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The First Princess of Wales: A Novel Paperback – December 26, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harper's (sort of) latest (after The Last Boleyn, but originally published in 1984 as Sweet Passion's Pain) breathes a lust for life into history's distant icons. Fiery-tempered Joan of Kent arrives in the court of King Edward III, but is ill-prepared for the complicated court politicking and attentions of debonair Prince Edward. From their first meeting, the two engage in a standoffish flirtation that continues even as Joan learns that Edward's family had a part in her father's long-ago execution for treason. She sets her sights on Edward as a target for revenge, but her thirst for payback turns into a passion denied fulfillment by circumstances that keep them apart. As the years pass, Joan marries another man and starts a family, her brother John is killed, and Edward leads the English army to victory in France. Harper keeps the tension taut as she weaves together the many subplots into a first-rate epic. Love prevails in a grand fashion at the end. (Dec.)
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About the Author

KAREN HARPER is the author of the bestselling Elizabeth I mystery series and the novel The Last Boleyn. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, and Naples, Florida.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307237915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karen Harper is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of romantic suspense and historical novels. A native Ohioan, she and her husband divide their time between Ohio and Florida. Karen is a former high school English teacher and English-and-writing instructor for the Ohio State University. (Go Bucks!) Yes, the Harpers are avid Ohio State football fans, but they have a serious side too. They were on the 10-year committee which revamped the main library on campus. The Ohio State Library houses her author collection in Rare Books and Manuscripts.

The Harpers love to travel, and Karen often uses her favorite places as settings for her novels. She's recently written books set in Tudor England and Amish country Ohio. Her latest bestselling trilogy set in Appalachia is THE COLD CREEK NOVELS. These are SHATTERED SECRETS, FORBIDDEN GROUND and BROKEN BONDS. These bring her published books over 60 in a 30-year writing career.

Karen belongs to several writer's organizations, including International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and The Historical Novel Society. She appreciates hearing from readers on her website at www.KarenHarperAuthor.com--and she answers!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on February 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever since reading in another novel that she was married at 12 and then became a bigamist at 13, I've been interested in Joan of Kent, so naturally when I heard about this book I pre-ordered it. As it turned out, I need not have been so enthusiastic-this is really nothing more than a cheesy romance novel that really, even isn't even a romance novel since the male lead (Edward the Black Knight, Prince of Wales, never became king) insists throughout the book on practically raping the female lead (Joan of Kent).

The back cover of this book says that Joan, in this novel, is plotting to get even with the King of England, Edward III, for her father's death, which he failed to prevent and may have encouraged (her dad was hung for treason which he was not guilty of). I would just like to say that this is not a major plot point, in fact, this is a thought, not a plan, or a plot, that Joan has, for a little while. It is a not a major part of the book. The vast majority of the book is spent with Joan or Edward moping about in various places because they aren't together. That really is the book. Really, that's it, except for two war scenes and one peasant uprising (which was interesting.)

This is supposed to be a romance, but as a wise woman once wrote, it is not a romance novel in any way if the romance in question involves rape. And in the novel there are just too many references too Edward wanting to "tame" Joan or Edward getting what he wanted from Joan whether or not she was willing to give it to him. Ultimately she does always capitulate, and I am aware that Edward's attitude is completely normal for the age he lived in, but this is a novel that is supposed to be romantic to contemporary readers and I find it offensive the author considers Edwards's actions to be romantic.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Aside from the shallow, fatuous characterizations, the gratuitous borderline-rape sex scenes, the anachronistic dialogue, and the utter lack of historical verity it was not a bad read. If you are looking for a realistic depiction of Joan of Kent or fourteenth century England, you will be sorely disapointed.

Ms. Harper was unable to even accurately portray Joan's honours and dignities, refering to her as the "Duchess of Kent" and stating that her husband, Thomas Holland, did not assume the titles by her right. The Holland-Salisbury case and the consequeseces of the death of Edmund of Woodstock are grossly distorted. The historical continuity is preposterously inaccurate, as are the names and relative ages of Joan's siblings and children.

As for the unwarranted copulation and the vapid, desultory female characters, anyone who has previously read Ms. Harper's work will not be surprised. Despite all of these severe flaws, I found this book easy to read and not unenjoyable. Consider it as a beach read or on a commute.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Tan on September 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
With an avid interest in British history, I eagerly ordered this book because not many books have been written about Joan of Kent. To my great disappointment, I was delivered a cheap romance. The characters were shallow and incoherent. The plot was predictable, moving from one lurid sex scene to another, all of which were boringly the same.

To classify this book as a "historical" novel does a great disservice to customers of Amazon since the book had little to do with history. Anyone expecting a work on par with the writings of Sharon Penman, Edith Pargeter, Roger Mortimer or Jean Plaidy will feel let down by this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Formerly published as "Sweet Passion's Pain", this historical novel takes place in the mid-fourteenth century, as Joan of Kent meets her destiny in the court of Edward III. Learning belatedly of her father's death at the very hands of the Plantagenet's who now control her future, Joan is caught in a web of palace intrigue and her own confused emotions. Unwittingly she falls in love with Edward, Prince of Wales; over the next few years she resists the ties that the prince so readily accepts, realizing she will never be accepted as his wife. In any case, Edward III's Queen Philippa has her own ideas, sensing the attraction between Joan and her handsome son, marrying Joan off quickly to a Knight of the Garter whose estates are in the border lands of France.

At times hopelessly in love with the prince and unable to resist his skillful seduction, Joan vacillates between helpless infatuation with Edward and rage at the disservice to her family, periodically embarking on missions of revenge that unerringly fail to yield the desired results. These small rebellions always backfire and more often than not she is saved from her own impetuous nature by the prince. Yet Joan persists, traveling dangerous terrain to confront her heart's tormentor, even in the midst of war and peasant uprising that puts them both at great risk. Considering the consequences of these foolish adventures, Edward is the essence of patience, constantly intervening on Joan's behalf.
Although Joan of Kent begins her quest for parity as a very young woman, she persists into adulthood, making the same foolish decisions over and over until she accepts the inevitability of her fate, bound to the Prince of Wales.
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