Remarkably assured debut spins a romantic yarn around England’s much-maligned King Richard III.
Born in 1451 to respectable but simple farmer folk, Katherine Haute is adopted by aristocratic cousins as a child. Her further rise is ensured by her remarkable good looks (she has striking, golden eyes). Wed at the tender age of 14, Kate is a wealthy widow at 16. She marries again, this time for love, which turns out to be misplaced, and finds her true match in an adulterous liaison with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future king. Contrary to the Shakespearean image of Richard as a hunchbacked and murderous schemer, Smith depicts him as a handsome knight and faithful lover to the headstrong Kate. From his bed, and via the careers of her relatives, she witnesses the turbulent final years of the Wars of the Roses. In Kate, Smith has created a likable heroine who easily survives the plague of clichés endemic to historical romance. The story flags only as it nears its tragic conclusion. The author is perhaps too scrupulously true to her sources in the use of names; every man not called Richard is a Henry, wed to a Margaret or a Katherine, who will inevitably bear a baby Richard. But these are minor deficits in a delightful, confident novel that should be a favorite with lovers of the genre.
A strong new voice in the field of historical romance.