Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell's Reviews > The King's Man

The King's Man by Elizabeth Kingston
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I'm so bad with buddy reads - if I'm not into a book, I take weeks to finish. If I'm obsessed, I'll zoom through it in less than a day. My friend, Sarah, buddy-read THE KING'S MAN with me, but unfortunately the book she picked out was so good, I was done with it in just a few hours. I'm sorry, Sarah. I tried to stop, but the siren call of Ranulf was just too strong. Like Odysseus, I would have had to tie myself to a mast to stop - and I don't have a mast.



First off, anyone who loves Laura Kinsale should pick this up, because Elizabeth Kingston is the first author I've encountered besides Kinsale who manages to write those compelling, angsty historical romances with plausible events and alpha heroes who aren't total jerks and strong heroines who are able to stand up to said heroes whenever they start to toe the line of possibly being a jerk. The medieval setting was fantastic and Ranulf and Gwenllian were amazing characters that I was only too happy to ship. Heck, I'd sail an entire armada for the sake of their love.



When Gwenllian finds Ranulf, he's a broken man half-dead from fever. She's pretty sure he's English scum, which she, being Welsh, cannot stand... but she saves him anyway. As it turns out, he's the very same man who murdered her would-be husband in cold blood. Ranulf is actually wracked with guilt for a variety of reasons and doesn't really want to live anymore. He's grimly amused when he finds himself under house arrest in a Welsh castle with a small army of guards and decides to provoke them into fighting him, so he'll either be killed or given chance to escape. He ends up fighting the youngest and, to his shock, loses - a shock that turns to outright dismay and disgust when he realizes that the young "knight" is actually the lady of the keep, and the same woman who healed his fever.



Gwenllian is the perfect historical romance heroine and the author does a great job subverting the cross-dressing trope. She has good reasons for dressing as a boy and knowing how to fight, and it wasn't something she just happened to pick up and be immediately amazing at - she has years of training. She actually learned how to be a healer because she felt that she should be able to heal any wounds she caused in swordplay, because she's that noble. I also liked how the armor kind of became a metaphor for her uncertainty about womanhood. In the text, we find out she's plain and has crooked teeth and shorter-than-normal hair. When she's forced to wear dresses, she looks awkward, and the first time Ranulf bemoans how ungainly she wears the dresses and how the colors she's chosen are unbecoming. By the end of the book, she starts to feel more comfortable acting like a lady, but Ranulf also finds her unconventional appearance appealing and even grows to appreciate her armor, and it becomes less a crutch she needs to lean on and more like an expression of her true self.



The conflict of this book comes into play with a marriage of convenience, one of my favorite tropes. Ranulf is "the King's Man," and the King in question is who I believe is Edward I, and he was NOT very nice to the Welsh at all. To suppress the possibility of rebellion from Gwenllian's family, he takes the marriage contract bequeathing the property they have been contesting all these years - the property that should have been Gwenllian's because of her proxy marriage to the man Ranulf killed and stole the title from - and has it rewritten so that Ranulf will be titleholder, and the husband. Ranulf is English and Gwenllian is half-Norman and half-Welsh, and even as she grows first sexually attracted to her husband and later emotionally, she finds herself debating where her true loyalties should lie, and this leads to some pretty realistic conflicts that cause all kinds of angst.



The secondary characters were also really great. Gwenllian's mother (who I believe is the heroine of the next book), her squire, and her second in command were all great. I also liked the staff of Ranulf's property, particularly Hugh, and the visiting lady, Suzanna, who ended up befriending Gwenllian (what happened to her? she just disappeared - please tell me she's going to get her own book, too). This is something else that Elizabeth Kingston has in common with Laura Kinsale - and as it turns out, this probably isn't an accident. I actually looked into this, and on her website, Kingston lists Kinsale as her primary inspiration, and Kinsale actually endorsed Kingston's book.



Am I good, or what?



You know what else is good, though? This book. It's self-published so I was a little hesitant, but bar a couple typos and an odd writing style (hard to describe, but when you read some of the dialogue, you'll see what I mean), I fell for this book hard and finished it in what was basically a single sitting. I was lucky enough to get it while it was free, but I wouldn't have been mad paying money for this, either. Read it, especially if you love Laura Kinsale. She's basically the next best thing.



