Series: Weathermages of Mystral, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 608 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me through the Amazon Vine program. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Enchanting Fantasy Romance
Reviled and ignored by her father, punished for her very existence, Khamsin Coruscate, Princess of Summerlea, hasn't had an idyllic life. Up until Summerlea lost the war with Wintercraig, though, Khamsin thought there were some lines that her father would never cross, despite his loathing of her. Tragically, she was wrong.
The Winter King, Wynter Atrialan, is in Summerlea to dictate the terms of surrender and peace following the three year war he'd waged on the kingdom. In recompense for the murder of his brother and heir, Wynter intends to take to wife one of the three beloved and revered Summerlea princess.
Instead of marrying one of those favored daughters, however, Wynter finds himself wed to a princess he hadn't even known existed.
Perhaps Wynter should have taken umbrage with the Summer King for the double cross, but he can't help but be pleased with the switch. There's something about Khamsin Coruscate that stirs his blood and brings a heat that Wynter has long since given up on feeling. Perhaps the fiery Khamsin is the key to breaking the hold that an evil god has on his soul before that evil is unleashed on them all.
I usually prefer more urban in my fantasy romance, but every once in a great while I get a yen for the swords and horses variety. Wilson's The Winter King satisfied that yen nicely. It's exactly the sort of tale I most favor in the genre, a story that focuses heavily on or revolves around the trials and tribulations of a heroine who, through whatever circumstance, is forced to endure terrible things, but in so doing is forged into a strong, independent women who more than holds her own.
Toss in a tormented hero as an alpha-male love interest and at least one loveable sidekick to add a touch of comic relief and I'm a happy reader. Call it formula, but it's one that works for me every time.
Between Khamsin's wretched life with her family and the devastating magic she can't control, Khamsin was a sympathetic heroine from the start. She was also stubborn and willful, and there were a couple of times I wanted to give her a good shake, but she was genuinely honorable, noble and kind, with a quick wit and intrinsically fun nature that kept her likable, even when her behavior got a bit frustrating.
And I loved how Khamsin matures and her character evolves over the course of the book's events.
I can't say I was as fond of Wynter. I liked him most of the time, thought he had some excellent alpha-male moments, and the chemistry between him and Khamsin was off the charts, but his personal losses goaded him into taking some severely questionable actions to give him the power to wage a brutal war that lasted three years and caused the lives of many. And the magic he wields as a result has the sort of consequences that kill entire kingdoms. All of them.
Then again, if he wasn't trying to prevent those consequences, he wouldn't have had any cause to meet Khamsin, so I can at least appreciate the plot-driving of it all.
It would have been a true shame, too, because the two of them together was my favorite thing about the story. Beyond their excellent chemistry and all the yummy sexy times that led to, I loved almost everything about how their relationship starts, then develops and grows as they get to know one another a bit better. Their relationship is fraught with trust issues, which is not normally something I enjoy, but when it comes to Wynter and Khamsin, the absence of trust issues would have been far more glaring. Their romance was much more believable and realistic with them.
There's a flip side to that, though, and it caused the only significant disconnect I had with the book.
This is a very, very long book. I don't want to spoil anything about the climax, so I'll just say that I was disappointed that the trust issues I had loved so much throughout most of the book became such a serious impediment and source of intense aggravation for me during the climax. The misplaced trust just ended up feeling out of character for those concerned and it made the subsequent events doubly frustrating to read.
It sort of took the bloom off the rose for me at the worst possible time, and the end of the book came too quickly after that for me to gain back some of the enjoyment I had lost. Honestly, though, that was my only significant issue with the whole book. I did have a minor issue with the too-linear and simplistic world building, what with the king of the wintery kingdom of Wintercraig being named Wynter and all, but that's strictly a personal preference thing. I would have appreciated a more sophisticated backdrop for what was, truly, an enchanting read when all was said and done.