Title: The Winter King
Series: Weathermages of Mystral #1
Author: C.L. Wilson
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Published: July 29th 2014 by Avon
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Kindle | Audible | B&N | ARe
Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when the prince of Summerlea steals Wynter’s bride and murders his young brother, Wynter calls upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart and marches against Summerlea.
After three bitter years of battle, a victorious Wynter arrives at Summerlea’s royal palace to issue his terms of 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 in his 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 send her to face the mercy 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.
The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of whom he is not so fond. And she is a fiercely passionate creature, with a temper as volatile as the forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
"Displease the Winter King and we'll none of us see another spring."
THE WINTER KING by C. L. Wilson is the first book in the author's new Weathermages of Mystral series and a truly epic adult fantasy masterpiece! It's 594 pages that kept me riveted from the beginning to the end. It is the first book I've ever read by this author and I can't wait to read another! This was truly an enthralling fantasy romance! The beautiful cover drew me to the book initially. Khamsin and Wynter are striking; The wind appears to be blowing; He is a tousled blonde and she has flowing black hair . This book is written in third person, alternating perspectives; It totally rocks as we intimately become acquainted with the perspectives of the major characters.
THE WINTER KING is the story of Princess Khamsin Coruscate, the unwanted daughter of King Verdan IV of Summerlea, and Wynter Atrialan, King of Wintercraig. Khamsin, our Cinderella, craves the love of her father. She lives the life of a recluse in their castle silently waiting for her father's acknowledgement which never comes... until Wynter arrives to claim a Summerlea bride as a spoil of war. Khamsin's father sees this as a chance to rid himself of Khamsin as he deceptively marries her off to Wynter in the place of one of his beloved daughters.
Wynter was already a legend among his people, having single-handedly killed a Frost Giant to save his younger brother when he suffered a devastating betrayal by Falcon, a Summerlea prince. Falcon was in Wintercraig to negotiate a treaty when he absconded with Wynter's betrothed and brutally murdered Wynter's brother. Wynter was not just devastated, he was overcome by guilt as he had ignored his brother's warning of Falcon's duplicity. To boost him in his quest for revenge against Summerlea, Wynter embraces an ancient, dangerous magic, the Ice Heart. A three-year war between the kingdoms ensues. The Ice Heart Wynter absorbed has a cost; The longer Wynter uses it, the higher the price. Now Wynter seeks a Summerlea bride to give him an heir. If his new bride does not make him a father within the year, he'll be back for another and another until one does. He honestly cares not which one he takes to bed as long as it's a daughter that will make the Summerlea king suffer as Wynter has suffered.
I fell in love with both Khamsin and Wynter. They each seemed so realistic. I cannot fathom how Khamsin survived with her fiery spirit intact - never going outside and with such a limited number of people who would even acknowledge her. She was quite brilliant in the way she could move throughout the castle undetected, masquerading as a servant. She was unpredictable as she had trouble controlling her powerful weather gift. No one had ever been able to thwart her usage of her gift until Wynter. She was mischievious, quick-tempered, jealous, kind and loyal with a high sense of duty. She never betrayed Wynter, nor deceived him except for when they were married.
Wynter had a loving family until his parents met their tragic demise while on a family outing. Wynter assumed the king's mantle from that point and single-handedly raised Garrick, his younger brother. Talk about shouldering responsibility! Wynter was a total alpha and Khamsin turned his world inside out. He was compassionate, but in a subtle way. His ice cold eyes could heat you with desire and longing. He couldn't stay away from Khamsin but he couldn't stay from her either.
This is not a book for adolescents. It's an adult fantasy with explicit sex scenes. The romance was breathtaking and intense. There's chemistry galore between Wynter and Khamsin right from the start. They were each broken and alone, but for different reasons. Khamsin desperately seeks the love and companionship she has always lacked. Wynter wants his own family after losing all of his, but trust is an issue. I liked that there wasn’t an instant love. The actual friendship and feelings between the pair took time. Each of them fought their attraction tooth and nail but their passion was not to be denied and literally scorched the pages. It was a delicious torture to be savored.
