Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Thoughts - Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith

Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith
published 5/31/13
512 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Janes father finally finds her a match, shes married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore. Marriage doesnt stop Jane from flirtation, however, and when the kings chamberlain, Will Hastings, comes to her husbands shop, Will knows King Edward 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 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 brothers licentious court, ascends the throne.

My thoughts -

Anne Easter Smith's historical novels are always a good bet when you are looking for a visit with some of England's slightly less well-known royals (read: not the Tudors). I've enjoyed her novels in the past, and was happy to dive into this one.

As before, Royal Mistress was well-written and well-researched. I am convinced Smith loves her Plantagenets - she writes about them with obvious affection, and even reviled Richard is sympathetic in her capable hands. Her novels are always a bit of a commitment - at just over 500 pages, this is not a story you will breeze through in an afternoon. Thankfully, Smith is good at pacing, and I never felt like the story dragged or the reading was a slog. The only part of the novel I thought was perhaps unnecessary was the Epilogue, which just seemed an unusual way to end such a story.

My biggest problem with the novel was that I just didn't quite buy Smith's vision of Jane. Often her attitudes and actions seemed more progressive and forward than I would expect for a woman of her time. Of course I don't know what the actual Jane Shore would have thought or felt - I just didn't quite buy the version Smith wanted to sell me.

I think fans of historical fiction in general will be happy with this novel - I've seen a bunch of glowing reviews on the internet. If you like this genre or this time period, I have a feeling this author will be for you - even though this wasn't my favorite of her work, I would still recommend her to someone looking for a dip in the Plantagenet pool.

Finished - 7/13/13
Source - review copy from publisher via Netgalley
MPAA rating - R for adult situations and violence
My rating - 6/10

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