Author: Vanora Bennett
ISBN: 978-0-06-168984-0
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)

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A splendid blend of romance and history as the author takes one into the world of silk making. Set in the late 1400’s, the story is based around two sisters, Jane and Isabel, who are the daughters of a silk merchant in London, John Lambert. Lambert’s business is suffering and in desperation, he resolves to marry off his two daughters to rich husbands.

Jane, the eldest of his daughters, marries Will Shore, but then later divorces him when she becomes romantically involved with Edward Plantagenet (King Edward IV) and she continues to be his mistress for several years.

Isabel marries Thomas Claver, a goldsmith, who is the son of Alice Claver, another silk merchant. Thomas later dies, making Isabel a widow, but Alice Claver is impressed with Isabel’s obvious skills involving the manufacturing of silk and teaches her everything she knows about the silk industry, from producing the finest quality silk to the business end of marketing the silk.

Isabel then becomes involved, in a business sense, with King Edward’s plan to bring in workers from Venice, their competitor, to make the finest quality silk.

After Edward’s death though, Jane goes to prison, which is a surprising twist in the story. Another twist is that Isabel later becomes involved with Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, who eventually becomes King Richard III.

I found the weaving of a fictional story plot into the well researched history of the time era to be quite impressive. The romantic involvements of the two sisters plays a very important part in the story plotting, while the setting is really the main focus point of the novel, as the reader learns about the rulers of the land and how important the silk industry becomes to their success or demise.

I believe there may be a few discrepancies in the historical part and a few plotting avenues that were not totally believable, however overall the story itself flows quite smoothly with just enough romance and mystery interlaced with historical accuracy to make for a very good storyline for anyone who enjoys history or historical romance.

I also found the blending of the setting and plotting to accentuate each other nicely, keeping the reader’s interest in the two women, Jane and Isabel, and their very apparent affluence in the silk industry, while also learning the importance of that industry to the politics of the land’s government.

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