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A Rose for the Crown

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In A Rose for the Crown, we meet one of history's alleged villains through the eyes of a captivating new heroine -- the woman who was the mother of his illegitimate children, a woman who loved him for who he really was, no matter what the cost to herself.
As Kate Haute moves from her peasant roots to the luxurious palaces of England, her path is inextricably intertwined with that of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Although they could never marry, their young passion grows into a love that sustains them through war, personal tragedy, and the dangerous heights of political triumph.
Anne Easter Smith's impeccable research provides the backbone of an engrossing and vibrant debut from a major new historical novelist.

650 pages, Paperback

First published March 7, 2006

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About the author

Anne Easter Smith

9 books562 followers
A native of the UK, Anne Easter Smith is an award-winning historical novelist who has lived in the US for more than 40 years. Her six novels about the York family during the Wars of the Roses are published by Touchstone at Simon & Schuster and others. She was the Features Editor at the Press-Republican in Plattsburgh, NY for 10 years, and her writing has been featured in a number of national magazines. Anne welcomes visitors at her website at: www.anneeastersmith.com"

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 297 reviews
Profile Image for Erin.
3,094 reviews484 followers
August 23, 2022
What is it about?
As Kate Haute moves from her peasant roots to the luxurious palaces of England, her path is inextricably intertwined with that of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Although they could never marry, their young passion grows into a love that sustains them through war, personal tragedy, and the dangerous heights of political triumph.( Description from Penguin Random House Canada)

My thoughts:
I am no different than other readers of this novel, A Rose for the Crown was my favorite read of Anne Easter Smith. Even though I was aware of how history was actually going to play out, I loved Kate and Richard( even though it took some time before the author gives us their passionate love story). I believed in them and when Richard does marry, I felt empathy for Kate. I enjoyed seeing the often vilified Richard through her eyes.

Goodreads review 23/08/22
Profile Image for Lady of the Lake.
301 reviews51 followers
October 14, 2008
I liked this book because I loved the romance that Richard III had with Kate...the history isn't what you would read this one for..and I am not one to HAVE to have the facts laid out before me I know enough to go and look to NON fiction when I have questions. As I see it there are only so many ways a writer can present the facts and I love to see the facts branch off to other areas and have the authors imagination tell me a tale that who know could have happened..why not! There are plenty of great HF out there that offer the facts and I love those books too but when I open a book like this I go in with my mind open and already knowing that I will find he writers imagination at work and that way I am never disappointed. No, this wasn't a literary masterpiece and that is just fine not everything is War and Peace! SO if you want a 600 page historical love story I think this fits the bill. And the fact that this was AES first novel, I have read much worse! So I think she has great promise and can and will get better with time. So go in with a mind for entertainment and enjoy!
Profile Image for Jess.
77 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2011
I wanted to like this book. I really did. I've always loved Richard the third and felt he got a raw deal from history. But here's the thing... The book meanders. Not just for pages, but for hundreds of them. You know, I'm starting to realize that this is a real theme with a decent amount of the historical fiction out there. They're not well plotted at all. The authors just follow the course of history, throw in a few love scenes, and call it a day. That's cool, and all, but the books end up lacking structure and urgency. It just takes me back to that day in 9th grade English where my teacher taught us all about things like climaxes and acts to a story. Cause, well, I know that both life and history don't always act that way...but you know what? Your novel should. Otherwise, there's no reason for me to keep turning the pages.
Profile Image for Barb.
1,193 reviews128 followers
October 3, 2008
I think this could have been a much more enjoyable book had the editor had a stronger hand. It's very easy to read, not too many vocabulary words to look up, in fact I only have six written down and the book is over 600 pages.

Unfortunately, I thought the first 370 pages were pretty dull. Eventually the story does pick up and I did appreciate learning about Richard III and the turbulent politics of the times.

There are some seriously forced situations that made me roll my eyes and the real story is the love story between Richard of Gloucester and Kate Haute so it is a bit I hate to say it...chick lit.

I thought that Smith had a difficult time transitioning from one scene to another. I would have liked more details on setting so that I could picture the situation more realistically. Often times I was wondering where we were. I thought she needed to develop the characters better, they all seem rather flat except maybe John Howard. I also thought that she could have done a better job using the character's names and titles more consistently. Thank goodness for that family tree in the front or I would have been baffled for another hundred pages or so that George and Clarence were the same person. And I don't think that Anne Easter Smith does a very good job describing whose who in general, there are a lot of people mentioned and it became difficult for me to keep track of them. I need more that just a name mentioned once to remember someone. Someone better acquainted with this period in time would likely have done a better job than I did of keeping everyone straight.

I'm glad to be done, it was rather long as I said before, though only took six days to read, again it was an easy read. It did spark my curiosity to read more about Richard III and the princes in the tower. And I was moved by Kate Haute's choices for her children. Overall it wasn't a very satisfying read, I felt like the author bit off more than she could chew with this complex period in time.
Profile Image for Alaine.
291 reviews88 followers
July 25, 2009
I love an author who takes a fictional character and tells us all about the history of the time. One of my favourite books is the Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory because I loved the fictional character of Hannah. This book was as good as that and I loved the character of Kate.

