Book Review: The King’s Mercy

27 Jun

For readers of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon, this epic historical romance tells of fateful love between an indentured Scotsman and a daughter of the 18th century colonial south.

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.


Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows.


My Impressions:

No one does historical fiction better than Lori Benton! At least that’s my estimation. Her novels demonstrate extensive research and attention to the smallest details that bring a time past to life for the modern reader. Her latest book, The King’s Mercy does just that. With characters that capture your heart, a time and place at once foreign and familiar, and messages of truth, this book is a must-read for everyone, regardless of genre preferences. It earns a very highly recommended rating from me.

The King’s Mercy is set on a plantation in the North Carolina colony in the mid-1700s. A very prosperous enterprise, Severn is run like a ship by its owner, a retired Royal Navy captain. Benton does a great job of bringing that era to life. There is rich description of the many activities that were involved in supporting the plantation system. Slavery and indentured service was part and parcel of the plantation, and Benton reveals the cost to body and soul. Often in novels, just a few characters are developed with others serving only as extras. But Benton has a wide variety of well-developed characters — free and slave, hero and villain, white and Native American. The multi-layered culture that made up the colony is meticulously detailed, providing a complete picture for the reader. Of course a few characters stood out for me — Joanna — the stepdaughter of the plantation owner, Alex — the Scottish rebel sentenced to a 7 year indenture, and Jemma — a young slave woman determined to find freedom. These three, along with others, embody the human spirit’s need for freedom. Freedom and what that truly looks like is the theme of The King’s Mercy. The book was inspired by the book of Philemon and the slave Onesimus. With a subtle hand, Benton weaves Biblical truths and allusions throughout the novel. If you are familiar with the journeys and letters of Paul, you will recognize the parallels between scripture and this novel. The King’s Mercy certainly made me want to dig into my Bible.

There’s adventure, suspense, romance, and rich history all within the pages of The King’s Mercy, making this book widely appealing. It is also one you will think about long after you turn the last page. It is also now my favorite book by Lori Benton. It is definitely a must-read.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for book clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author and Waterbrook for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone)

5 Responses to “Book Review: The King’s Mercy”

  1. susiesellnergmailcom June 27, 2019 at 8:45 am #

    I have read other books by Lori Benton and know that this one will be every bit as well written as you described. I will definitely read this one!

    • rbclibrary June 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm #

      Great! Hope you love it.

  2. carhicks July 7, 2019 at 12:12 pm #

    I have never read anything by Lori Benton, but enjoying Historical Fiction, I think I need to rectify that situation. Wonderful review of this book and it sounds like one I would enjoy.

    • rbclibrary July 7, 2019 at 4:25 pm #

      She is one of my favs.


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