Elizabeth Lambard Shore has a problem – an impotent husband that she wants to divorce. But just as she is about to resign herself to a life without children or passion, an opportunity to change everything presents itself in the form of Lord William Hastings. Elizabeth finds him exciting and attractive, and in an effort to satisfy her own curiosity about what’s she been missing in her marriage she brazenly solicits Hastings to be her teacher. Although he is somewhat reluctant, he doesn’t protest overly much.
It isn’t long before Jane catches the eye of King Edward IV and Hastings, thinking she would be good for Edward and therefore the country, hands her over. Elizabeth - renamed Jane by the King to avoid confusion with both his wife and his daughter - quickly figures out that court is a dangerous place and that those who seek her favor one day will just as quickly turn on her the next. Although Jane is ultimately forced to face punishment for her sins, she unwittingly finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that may cost her more than she ever imagined.
Although I wouldn’t consider this a bodice ripper by any means (there is very little actual sex), the focus of the story is more on Jane’s romantic relationships – with Hastings, the king and her second husband, William Lynom - than the history. Certainly historical events come into play, but since it’s all told in first person by Jane, most of the history is told to her or explained in terms of things she has heard.
Overall, I thought this was just OK. Jane is witty and charming and has an easy going tell-it-like-it-is style that made it easy to like her. But her rather bold and outspoken character felt just a little too modern and I thought some of the scenes eye-roll worthy and/or or just plain silly.
As far as I can tell, Mistress to the Crown is currently available only in Australia.
Three’s a crowd: “Alas, plot taken. The Queen will have to slide in there and she won’t like a grave `a trois.” Edward to Hastings when he says he wants to be buried where he stood in life.
In case the FTC asks: Review copy from the publisher.