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The First Princess of Wales

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,868 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
The daughter of a disgraced earl, she matched wits with a prince.

It is the fourteenth century, the height of the Medieval Age, and at the court of King Edward III of England, chivalry is loudly praised while treachery runs rampant. When the lovely and high-spirited Joan of Kent is sent to this politically charged court, she is woefully unprepared for the underhanded maneuv
Paperback, 618 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published May 1st 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 29, 2011 Lady rated it liked it
Shelves: own, royals
Forget the flimsy writing. Tear yourself away from the stiff, awkward, melodramatic, tiresome, inane, and predictable dialogue. Lament not the fact that the characters don't change much over a 15 year period, or that Joan's stomach remains "flat" (as the author reminds us over and over again) through the births of three children. As if.

No, let us instead dwell upon the fact that Karen Harper literally rewrote history for the sole purpose of turning what was most likely an affectionate union betw
Lady Jane Grey
Aug 05, 2013 Lady Jane Grey rated it did not like it
This book was pretty awful. It is a romance published in 1984 under the name "Sweet Passion's Pain" with a corresponding romance novel cover and was based very loosely on actual people. Then for whatever reason twenty years later it was repackaged with a new cover and new dimensions to give it legitimacy and marketed as historical fiction. I understand writing romance based on historical events and people just so long as the reader goes into it knowing it is a sort of parallel universe to what r ...more
Apr 28, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it
I (mostly) truly enjoyed this book. Yes, a little fluffy. Yes, there were a lot of passages that described her flat stomach, violet eyes, rich curves, blah de blah. But there was a joy in this book that, despite the ups and downs of the characters' lives, kept me reading without a feeling of dread haunting each page. I hadn't realized, because I'm apparently not terribly bright, until I was a good way in, that the romantic lead, Edward, was Edward the Black Prince, whose likeness hangs in my din ...more
Marie Z. Johansen
Feb 06, 2010 Marie Z. Johansen rated it really liked it
I must surely be on a Karen Harper binge! After reading "The Queen's Governess" by Karen Harper last week I decided to read another or her titles, "The First Princess of Wales". I was not disappointed. Although this paperback, published n 2006, sports a hefty 624 pages I have finished it in several days of "bedtime" reading. I have never been a fan of romance novels but it appears that I must be becoming one! I remember when I managed bookstores that I would cast derisive looks at the Harlequin ...more
Rio (Lynne)
Oct 01, 2011 Rio (Lynne) rated it it was ok
1.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed the other 3 Harper novels I've read "The Last Boleyn , The Queen's Governess and The Irish Princess", so what went wrong with this one? I did a lot of skimming. I tried not to, but I just couldn't help it. I don't do well with books that have to describe every little detail. I don't mind the basics to set the scene, but I don't like repetition. You could literally skim 5 pages and you were still on the same scene. I really wanted to like this, which is why I skim ...more
Ana T.
Jun 23, 2008 Ana T. rated it liked it
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book from the author. I've been very curious about the Fair Maid of Kent after reading bits about her in other books and was quite happy to find a book where she is the main character.

The daughter of a disgraced earl, she matched wits with a prince.

