Review + Interview: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

Posted July 2, 2014 by Jessica in Fantasy, Jessica, Paranormal Romance, Reviews / 68 Comments

Review + Interview: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
Published by Avon
Published on: July 29 2014
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Pages: 608
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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 which 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.

FantasyAlphaMaleMagical

C.L. Wilson writes Fantasy Romance like nobody’s business.

I discovered Wilson’s Tairen Soul series a little over a year ago through a Goodreads’ recommendation, and I read all five books in five days.

All five books. In five days.

And they weren’t filler books either. They were all 400(ish) page FANTASY books.

When I finished my reading binge, I was glad to see that another book was in the works—The Winter King (this book), and I’ve had it on my watchlist since January of last year.

And people . . . it did NOT disappoint.

Khamsin Coruscate is the unwanted daughter of King Verdan IV of Summerlea. Unacknowledged, she roams the abandoned places of her father’s castle, desperately trying to be good enough, noble enough, worthy enough to gain her father’s affections.

All of her efforts are for naught.

Wynter Atrialan is the young King of Wintercraig. Barely into manhood, he is already a legend among his people, having single-handedly killed a Frost Giant in a successful attempt to save his younger brother. But when he is betrayed, he embraces an ancient, dangerous magic to assist him in his quest for revenge.

But the magic has a cost, and the longer Wynter uses it, the higher the price.

Things I loved about this book:

1. The characters—ALL of the characters, main and secondary alike, were incredibly well-developed. I felt an instant connection to both Wynter and Khamsin, and the secondary characters were both likable and entertaining while enhancing my understanding of the MCs.

2. The world-building—Time wasn’t wasted describing actual landmasses, so while I may have only had a vague understanding of where Summerlea, Wintercraig, and Calbernan would be located on a map, I did gain knowledge of the other (more important IMO) aspects of the geography. I knew what creatures lurked where. I knew the weather patterns and the local customs. The imports and exports, etc. All those details combined to create a clear picture of Kham and Wyn’s world.

3. Villainous villains—I love to hate a good villain. Oh, I like a sympathetic villain on occasion as well, but sometimes a clear-cut bad guy is a wonderful target for your animosity, and The Winter King has several.

4. The ROMANCE—Wynter and Khamsin are instantly drawn to each other and have incredible chemistry, but oh, how they fight it. There are numerous misunderstandings and miscommunications (for the path to true love never did run smooth), but the journey never crosses the line from swoonfest to tedium. It’s very simply delicious torture.

5. Possibility of future books from this world—As far as I can tell, there are currently no other books from this world under contract. BUT Wilson lays the groundwork for several future books throughout this one, and my fingers are crossed that said books will come to pass (Dilys Merimydion + a Season = True Love 4-Ever).

Things I could have liked more:

1. Too many villainous villains—There were at least four significant bad guys (as well as several other characters you were made to be suspicious of), and as effective as they were, I can’t help but think that cumulatively a few less would have made even more of an impact. Even if there were still a few secondary bad guys all working for one Big Bad<——Big Bad is singular for a reason.

2. So very LONG—I kind of feel like this book could have had 100 less pages and still accomplished everything that needed to be accomplished. The end seemed to drag a bit (but only a bit). That being said, all of those pages flew by.

But ultimately, a couple of minor issues were not enough to keep me from absolutely loving this book.

Fantasy romance is not a big genre, so finding an author who excels at writing it is highly fortuitous. C.L. Wilson is one such author, and this book perfectly illustrates that claim. With a completely enthralling combination of fantastical elements and a swoonworthy romance, I recommend The Winter King to lovers of both Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. C.L. Wilson is always a safe bet, and The Winter King is perhaps my favorite of her books to date.

Was this review helpful to you? If so, please consider voting for it on Amazon or like it on Goodreads!

Author Interview

The Winter King will be released on July 29th, and I’m very pleased to welcome its author, C.L. Wilson to Rabid Reads for my very first author interview.<——I am EXCITE.