Kate leaves her family home at a tender age to live with her cousin as a companion. There she learns a lot about herbs and healing and becomes best friends with her cousin. Kate is married off to an older man that fortunately doesn't live to long and then she marry's for love, or does she? But the man that she would give her heart to completely and no other is Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Over time she would give him three children, two of them sons.

This is novel takes us to the end of the Yorkist period and into the Tudor raine. It is an excellent account of history blended perfectly with fiction. I loved the way Richard of York, the final York King was portrayed as a compassionate and noble man. I highly recommend this wonderful historical novel!
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books295 followers
September 26, 2009
I gave this two stars instead of one because I did enjoy the first two parts. It lost me in the third. When the heroine gave herself to Richard and agreed that it was ok to break her married vows, but when he marries into a woman of "his station" it would not be ok for him. I say, No Deal. I decided to give the woman the benefit of the doubt, as she had been a strong, rather independent for the times, and outspoken gall up until this point. However, she proceeds to give Richard three sons, the last of which she throws away as not to harm his marriage to Anne. I would also like to add, she allowed her gay husband to smack her around a bit. I am truly not impressed. I like to read about strong, admirable woman and I found this woman horribly weak. My only other compliant is the peasant speak was a bit much. "I be here.. You be there.. I be sorry" are examples. It makes it a difficult read at times.
December 1, 2019
This is a story about a mistress of King Richard III who bore him 3 children. It was a great love story about a fictional character who had a long relationship with Richard of Gloucester before he married Anne Neville. The story starts with the main character, Kate, as the young daughter of a modest farming couple. Her strong willed personality, sense of humor, and beautiful harp playing carries her to further adventures as she moves up in the world. I liked the character, I liked the portrayal of her friends, and I enjoyed the manner in which Richard was depicted.

As a fan of historical fiction, particularly this time frame, I enjoy the writing style of Anne Easter Smith. She is one of very few authors who can weave an enchanting story without making it a dry history book.
82 reviews1 follower
April 7, 2008
Had high expectations, but prose clumsy, plot forced, and characters stiff and unconvincing. Dutiful - not dynamic - history. Despite good intentions, not enough heart. Almost hagiographic. Beautiful cover, but for a much more compelling version of the Richard III/War of the Roses stories, look to Penman's The Sunne in Splendour.
Profile Image for Deyanira C..
157 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2021
This novel is about Kate who will be the heroine of the story, we have known her since her childhood, her family relationships, her political and disastrous marriage but above all the book is about her relationship with Richard III whom she meets when they are teenagers, Kate will be the mother of his illegitimate children that in this book are 3 not two, more than his lover Kate is the love of his life and vice versa, so this is the book of a tragic love between a royal duke and a lowborn woman .

Although the plot sounds promising and may be for some people, it was a boring reading for me, not to mention that many books have been made with the same elements, although I think the difference is that the author in this book tried to create the complete story of Kate as a person not only as a mistress, Anne Easter the author explains in the author's note that it was important for her to make kate a plausible character, unfortunately this did not happen, you can consider Kate as a believable character in some parts especially at the beginning of her childhood and that but as she progresses the book becomes the typical "different and perfect girl" indeed Kate as the protagonist is a bit stressful, the book spends a lot of time telling us that she is wonderful, independent and strong but her actions are the opposite she clings to a man she can never have and her "independence" and "strength" never showed up in actions.She gives up her children so Richard and his wife will be happy with them, then Kate mourns Richard's death more than she did for her own daughter, Kate refuses to marry for second time when Richard offered a good marriage because she prefers to sit and wait for a magical miracle that brings her closer to Richard, oh and let's not forget that also she cheats on her husband with Richard but according to the book she is a persecutor of justice and honorable woman seriously? Kate hides a third son from Richard, why? Well because would it be bad for Richard / Anne's marriage even though the child was conceived before (but Kate's conclusion dictates that it would look very bad, two bastards is fine but THREE? What a scandal, let's forget that this was medieval England and that was allowed and accepted, our heroine seems to come from the future or something like that) but it's okay Richard understands years later when he knows of this child is not that hard for him, because it is so easy to understand and accept a hidden child, more than that he is a happy father.
Richard is another unbearable thing, perfect from head to toe, humble, good lover, good father and stupid in love with Kate (because she is so "different" and "independent" that it is irresistible) but he does not hesitate to leave her to marry Anne Neville because after all he needs a suitable wife in blood and money, but what does it matter if Richard already gave his heart to Kate (mmm well I don't know, maybe it affects because he breaks her heart!) but of course he will never forget Kate, he writes to tell her that he is not unhappy and that Anne and him are doing good together (How sweet and honest !), Yes of course he left her crying not just to marry but also when he takes away her children but it is perfectly fine to take them because he does it for love to kate and to always remember her (How romantic!) and what perfect man he is, he wants to carry justice everywhere and do always the correct thing, but his wife has not even cooled down in the grave when he threw himslef into Kate's arms again to kiss her and tell her that he loved his wife Anne but never more than Kate and that even often he wished to be with Kate while he was with Anne but not only that perfect Richard wanted his heir not to be the only son he had with Anne had Edward (now deceased) but rather Jhon (the one he had with Kate) wow what a fabulous father!
With those characteristics it is impossible not to love this couple.

