For King and Country

Written by Charlene Newcomb
Review by Anna Belfrage

When Henry de Grey left England to ride with his king in the third crusade, he was more of a boy than a man. Now he has returned, and the experiences he’s survived in the Holy Land have not only left him marked for life, they have also shaped him into a person who knows who he is and what he wants. Unfortunately, what Henry wants does not conform with the expectations of society – the times he lives in have little tolerance for a man who loves another man.

While the love story between Henry and his lover Stephan d’Aigle is a recurring theme, the main story centres round the ongoing political events. King Richard is a prisoner in Austria, and the huge ransom demanded for his release is yet another burden for the common man in England. No wonder that some listen to Prince John and his cronies, a whispered suggestion that maybe England would be better off without this crusading – and expensive – king of theirs.

Henry, Stephan, and their companion, Robin – a rather novel interpretation of the legendary Robin Hood – have no intention of allowing the traitorous Prince John to succeed. Plots and counter-plots, smuggled weaponry and food – all comes to a head at the siege of Nottingham.

Ms Newcomb is obviously entirely at home in this historical setting. Excellent descriptive writing brings the historical context into life, drawing the reader into the medieval world. Henry and Stephan are wonderfully developed characters, supported by a colourful cast which includes everything from a charming Little John to Elle, Henry’s intended bride who has no more desire to marry him than he does to wed her. All in all, an excellent read, quite impossible to put down, despite its length!

e-book reviewed