1. THE WINTER KING takes place in a completely different world than your Tairen Soul series. What is/are the most important thing(s) for a reader to know about that world? (Or tell us a bit about that world, or BOTH. *wink*)

Well, the WINTER KING has a somewhat Norse feel, set in a land very like Norway or Sweden. The Ice Tongue dialect I use is actually a combination of Old Norse and Old Icelandic. I didn’t pull in Norse mythology too much, except for an occasional reference allusion (the Valkyr, instead of Valkyrie, Carnack instead of Ragnarock), but I wanted the feel of remote, rugged, close-knit peoples. Every race of people in Mystral has a core form of magic. Summerlanders have a gift for growing things. Havenfolk (although not much mentioned in the book) have a gift for persuasion. Winterfolk have clan-gifts which give entire familial tribes magical traits related to their clan’s totem animal. And the rulers of the various kingdoms all have some form a great magic. In the case of the ruling families of Wintercraig and Summerlea, those royal gifts are weather magic

Unlike the Tairen Soul series, which employs elemental magic, witchcraft, black magic, and shape changers, in Mystral, the magic is much more organic. It’s tied directly to the natural world (the ability to grow things, the ability to manipulate weather, the ability to assume characteristics of particular animals of the forest). Some of the magic comes directly from the gods of Mystral, but even then the magic generally isn’t about creating something from nothing, but rather influencing nature in some way..

One of the cool features of the royal magics is that all members of the immediate royal family are born with gift-marks – birthmarks on their wrists that proclaim them to be Heirs to the throne of their respective kingdoms. Those marks react when the royals use their weathergifts.

And, of course, because I love history and legends, I had to create an historical mythology that comes into play during the story. I had fun with that. I love the richness that our own mythologies give to our world. It’s part of what I love playing with when writing fantasy.

2. Khamsin grows up isolated in her own home, but she manages to have relationships with her siblings despite her father’s attempts to separate them. Khamsin feels especially close to her brother who we quickly learn is well on his way to turning out like their father. Is there hope Falcon?

I hope so. I do believe even people who do bad things can ultimately redeem themselves if they work hard enough and sincerely enough at it. In the SEA KING (the next Mystral novel, which I m writing now), one of Falcon’s sisters is fairly convinced that Falcon’s behavior was influenced by their father. We’ll have to wait and see 🙂

3. How many more books from this world would you like to write before it runs its course? What couples would you like to see together? Or if that gives too much away, who individually would you like to see get their HEA?

I haven’t thought it out to an end point. As I write more in this world, I learn more about it, and discovering intriguing people, places and races that I want to explore more fully. For now, I’m hoping to write at least about all three of Khamsin’s sisters, the Seasons. I’ve already got ideas brewing. Of course, I also have more Fading Lands novels to write too…starting with Bel’s book (in progress) and Gaelen’s book (plotted).

4. Which character was the most fun to write in THE WINTER KING, and why?

I enjoyed them all for different reasons – I loved Khamsin’s bravery and vulnerability, I loved Wynter’s absolutely yummy tenderness. But I guess for sheer “fun” – that has to be Dilys Merimydion, hero of THE SEA KING, who showed up out of the blue and won me over. He just makes me laugh. (although the dunk-dunk scene with Wynter and Krysti is one of my favorite scenes in the book.)

5. How ’bout that cover? How much say do you have in choosing your book covers, and what do you think about THE WINTER KING’s?

Judy York, the artist who also did the Fading Lands covers, did the WINTER KING. I think its absolutely gorgeous. My favorite of her covers for me is still QUEEN OF SONG AND SOULS, but this one runs a close second, I think. The colors are beautiful. And Judy is a delight. We became friends when she did the LORD OF THE FADING LANDS cover — she loves reading fantasy as much as I do, and she read the unpublished Tairen Soul manuscript (that became LORD OF THE FADING LANDS & LADY OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS). We see pretty much eye-to-eye about what we do and don’t like on romance novel covers. With her permission, I use her beautiful art as my website banner graphics. So, yeah, I love her work 🙂

6. Are you working on/have plans to work on any other books from other and/or new series?

Yep. I’m currently working on THE SEA KING, which features characters who appear in THE WINTER KING. Like THE WINTER KING, it’s a stand-alone novel. I’m also working on a 6th Fading Lands novel, this one about Belliard vel Jelani, the Spirit Master of Ellysetta v’En Daris’s quintet (personal guard). I’ll also be writing Gaelen vel Serranis book (Fading Lands #7), and I hope to do a short story and maybe a novellas set in the Fading Lands to keep my Tairen Soul fans happy while they wait.

7. Do you have a step-by-step outline you try to follow when you’re writing a book, or do the characters develop a life of their own?

