Saturday, 14 April 2012

The UnTied Kingdom by Kate Johnson

This book caught my attention some time ago. The title, for me as a Brit, was already sure to catch my attention. The cover conveys the war-torn idea as well as the romance. The synopsis immediately had me sold. But the book in paperback was fairly expensive. When I got my Kindle, though, I had this light bulb moment to check the price on Amazon. At that time it was 99c (it’s a bit more now) so I bought it immediately and read it that same night, putting off sleep because I just wanted to read more, more, more!

Title: The UnTied Kingdom
Author: Kate Johnson
Publisher: International Publishers Marketing, Inc.
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, romance
Length: 403 pages

Story: The portal to an alternate world was the start of all her troubles – or was it?

When Eve Carpenter lands with a splash in the Thames, it’s not the London or England she’s used to. No one has a telephone or knows what a computer is. England’s a third world country and Princess Di is still alive. But worst of all, everyone thinks Eve’s a spy.

Including Major Harker who has his own problems. His sworn enemy is looking for a promotion. The general wants him to undertake some ridiculous mission to capture a computer, which Harker vaguely envisions running wild somewhere in Yorkshire. Turns out the best person to help him is Eve.

She claims to be a pop star. Harker doesn’t know what a pop star is, although he suspects it’s a fancy foreign word for ‘spy’. Eve knows all about computers, and electricity. Eve is dangerous. There’s every possibility she’s mad.

And Harker is falling in love with her.

Thoughts and impressions: I feel that this review requires a bit of a disclaimer. It’s very important for me to point out that I read this book when I wasn’t in the best place emotionally (it’s ok, I’ve snapped back now! =) ) but The Untied Kingdom was the perfect book for me at that time. I loved it. I absolutely adored it. It was exactly what I look for in a romance. There was a slow-burning attraction between the two main characters buoyed by events in a war-torn England.

The main character, Eve Carpenter, is a washed up celebrity has-been who lost everything in her fall from grace. Now, in order to make some money, she’s participating in a TV show designed to humiliate such fallen celebs. Unfortunately for Eve, when she loses control during a paragliding event, she ends up falling through a hole between worlds. The world she ends up in is also England, but in an alternate reality. Columbus never discovered America so the technology in this world is not as advanced;  King Charles is living with the King of California while ex-Queen Diana is in Egypt with her lover.  The French Empire rules the industrialised world, and the decision to let them into England is what sparked this new English civil war.

England is war-torn, with the rebels targeting the King’s forces with uncanny accuracy. The King’s forces believe they have computers given to them by the French Empire. Eve seems to know all about computers, knowledge that no English person should have considering technology is practically inexistent in the country. Obviously, Eve is a French spy. Or a mental case. Either way, she gets locked up in the local loony bin / prison. Eve herself even starts to believe that she must be some sort of mental case and loses all confidence in her own memory.

But when the man who saved her life, Major Harker, is sent north to steal a computer, he realises that he needs someone with him who actually knows how to use the thing. The only person who he knows who supposedly has any knowledge about how computers work is Eve Carpenter. So he gets permission to take her with him and she gets a crash course on life in the army in a third world country.

There are some really powerful scenes in this book that really shine. The scene where Eve is roped in to being an emergency nurse in a church-turned-hospital after a rebel attack was particularly good. Then there’s the one where Eve is removing pieces of shattered keyboard from Harper’s chest. There are more, of course, but these were two in particular that have really stuck with me.

Of course, Eve, as a former pop star is particularly interested in music. The people in this England have never heard of The Beatles or the Broadway version of Les Misérables, or even Les Misérables at all! Eve sings for the company that she’s travelling with, but often enough Harper does not agree with the messages in her songs and will forbid her from singing them again. This leads to tension between the two as Eve feels stifled by this world she’s found herself in and then even more stifled by Harper’s rules. At the same time she’s a bit like a ship without anchor and Harper presents the closest thing to an anchor that she has around her.

The romance between Eve and Harper was exactly what I wanted to read after a few books that had romances that hadn’t really tickled my fancy too well. This romance was just my cup of tea. It was allowed to build slowly on both sides and when it finally came to a head it felt so much more fulfilling for it!

I have to admit that it’s true that the book is not really as polished as it could have been but that really didn’t matter to me at all once I’d started reading. It is rather like a modern day sci-fi (in that it’s an alternate reality) version of a Mills & Boon, but who cares? If it’s good, it’s good. And this book was good.

Style: It could have been more polished in places but overall that didn’t matter to me at all.

Final verdict: I love, love, love this book. It’s one of my new favourites. I already want to read it a second time!

Extra notes: Both bad language and sex are present. This book is set in a warzone, so there’s a fair amount of blood, gore and some torture.


  1. This book sounds really interesting! I hadn't heard of it but I really enjoy books with an alternate reality plot line. I've read some really great indie titles lately, I'm adding this one to my list:)

  2. I love a good romance novel. Occasionally it's just what I need too! Not so sure about the blood and gore but never mind. I quite like reading books that are set in the UK :)
    Sounds quite funny that she is banned from singing certain songs, I'm guessing the bad touch, and sex on the beach are definitely out!

  3. This sounds like a great book. I love romances :)


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