Friday, July 26, 2013

By Loyalty Bound by Elizabeth Ashworth

Book Blurb

When 17 year old Richard, Duke of Gloucester, defies his elder brother, Edward IV, and rides to Hornby Castle in the north of Lancashire to help James and Robert Harrington defend their birthright against Sir Thomas Stanley, he engenders a chain of events that will have repercussions for years to come. His fight for justice for the Harringtons and his relationship with Anne Harrington, whose wardship has been given to Thomas Stanley, cause a rift between the two men that will never be healed, and which will lead to Richard being betrayed when he most needs Stanley’s support.

By Loyalty Bound tells the story of defiant Anne Harrington, the woman who would later become mistress to the enigmatic Richard as a consequence of his involvement in the trials of her family. With her father and grandfather killed fighting for the Yorkists at Wakefield in 1460, Hornby Castle falls to her as an inheritance at the tender age of five years old. When her ward-ship is handed over to Thomas Stanley by the king himself, Anne’s uncles and the influence they might otherwise have wielded are virtually cut off. The story traces the Harringtons fight to keep possession of their ancestral home, the support given to them by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Richard’s tumultuous and beguiling relationship with Anne as she is forced into a marriage arranged for her by her guardian, a man who has objectives beyond the determination to secure her future happiness. 


The timing of this novel couldn’t have been bettered, and I admire Ms Ashworth for producing it at just the right time considering her research must have been extensive. By that I mean the televisation of ‘The White Queen’ and the recent discovery of the remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park. She gives her reasons for why she identifies Richard of Gloucester’s mistress as Anne Harrington, and makes a very convincing case for her being an heiress at the mercy of a guardian of the Stanleys.

Ms Ashworth handles a very complicated era of history extremely well. Edwad IV did not have an easy rule and no one was certain of which side to join, and many changed loyalties according to who was in the ascendant and whose army was biggest. By the end I was confused as to who actually was the ‘rightful’ king, so even with hindsight I would have made the wrong decison.

Villains abound in all guises and Anne has to tread a careful path with her in-laws who regard her as having brought disgrace on them by being Richard of Gloucester’s mistress - hypocritical in the extreme as they forced her to marry their son so they could grab her estate!

Despite its difficult beginning in that she was presented to him as a bribe by her family - girls had a rotten time in the 15th century! Anne’s devotion to Richard of Gloucester is touching, - so much so, she refuses to consummate her marriage to Edward Stanley - though fortunately he does not press the issue and takes a mistress of his own. In an age where bearing heirs is vital, I wondered at her father-in-law’s silence on the fact she had produced two healthy children for Richard but none for her own husband, but he remains enigmatically silent.

Margaret Beaufort joins the Stanley family, making the entire crew even more sinister, and Anne has to watch her back for stray daggers, at times relying only on her aloof serenity to keep her safe.

For those who are interested in the late Plantagenet kings and the lead up to Bosworth Field, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour

TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

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