Oh, argh, for me step by step outlines are Suicide By Plotting. I can’t keep to them and tie myself in Gordian knots trying to force myself to stick to them. I’m much happier if I can just get a good grip on the Hero/Heroine/Villains GMC, figure out what I think will be the four main turning points of the plot, then fly off into the mist. It’s not the most efficient way to write, but it’s the way that seems to work best for me. I also jump around a lot – writing scenes as they come to me — then fit them all together like puzzle pieces at the end.

8. At a glance, you appear to be a fellow Southerner. Do you feel that any aspects of the that subculture consistently find their way into your books?

I grew up all over the US – moving 9 different times before I turned 11, but I’ve lived in the south (Georgia & now FL) for most of my life. When I write contemporary, absolutely, the south sneaks in – it’s what I know. But in the fantasy, I don’t really think it does. One of my big loves is creating cultures and cultural mores — many of which are inspired by all manner of different cultures from around the world (including those from history).

9. Romantic Fantasy isn’t a very big sub-genre. Did you make a conscious decision to write it, or is that just what happened?

Well, its what I love. I did make the conscious decision to combine my two favorite genres – romance and fantasy, and for now that’s keeping me pretty busy. I do have some old contemporary manuscripts, and may one day write some of the paranormal romances milling about in my head, but for now, until I can figure out how to produce more books faster, fantasy romance/romantic fantasy is my home 🙂

10. Do you think it was more or less difficult trying to get a book published in such a small sub-genre?

Oh, I definitely made a rod for my own back when I had an epic fantasy romance series and editors were all buying vampires, weres, and kick-ass urban fantasy, but as with every book sale, it takes the right book in the hands of the right editor at the right time.

11. Dream Cast for THE WINTER KING:

Ha! This one I honestly have never even thought about.
Wynter – hmmm…that gorgeous hottie who plays Eric Northman on True Blood, maybe. Or maybe a young Daniel Craig.
Khamsin – a young Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, totally.

12. Care to volunteer any information?? Hmmm?

What else can I say? Wynter is yummy. I hope you agree 🙂

Lightning round:

Bread or Chocolate? Oh, toughie. Chocolate. How about Pain au chocolat, best of both worlds?

Thor or Loki? THOR

UF or PNR? PNR

Sudoku or Crossword? Both.

Spiders or Clowns? Prefer spiders. Hate Clowns. MUCH creepier.

Favorite Disney princess? Little Mermaid. But for sheer spunk, Mulan.

Favorite supernatural creature? angel

Favorite carbonated beverage? beer

Celebrity crush? Richard Armitage.

Favorite Dr. Seuss book? One fish, two fish

Favorite 1980’s song? Oh Mickey, you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!

Make sure to check out Wilson’s Tairen Soul series too:

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.clwilson.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/clwilson.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Author C.L. Wilson’s unique blend of richly-imagined fantasy, action, and emotional intensity has made her books a favorite read for romance and fantasy readers alike. Praised for exceptional worldbuilding and lyric prose, her critically acclaimed novels have regularly appeared on bestseller lists including the USA Today, the New York Times, and Publisher’s Weekly.

C.L’s novels have won numerous awards including, LifetimeTV.com’s Best Paranormal debut of 2007, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, two National Reader’s Choice awards, the Colorado Award of Excellence, and the Holt Medallion. Ms. Wilson is the honored recipient of the PEARL award from Paranormal Romance as the best new author of 2007, and winner of the 2009 PEARL award for best Romantic Fantasy novel.

When not torturing her characters mercilessly, C.L. enjoys relaxing with her family in sunny Florida and daydreaming of a world where chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream is a fat burning food. – See more at: http://clwilson.com/the-author/#sthash.oSbhmpgp.dpuf[/author_info] [/author]

Jessica Signature

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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68 responses to “Review + Interview: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

  1. Ha, this series is clearly a favorite of yours 😀 The premise looks promising 😀 Yay for awesome characters! That’s how I feel about Krista and Becca Ritchie’s books. Just love ALLLL the characters!! Villainous villains are the bestest! Heh, and what would a book be without a little romance? I love me some romance so this is definitely a plus too and delicious torture sounds very, very good in my book 😉 Hmm. You def have a point here, BIG BAD is singular. “has a somewhat Norse feel, set in a land very like Norway or Sweden” OOOOOHKAY. It’s right next to me then? WHOOP!!! Thehee. Jess, I have a feeling you’re very excited about The Sea King 😉 It’s funny how with fantasy stuff, authors tend to get inspiration from elsewhere, but contemps is really inspired by their own experiences and what they know. Weird, but makes sense too 😀 Thanks for the lovely post, my darlin’!
    Siiri recently posted…Blogger Interview: Realm of Fiction

