Review: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

The Winter King by C.L. Wilson (Weathermages of Mystral #1)

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Avon on July 29, 2014

Source: Purchased

After three long years of war, starkly handsome Wynter Atrialan will have his vengeance on Summerlea’s king by taking one of the man’s beautiful, beloved daughters as his bride.

  

C.L. Wilson’s THE WINTER KING is the first in a fantasy-romance series that introduces a world of wild weather magic…and even wilder passions. If you’ve been looking for a story that’s equal parts fantasy novel and sweeping love story, look no further!

Khamsin Coruscate is a daughter of the rose and a princess of the kingdom of Summerlea, but her uncontrollable weather magic and her father’s hatred of her have made her an outcast in her own palace. So when her father is forced to give one of his daughters in marriage to the enemy king of Wintercraig, Wynter Atraliam, Khamsin is suddenly plucked out of obscurity and thrust into the spotlight. Knowing Wynter’s brutal reputation and the harshness of life in the Wintercraig, everyone expects Khamsin to perish after her marriage. But she’s stronger than anyone realized, and her will to live is greater than even she could’ve imagined. But Wynter has embraced an evil power in his quest for vengeance against Summerlea, and if he isn’t careful it will turn his heart to ice before Khamsin’s love has a chance to melt the walls around his heart.

Fantasy-romance is a difficult subgenre to pull off and many authors fail to hit the right balance between world building and crafting a solid romance — neither is a problem for Wilson. THE WINTER KING manages to introduce a medieval-style fantasy realm with complex magics while also developing Khamsin and Wynter’s respective characters enough so that their romance was both believable and compelling. Khamsin is a fantastic protagonist, and my heart was breaking for her after only a few chapters. She’s stubborn, headstrong, and proud, but also riddled with insecurities and self-doubt thanks to her upbringing; in other words, Khamsin is wonderfully flawed and totally relatable. Wynter is also a well-developed character, with his love for family and his people at the core of everything he does…even when he’s making all the wrong choices (more on that later).

Seeing the icy beauty of Wintercraig through the eyes of a foreigner and its king provided insight into the people, culture, and magic of the winter kingdom without any info-dumping. As with any culture clash love story, there are significant misunderstandings between Khamsin and Wynter, but rather than being annoyed by them I actually appreciated the realism: after all, two people from completely different cultures are bound to have different interpretations of at least a few things. I particularly enjoyed the idea of the mercy of the mountains, a mysterious form of punishment offered to those who commit criminal offences in Wintercraig. From ancient mythology, magical beasts, and individual powers, the fantastical side of THE WINTER KING is also really strong. I can’t wait to learn more about the other kingdoms in the upcoming sequel!

My only real complaint is something that most of y’all probably saw coming: Wynter falls into the “alphahole” trap multiple times, and his high-handed behaviour early on in the story was unsettling. Yes, he mellows out when Khamsin stands her ground, but I was disappointed by the overt machismo of it all. Is it too much to ask for a fantasy-romance hero who’s not over the top and controlling? I don’t think it is, yet this seems to be an issue in most of the fantasy-romances I’ve read. Here’s hoping that the hero of THE SEA KING, the highly anticipated sequel, is more mellow. Despite my issues with Wynter’s behaviour I still really liked this one and I’m dying to read the sequel!

Have you read THE WINTER KING? What do you think about “alphahole” guys in fantasy-romance? Let me know in the comments!

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  • I haven’t read this, but I’ve read several great reviews, so I was excited to read yours! I literally grew up reading my mom’s Harlequin romances, so I know what you mean about the controlling alpha male, it’s almost a given!

  • Hmmm I haven’t really read much in this genre but I think I understand what you mean by the “alphahole” thing. Is it bad that that was the impression I got from how the character is drawn on the cover? 😂😂😂

  • This sounds like a great combination of two well-loved genres! I love the sound of Khamsin’s character, of her strength. And weather magic isn’t something I come across all that often. Glad you liked it!

  • Yay! Glad to see you enjoyed this one, Danya! I really liked Khamsin too. I thought she was the star of the book besides the romance. I totally agree about Wynter kinda being an alphahole at times. My friends and I were just talking about this the other day, how fantasy heroes seem to be extra overprotective and controlling at times. I’m about to start book 2 soon, and I hope I enjoy it too!

  • Karen

    This was a fun one. It took so long for book #2 though 🙁 I’m looking forward to reading it and hoping I didn’t forget too much.

    “Is it too much to ask for a fantasy-romance hero who’s not over the top and controlling?” Yes. Yes it is lol

    For What It’s Worth

  • Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve always wanted to read Wilson but have been uncertain I’d like it…so I’m thrilled you did! Now I can pick up her books with confidence. 🙂 I get what you’re saying about the alphahole trap though. It’s an unfortunate thing there’s a whole lot of in romance. I don’t mind alphas but I don’t appreciate alphaholes. Great review, Danya!

  • I totally get what you’re saying. Like, I was so happy this book was a fun romance that had a solid fantasy storyline and a swoony romance that I did forgive Wynter’s alphahole tendencies. He did mellow out but it was frustrating at first. I kind of attributed his dickish tendencies to the fact he was struggling with the whole Ice Heart issue. I did think that The Sea King was better in some ways and then worse in others. I mean, I enjoyed it and I cannot wait for the next one but I had some issues so I’ll be interested to see what you think.

  • You and I *must* be on the same wavelength, because guess what I just read today and will be reviewing tomorrow? The Sea King! Finally! I loved that book, though I loved this one more. This will always be one of my favorite adult romance novels (if not my favorite). I’m really glad you enjoyed this book, despite the alpha aspects that put you off. I’m a huge fan of alphas so it surprised exactly no one when I completely adored Wynter. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 You’ll love Dilys more, I’m sure. He is alpha but not an alphahole, if that makes sense. Honestly one of the sweetest alphas I’ve encountered in fiction.

    Great review, Danya! Have a wonderful week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • You know! I was just talking about fantasy romance! And here is a perfect rec from the type of people I trust the most – book bloggers – and not only that! I’ve read and loved your recs previously so … DANG. Another one for the TBR from Danya.