“Alex MacKinnon roused to the press of wood beneath his cheek and an ominous churning in his gut. He tried to rise, but his hands were bound behind him.”Opening lines of The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton
Since having taken up reading historical fiction, I have decided my history knowledge is decidedly patchy! The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton highlights another historic event I had no knowledge of, the battle of Culloden and the fallout for the Jacobite soldiers. Our leading man, Alex MacKinnon, is a part of that battle, a Scottish clansman in support of Charles Edward Stuart, In the Scottish Highlands the Jacobites were soundly defeated by the Hanoverian forces in support of George I.
Losing the battle and the death of many of the clansmen was not seen as sufficient punishment and those who fought against George I stood trial for high treason. Most were sentenced to death which was then commuted to penal transportation to the British colonies! Of all this I was completely unaware but in this context our adventure begins.
Arriving in America on a plantation full of slaves and hardship, Alex tries to adjust to loss of his home, friends and standing and settle into being an indentured blacksmith. Astute, he soon deduces all is not as it seems on Carey’s estate. A series of accidents and deaths sets Alex up to assisting the mistress of the house, Joanna. Her faith runs deep and she is supported by Reverend Pauling who visits periodically to encourage them all.
The cast of characters is large and to share more on each would give away the enjoyment of discovering them as one reads. As expected, living in 1747 on a plantation is brutal and harsh and my sensibilities had me flinching several times. However, the book was too filled with hope and Christian faith for me to put it down. I cared too deeply for the characters and had to know how it would resolve!
It took me until about 75% of the way through to fully realise the way in which the book followed a bible story but when I did I appreciated the story all the more!
The story is full of the unexpected and I just loved it! I highly recommend it, it’s a five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale!
From the back cover
When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy–exile to the Colony of North Carolina–he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from WaterBrook & Multnomah through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.