Title: Royal Mistress
Author: Anne Easter Smith
Published: Touchstone, May 2013
Royal Mistress mainly follows Jane Shore, a simple merchant's daughter who catches the eye of the Queen's son, Tom Grey. They are both married (or are about to be married) and Jane doesn't want to stoop to being his mistress, so they part ways. Several years later, after Jane's divorce (something that was a HUGE deal in this period of time), she this time catches the eye of Tom's stepfather, Edward, the King of England. Jane is older now and realizes that being a mistress to a high ranking man has many advantages. She becomes Edward IV's final and most beloved mistress, staying by his side for eight years until his death. Edward's brother, Richard, then claims the throne, and as a very moral man, he heartily disapproves of Jane and her background. Jane must struggle to survive using her wits in this turbulent and unstable time in England's history.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this period of time. I usually like to jump ahead and read about Henry VIII, but it's always great to come back to his ancestors. Edward IV and his family drama is more entertaining that any show on television. So much betrayal, jealousy, murder, secrets, and, depending on who you ask...incest. I liked that Royal Mistress told us this story through the eyes of several key players, though mostly through Jane, who was a fascinating woman. She truly did care for Edward, but she states that she never really loved him, as she truthfully had no choice in the relationship. It's such a realistic look at how mistresses felt. No romantization here, just reality. The only problem I had with the story was Jane and Tom's relationship: they meet two times before they part ways and see each other maybe another two times in the following ten years - yet Jane is forever hung up on how he is her "true love" and is convinced they could live happily ever after if only they could be together. She hardly knew him! I know their relationship is historically accurate but it just seemed so far fetched here. Still, overall, this was a fascinating read, not just for historical fiction buffs, but lovers of drama, romance, and books that keep you intrigued every page.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my review copy!