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The First Princess of Wales

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,453 ratings  ·  125 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...more
Paperback, 618 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published May 1st 1984)
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Community Reviews

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Lady
Oct 29, 2011 Lady rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Lady Jane Grey
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
Susan
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
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)
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.
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...more
Christie
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
Candace
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
Camille
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
ah...couldn't do it either. I could't get into it.
Denise
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
Claire
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...more
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...more
Carol
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
Adrienne
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
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
Erin
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
Meg
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
Karen
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...more
Kate_wren
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.
Shannon
I liked the book, but I did not love it. Karen Harper is VERY flowery with her words. This closely resembled what I imagine a romance novel is like (I have never read a true romance novel).

My biggest problem is that what I love about historical fiction is that it is historical. I want the historical part to be accurate. Some liberties are okay, but for things like how many children they had or the names of those said children, I expect that to be accurate.

I assumed the book would be about their...more
Susan
Oh how I loved this book… my first foray into historical fiction. I think I was in my teens, but I feel in love with the genre and this story in particular. Very well told, with realistic to the times characters and settings, as well as a compelling (real) story. Highly recommended.
Jen Nielsen
3 stars probably doesn't really reflect accurately how I feel about this book but it's what I'm giving it and here is why.... I actually really enjoyed reading this book. I read it on my flight home from Italy and it totally held my interest. I liked the historical insights. I haven't read a lot of books from this time period and it was interesting. The book was easy to read and held my interest. Now for the docked stars. I found myself rolling my eyes quite a bit at the commentary on fashion an...more
Jennifer
This was a old romance novel from 1984, that was revised (or so they say) and rebranded as a historical novel with a new cover- art, just in time to jump on the coattails of historical fiction bestsellers like Phillipa Gregory. As other's have said, this book re-writes history. It is maddening, at moments how historically inaccurate it is. Okay so lets say you read it just as a medieval romance. The problem is the story is to long, it drags on & repeats it self. It could have been half as lo...more
Tracy
I've read this book multiple times and loved it. It's a great love story (although maybe not totally aligned with what really happened historically) with lots of adventure and twists and turns.
paperdollmom
I recieved this book as a birthday gift, and was quite amazed that it turned out to be a book I would have picked myself! Aside from one war scene that was a bit boring for me, the rest of the book was really intruiging, and kept me reading on. There are some parts in the book, that as a women makes you cringe...but unlike the previous reviews, I don't think that it was all intended to be romantic. I had no idea it was even listed under romance. It more came across to me as being a historical fi...more
Trish
Historical fiction telling Joan of Kent's story during the 14th century. She was known as "the most beautiful maid in all of the realm" and "Fair Joan of Kent". It starts during her teen years at King Edward III's court and is full of royal scandal, medieval political intrigue, broken betrothals, annulled marriage, and a love-hate relationship with the Prince of Wales....sound familiar? History does repeat itself...Joan is Lady Di's direct ancestor. Historically, it does deviate from the known f...more
Andrea
I loved this book. This was the first time I'd heard of Joan of Kent and I think she was amazing. She thought for herself and was adored for it. She was strong and smart and beautiful and it is no wonder that she caught the Prince of Wales' eyes. I was tempted to immediately start the book over when I got to the final page. I think Karen Harper gave enough historical background to help the reader know the current happenings but didn't overwhelm us with characters like so many historical fiction...more
Michelle
Just thought this was so-so. I couldn't get past the way their sexual encounters were supposed to turn into true love. Way too fake for me. There seemed to be no getting to know each other, past the idea of lusting after each other's bodies. BLAH
Melissa Powell
Rather disappointing. I really like her Elizabeth I mystery series, but this novel was a little too 'romance novel' for me, right down to trembling knees and quivering loins. Don't get me wrong, it is well written, just not what I look for in an historical novel. There was a little bit too much poetic license for my taste. It was written in 1985 so her later work may be different. I will see.

I am going to put it aside and pick it up again when I am in the mood for a romance, then I am sure it w...more
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Did anyone enjoy this book? 4 14 Oct 09, 2014 07:00PM  
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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
More about Karen Harper...
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“He would almost call this feeling for
jeannette hate, if he were not so afraid it was love.”
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