Now I think that the book try to justify all the bad actions of the characters with something like "my husband is gay so it's okay for me to sleep with another man" or the absurd excuse : we really love each other, God never existed a greatest love, and that is the weakest point of this book THE LOVE
so stupid that these two have, seriously why did they fall in love? Well, because she is beautiful and poor, he rich and handsome but forbidden, why did they leave each other? because he is so perfect that he will be faithful to his wife (in actions because in his mind he imagined Kate in his arms while he has his wife) What do they have in common that unites them so much? apart from the children not much their dialogues are like "oh Richard I love you so much" "Oh Kate I love you more and I will never forget our time together" Maybe if the author had created a realistic, credible love, with bases and with emotions, the book would have some sense but in this way all seems like a joke, in general it is the same old story of the beautiful and perfect mistress that is deeply loved by Richard and because of that he is an idiot I mean a romantic giving her a special ring and never stops loving her.
I confess that at the beginning I was excited to read novels about Richard's mistress because she is an unknown character, but all novels are equally unreal and silly, the author's note in this book tells us that she is sure that Richard loved the mother of his children, that is why he kept her anonymous and was faithful to her until he had to marry (Poor Richard III), so that inspired Anne easter to create this book, and that is the historical basis of this book, wath is nothing there is no evidence that Richard had only one mistress, there could be two mothers of his children, we do not even know if one of them was named Kate, it is only known that his children were recognized and cared for, end of story. Love? fidelity to his lover? I do not see where that comes from, seriously we don't even know so much about his marriage less about a relationship with a mistress, but one thing has not been refuted he was faithful to his wife, there are no hints of other women even after she died. I mean if the mother of his children had been as important as the book states I am very sure her name would have been registered at least, but we have nothing and the anonymity may be due to many things she may have died or entered a convent, or who knows, you should note that Warwick the kingmaker also had an illegitimate daughter before living with his wife and nothing is known either about the mother of this girl who was also recognized by Warwick, it seems to be more a behavior related to honor, public image or respect for the family, is not that i want to read only facts it's a NOVEL I got it but don't say that you are using facts that doesn't sound exist, and believe me when I say that it doesn't bother me when novels throw the historical facts by the window, Its nice sometimes to read different versions, but at least do it in a good manner seriously I wouldn't mind reading a good novel about Richard and the mother of his children either, but it would be amazing to read something better done whether love is credible even if it defies all known facts or a novel where the known facts are respected.
And I would also add that the writing feels forced, there is no continuity with the names of the characters, several Anne, several Richard, if they are characters with a fictitious base it is better to use other names or nicknames or at least add the surname constantly, the same way the book has many pages without story, in general I am quite disappointed
Profile Image for Elena.
144 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2022
I read this book sometimes ago, and finally I resolved myself to write a more complete review.
This is the story of a fictional mistress of Richard III, based on the historical Katherine Haute (about whom we know practically nothing) who was suggested by Rosemary Horrox as the mother of one or both of Richard III's illegitimate children.

