Book Review: Mistress to the Crown Isolde Martyn

Release Date: Feb 1st 2013

The day Lord Hastings came into her husband’s store, Elizabeth saw the opportunity she had waited twelve years for — a way to separate herself once and for all from her dull, impotent husband, William Shore. The handsome stranger presented not only the chance to partake in the dance of desire, but legal counsel to annul her 12-year marriage.

She did not, however, foresee her introduction to the King of England, nor her future at his side…and in his bed. From this unlikely alliance, Elizabeth is granted severance from Shore, and finds herself flourishing in the radiance of the King’s admiration. But she soon finds that her new position comes at a terrible price — her family has shunned her, the people of London have labelled her a harlot and the Queen’s family want her to burn in Hell.

So long as King Edward and Lord Hastings stay close, Elizabeth is safe. However, her beloved Ned falls ill and Lord Hastings falls out of favour.

Can Elizabeth’s wiles keep her out of trouble? Or will they lead her to further trouble…and the hangman’s noose?

Mistress to the crown takes us once again into an England that is on the cusp of the Tudor reign placing us into the stories of the Last Plantagenet King’s. Elizabeth Shore is a good and dutiful Wife who has a husband who can not preform the duties he is meant to. While she is wistful for a child and very unhappy in her marriage she remains faithful, all until Lord Hastings Chamberlain to the King arrives in her shop one day and sets her world on it’s head.

First she becomes a lover to Lord Hastings, learning that the art of being in bed is indeed a pleasure. However after they are barged in upon by a man dressed in messengers clothing but with the air of something else Elizabeth’s life changes further. It is later when the messenger summons her under the name of Lord Hastings that she finds out he is indeed King Edward.

Isolde Martyn has done a fantastic job in bringing these characters to life. It is never easy to be a King’s Mistress and they are often painted as little more than grasping harlots. In truth they are often little more than what they are painted as. However Elizabeth Shore is brought to life as a very human character. While I did not like her in the first chapter when she was young and seeking an annulment I think she was a normal girl of her age. When we come upon her later and she is indeed an independent woman who is dealing with a situation no one would like I warmed to her.

We see growth within Elizabeth with each turn of the page, and to say that King Edward was a charmer is putting it lightly. However he was a King and we see his human side as well, from his fits of temper to his moments of deep sadness in which he seeks comfort. Over all this makes for a very real and human book that engages you to the characters. I would recommend this book to any historical fiction readers especially those who like the War of the Roses time period. The history is well presented and the facts that have been filled in because we do not know them seem to stay true to what we do know.

My Gemstone Rating:


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