pleasant interlude is not to last, given Kit must quickly do as she came to do and leave London before anyone can follow her home. Graham was intrigued by Kit and her straightforward way of speaking and determines to find out more about her. But first he must help his friend locate his “missing” sister, Priscilla, that no one is willing to share information about. As Graham sets out on his mission to bring Priscilla home, he stumbles upon Kit’s hidden residence on the outskirts of the village of Marlborough, Wiltshire. Kit has spent the past decade housing the illegitimate children of London’s society while also seeking to help their mothers find solace and hope through their situation. She views her work as a mercy mission and as a way to pay penance for her past mistakes. When Graham appears at her home after helping two of the children in her care, she is hard pressed not to throw him out immediately, regardless of the pouring rain. But as the rain refuses to quit for several hours, Graham will be trapped at Haven Manor for the next couple days. The forced time together gives both Kit and Graham a chance to get to know each other better, but Kit is unwilling to let herself fall for another man, no matter how honorable or handsome. Graham, meanwhile, learns that Kit may have the information on Priscilla he needs and although he is angry at her unwillingness to help him locate her, he does admire her tenacity and protectiveness. When Graham sets off to follow a lead when the water recedes, he will carry with him his deep admiration of Kit and her work and vows to return soon. But their journey towards love will be put to the test when Graham finds out how Kit is financing the care of the orphans and he will give her an ultimatum if she wants them to have a future. Kit will have to decide if she is going to live the words she teaches the children about trusting God or if she is going to keep doing things her own way. And her decision will have to be made quickly if she is going to salvage both her relationship with Graham and a home for the orphans. Ms. Hunter does a wonderful job of drawing readers into the world she has written and creates a connection with her characters that readers will truly enjoy. While each character epitomizes the phrasing and actions of someone belonging to the Regency era, there is no mistaking the real faith challenges that are just as prevalent in people today. Ms. Hunter describes a world that has little care for those who don’t “fit in” the box of acceptable society and shows the incredible compassion that must be employed to extend help to those deemed “illegitimate” through no fault of their own. She rightly places the blame on those who carelessly created the lives which are now seen as worthless while illustrating that these little ones are of the same worth to God as children born inside a marriage. I was pleased to see as well that Ms. Hunter did not allow Kit to continue in her well-meaning but incorrect approach to the care of the orphans. While making those responsible for their conception pay for their care is an admirable goal, blackmail is not the way to ensure this happens. How good it was to see that Ms. Hunter had her character learn the important lesson of trusting God for our needs rather than seeking sinful ways of meeting them. I was further pleased with the quiet but amusing romance between the main characters. Their conversations often carried such hilarious phrases that I found myself laughing out loud as I read. I’ve no idea which excellent character Ms. Hunter will turn her pen focus to next but I am excited to find out. She has begun her series well and I am certain she will continue will her wonderful writing in the next stories to come. I will certainly be recommending this book to others as I’m sure they will find it as enjoyable as I have. I will also be keeping a close eye out for the next book in the Haven Manor series as I know it will be another engaging story.
I received this E-Book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.