4 to 4.5 stars
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Reading Progress

July 9, 2018 – Shelved
July 9, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 2, 2018 – Started Reading
August 2, 2018 –
8.0% "I'm enjoying this one! The style kind of reminds me of Laura Kinsale's."
August 4, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-romance
August 4, 2018 – Shelved as: kissing-books
August 4, 2018 – Shelved as: medieval
August 4, 2018 –
19.0% "Her eyes flicked down at Ranulf again. "I'll not demand you to yield. I ask no more than you are beneath me, with legs spread."

So not only was that a completely bad-ass fight scene, the 'knight' who just whupped Ranulf's ass was a woman. HELLO BOOK, I THINK I LOVE YOU"
August 4, 2018 –
23.0% "That kissing scene though

"
August 4, 2018 –
26.0% "It was never enough that she was more highborn, or more wealthy, or had a greater title, or had bested them all. In another group of soldiers, it would be enough for the man with noble title to be named leader. But she was not a man.

This is set in Medieval times set in the 13th century. What does it say about us as a society that this style of thinking hasn't changed 800 years later?"
August 4, 2018 –
35.0% "The writing style is a little strange and I've found a handful of typos, but so far I am loving this- the hero is strong and a little cruel (and probably ~damaged~) and the heroine is strong and unconventional (but realistically portrayed) and I kind of love them both."
August 4, 2018 –
44.0% "She drew a breath as though to gather herself and talk, but the king spoke before she could.

Mansplaining is a most old and noble art, indeed"
August 4, 2018 –
48.0% "She kept seeing how he moved with the sword, each and every movement calculated to humiliate his opponent with an efficiency that in other circumstances would be deadly.

Ranulf be like:
"
August 4, 2018 –
55.0% "She would have tried to speak with him but she did not know how. However much they might know each other in the dark, they were entirely strangers when the sun shone."
August 4, 2018 –
61.0% "I love that the reason she wanted to learn healing was because of her learning swordplay: she didn't want to cause any wounds that she wouldn't be able to heal.

How zen."
August 4, 2018 –
65.0% "The hesitant intimacy between them is SO CUTE

"
August 4, 2018 –
83.0% "That is who I am, she thought, with a conviction that startled her nearly as much as the sudden tears that pressed behind her eyes. Armor and hard steel and strength. Not this soft uncertain woman who only felt whole when a handsome man smiled, who lived from touch to touch."
August 4, 2018 –
97.0% ""Never could I love an ordinary lady," he said. "In this world or the next, I could only love you."

"
August 4, 2018 –
100.0%
August 4, 2018 – Shelved as: kindle-clean-out-club
August 4, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Elena C. Hey, this looks positively awesome! Good you decided to share the date of your BR because I'll stalk you guys like a maniac. *muhahaha!*


Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell Elena wrote: "Hey, this looks positively awesome! Good you decided to share the date of your BR because I'll stalk you guys like a maniac. *muhahaha!*"

Hahaha i don't see either of us minding! 😄😂😚


message 3: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah You starting today/tonight?


Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell Yeah, I'm starting tonight. :D


message 5: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Cool, then I will too.


Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader) I got super excited because the title, for some reason, made me think this was M/M.
But alas, it’s not😭 I feel you on the BR though. I usually the friend speeding through.


Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell ♆Hayley wrote: "I got super excited because the title, for some reason, made me think this was M/M.
But alas, it’s not😭 I feel you on the BR though. I usually the friend speeding through."


OMG, it's amazing though. Nothing like a strong heroine to make a good romance!


Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin* Great review! Glad you enjoyed this!


Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin* wrote: "Great review! Glad you enjoyed this!"

Thank you! :D I'm really enjoying what I've read of our BR as well!


message 10: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Sounds cute! Great review.


Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell Carmen wrote: "Sounds cute! Great review."

Thanks, Carmen! It isn't exactly cute but it's very romantic


message 12: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ wrote: "Carmen wrote: "Sounds cute! Great review."

Thanks, Carmen! It isn't exactly cute but it's very romantic"


I love romantic. :)


message 14: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ wrote: "Me too! /swoon"

Is there KISSING?!?!!?!?


Anne Boleyn's Ghost Fab review, Nenia. I've had this on TBR list for awhile - I MUST bump it up!


Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell Anne Boleyn's Ghost wrote: "Fab review, Nenia. I've had this on TBR list for awhile - I MUST bump it up!"

You must! It's so good 💖


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