London 1654: Kit Lovell is one of the King’s men, a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time between cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and by plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell. Fleeing a sadistic and ambitious suitor, Thamsine Granville is alone, penniless and friendless in London. She has her own reasons for wanting Cromwell dead and when she hurls a piece of brick at his coach, she finds herself unexpectedly in the arms of Kit Lovell.
Far from the world weary, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal. The world Kit has carefully built up begins to unravel as the plotting takes a serious turn and his own life is now on the line. Neither had he planned on falling in love with Thamsine Granville and when Thamsine falls into the hands of her vicious suitor, Ambrose Morton, Kit is torn by his loyalty to his master and his love for Thamsine. In rescuing Thamsine, Kit makes one last gamble and loses. The price he has to pay is the hangman’s rope…
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Cotes opened the door to the parlor a crack. “Soldiers,” he said, his face paling. “Dutton, you fool, get that map on to the fire.”
Even as Dutton hurled the paper on to the flames, the door crashed open and an officer stepped into the room. Several swords were eased from scabbards with a hiss and rattle but resistance of any sort seemed pointless. There were soldiers at the window and a taproom full of them. They were trapped like rabbits in a snare.
The officer smiled. “Well, Gentlemen. What do we have here? A pretty bunch of conspirators, so I hear tell? The Lieutenant of the Tower has some pleasant accommodation planned for you.”
Whitely stood up. “I must protest. We are doing no more than enjoying a quiet ale and a pipe.”
The officer strolled over to the fireplace and retrieved the singed map. He blew out the glowing embers, scrutinized the remains of the parchment and then looked around at the faces in the room. “You can tell that to the Council of State.” His eyes fixed on Thamsine. “Well, well, ‘tis my lucky night for certes,” he said.
His hand closed over Thamsine’s arm and he drew her towards him. He took her chin in his fingers and turned her head to the light.
“A red headed woman with a black eye,” he said. “I hear tell you tried to kill our Lord Protector.”
Thamsine shrank away from him but his grip on his arm tightened.
“What’s your name, girl?”
Thamsine said nothing. Her eyes, in her thin face, had become huge with fear. Kit’s fingers clenched and unclenched in impotent fury.
“I asked your name.” The officer’s voice had become low and menacing.
“Thamsine Granville,” she stuttered.
“There must be some mistake,” Kit said.
“Oh, there’s no mistake. Seen here and clearly identified she was.”
Kit Lovell is a king’s man. He fought with Charles at Worcester; the same Charles Stuart who, now exiled, languishes at his French cousin’s court. Conspiracies run rampant and trust is a rare commodity in England where Royalists scheme to assassinate Cromwell and return Charles to the throne. When Kit rescues Thamsine Granville after she throws a brick at Cromwell’s coach all is not as it appears with Thasmine or Kit. Thamsine is on the run, hiding from the cruelty and greed of a scorned suitor. Kit’s rescue is anything but and throws her into a world of political intrigue, espionage, betrayal and the very real possibility of a hangman’s noose at the end. How can an innocent possibly survive this quagmire of duplicity and death?
The King’s Man is heavy with espionage, machinations and duplicitous people. Cromwell’s England is brought vividly to life by combining actual historical figures and events with fictional characters. The end result simplifies a complicated historical period making it easy to understand and get lost in. Can two people, forced to do things that go against their consciences, find release from the ties that force them to betray themselves and others? Is love even a remote possibility? In Kit and Thamsine’s shoes would you act any differently? The King’s Man is a fast paced perilous journey with agents, double agents, plots, counter-plots, and ordinary people forced into extraordinary situations. The romance/love aspect is low-key and never feels forced or gratuitous. The love scenes are not explicit and there is no humor so this isn’t today’s typical historical romance. Serious, well written and a bit deeper than the norm; The King’s Man focuses more on the history and human angles than the romantic. This is riveting historical fiction that will keep you enthralled to the last page.
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