This week my guest is C. L. Wilson, author of the epic fantasy romance, The Winter King
Please welcome C. L. Wilson, previewing the upcoming release of her epic fantasy, The Winter King. Then read on for my review plus a chance to win a beautiful necklace and a copy of her new release.
C. L. WILSON grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing.
Wilson is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books.
Wilson currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast.
SUMMARY: THE WINTER KING by CL WilsonWynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake.
After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.
The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother.
The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond.
Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?
- Genre: Epic Fantasy Romance
- Publisher: Avon
- Date of Publication: July 29, 2014
- Number of pages: appr. 594
- Formats available: ebook, paperback, Audio
Her publisher, Avon, calls C.L. Wilson’s new book, The Winter King, an “epic new fantasy romance”. So just what is the definition of epic fantasy? If you Google it, you get about 658,000 results. Scholars, writers, and readers weigh in with opinions. But almost every one agrees on one thing. Epic fantasies are long. We’re talking 500 plus pages, often across several books. So at almost 600 pages, The Winter King nails it on that one alone.
After that, there are probably three main elements common to epic fantasy. The first is a setting that is not of this world. The Winter King unfolds across two kingdoms—the forbidding Wintercraig with its cool, fair citizens who live with ice and snow, and the warmly fertile Summerlea with its passionate dark haired, bronze skinned people.
The second element of epic fantasy is that the scale is—well… epic. We’re talking royalty, gods, monsters, magic swords that can only be wielded by a fated heir, fate-of-nations-hanging-in-the-balance stakes. In The Winter King, two brothers provide the motivation for the epic events that follow. The first is the beloved younger brother and heir of Wynter Atrialan, the Winter king. The second is Falcon, prince and heir to the neighboring kingdom of Summerlea and brother of the three famously beautiful princesses known as the Seasons. When Falcon uses the Winter king’s upcoming marriage as an excuse to search for a mysterious book that holds the answer to the location of the sword that could make him invincible, his treacherous quest results in horrific loss of life for many in Wintercraig, including the King’s young brother. Falcon flees with the King’s affianced bride, setting in motion three years of war between the neighboring countries. Because Winter takes the unthinkable step of ingesting the “ice-heart”, he has the powers of a god and eventually triumphs over his enemies.
Winter’s demands for vengeance are simple. Summerlea has cost him his heir and his bride, so he requires that they provide one of the king’s beautiful and much-loved daughters in marriage. She will have a year to give birth to the heir he needs to counter the progressive degeneration as the ice-heart robs Wynter of his humanity. If she’s not successful, her life will be forfeit and he will return for successive princesses until he has his heir. What Wynter doesn’t know is that there is a fourth princess in Summerlea: Khamsin Coruscate, known as Storm because she wields the weathergift—power over storms. Blaming her for her mother’s death, her father the king has hidden Khamsin away all of her life, forcing her into a lonely and isolated existence. When Wynter arrives to claim a bride, the king sees his opportunity to rid himself of the daughter he despises, and beats her severely until she agrees to his demand that she wed the victorious King of Wintercraig.
The third element of epic fantasy is the villain. Like everything else, The Winter King’s villains go Big Bad on a giant scale, from the literal Ice Giants, to monsters, evil kings, and even gods. So the combined magic of the destined King and Queen (conveniently birthmarked with the Winter Wolf and the Summer Rose) might not be enough to defeat so many determined adversaries.
And that brings us to the romance side of the equation. When Wynter reaches Summerlea’s court to present his demands, his attention is caught by a girl he assumes is a maid, dressed in her sisters’ cast-off clothes and spying on him from a tower. From there, the romance follows a tried-and-true formula, in which boy-mistrusts-girl and vice versa for hundreds of pages while we wait to see if Beauty’s passion, heat, and True Love will melt the ice-heart that is rapidly turning him into the Beast. This is the part where the “romance” gets perilously close to that fall-for-her-rapist trope when Khamsin tries to retrieve some of her mother’s possessions while disguised as a maid. She’s captured by Wynter, who assaults her and fantasizes about taking the young “maid”. Wynter is the stereotypic Beast—a monster capable of rage and violence. Khamsin is the Beauty who (eventually) sees the good in him despite their mutual distrust, the fact that he’s behaved like a beast, and the whole year-end death sentence.
Overall, it’s a joy to see a professional at work. C.L. Wilson can build a fantasy world like nobody’s business. She peoples that universe with quirky, three-dimensional supporting characters, fast-moving action on an epic scale, and almost too-many Big Bad scaries. And she anchors the whole thing with a formulaic but engaging romance that had me rooting for the (inevitable) conclusion where everyone gets about what they deserve. Please don’t let the cheesy cover put you off. (Shame on you Avon. This book deserved better than Shining Armor about to bodice-rip a shrinking Beauty.)
I would not hesitate to give The Winter King four stars. This is a beautifully plotted and realized story on both a grand scale and intimate romance. So grab your widest brim hat, a bottle of white wine, and a big tube of sunblock and head for the beach with The Winter King. The story could perhaps have benefitted by losing a villain or two (not to mention a couple of hundred pages) but C.L. Wilson certainly delivers a beautifully crafted —yes, I’ll admit it—epic fantasy romance.**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
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