    • SO excited about The Sea King. One of the first things Wilson told me after I asked her for an interview was that she was working on The Sea King . . . like right then. I was all ZOMG. I’ve got the first 3 books in the Ritchie series, and I’m going to find a way to fit it in SOON. For real 😉 And thank YOU, Siiri!

  2. Yummm, Fantasy Romance for the win!!
    The whole series fab, though of course I find your book-devouring powers intimidating, lol!
    And your very first author interview was awesomesauce, nyah~nyah!

    • Thanks, Livia! And yeah, fantasy romance is AWESOME. Don’t be intimidated, LOL. It’s just that I’m a maniac . . . so maybe the intimidation isn’t uncalled for . . . NAH. Maniacs are cool. Just ask me 😉

  3. Yes to all on your review. I loved this book so much!! Wynter is just so freaking dreamy and Khamsin is perfect for him and the Seasons and… everything!

    Thank you for the interview. I didn’t know about The Sea King – please, please, let it be Dilys Merimydion’s book – and about Belliard and Gaelen’s books. BEST NEWS EVER!!
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

  4. *humming Mickey*

    I don’t think I’ve ever read fantasy romance. Do Fairy tales count? This is quite intimidating though because of the sheer number of pages each book has and for a girl with a TBR taller than her, I have to make serious time for this. But if you love it then it’s worth a try.
    Braine recently posted…Loved It: Dark Paradise by Angie Sandro

    • Ummm . . . yeah. I think fairy tales count. And the sheer number of pages is definitely intimidating. BUT the page really did fly by. These are more “day” reads than “afternoon” reads though, for sure. I hope you can fit them in some time 😉

  5. @BookaholicCat – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 I loved Wynter and Khamsin. And, yes, THE SEA KING is Dilys’s book – although his heroine surprised me. She isn’t who I thought she would be!

  6. Squee! I’m drooling over here. I need this book now – lol. I’m so excited for The Winter King. One of my favorite things I loved about the Tairen Soul’s series was its world-building and amazing characters. I can’t wait to dig into this new world and meet Wynter and Khamsin.

    Thanks you C.L. Wilson and Jessica for the wonderful Interview & Review 🙂
    Kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

    • THANKS! It’s b/c I’m a maniac 😉 And yes, I think you definitely should. If you think fantasy romance is something you’d like, AND you already have the first book, Wilson’s Tairen Soul series is an excellent place to start.

    • Yes, villainous villains are great. So is the world-building in both the Tairen Soul series and The Winter King. And you’re right—I don’t binge like that unless it’s REALLY good. I hope you try them out some time 😉

  7. I listened to the first book and I loved it! Why haven’t I continue? I have No Idea. I think have some kind of series ADD, I get distracted by other books. I’m getting to the next one soon!!! You just reminded me of a great series. Thank you!
    Great Interview!
    Lupdilup recently posted…2014 Audiobook Challenge Update

  8. You have peaked my interest with this book, I’ll put it on my reading list for sure! I will also look for the other titles, everyone seems to like them! Thanks for this review and author interview, pretty interesting!

    • Spider and clowns are both horrible, LOL. And yeah, the extra didn’t bother me much in this book. In fact, part of the problem might have been that I was visiting family during the last 15-20% and kept getting interrupted. Maybe if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have noticed at all.

    • Thank you! And yay! *snickers* The length is a bit intimidating, but really, I didn’t notice. Especially in the Tairen Soul books. They’re long-ish, but not the 608 pages that this one is 😉

  9. Well just the fact that you’ve read all five books in just five days tells me a lot. I haven’t heard of this series but it sounds really interesting. I usually don’t like when a book is unnecessarily too long but I can live with that. Great review, Jessica 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#102)

  10. Gotta agree with her take on the cover. The artist is truly talented and wonderful. I think the cliche of the bare-chested man on the fantasy romance cover is way overdone, it’s that cheesiness which turns me off more than anything, so it’s nice to see something tasteful, passionate and just all around pleasing to the eye.
    Mogsy recently posted…PANELS: Nextwave Vol. 1: This Is What They Want

  11. So, yes, this is the best author interview I’ve read in a while. It was very interesting and entertaining. Good job, Jessica! 🙂 I’ve seen several friends reading this and I’m intrigued but not sure for the romance because it seems like insta-love, and I have a love/hate relationship with insta-love. Great review though!