I appreciated the effort the author did to actually write Kate's story, not only as Richard's mistress, but as a person. Sadly though, after few pages it becomes clear what Kate really is. The usual, ever present, Mary Sue of books about Richard's mistresses, who is beautiful, intelligent, learned, witty, funny and irresistible. No man, from 0 to 90 years, can resist her, and that's when I started to roll my eyes. Not only men, also women can't fail to admire Kate, with the exception - God be praised - of Anne Neville. That was so annoying to say the least, especially when she meets Richard Duke of Gloucester, and they istantly fall for each other after barely two words exchanged. And that's another problem I usually have with books about Richard's mistresses (the only exception so far being We Speak no Treason): what can they possibly have in common, being so apart in rank, to drag a youthful crush into a lifelong love that lasts even after decades of separation? Here the improbability is not really quite addressed, and we have even Richard say to Kate he could more easily talk about matters of state with Kate than with Anne, and that Kate would have been a more suitable queen than Anne. Ridiculous to say the least, a royal Duke and then King who has more in common with a girl born in a farm than the daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker, born and raised into high society and politics?
Another problem is that is highlighted how Richard is a moral man (that in fact he was), but he easily finds an excuse to bed Kate, even if she's married. And that's another thing I can't cope with. Why the author complicated the matter by making Kate a married woman? Usually mistresses were unmarried women, widow or girls yet unmarried. Even the famous Elizabeth Shore divorced her husband to become Dorset and Hastings mistress (and maybe Edward's). Because that would count as an adultery or worse, double adultery, and to moral men like Richard this couldn't suit well. And it poses problems even with eventual children born of the liasion, who couldn't be recognized (not to mention the angry husband). We know nothing of Kate Haute, so the author could have done otherwise... instead she chooses to present Kate's husband as gay (and even he doesn't take well that he has to give his name to the children of another man!). Obviously being gay, and rather mean, George is the only man who doesn't fall for Kate's charm; and Kate and Richard's coscience seems content to have their tryst because he's gay... what, so this is no adultery?? More so, because when is his turn to marry Anne, Richard wants to stay true to his vows. Pure nonsense.
Anyway for the rest of the book Kate, who's presented as indipendent and resourceful, sits content with waiting for Richard, who is out of her reach, and take vow of widowhood. During the interesting historical events Kate is costantly brought forth without apparent reason, only to justify her presence on the scene. So we have Kate healing Richard's wounds after the battle of Barnet, when he's brought injuried to London from the field, and she's the only one who saved him because no one else tended to him. Of course there weren't surgeones and doctors on the battlefield, who were tasked with this, no. If it wasn't for the great Kate Richard would have been dead. And we have Kate summoned to court because her daughter Katherine is betrothed to William Herbert, like she and Richard have a sort of modern shared custody and she has to give her consent. She is summoned to Richard so he can tell her of the fate of the Princes in the Tower; she is even brought forth to tell Richard of the Elizabeth of York's rumor! Because of course Richard doesn't have friends and counsellors to rely upon, not to say his own family, no; he needs a country girl who knows nothing of politics. And he even calls her his "wise counsellor"! Give that woman a seat in the Privy Council, now!
Fiddle-faddle!, Kate would say, and I swear that if I read one more Fiddle-Faddle I would vomit!
The author goes trough a great pain in depicting a credible medieval life, and again I appreciated the effort. But more so because of this, you can't tell me divorce and annullment are two different things, again in the modern sense of terms. With divorce, in the Middle Ages, of course it was meant annullment, the only way to end a marriage. And you can't have Margaret Howard break her waters in front of everyone, then rushed in her room like a medieval version of "Nine Months". Doesn't this lady go into confinement in the last weeks of her pregnancy, like any other medieval lady?
The weaker point of the book though, is the fact that Richard and Kate don't have two children, but three, the last being the mythological Richard of Eastwell, only a much later legend. And how does the author explain why this child was not known to anyone, no one heard of him and Richard didn't recognize him? But of course, because Kate thought that a third child, conceived before Richard's marriage as the other two, would spoil Richard and Anne's marriage, so she gives him up and doesn't tell anyone about him. In another version Kate says that she doesn't want in time to give up also this child to Richard and Anne. "This child will be mine!" she proclaims. Pity that afterwards she gives him away at birth, so this child is not hers, she won't see him grow and he won't know she's his mother. Wasn't it better to keep him until a certain age like she did with the other two and then relinquish him to Richard?
Not only that, when in the end she confesses to Richard about this child, he's not even angry, but he praises her and thanks her!
Probably the only thing I liked about the book is the fact that in the end, the author concedes that Richard and Anne had an happy marriage and he grew to love her. Richard confesses this to Kate, and my impression is that, on Richard's part, the youthful love he felt for Kate faded with the years.

In the author's note, the author seems to take for granted that the name of the mother of Richard's illegitimate children is not known because he loved her and wanted to shield her. I don't know why this should be a convincing explanation, to me is more a sign of the fact that this/these women (as far as we know there could be two) were not really important in Richard's life, especially in a time when mistresses were accepted for nobility and hardly a secret, so I can't see the logic here.
If you like this kind of romances with few history sticked to them, enjoy this, but they are not for my tastes.
Profile Image for Lori.
867 reviews31 followers
July 25, 2009
I began listening to this as preparation for a trip to England because this is a time period that I'm not as familiar with as others. I LOVE historical fiction when done well. I enjoyed the beginning of this novel believing the author was setting the scene for the "historical" part. A better description of this book would be a "fictional romance set in historic England". I gave up more than half way through because the hiSTORY was so lacking and the "breathtaking passion" so increasingly the focus of the novel.

First of all, I know times were different and princes were raised to rule the world from a very young age, but I don't know a 14-year-old male in the world (and very few 35-year-olds for that matter) with the wisdom and maturity the author gives to the character here. Secondly, the story line was endlessly drawn out and became not much more than her waiting for him and while she waits, interact with a few notable people from history (no interesting interactions, just enough mundane references to be able to call this "historical"), passionate rendezvous, him waiting for her while off making British history (that is passingly acknowledged), passionate rendezvous, ad infinitum.

If you're looking for a fictional romance set in historic England with some famous characters, you will probably enjoy this. If you're looking for an interesting historical fiction with a story line that is not predictable and that goes somewhere, find another read.
Profile Image for Nicole.
166 reviews
September 14, 2007
In this debut novel, the author weaves a remarkable tale about the unknown mistress of King Richard III, who becomes the mother of his children. Kate Haute rises from her humble beginnings as the ward of her wealthy cousin and marries well, twice. Kate’s quick wit and outspokenness charm nearly everyone she meets, including Richard, the young Duke of Gloucester. Kate and Richard’s passionate love affair is set against the backdrop of the War of the Roses, a tumultuous period in English history. This book is rich in historical detail, with sympathetic characters, and might appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory.
Profile Image for Sydney.
129 reviews67 followers
March 24, 2014

Anne Easter Smith, please accept my undying devotion to your authorhood. I commit to read and love all the books that you have placed in this world and shall forever be committed to praising your holy writing with reviews. I hearby swear my love for your words. Amen.

OMG. I cannot get over how amazing this book is. After the awful YA I've been reading lately, this beauty was an amazing breath of fresh air. It is so magically majestic in every way. From the characters, to the pace, to the historical research, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Smith. She should be every author's fantasy when it comes to storytelling.

