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
Customer ReviewsSee All
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)
The King’s Man
Makes me want to read more nonfiction history of Wales!
The King's Man
I loved this book and then the next in the series.