    • Thanks, Lo! And I don’t know whether you’d have a problem with the “insta-love” in this one or not. It’s more insta-lust, and yeah there is definitely a feeling of soulmate-ness, but there are a LOT of hurdles before they get to their HEA.

  12. wow 4 bad guys? It’s quite impressive! I haven’t read this series I confess but I heard so many great things about it, I should definitely try because it looks really perfect for me. I’m glad you had a great time again with it. And thanks for the little interview!

  13. Wow, 5 fantasy romance novels and you didn’t get sick of the author or the stories. These must be some good books. I will have to recommend them to my sister. She loves fantasy romance. I get a little nauseous around that much romance most of the time. Just how much bedroom stuff is there in these? I get to the point where I just flip to the end of the chapter but find myself lost because I have missed some little thing that “popped up” during the bedroom scene.
    Tina recently posted…Review: Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

    • Umm . . . these aren’t that bad. I like romance, but I’m more about the swoons and the journey than the nekkid times. If a book has more sex than plot, I’m probably not going to finish it, and if I do it’s b/c i skipped ahead like you would. If your sister likes fantasy romance, find out if she’s read Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughn. If she liked that, she’ll probably like these b/c they’re pretty similar format/content-wise.

  14. i was so nervous when i saw that you posted your reviews. I’m in love with her books and will get every book she publishes. aaaah. aah

    i cant wait this novel, kinda sad that it’s a standalone but nevertheless I’m so exited. I love her world building and history she creates . ALSO I’m kinda jelly hehe.

    lovely review, Jessica. gimme all her books lol
    roro recently posted…REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

  15. I had no idea such a thing as Fantasy Romance or Romantic Fantasy existed, and I wouldn’t have gone straight to check it out myself, but your review and the interview with the author talking about the mythology and world building on the book makes me want to read it!
    Fantastic review & interview, Jessica!
    Pili recently posted…Saturday Pages: ARC Review of Rain by Amanda Sun!

    • Thanks, Pili! And really? I figured with your similar love of YA fantasy that you would’ve jumped right onto romantic fantasy 😉 It is admittedly longer, LOL, but it’s not nearly as dense as high fantasy. I hope you check it out sometime!

  16. OMFG, Jessica. Why does it feel like I’ve finally met my match in this one and in Tairen Soul? I’ve long moved past my “Dystopia” age, and am started to indulge myself in more traditional fantasy and urban fantasy (with the Dresden Files – omgfingerlickinggooooood), and Tairen Soul + this one sounds like my ally. Especially with the awesome characterization and character development! I don’t mind there having too many villainous villains as long as they’re not obviously cliché. I think a binge-read of Tairen Soul is in order.
    Faye recently posted…ARC Review: Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

    • I hope it’s b/c you’ve finally met your match 😉 I’ve got the first 6(ish?) books of Dresden, and they’re at the top of my TBR once I get caught up on more mandatory reads, so I’m glad you’re loving them. UF is the BEST. And fantasy romance is pretty great too. I hope you like Tairen Soul, Faye. A few of the books are on sale right now too, FYI.

    • Yeah, Cristina, I would save this one until you’ve got a BIG chunk of time, and are in the mood for fantasy swoons. You might be better off reading one of the KA Fantasyland books first to see if fantasy romance works for you. I’m drawing a complete blank on whether or not you’ve read much high fantasy. It can be pretty dense, and I have to be in the mood for it. KA’s have the same feel, but are shorter and lighter content-wise.

    • Thanks, Michele! And it’s true! Wilson’s men are all so chivalrous, in that incredibly deep South way. I LOVE them. I don’t think it would be a wasted effort to try out this series either. Her books are very consistent, so if you’re not a fan of what’s happening at the end of book 1, you can quit the series with a clear conscience (instead of continuing to read b/c you hope you’ll start liking it). Maybe I’m the only one who does that though 😉