Title: King Perry
Author: Edmond Manning
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel
Buy links: Amazon |  All Romance

Rating: 5+

“Once there was a tribe of men… a tribe populated entirely of kings. Odd, you may think, and wonder how any work got done in such a society with everyone making rules. But these were not those kinds of kings… They required no throne rooms, no jewels, no gold crowns. They chose to king as they went about the business of living… Life continued exceptionally well for a timeless age, more kings discovering themselves and suddenly arriving… Yes, life was good. Until some got lost.”

They wandered away to see what was outside the kingdom, but soon forgot about the world from which they came.  Their fellow kings searched for them, hoping to bring them home.  Their lives no longer held the same joy and magic, but sadly they didn’t even realize what they had lost.

Perry Mangin is one of those lost kings.  His father died of cancer when he was a young boy, a loss that changed him profoundly.  He can no longer cry. He no longer trusts in love, in the belief that if he gives his heart to someone he can know that he will not be abandoned.  Vin Vanbly is a finder of kings, a maker of kings. Vin meets Perry and decides that he will help him find his inner king once again, to find that ability to trust in love and to move past the pain that still haunts him.  So he approaches Perry with a request – spend the weekend with him, submit to Vin’s demands, and ask no questions.  And Perry takes a leap of faith and actually agrees.

Over the course of the weekend, Vin helps Perry get that trust back.  To find that king inside him, and to open himself up to life and wonder and love.  The two go on an adventure, full of crazy experiences that test Perry’s ability to let go, to open his heart and let it win out over his brain.  To stop asking questions and just live in the moment.  They travel around San Francisco, experiencing things in ways that few people ever do.  And that moment when it finally happens, when Perry realizes that he can trust in love, when Perry once again becomes a king, it is just magical.

Oh, you guys, this book was truly wonderful.  The kind of book that blows you away, that you can’t stop thinking about, that affects the way you view things in life.   I wish I could do this book justice in my review, but I really fear I can’t capture what truly makes this book wonderful.  Manning creates such a fascinating character in Vin, and he serves as our guide as well as Perry’s.  On one hand, Vin is an ordinary guy, a mechanic from the midwest on vacation in San Francisco.  I love that he is a bit quirky, a fan of words and language, constantly getting distracted by the beauty in everyday sounds and colors and sights that the rest of us hardly take time to notice. But he is also a finder of kings, someone who can recognize that lost soul and knows how to reach out and guide him home.

I love that like Perry, we have no idea what is going to happen over the weekend. Vin has planned it all in meticulous detail, every moment thought through to lead Perry along his journey.  Just like Perry, we don’t get our questions answered, we must be patient and see where this all takes us.  From that first moment when Perry must take a leap of faith and decide whether to follow this stranger he met only once a few days before, we are taken on a journey along with him.  Each step of the way, seemingly meaningless decisions and actions slowly build, subtly changing Perry and opening him up to a new awareness. So when Perry finally reaches that wonderful moment, we can truly share it with him.

Like Vin, Perry is a fascinating character.  On one hand, he is an ordinary investment banker living a fairly normal life.  But there is something inside him that prompts him to take this chance, and each step along the way, despite his fears, he makes that decision to keep on going.  Watching him find his way and seeing the joy he experiences at the end of his journey when it all comes together is so rewarding.

Just to be clear, this is not a fairy tale, but instead a contemporary story set in our real world of San Francisco in 1999.  But the story of the kings is interwoven throughout the book, Vin unspooling threads of the tale throughout the weekend, giving Perry little pieces until it all comes together at the end.  We learn about the kings and how they have become lost.  And we see the pain and struggle of their brothers who so desperately want to help them find their way back.  The story introduces us to many kings, both Lost and Found, but the most important is King Aabee.  Aabee is the one who risks everything, who gives up everything, to help the lost kings.  He makes the biggest sacrifices, but also the biggest contributions.  In the tale he connects the Found kings with those who have died, and as the story continues, his story helps Perry find that connection he was missing with his deceased father.

Despite it’s poignancy, this story is never sappy.  I could feel the sadness and the pain, but also the joy.  Perry and Vin have such exhilarating, wonderful moments.  It is never about feeling bad, it is about finding the wonderful.  I will point out that King Perry does not lead to an HEA for Perry and Vin.  But I actually think that is what makes it work so well.  This probably sounds crazy, but it almost reminds me of the end of Mary Poppins, when the kids no longer need her.  She has done what she set out to do, and now there are other families who need her help.  That is how I felt here. Vin reached out and changed Perry’s life.  He made him a king and helped him reclaim himself.  And now it is time for Perry to live that new life, and for Vin to find another lost king who needs him.  I know they will still be in touch and forever connected, but just not romantically together.

I wish I could better explain the impact of this book and how emotionally gratifying I felt it was.  I am not sure I can put it into words, but here is my attempt.  I went to the grocery store soon after reading a key passage in the book and I found myself noticing and appreciating all sorts of things that in the past probably would never have caught my attention.  The delightful anticipation right before taking that first sip of coffee.  Thinking how much more fun it would be to eat a purple potato rather than a plain old white one. Honest to god, I bought a tomato I didn’t even need because it was so beautiful, so perfectly ripe and plump that I just had to have it.  I feel like a bit of Vin rubbed off on me, that person who notices and takes delight in all those small and wonderful things.

Interestingly I was just talking to someone who specializes in eastern medicine and she told me I need to start acting more on instinct and following my heart and my gut, rather than always leading with my brain, analyzing and thinking everything through (as a way to help my neck issues). I am reflecting on it more as I think about this book and Vin’s observations of the conflict Perry faces between the brain and the heart.  I think it is probably all related, and I am trying to find that balance between the two.

So now I have made this review all about me.  But in a way I think that is sort of what this book is about. As we follow Perry on his journey, hopefully we are taking a journey as well.  Finding that little bit of a lost king inside ourselves, remembering and realizing the potential for what could be.  I don’t think I am there yet.  I have my stuff to work through like most of us.  But I’m working on it. I like to think I am getting there. And maybe one day I too could become a king.

Edmond Manning will be here later on this morning to talk to us more about King Perry and give a copy away to one lucky commenter. He shares a lot of great insight about the story, so be sure to stop back by!