MILD SPOILERS 😉
Reviewed by Introvert Reader
Shannon’s Drake’s (aka Heather Graham) The King’s Pleasure is set amid the intense medieval backdrop of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. It’s a solid romance in a historical age that always grips my attention.
Captive of The King
The story begins with a prologue. The heroine Danielle is hiding from her husband in an inn as he searches for her. He’s under the impression that she’s there to have a tryst with a fellow Frenchman. Her husband is a Scottish knight, Adrien MacLachlan, who’s pledged to the English King. Danielle is not there to have an assignation with another man. However, she is there against her husband and his King’s wishes.
Adrien confronts Danielle, and the two have a fiery argument that ends in them making love. They look back at the stormy past that preceded this encounter.
Thus we’re flung back nineteen years prior. King Edward III of England is laying siege to Aville in France. The castle is defended by the resident Countess Lenore and her retinue. A young page, our hero, Adrien, at age 10, discovers a weak point in the walls. This allows the English King to breach it. King Edward takes triumphant control of the castle. He also takes the Countess as his captive back to England after enjoying a few nights of passion with her.
The brief yet intense affair culminates in a pregnancy. Lenore is returned to France, along with their daughter Danielle, as Edward’s vassal. Danielle grows to be more beautiful than her mother. When her mother dies years later, she is made the King’s ward and placed under his absolute control.
Torn between two worlds, the temperamental and fiercely independent Danielle finds it difficult to adjust.
Wed By the King’s Command
As time passes, events form a path to our protagonists’ destiny. On several occasions, Danielle meets Adrien, now fully grown and made a knight. Danielle finds him arrogant and unlikeable. Dislike turn into hatred when she discovers it was he who enabled Edward to take her beloved home. Adrien thinks Danielle is shrewish and detestable.
The King plans to give Danielle’s hand in marriage to Adrien in gratitude for all of Adrien’s victories in battle. Adrien, on the other hand, would prefer Lady Joanna, the daughter of an Earl.
The onset of the Bubonic Plague will change things drastically. Both Danielle and Joanna suffer from the horrific disease, although only one of them makes it out alive.
Danielle finds herself an unwilling pawn in the game of royalty. She is forced to obey the King’s order to marry her enemy Adrien MacLachlan. Danielle hates him for political and personal reasons and vows she always will. While Danielle believes she has a duty to serve the French King, how can she do so? Especially now that she’s bound to a man under service to the English crown?
Intrigue, betrayal, passion, and romance mark the rest of the book. Danielle and Adrien are a fiery combination despite their antagonism towards each other (or, more likely, because of it). Their love-making is explosive. How can they reconcile their differences while war rages on, both literally and figuratively, within their hearts?
Final Analysis of The King’s Pleasure
As I always find when reading medieval romances I enjoy, it’s the history that draws me in. I appreciated the attention to detail and authenticity of the time period. Shannon Drake’s writing is strong. She excels in writing love scenes. The road to getting the actual love was a rocky one, however. Danielle and Adrien enjoy fighting for fighting’s sake. It seemed to act as a sexual stimulant for the two!
I also could have done without Adrien’s back story of his engagement to another woman. Fortunately, he didn’t dwell overmuch on the loss of his first love, as Shannon Drake/ Heather Graham has made her heroes do in the other books.
Besides being stubborn and misguided, Danielle and Adrien were well-matched, and their HEA believable. I can imagine them spending many years within their castle walls arguing and then quickly patching matters up for wild make-up sex.