Rating: ★★+.5 | 326 pages | Self-Published | Medieval Romance | 1/1/2015 | Buy Now !
After almost two years of reading romance there are still a ton of sub-genre and tropes I’ve yet to explore and with The King’s Man I got my first taste of Medieval romance and the Girl Dressed As Boy trope. This book was recc’d on Twitter for being a good example of this trope and on that aspect it totally delivered.
Years ago when Gwenallian’s fiance was killed by Ranulf Ombrier, she was set free from her marriage contract and was able to pursue her own desires; she found passion in the world of men where she dons armor, fights and leads a company of soldiers. When she and her men come across Ranulf,–who is on the run from King Edward and looking for redemption–they drag him back to the to win favor with the Emglish king.
I liked the unkempt nature and wildness of the Medieval time period. Gwenallian is a fierce warrior and she is doing the Girl Dressed As A Boy trope to protect her from the strict rules of English society yet all of her men follow and respect her knowing full well she is female; her sword skills even rival Ranulf who is an expert marksman
When the king forces Ranulf and Gwenllian to marry, she finds herself torn between the non-traditional role she chose and the traditional role as lady and wife forced upon her. She finds her place in Ranulf’s household and the two begin to fall in love. Some of the best parts of this book are when Gwenllian and Ranulf are on equal footing; whether they are sword fighting or running from thieves.
But there is a big BUT.
So, slight spoiler
In the king’s court, Gwenllian struggles to mold herself into the role of a wife and lady. I gather some of what Elizabeth Kingston is trying to do is have Gwenllian embrace female values and find them as worthy as male ones… but to me it felt like Gwenllian never found that balance. In the end she resigns herself to being a proper lady and literally leaves her armor behind to be Ranulf’s wife. It left a bad taste in my mouth because she never seemed content with this female role. She kept wanting to hide or run when it came to domestic tasks. Yes, I get it . She’s making a sacrifice for love and family, and there are hints that Rannaulf doesn’t expect her to be “like the other girls” but I don’t know.
It just reminded me of Flowers From The Storm where Maddy has to leave the religion that defines her to be with Christian. It just doesn’t seem fair that these heroines have to give up these very specific things that defined them to earn thier HEA and assist the hero in his redemption.
I find it an odd coincidence that HedgeHog Inc, who produced the audiobook, is Laura Kinsale’s audio production company. Maybe Kinsale saw they shared the same sensibility of sacrifice in their heroines ?