I loved all the descriptive details the author included. It was a perfect mixture, not tedious in the least. For instance, I still have no idea where each country is to the other but I learned about the tattoos denoting royal family members, about the weather patterns, land characteristics important to the story and the deathly creatures that threatened the safety of the kingdoms. The supporting characters were very well developed and worked into the story perfectly. The author's description of the scenery, the creatures and more all put me squarely in that time and place. The villains were numerous and especially devious from Khamsin's father to those devious enough to deceptively pass as friends to the deathly garms and Frost Giants.
I had so many favorite scenes! I'll mention just a few. There was an initial clash of storms that took my breath away before our hero and heroine truly met when each first realized the magical power of the other. Their first real meeting was a WOW moment when Khamsin was masquerading as a servant attempting to rescue her mother's things which were so precious to her and Wynter caught her in his rooms. I swooned when Wynter tried to care for Khamsin after she'd been sick and she was not cooperating. This was their dialogue in that encounter:
"I hadn't thought you such a faithless coward. You are a princess of the Summer Throne, wedded Queen of the Craig, and my wife. You swore an oath, before a priest and your father's court, to accept my counsel and my care. You swore to offer me all the fruits of your life. And now, you would deny me that which you swore to offer? Do you have so little honor?"
The accusation stole the silver from her eyes, leaving them pure, plain gray filled with shock and dismay. "I...No! Of course not! I'm no oathbreaker."
"Then come to your bath. Accept my care, as you swore you would. Offer me the fruits of your life, that I may dine once more on peace instead of war."
I sigh just remembering that passage. On that same trip, when she couldn't ride in the carriage without getting sick, he carried her on his horse. He took off his armor, despite the danger to himself, so that she could ride comfortably with him. Finally, there was a passage where Wynter took Khamsin ice skating on a pond. He was so sweet during that section that I puddled.
Every page was a treat. Following please find a few more of my very favorite quotes:
What had come over her? He'd touched her, and it was like electric flame -- like the lightning she could summon -- shooting sparks through her veins. She'd all but melted, boneless, at his feet. He was the Winter King, her enemy, a man feared for his killing coldness, yet when he'd touched her, she had not frozen. She'd burned.
"I will not share you." Still holding his gaze, she drove her body down onto his. Tiny threads of lightning danced over his skin in a shocking web of blue-white light. He gave a choked cry. His spine arched. His buttocks clenched tight. The tendons in his neck stood out like cords of steel. His hips surged again, powerfully, rising up to meet her downward slide. She felt the shock of it to her bones.
"I will not share," she cried out fiercely, one final time as both of them shattered.
What would Garrick have said about Wynter's Summerlander Queen? Khamsin stopped by a sculpture of his laughing father holding an infant Garrick over his head. Young Wynter and his mother were holding hands nearby, dancing in the grass.
"Tell me about this day," she begged. "What was it like? You all look so happy."
Garrick would have liked her, Wynter decided. He would have liked her very much.
"Your father thought he scored a victory over me when he tricked me into marrying you instead of one of your sisters, but he unwittingly gave me the one daughter I wanted most."
"Did Garrick hunt dragon treasure in this cave, too?"
"Of course. He even found some of the dragon's gold."
Her head reared back. "No, he didn't."
"Oh, he did." Wynter's expression was one of complete sincerity. For an instant, he almost had her believing the dragon's gold was real, until he said, "I know because I put it there myself. Same as my father did when I was a boy."
A laugh broke from her lips. "Did Garrick know?"
"Of course not. Not until much later. That would have ruined the magic."
Cool lips touched hers, and a refreshingly icy breeze swept over her, cooling her more. "Do that again," she mumbled. "Feels nice." She was rewarded by more cooling kisses against her closed eyelids and hot brow. "I'll be fine in a few minutes. I'm stronger than I look."
"I know, min ros. I know." Wynter's husky voice whispered in her ear. "Tomorrow, you'll be ready to fight Frost Giants barehanded, but for now, just rest."
The author's writing is beautiful! The plot is solidly crafted. I adored the incredible fantasy world she created; the magic, the culture, the intrigue and the romance! Don't let the thought of almost 600 pages drive you from reading this book. They fly too quickly, and when I was done, I wanted more, more, more! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, fairy tale or paranormal romances. You will not be disappointed! I sure hope that there will be more stories forthcoming from this series! I wish I could give this book infinite Wine Glasses! It deserves them!