Title/Author: Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith
Publisher/Date published: Touchstone, May 7th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: From the author of A Rose for the Crown and Daughter of York comes another engrossing historical novel of the York family in the Wars of the Roses, telling the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the final and favorite mistress of Edward IV.
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.
This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for 500 years, and 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.
You may have heard of my anglophilic tendencies before, I LOVE historical fiction revolving around the English royals! There are some who fascinate me more than others, namely Anne Boleyn, but part of this story also deals with one of the greatest mysteries in my opinion: what happened to the two little princes in the Tower? Elizabeth Woodville and Edward's sons.
I'd already 'met' most of the players in The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory, but I'd never heard of Jane Shore before and I must admit that she's a fascinating historical figure! It's not every day that you come across a woman who not only held the interest of England's king for 8 years as his mistress, but also went on to be the mistress to two other influential men and finally marry another!
Jane is very much a victim of her time period, because she is completely dependent on the men in her life to provide for her. I really felt for her when her first husband turned out to be impotent, because Jane was so ready to be a mother! I liked that she's bold enough to seek an annulment because of it. I liked that she never forgot where she came from and tried to help the people who used to be her neighbours when she could.
I'm kinda glad Edward is depicted as a loving scoundrel, because from everything I've learned of him, I can truly believe that's exactly what he was. He may not always have made the best decisions, particularly regarding his dealings with Eleanor Butler, but I believed he was a good man at heart and for some reason royalty always seems prone to infidelity, not that that makes it any better.
I'd seen most of the events through Anne Neville's eyes in The Kingmaker's Daughter, and seeing it through Jane's added that extra dimension to it. I love all the intrigue and was truly scared a couple of times for Jane's life. Losing your head was all too easy back then. There were a couple of surprises, but mostly I was just anxiously waiting on some stuff to happen and wondering what would happen to Jane because of said things.
Anne Easter Smith truly made me care for this remarkable woman and I loved the bits of poetry that Jane seems to sprout of the top of her head, they were very clever. I did think that some of the 'bad guys' were a bit one-dimensional, but most of the historical figures really came to life through her writing and I love that! These were real people and it's easy to forget that and just focus on the battles and murders instead of the men and women behind it.
My rating: 3,5 stars