I write this review is reverent silence because I am literally awestruck by this book. While I don't always use gifs in reviews, I do tend to use them to lighten up a post because they make them more interesting. I cannot use a gif in this one. It would distract and demean and takeaway the pure perfection of this story. Because the main character in this book is my sister, my soulmate, and my sweet best friend. Kate, my lovely, modest, smart beautiful Kate. You are in my heart forever. Anne Easter Smith created such a perfectly simply yet complex character in Kate it breaks my heart knowing that I won't see her again tonight when I open my book. She's so lovingly rendered and so fully complete it's hard for me to accept she's fictional and not in the next room spinning some wool. I fell in love with Kate the instant I met her. And being able to follow her on her life's journey that Smith created was the most heartwrenching, achingly beautiful, soul-fullfilling, delicious mind feast I've had in a long, long time.

I still smile slightly when thinking about Kate meeting Richard, giggle a little when thinking about their blissfulness, cringe when I think about all the awful things she faced. Anne Easter Smith has created a fictional character that has wormed her way into my book-loving heart and I welcome her with open arms.

Read all my reviews and www.rattlethestars.com
Profile Image for Brittany B..
299 reviews4 followers
November 6, 2012
3.5 stars

I can't get this story out if my head. I don't want to write an essay on it, so read this for yourself and you decide. I've changed my rating of this book 3 times.

An interesting and heart-breaking story. Very well done, considering I don't particularly like Richard III. But this is FICTION. It's not argumentative writing meant to prove Richard's character. It's an emotional story that only works if the reader suspends some disbelief.

In fact, I was angry and emotional during the last 25% of the book. I didn't think the author properly addressed the bad things that Richard did. I made a list of what she glossed over, to get ready for the review. But when I got to the end of the book, I realized that my list didn't matter! My heart was absolutely wrenching with the pain; the complete tragedy that was just a small part of the War of the Roses! And this is fiction!! I sobbed like a baby.

I realized that Richard is no better or worse than Henry VIII. The common adage that history is written by the victors is never more evident than in the rise of the Tudors and the end to the War of the Roses.

This book certainly doesn't prove Richard's innocence, but it does demonstrate that there is always grey in a story that seems black and white.
Profile Image for Vassa.
389 reviews15 followers
April 3, 2022
I think I'm now firm in my decision to give it only 3 stars. I enjoyed this book a lot, I mostly read it as I was going to bed, and it was always something to look forward to. I grew to love the characters, I was very attached to Kate and Richard, to most of the secondary characters, which does not happen that often, so it was a pleasure to get back into the world. The plot is well-crafted and, as far as I'm concerned, is close to the facts. But that was exactly what made it a tad disappointing to me. I felt it was dry in places and certain passages sounded like they were coming from a textbook, so they pulled me out a little bit instead of giving an insight into the period. It is a work of fiction, and bare facts look alienating to me. Also, some of the characters' reactions as well as remarks were puzzling as some of them were strange even given the time period. Some of their words sounded straight-up rude and humiliating and they were not addressed at all but encouraged by the rest of the characters. I understand those are older times, and I, as a great fan of historical fiction, know for a fact that not everything was pretty back then, but those comments were going too far.

Overall, it is a nice book to pass your time, a very enlightening read that gives you more insight into the life of Richard III, I had a great time, but I do not see myself going back to it.
Profile Image for Bookgypsy.
266 reviews28 followers
June 6, 2018
This story comes from my favorite era of history but from a refreshingly different point of view. Its so sweet and heartbreaking, the journey Katherine takes from a small girl with a simple country life, to the mistress and secret lover of the King.
Profile Image for Pam.
590 reviews8 followers
October 7, 2021
It has been a while since I have read historical fiction and it was a great pleasure to immerse myself in this well written novel of King Richard III and his mistress Katherine Haute at the end of the battle between York and Lancaster families in 15th Century England. I will read more of this author when I yearn for this type of novel.
Profile Image for Ambrosia Sullivan.
326 reviews12 followers
January 18, 2013
I was very eager to read A Rose for the Crown as I have long been curious of Richard III. Of course I know the history and how many regard him as a villain. Some call him a Wife poisoner and others of course accuse him of being a usurper and a killer of his nephews. Historically none of that can be proven of course and you always have to take some things with a grain of salt (Anne Boleyn being a witch anyone?), still I wanted to see what Anne Easter Smiths take on Richard III would be. I would not be disappointed.

Kate Bywood is a fiery young lady who by all accounts is a nobody to the royal houses of England. However thanks to some turns in life that put her in favorable places she as a young girl and throughout her younger days meets Richard Plantagenet. The more the young pair meet one another the more they are attracted on many levels to each other. You can not help but be drawn into their love story as it unfolds. A love that while is passionate and all consuming both know can never be more than what it is. Richard could have as a royal Duke kept Kate in the kind of comfort that many royal Mistresses throughout time (and at that time) were kept in, especially after she bore him both a Daughter and a Son. However Kate valued the privacy more and her values as to not be known publicly as a Mistress. Something in the end that Richard deeply admires.

