Friday, June 14, 2013

Review - Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith

Royal Mistress: A NovelTitle: Royal Mistress
Author: Anne Easter Smith
Series: Stand Alone
Pages:  489
Published: May 7th 2013 by Touchstone
ISBN: 9781451648621
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore—but her heart belongs to another. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane Shore from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain and friend, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows his King will find her irresistible.  Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as that of Jane Shore and Will Hastings, hang in the balance. 

I Give This ....

I've read my fair share of historical fiction.  However, I have never read something for the view point of a mistress.  I'm not naive, I know they were abundant through out history.  But, I've always found it intriguing to think what would lead a normal women to be ok with her position as the kings mistress.   So there was never any doubt that I would want to read this book.  

Jane was not who I pictured in my head.  Sure, she's a little bit more hot headed and opinionated that most women in her time period.   But, I really liked that about her.  I'm sure it caused nothing but trouble for her father though.  I understood the necessity behind her marriage to William Shore.  I also greatly understood her unhappiness in the situation.  This is an excellent situation for "what if".  What if Jane would have become pregnant and able to have the family she so desperately craved?  Would it have been enough to fulfill her need to be loved?  The fact that she caught the eye of the king was a key factor in her being granted the divorce.  Without a higher power, I sincerely doubt that would have happened.  

When it came to being the king's mistress, I was surprise how Jane reacted.   At first I believed it was for her own gains.  But, it wasn't the ones that I thought.  I really thought it would be about money and position.  But, Jane really wanted freedom and to be loved.  Neither thing she had living under her father's roof or while she was married to William Shore.  The King freely offered those things.  Of course he had his own stipulations, but they were ones Jane accepted.  I do think it made her uncomfortable at times to be the other woman.  But, the longer she held his interest, the more she was able to accept who she was.  

A running theme is this book is the immorality of the court.  Obviously adultery was running rampant, but it was so common back then.  Especially when it came to the nobility.   I found it so odd that the King's brother was so viciously against it especially when he also once had a mistress.  I really felt that he had a lot of misplaced anger directed at Jane.  When the King dies, Richard really feels that Jane is the root of all the problems.  

At this point is when I felt Jane needed to realize the position she was in.  I know she was probably terrified knowing she no longer had the protection of the king.  And she was in no way nobility.  She's quick to accept Will Hastings, but Richard is always one step ahead of her.    Richard takes the thrown by proving the King's heir is illegitimate.  Richard's brutality really comes through at this point.  Will is executed on grounds of treason without a trial.  Jane is sentenced to a very public penance.  And we get a very brief look into the mystery of the two princes in the tower.  

Looking back over it all, there's a lot that happens in this book.  It never felt like to much though.  It may have been a long read, but I enjoyed the entire thing.  It's a time period that I'm not as familiar with and so I loved learning more about it.   I'd like to read more about King Edward, King Richard, and the two princes.   I highly recommend it!

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