Review: Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith

Jane Lambert is not exactly a woman of means. She is a merchant’s daughter but what she lacks in monetary value and peerage, she makes up for in wit, intellect, charm, and beauty.

Jane’s father is quick to be rid of her though, and thus arranges a match between a colleague, William Shore, and Jane.

William is much older than Jane and clearly not interested in her female charms….under any circumstance but he hopes a marriage to her will mean advancement for his business.

The negotiations move forward but Jane still holds out hope that a mysterious man she met by chance in the street will speak for her hand instead, the handsome and dashing Tom Grey.

She meets Grey in secret and tells him her father plans to marry her off unless he stands up and asks for her hand. She has no idea that Master Grey is really Lord Thomas Grey, the 1st Marquess of Dorset, the King’s step son. Grey rejects her because he is already married, and confesses that he really just wanted to bed her, not marry her.

Insulted, Jane vows to forget the Marquess all together and proceeds with her marriage to William Shore but she can’t quite get Grey out of her head. Once the marriage has been contracted, all that’s left is to consummate it…..a task that Shore has zero interest in accomplishing. After months of marriage, Jane remains a virgin.

During that time, the King’s Chamberlain and close friend, Will Hastings notices Jane when he visits her husband’s silk shop. He is immediately taken with her beauty and wit…he must have her. Hastings is well known at court as a philandering rake, despite his age. While Hastings courts Jane, the King himself also notices her and takes a special liking to her.

Hastings procures Jane an annulment so she is free to be his own mistress but when King Edward himself makes her a similar offer, she cannot refuse…..who is she to refuse the King of England himself?

The King is handsome and has clearly proven himself a warrior and leader by winning his crown repeatedly. He is also charismatic and sensual by nature, and Jane finds that he is an easy man to care for. She decides to give the King her body, but her heart will always belong to the Marquess, Thomas Grey.

Jane finds herself quickly swept up in the politics, scandal, and gossip of court. Her life transforms and changes drastically. She has come from obscurity and thrust into the middle of an intense political power struggle, not to mention there is a battle raging for her heart.

This book stated off a little rocky for me. I felt like I was just dropped into a story without a lot of preamble. For me personally, the very beginning of the novel was a little disorientating and rough, but once I had a few chapters to orientate myself in the story I found that it was very fast paced and an enjoyable read.

It’s split into four parts, with the first two being the fastest paced. Part three was a little slow for me as it contained a lot of history of the period, but it did begin picking up toward the end and got right back into the story.

Clearly, the author knows her way around the Plantagenet era and its kings. The historic references and background was well organized and presented in an understandable manor.  The Plantagenet era is rapidly becoming popular especially with the recent discovery of Richard III’s remains. The Tudor period gets a lot of attention naturally, but the Plantagenet era has proven itself equally as exciting as it’s sister period.

I absolutely loved Jane! She was spunky and charming all at the same time. I could easily identify with her as a reader and wanted to read more about her love life. I was captivated by her and was rooting for her to find love especially after such a loveless marriage with William Shore.

I liked all of the love interests as well….the King was easy to love with his propensity to spoil her and I did like Hastings and Grey as well. All of the characters fit together and I wanted to read more and more about them.

The one thing I really struggled with was the language. I felt like the language was a little fluffy and relaxed. I didn’t think it fit within the period. At times it was a little cheesy (for lack of a better term) and I just thought it was distracting.

The story was so well researched and the characters were memorable and well written, but then to have the dialogue so informal was distracting for me. That was the only reason I gave the book a lower rating, I just couldn’t get past the informality of the language.

Over all this was an amusing read and full of great history….I loved all the facts mixed within the fiction. A charming and light  spring read!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith

  • Kindle Edition, 400 pages
  • Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by Touchstone
  • ASIN B008J4RP7A
  • Review copy provided by: Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (a romantic tale of courtly love and royal bloodlines, set in a thrilling up and coming popular period for historic fiction novels)

Genre: Historic fiction, British lit, Tudor era lit

Memorable lines/quotes: NA 

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