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 those of Jane and Will Hastings, hangs in the balance. Jane must rely on her talents to survive as the new monarch, Richard III, bent on reforming his brother’s licentious court, ascends the throne.
This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for five hundred years, and, as told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well.
Historical fiction author Anne Easter Smith returns to the literary scene with her own unique brand of court intrigue, sensuality, biting intelligence and wit.
In her new novel, Royal Mistress, Smith explores the life of Jane Lambert, the intelligent (sometimes too much for her own good), daughter of a humble silk merchant, who somehow managed to remain unmarried until the ripe old age (at least, at the time) of 22. When her father finally finds her a husband, she's shipped off to live with an older merchant named William Shore (and, by all of Jane's comments, William is quite boring). When Will Hastings, the king's chamberlain wonders into her husband's shop, Jane can't help a little flirtation and fun -it all seems harmless, until she finds herself in the bed of King Edward IV, York king who is struggling to protect his throne from the Lancasters -and his own brothers. Jane must use her wit to protect Edward -and herself -from the many enemies that continue to close in
While I have read many novels about the infamous Elizabeth Woodville and the soap opera-worthy drama of the War of the Roses, I hadn't read much about Jane Lambert, something of a footnote in the history books. As something of a historical fiction nerd (okay, maybe a little more than just a nerd), I've gotten sick of reading the well-trodden tales of Henry VIII's wives, Elizabeth Woodville, Eleanor of Aquitaine and others. There's only so many times I can read about the same thing and no matter how many ways it may be "dressed up" to seem different, it's always the same. And even though Royal Mistress still recounts many of these well-known (and well written-about) events from the York/Lancaster struggle, it gives it just enough of a new perspective, offers just enough that's new and unexpected to keep me from writing it off completely.
Royal Mistress offered a unique, fun and absolutely unconventional heroine that historical fiction fans will embrace. Though, of course, scandalous at the time, Jane kept me flipping pages just to see what she would do next -and even though I already knew what would happen around her because of the history, I didn't know how she would react to it. This, for me, is what kept the story flowing. While I wouldn't say the plot was bad, it was just somewhat predictable due to the many other novels I've read about this period -but Jane kept it interesting. Though the book was a little slow at first, once Jane got to court, it started to really move.
Fans of Anne Easter Smith will devour her latest offering. And for historical fiction fans who have not yet read any of her books, don't write this one off as "just another" War of the Roses book -it's much more than that.