For Sam Hutchinson, the war will never be over. The rage of a hungry mob drove him from the comfort of his home, ripped away his livelihood, and led to the ultimate betrayal by the man he loved. Because while the mob destroyed Sam’s life, Nathaniel did nothing. Forced to flee to England, Sam now dwells in the shadows, living a half life and knowing he can never return home.
For Nathaniel Tanner, the war will never be over. Doomed to choose between the man he loved and the cause of American liberty, he lives with a terrible guilt and the knowledge that he has lost Sam forever. Until an act of political espionage brings him to London and he meets with Sam through circumstance. Sam and Nate are trapped in the midst of a dangerous mission and they must confront years of hurt and anger. Love wasn’t enough to save them before, but now it might be the only thing that can.
King’s Man is the first in the Outlawed series, though there is a prequel, Rebel, that I strongly encourage you to read first. One of the reasons I was so drawn to King’s Man is because it looks at an aspect of American history that often gets ignored: the fact that during the Revolutionary War, not every American was fighting for independence. There were Loyalists, often scathingly called Tories, who either abstained or actively fought with the British. Many were driven from America into Canada or to England, losing fortunes, family, and their homeland because they could not support the revolutionary cause. Sam is one of those men. He refuses to take an oath of loyalty to the Continental Congress because it’s being forced on him by a bully and a thug with no legal authority. The result is that in the middle of the night, a mob drives him his home, tars and feathers him, and he’s condemned to a life in exile.
The fact his lover, Nate, seemingly lets the mob take Sam without a fight at first appears like an act of cowardice. And to some extent, it is, but the mob is beyond Nate’s control. Both men are left destroyed for different reasons and all because a political ideal has grown into, what is in essence, a civil war.
It’s hard to fully accept or understand Nate’s action and while he’s been hurt, it’s Sam who suffers the real loss. His life in England is a barely a life and he’s consumed by despair. While the situation that brings he and Nate back together is somewhat contrived, their journey to work through their past trauma is compelling and well done. I enjoyed that Sam and Nate had no easy path back to love; it wasn’t just an I’m sorry and all was healed. The effort involved made the plot more realistic and made their romance more engaging. These two feel real and have a depth that allows for character growth by the end of the book.
King’s Man is an excellent historical novel that reads as layered and doesn’t skimp on either the history or the romance. Even if you’re not traditionally a fan of historical fiction, King’s Man is a good read and and definitely worth your time.