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Reviewed by Krista C.

I’ve read quite a bit of English history and historical fiction based in England, so I was excited to get the chance to read and review the The King’s Mistress by Emma Campion. However, my excitement soon faded as the story of Alice Perrers’ life plodded along at a maddeningly slow pace that contained few new enlightening tidbits of information. Alice Perrers was the mistress of King Edward III beginning in 1362, and has long been reviled in history as a gold-digger who took advantage of a dottering old man as he fell further and further into senility.

It would seem like there would be plenty of room for a rollicking good story with that plot outline, but Campion takes about half the book to describe Perrers’ early life and how she got to be a lady-in-waiting for Edward’s wife, Queen Phillipa. She implies that Queen Phillipa sanctioned the liaison between her husband and Alice. That the queen even went so far as to supply a new wardrobe for Alice when she caught the King’s eye. There are plenty of scenes involving walks in the inner gardens of various castles, and much discussion about fabric and textiles, but I kept waiting for an interesting story to develop. Sadly, it just never did.

Emma Campion is a penname of author Candace Robb. Robb has published two successful ongoing series of medieval mysteries set during approximately the same time period as The King’s Mistress: the Owen Archer mysteries and the Margaret Kerr mysteries. I’ve read a couple of books in both of those series. They moved at a faster pace, and probably taught me more about life in medieval England than this book did.

[amazonify]0307589250[/amazonify]The author bio on the back cover of The King’s Mistress states that Emma Campion is the world’s foremost scholar on Alice Perrers. She may be the foremost scholar on Alice Perrers, but her story of about Alice’s experiences didn’t have much of a storytelling spark for me. Anya Seton’s classic book, Katherine, which focuses on another royal mistress who is a contemporary of Alice Perrers, was a much more memorable book about the era. Campion’s book seemed to skim across the surface of the issues of the time. We got a taste of what it was like to hunt with falcons, and about the fashions of the day, which I suppose saved the book from being a total loss, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hopes I had for it at the outset.

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Crown Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.