It is the fourteenth century, the height of the Medieval Age, and at the court of King Edward III of England, chivalry is loudly praised while treachery runs rampant. When the lovely and high-spirited J
Feb 21, 2015 Erin rated it it was ok
This story focuses on Joan, Maid of Kent and Edward, the Black Prince( son of Edward III of England). While the chemistry between the two is electrifying, the story seems to be drawn out to an incredibly slow pace. Edward III, unlike many of the other royals of England seems to have a really hard time getting his kids to marry. Prince Edward basically waits around fighting a bunch of wars in France and pining away for the Maid of Kent. In the author's note, Harper likens the romance between the ...more
I tried to like this book because I have liked Karen Harper's books in the past, but I just could not. It was a struggle to finish. The historical accuracy is abysmal. I know when writing fiction some liberties with the historical record are expected, but these were just beyond acceptable. The main characters' ages were changed, as were the records of Joan's first two marriages and her children. Maybe some of it can be chalked up to the fact that the book was first written in 1984 and maybe more ...more
This is one of the books that I enjoyed when I first read it. I have a feeling that today I might not enjoy it as much. But it was a fun read.
Jul 24, 2010 Candace rated it it was amazing
Loved it. History -yes, Romance- yes, based on real people-yes. I really think I should've been born a royal, I'm just saying. This book is about Joan, granddaughter of Edward I of England. She is sent to live at the court of Edward III, her cousin. Her first day there she meets Edward the Prince of Wales, although she doesn't know that is who he is. She is instantly smitten. It is full of intrigue, adventure, love, and loss. If you love historical fiction with some romance thrown in, you'll lov ...more
Karen Shaffett
Mar 27, 2016 Karen Shaffett rated it really liked it
I loved it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2015 Mary rated it liked it
Overall an enjoyable read. I know it is fiction, but Ms. Harper could have made more of an attempt to stick to the known facts of these medieval lovers!
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
ah...couldn't do it either. I could't get into it.
Jun 24, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book because of all the pitfalls that the young lovers had to face in their quest to be together. Set in England in the 1300's, it's a fictional tale of Joan of Kent and Edward, son of King Edward III. He's the Prince of Wales, she's the daughter of a minor knight and the ward of Edward's mother (the Queen). Embarrassing episodes between the two helps to turn the Queen against Joan (classical tale of the mother believing that the girl is trying to "entrap" her son). To nip the bre ...more
Jun 18, 2011 C rated it liked it
This was long. Sitting at 600 pages, I think it would have been better had it been shorter and punchier. It seemed to edge on the teen romance genre at times, describing Prince Edwards' 'Crystalline Blue' eyes and Joan's 'Lilac' or 'Violet' coloured eyes, constantly. The description of their love went a bit overboard at times.

That said, it was well written. This is the story of Joan of Kent, the first English Princess of Wales, and her life and loves during the tumultuous plague-ridden 14th cen
Mandy Moody
I really wish this book had been better.
To me, a good book is one that I think about even when I'm not reading it. There are varying degrees of that, of course. Some books will come to mind only occasionaly. Some books occupy every other thought.
The First Princess of Wales (previously published as Sweet Passions Pain) was 611 pages long. Of that 611 pages, perhaps 100 of them captured my interest enough that I actually thought about the book outside of reading it.
I have to wonder if Karen Harpe
Aug 19, 2012 Carol rated it liked it
This lush, romantic novel is about Joan of Kent, wife of Edward, The Black Prince. Harper focuses mostly on the relationship between Joan and Edward over the years, portraying it as a deep, strong, passionate love that endures through Joan's being married off to Thomas Holland, the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, and the machinations of the Plantagenet court. I wish Harper had stuck more closely to historical fact - she takes a few major liberties with the facts and timeline. I also wish t ...more
I'm giving this two stars for the amazing descriptions of parties, food, fashion, and the descriptions of two lovely medieval Yule celebrations. However, the story itself was not that good. I don't know why Joan and Edward had to be so hostile to each other all the time. The ending was horrible. *spoiler ahead* When she ran away the last time right before Edward proposed marriage I wanted to strangle her. Edward was forceful and aggressive and not really nice either. I also didn't like how Thoma ...more
Jayme Swallow
Jun 10, 2012 Jayme Swallow rated it it was ok
After I read The Irish Princess, I thought it would be worth it to look into more books by Karen Harper, and I found The First Princess of Wales. I thought it sounded super neat! An earlier time period than I've read and new characters; I'm always up for that! So I checked it out from the library and started reading it, when I realized that the original title was Sweet Passion's Pain. If I had known that in the first place, I don't know that I would have picked up the book. It sounds a little li ...more
Helen Margarette Cortezano
Apr 17, 2015 Helen Margarette Cortezano rated it it was amazing
And I am caught by the "royal bug" (if such phrase exists) for I've been reading stories about monarchs lately. I would seriously not even consider this book if it still went by it's former title, Sweet Passion's Pain (I'm cringing right now), but then I would surely have missed this gem. Anyway, it's a light and easy read about Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent and Edward, the Black Prince. It's historical-fiction, so don't expect accuracy but rather enjoy the perfect twists of their romance.
Sep 29, 2015 Kelly rated it did not like it
Okay so did a little research and found that this book is pure romance fiction. No historical just fiction.