The story is heart warming and heart breaking all in the same as we follow the couple through life. In the end we all know what happens historically, Richard III was slain and Henry Tudor took the crown. The bastard Son John of Gloucester would also later be killed as a traitor. The book does not end on a bad note however with a new start being laid out for you the reader to go away with some good feelings. Overall this was another beautifully written book and while of course fiction, I dare anyone not to look upon Richard III with a kinder eye once they have read it.
Profile Image for Cera.
422 reviews23 followers
May 31, 2010
I wanted to like this, because historical fiction can be so much fun and I have a soft spot for Richard III, but the prose was really clumsy, and the author's 21st century paradigm & values were evident immediately in the way she wrote about Kate's younger siblings. I skimmed ahead to see if it picked up more when Richard was on-screen but no, it didn't, not for me, and thus I will turn my attention to things that interest me more.

By request, an example of the 21st century paradigm, cut & pasted from email:

The example that broke suspension of disbelief for me immediately was "He adored his father and dogged him in the fields and orchard as often as he was allowed, already learning to live off the land at the age of seven" (pg 11). Except of course in England in the 15th century (and pretty much every other century except the 20th and 21st), a child whose parents worked the land would have been working almost as soon as they could *walk*. This kid would only have not been "allowed" to follow his father if he should have instead been doing work somewhere else; most likely he would have *had* to follow his father from daybreak until sunset. Nor would the 5-yr-old have had time to get up to cute mischief and be scolded by his adoring older sister; he would have been churning butter or plaiting straw or gleaning fields or stirring a pot or something, because nobody who ate could get away without doing as much labour as possible unless the family lived off of the work of others.
Profile Image for Chelsie.
77 reviews4 followers
January 29, 2009
This is one of my favorite books. It is a historical novel about King Richard that shows him in an entirely different light then history tells. You will laugh, cry and end up loving the main character. If you liked The Other Boleyn Girl, you will love this one so much more. If you didn't like that book, you will still love this one!
Profile Image for Elia Princess of Starfall.
124 reviews14 followers
December 22, 2015
In reality, this is a 2.5 stars from me.

In the Q&A section of A Rose for the Crown we learn that it took Anne Easter Smith eight years to create, research, brainstorm, write, re-write, edit, market and finally to publish her debut novel.

That, my friends, is true commitment and discipline; Characteristics that many of us rarely hone and are often the bane of an aspiring authors existence. An infamous (though fictional) example is Brian from Family Guy who constantly preaches about the various novels, screenplays and college degrees he intends to do while lacking the motivation and iron will to achieve it. A.E.S deserves respect and admiration for doing the exact opposite of Brian.

Now onto the review.


A Rose for the Crown concerns the life of the (sole) mistress of Richard III Katherine (Kate) Haute nee Bywood, a beautiful, kind, feisty and free-spirited peasant girl from Kent. And, yes, based on those previous adjectives she is, alas, a regrettable Mary-Sue in MANY aspects (from the red-hair, the fact that all men she meets inevitably love her and that she constantly admired for her good looks and inability to do wrong). The novel follows Kate throughout her childhood, her fostering in Ightham Manor, her unhappy marriages, her love affair with Richard, Duke of Gloucester and future King of England, the birth of her illegitimate offspring and her views and opinions on the politics that plague England during this turbulent period.

IMHO this is historical romance rather historical fiction. The emphasis is on Kate's personal life, her love and devotion towards Richard, their offspring and her fierce loyalty towards Richard's reputation and honourable attributes. So for those looking for savvy political intrigue, duplicitous characters, ambiguous morality, constant threats, simmering tension and suspense, darkly twisted plots and counter plots I'd probably say that this isn't the book for you.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy ARftC for what it was; an easy-going, light hearted romantic escapade during the Wars of the Roses albeit with disappointing flaws. It is very sweet and endearing in its own way, the romance being the highlight of the entire novel and everything else being shunted aside to the stories detriment. ARftC is an mildly engaging novel with a strong historical setting, relatable if very idealised characters, an enjoyable but sometimes saccharine romance, light politics and a sort of bittersweet ending. IMHO this is a book that not everyone will warm up to in fairness.

ARftC took eight years to write and, although this amounts to a staggering amount of research, writing and editing, it still feels like a draft in some aspects. The novel is written competently and with evident enthusiasm; the setting is beautifully evoked and the historical details are strewn carefully throughout the story, never overwhelming the reader. The shortfalls of ARftC are its characters, the romance between Kate and Richard, the bias towards anyone on the Lancastrian side and the heavy reliance on telling and not showing. However as this is a debut novel I still feel that A.E.S did an excellent job but that her execution could have been sharper and more refined.

The characters of ARftC are neatly divided into either good or evil; there are very few shades of grey to be found in this novel. Kate was the embodiment of goodness; everyone she meet (besides the caricatures of evil Elinor and George Haute) loves her coyness and delightful tendency to speak whatever is on her mind. She is universally admired and adored; constantly and consistently praised for her boldness and vivacity. The relentless sanctification of Kate makes it difficult at times to take her seriously as a flawed character. However, she has her fair share of hardships and woes which she does her best to triumph over even while whining a great deal. The care and devotion she shows to her children and Richard is the epicentre of her life; the pain and suffering they undergo causes her great distress and her attempts to remedy their trials does much to gain the readers sympathy at certain times. Sadly, her relentless sanctification and adoration from all and lack of any real character flaws mark her out as a Mary-Sue and this makes it difficult to take Kate as a realistic and interesting character. She simply cannot excite the readers interest and enthusiasm as the MC should. I found it quite hard to tolerate her in fact; too cheerful by far!

