Ranulf Ombrier's fame throughout England for his skill at swordplay is rivaled only by his notoriety as King Edward I's favorite killer. Ranulf's actions have gained him lands, title, and a lasting reputation as a hired butcher. But after years of doing his king's bidding, he begins to fear for his mortal soul and follows his conscience away from Edward, all the way to the wilds of Wales.
Gwenllian of Ruardean, Welsh daughter of a powerful Marcher lord, has every reason to leave Ranulf for dead when one of her men nearly kills him. As a girl she was married by proxy to a man Ranulf murdered, only to become a widow before she ever met her groom. In the years since, she has shunned the life of a lady, instead studying warfare and combat at her mother's behest. But she has also studied healing and this, with her sense of duty to knightly virtues, leads her to tend to Ranulf's wounds.
Saving her enemy's life comes with consequences, and Gwenllian and Ranulf are soon caught up in dangerous intrigue. Forced together by political machinations, they discover a kinship of spirit and a surprising, intense desire. But even hard-won love cannot thrive when loyalties are divided and the winds of rebellion sweep the land.
"The King's Man is a well-written, character-driven story, rich in historical detail and in the complexity of its characterisation....The romance between Ranulf and Gwenllian is intense, passionate and refreshingly free of so many of the tropes and stereotypes that abound in historical romance." - All About Romance
"I love this book because it's a great, angsty medieval, brought to life in the old school romance tradition. It's got a kick-ass heroine (who isn't a brat) and a dark, brooding hero with a past." - Laura Kinsale, author of Flowers from the Storm
"Kingston's leisurely pace may feel too slow for some readers, but her attention to period details and the growing emotional attachment between her lovers will be enough to keep most readers turning pages. Fans of unusual couples will be caught up in this story of romance and redemption." - Publisher's Weekly
"The King's Man is easily the best new medieval I've read in years and definitely one of my highlights of 2015. Kingston is a tremendous writer and I eagerly await her new offerings." - Cooking Up Romance
A recovering English villain finds love with a young Welsh noblewoman amid intrigue and the threat of civil war in Kingston's languid historical romance set in medieval England. Sir Ranulf of Morency, known as King Edward's butcher for his skill at assassination, has come home to claim his holdings on the border between Wales and England the holdings he earned by murdering his foster father, Aymer of Morcency, at Edward's command. Gwenllian of Ruardean, who was wed by proxy to Aymer when she was only 10 years old, contends that the land should be hers. The last thing Ranulf expects is to find himself falling for the tough young woman whom Gwenllian has become. She's been trained as a warrior according to her mother's wishes, in defiance of all custom, and her heart is as armored as her body. As mutual lust between Ranulf and Gwenllian becomes marriage and love, the two are caught in the middle of a plot to hatch civil war that could tear them and the land apart. Kingston's leisurely pace may feel too slow for some readers, but her attention to period details and the growing emotional attachment between her lovers will be enough to keep most readers turning pages. Fans of unusual couples will be caught up in this story of romance and redemption. (BookLife)
Liked the very different women in this book. The romance unfolds in a way that rings as real and character motives became clear.
Really good read! Couldn't put it down.
I only wish they'd been more communicative with each I other rather than locking up their feelings and saying/doing the opposite of what they wanted. But I guess that's what happens when two people are so equally matched and stubborn! I enjoyed the plot from the very first pages of the sample; it was well-thought out.
Also, frankly, I gave this book a shot mostly because the book cover wasn't one of those cheesy historical romance book covers. I highly recommend you, Ms. Kingston, keep it that way. Best of luck in your future endeavors!
Strong setting and characters
Ranulf and Gwyn are well-formed, complex characters in a strongly built setting. Their journey involves many highs and lows and emotional twists. It has all the ingredients to be a great epic.
The main problem is, I hate the male protagonist. He’s extremely misogynistic and cruel throughout most of the book, and really only begins changing for the better in the last chapter after the female protagonist gives up her life, family, talents, goals, and purpose to become “soft and womanly” for him. The buildup to their love story was all lust and not respect or admiration or trust.
It’s a period novel about a mercenary, so I guess it’s not unexpected. I just kept waiting for the moment of redemption and love to come and it never truly did for me. Maybe it’s just my misplaced expectations, though— you might love the story! Don’t avoid it on my account.
Content warnings: misogyny, domestic violence, suicide, rape threats, strong racial prejudice (Normans vs. welsh)