If you are going to write a novel about real people and events - you should do your research. If I were Joan, I'd smack the author. Every thing points to Joan and Thomas Holland being truly in love. Harper took their love and turn it into something ugly and hateful just so she could write about "Twue Love" between Edward, The Black Prince, and Joan.

Margaret Sankey
May 04, 2015 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Pretty good historical novel, in the style of Elizabeth Chadwick (that is, conforming to actual events, so someone's happy ending is approximately a couple of years before someone dies of dysentery), about Joan of Kent--from a branch of the Plantagenets disgraced in the aftermath of Edward II's deposition, twice married (once bigamously) before marrying Edward the Black Prince, who is presented sociopathic warts and all and being Queen Mother to Richard II.
Dec 24, 2015 RJay rated it did not like it
As much as I like to read, I try to give authors the benefit of the doubt and find the "good" in a book. Unfortunately, this book has no good. It is absolutely awful. I can't believe there was a publisher willing to produce it! The writing is childish and the story line doesn't follow history at all! King Edward and Philippa took in Joan's mother and children shortly after Edward III's coup over Mortimer and Queen Isabella. In fact, the execution of Joan's father, Edmund, and the birth of Prince ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Meg rated it liked it
I was upset when I read the back of the book because I thought "NO it tells me everything that is gonna happen". I was really wrong. The six hundred some pages took place over 25 so it felt like I was reading a series all in one book more than just one single book. Surprisingly it kept my interest every moment and kept me guessing as to what was going to happen next. This book focuses on Lady Joan and her need to keep her individuality in a world were everyone is ruled closely by their king and ...more
Amanda Kennedy
Jan 02, 2015 Amanda Kennedy rated it did not like it
By the rood! If I hear that phrase one more time I'm going to murder someone. Most likely the person who agreed to publish this awful, lengthy, boring book.

This book is more terribly written romance than historical fiction. The characters are not well-researched, the history is barely expounded upon, and the main character is a complete and total waste of typeface. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
Apr 01, 2015 Nicole rated it liked it
I am a Karen Harper fan, I usually enjoy her books. This one was a bit of an exception for me, I didn't really love the main female character. She was so focused on being hateful to her one true love and trying to exact her revenge on said true love for pretty much the whole book, that I lost interest. I did a lot of skimming wanting to avoid her repetitive thoughts and issues. All that being said I would still pick up a Karen Harper book because I really do like what she usually produces.
Rachel Boling
This one took me a couple tries to get into, and then I was intrigued by the history that it was based on. And after I read about the character in Wikipedia, I couldn't finish, because obviously the author has changed a lot to write this story. Plus, there was already a significant amount of double entendre, and I only made it through two chapters.
Sep 22, 2010 Karen rated it it was ok
I'm still reading it, but it's not because I love the book. I'm going to finish this book because I've already invested so much time into it, hoping that it will get better. Aside from a few interesting battle scenes, this reads like a romance novel (ugh!).

And if I read the words "tawny hair" (or "tawny curls" or "tawny mane" - you get the idea)one more time, I'm going to throw the book against a wall.

Okay, I just finished it. I gave it two stars because battle scenes and the description of the
Jul 22, 2014 Kate_wren rated it did not like it
Couldn't get past the first 1/10th of the book. Put it down, probably won't be picking it up again unless I'm in the weirdest mood where I want to read inaccurate "historical" fiction interlaced with terrible dialogue, over-description countless times about their wardrobes and over all drivel.
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Did anyone enjoy this book? 13 19 Jan 16, 2016 02:51PM  
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A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Karen Harper is a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. A lifelong Ohioan, Karen and her husband Don divide their time between the midwest and the southeast, both locations she has used in her books. Besides her American settings, Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scott ...more
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“He would almost call this feeling for
jeannette hate, if he were not so afraid it was love.”
“Evil to him who evil thinks,....” 0 likes
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