THE KING'S MAN releases today (8 September) - Book 2 in the Guardians of the Crown series.
It is now February 1654- three long years since the events that took place in Book 1 (BY THE SWORD).
In that story readers first met a friend of Jonathan Thornton’s, KIT LOVELL, in a filthy inn in Perth (Scotland).
(Jonathan) opened the door the tapster indicated. Two men sat at a rickety table playing cards; Giles Longley and another English officer, Kit Lovell. A half-dressed drab, no doubt picked out of the gutters of Perth, leaned on Lovell’s shoulder, apparently engaged in nibbling his ear. Another girl sprawled on Giles’ lap, twirling a lock of his hair in her fingers.
Giles had his back to the door so it was Kit who looked up, his eyes widening.
‘Jesus Christ!’ he swore.
Jonathan forced a wry smile. ‘Not quite.’
On the eve of the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), a card game takes place… in which the stakes are the lives of the men who must face battle the next day. They are joined by Kit’s young brother, Daniel…
Lovell cast his brother a glance that was at once both reproving and affectionate.
‘He followed me,’ Lovell replied. ‘His mother will hold me responsible if anything happens to him and, God knows, I fear her wrath more than Cromwell, but what could I do?’
‘This may be my last chance,’ the boy said returning his brother’s look with a furrowed brow.
‘Your last chance for what?’ Giles asked. ‘Getting yourself killed?’
‘My last chance to return the King to the throne where he belongs,’ Daniel said, his eyes shining with an idealism that had long since escaped Jonathan.
Lovell laid his cards down and fixed his brother with a hard look. ‘You don’t see do you?’ he said. ‘You’re the last of us with any hope. Look at us...’ He waved his hand at the men seated around the table. ‘If we lose this battle, what future do we have? But you...you can still make something of your life.’
The next day, battle is joined and the King’s cause is lost even before the fighting begins. In the midst of the battle we encounter Kit Lovell for the last time…
Hearing Kit Lovell’s voice, Jonathan turned and saw his friend standing in the path of a Parliament trooper who bore down on him from behind with his sword upraised. Of Lovell’s brother there was no sign.
Summoning all his energy, Jonathan managed to reach Lovell and push him aside just as the trooper slashed down with his sword. The razor-sharp blade caught Jonathan across the back of his hand, slashing through the heavy leather of his glove.
Lovell regained his feet and clutched at Jonathan’s sleeve.
‘I can’t find Daniel.’
Before Jonathan could respond, the trooper turned, pulling his pistol from his belt. He fired and Kit crumpled to the ground
Seizing a primed pistol from a dead Scot at his feet, Jonathan fired. The trooper’s face exploded in mass of blood and the man toppled, screaming, from his horse.
Jonathan stooped down to see to Lovell, who had taken the pistol ball to the leg and now lay helpless on the trampled grass, grimacing in agony.
Giles grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the fallen man.
‘Thornton, there’s no time. We must find the King and get back to the city,’ Giles yelled above the noise.
‘Go,’ Lovell said between gritted teeth. ‘Save the King.’
So… Kit Lovell, the King's man, fell wounded at the Battle of Worcester.
How did he survive and what brings him to London in 1654, at the height of Cromwell’s Protectorate?
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To celebrate the launch of THE KING'S MAN, I will be running a RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST with the prize of a Kindle E-reader from now until the end of October.