However, I felt the character of Richard to be very romanticised. I mean this man, at the age of seven, was forced into uncertain exile after the death of his father the Duke of York and his elder brother Edmund Earl of Rutland, bloodied himself at the battles of Barnet Heath and Tewkesbury before he was 19, rose to become the virtual Lord of the North and hammered the Scots trespasses into England. In ARftC this very much second hand detail, apart from some sword fighting and after battle bravado. This portrayal of Richard is very much to be viewed from the personal outlook. The focus lies on establishing his status as caring lover and devoted father not necessarily bad things. But to shove aside such vital aspects of Richards character his prowess as a battle commander and warrior does not do justice to this extraordinary man. He was a man of his era, able to be ruthless, pragmatic and cynical when needed and we do not see this nearly enough. Instead we get rather rapid professions of love, eternal fidelity, never ending musings on Kate's uniqueness and beauty which serves to show Richard as love struck and Harlequinish hero. Oh he had his moments of strength such as blithely announcing his detestation of his Woodville in-laws but these were few and far between in this sea of poignant forbidden love scenes.


The characters of Elinor and George Haute were particularly problematic, almost caricatures in their evilness defined solely by their ill-will towards the angelic Kate. The fact that both are murdered and quickly forgotten is highly unsettling. Elinor despises Kate for her low birth and seeks to make her life unbearable at the manor. Elinors portrayal was childish and cartoonish; based solely her envy of the beautiful Kate and willingness to see her suffer. There was nothing subtle about it. George's character, however, caused me real discomfort. As the only gay character (besides his boyfriend Simon), he is needy, petulant, greedy, cowardly, sulky, abusive, sullen, resentful, weak and jealous. He alone is impervious to Kate's beauty and his "unnatural" behaviour is the focus for much grief and anger for Kate and his family. As being gay was not socially acceptable in the medieval period, I understand the need to reveal contemporary attitudes of ones of horror and revulsion. Its what people believed back then; it was wrong and unfair but that's how it was looked upon. What made me uneasy was the making of George as useless and pathetic in a fight or as a knight and his willingness to hit Kate. You cant call it a positive portrayal. In the entire novel there's only one positive scene with George and his siblings; the rest consist of him being pretty much a Class-A jerk to everyone around him which is quite understandable. Even when he is (laughably) killed, he is still disliked by his family before they discover that he's gay. His own mother professes never to have loved him and his brother and father reveal their antipathy towards him. It rather disheartening to see such a portrayal of the sole gay character in any novel.

The lack of showing and the severe over reliance on telling really drained the novel of suspense and excitement. In fairness, Kate could never be everywhere all the time but the endless parade of letters that went back-and-forth, the ceaseless messengers and the people re telling past events for Kate's benefit doesn't make for an action packed novel. It became quite boring to constantly TOLD of fascinating game-changers but the never seeing of them slowed down the novels pace and it made it far too passive in the end. From the battles of Barnet, Tewkesbury, Bosworth, to the trial and execution of Hastings to the mystery of the Princes of the Tower everything is viewed second hand.

All in all, I'll rate this novel 4.5/10
Occasionally Well-written with rather perfect characters, accurate historical detail, a keen emphasis on fairy-tale romance (initially) and a lack of moral and political ambiguity A Rose for the Crown is recommended to those interested in historical romance.

Kate and Richard have three children Katherine, John and Dickon; the last of which is hidden away by Kate to protect Richards honour (????????). Needless to say, Richard, when alighted to Dickon's existence is delighted rather than, say, angered or bewildered. I found it incredibly funny that when Dickon's existence was revealed to Richard, than Katherine and finally to John they all died shortly afterward.
Coincidence, my friends?
544 reviews4 followers
December 4, 2019
I really liked the story, but sometimes the writing and dialogue got on my nerves. And everybody falling all over Kate because she was "bold."
Profile Image for Emily Hepple.
15 reviews
February 12, 2020
Another amazing book by Anne Easter Smith. Didn’t want it to end. Well and truly in love with her portrayal of Richard iii and her character Kate. I wish we knew more about the real Kate.
Profile Image for Kate Lawrence.
Author 1 book24 followers
July 4, 2012
This had everything I enjoy in a historical novel. A smooth writing style, a solid basis in historical fact, a compelling storyline, realistic and sympathetic characters (plus a few dastardly villains, also historical), a long length (632 pp.) to really get lost in, and no confusion arising from too many characters, too much historical detail, or too much jumping around in time. The dialogue felt authentic to the period; that is, the characters don't speak like modern people in costume. Helpful extras were the genealogical chart of the Plantagenets, a list identifying all the characters and whether they are historical (most are) or fictional, a map, a glossary of unfamiliar terms, and a bibliography. Plus an author note and interview, and discussion questions, if needed.

King Richard III has carried an unsavory reputation down through the centuries largely because of Shakespeare's play about him. We must realize, the author points out, that Shakespeare was writing to please Queen Elizabeth I, who was the granddaughter of the man who took Richard's crown. Therefore, making Richard look bad was in the Bard's political interest. An unbiased look at Richard, according to many historians, shows a very different personality: loyal to friends and family, serious, without any physical deformities, and almost certainly NOT the murderer of his nephews, the young princes in the Tower. Kate, the heroine and Richard's lover, is a fictional invention of the real lover he had who bore him historically documented children. She is vibrant, believable, and a pleasure to spend time with.

I'm delighted to discover this author and to learn she has written three other novels, also about 15th century England, her particular field of expertise.
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,238 reviews51 followers
March 14, 2014
*sign* why has it taken me so long to read this book, or anything by Anne Easter Smith? I can't think of a good excuse, it's not the size because I love a good thick book. It's not the presentation because the cover is gorgeous. It's not because I've heard negative things about this book, on the contrary I have heard nothing but good things (and others she has written). So last week I decided enough already and purchased the audio from audible, loaded up my iPod and went for a walk. Then I walked some more, then I cleaned the house, took the dog for another walk (he thanks you Anne), folded laundry. I did whatever I could so to continue with this story. I was captivated right from the get go.

Kate is only a young girl when introduced, she is spunky and lively but also mature for her age, though I must remind myself that girls grew up faster in the 1400's, there wasn't a lot of time to just be kids.
This book comes in at 672 pages in an over-sized softcover, it is a romance but not done in a harlequin kind of way. It's historical and the author really knows her stuff and wove this story around actual events which made the story very plausible.

As this author states in her notes, there isn't a lot of information about Kate Haute and this book fills in the gaps that not only humanized her but Richard III as well, it was nice to view him in this light for a change.

Rosalyn Landor is the reader and she is one of my very favorites, her voice matches the time period perfectly and it always a pleasure to listen to.
Profile Image for Rio (Lynne).
325 reviews4 followers
June 6, 2011
Historically, Richard III did have two known bastard children Katherine Plantagenet and John of Gloucester. Historians have questioned the fact that Kate Haute was their mother, but there is no official proof. This is where the author takes Kate and gives us a soap operish sweeping saga. This could be a made for TV movie. I enjoyed this, but I also took it with a grain of salt. Richard III is made into a saint, which was a little tongue in check for me. Overall this book covers a lot! If you are a sucker for romance, this novel has plenty of that and if you are interested in the War of Roses, this novel brings you a very one sided Ricardian view. There are many things we will never know: Who killed the Princes in the Tower? Who was behind making King Edward's marriage to Elizabeth illegal and did Richard really flaunt and love his niece Elizabeth? I won't lie, I couldn't put this one down. I always like to hear both sides of an argument and I looked forward to each page to see how the author would spin Richard's tales.
Why 4 stars, because I was simply entertained and carried this FAT book around in my hands for days.
Profile Image for Thea.
4 reviews
November 6, 2019
Save yourself the trouble and go read The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman instead.

This reads more like a chick lit that just happens to be set during the Wars of the Roses. It's an ok romantic read but I feel that it just doesn't live up to the potential. The pace was dragging in some parts, especially for the 1/3 of it. Richard III was such a fascinating historical figure but in this book he was reduced to a one-dimensional character. Richard's portrayal was hyper-focused on his roles as Kate's lover and the father to her children. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it definitely sugar coats him (and no I don't mean that he's as villainous as Shakespeare/his political rivals portray him but he wasn't a saint either). It reduces Richard to a sappy, love-struck puppy. I will say that I like how the political events were in the background, it shows a different perspective and how the Wars of the Roses impacted those who were outside the court. I really expected more from this story but it just came off as flat.
2 reviews3 followers
June 16, 2010
I was completely blown away by this book. I picked it up on a whim at the book store and was immediately entranced by the characters and the dynamic setting. Though many of the characters take on roles that are typical of similar historical novels they never feel stereotypical, always taking on a full life a dimension from their first mention.

From the very first page you feel for Kate, a spirited girl in a time when such passion often landed her in the wrong spot. Though the tale gives you insight into a typically inaccurately depicted character, Richard III, the true story always lies with Kate. There are many times where you want to cry with her, moments you love and laugh with her, and every moment you respect her continued spirit and passion.

I would recommend this book to anyone. The historical time is rich, full and vibrant while not distracting you from the emotion and power of Kate and Richard's story.
Profile Image for Linda Bridges.
240 reviews25 followers
July 30, 2014
No one knows who was the mother of the two illegitimate children of Richard III of England, so this story of a fictional mistress, Katherine Haute fills in a gap. Born poor but raised by richer relatives, Kate is in a loveless marriage when she meets young Richard. Falling in love, she bears him three children (one unknown to him) before his political marriage to Anne Neville to whom he apparently remained faithful. As the story proceeds, Kate and Richard's lives are forever entwined by their children, both of whom were actually raised by him and his wife. Kate never lost her love for Richard throughout this story.
I loved, loved, loved this book. The details are rich and authentic. The author even talks about the problems with lice and fleas that everyone during the time period experienced no matter their station in life. The book is beautifully researched and written. I highly recommend it.
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