The Rose of York - Love & War
Sign up for Sandra Worth's newsletter to get 3 Chapters from the featured book,
Tomorrow We Will Know.
A Stand-Alone Novel and the Winner of 6 Book Awards
The Rose of York - Love & War
Love & War, the first title in the Rose of York trilogy, has won numerous awards for its portrayal of the future Richard III's calamity-riddled turbulent early years in the Wars of the Roses, and his Romeo-and-Juliet love affair with his childhood sweetheart Anne Neville, daughter of the mighty Warwick the Kingmaker. Here are depicted the forces that shaped this idealistic future king and tragic hero whose legacy of laws would one day flower into the world's first democracy.
Soon after young Richard of Gloucester’s brother, Edward, wins the crown of England, Richard returns from exile and is sent to Middleham Castle to learn the art of war. There he meets his cousin Anne, the Earl of Warwick’s daughter. Friendship blossoms and soon grows into love, but the disasters that plague Richard seem endless and a feud ruptures the friendship between Anne’s father Warwick and Richard’s brother King Edward. Their enmity tears Richard and Anne apart as war erupts in England and their families choose opposite sides. Anne is forced to wed someone else, and once again, Richard must flee England.
The ever-turning Wheel of Fortune gives another whirl but this time it brings the ill-starred lovers cause to rejoice as Edward is restored to the throne and Richard returns to England. But Fortune’s Wheel is not yet done. Another spin brings anguish as Anne disappears and no one knows if she is alive or dead. And no one except Richard seems to care enough to find out. What he learns leaves him astounded and incredulous, his life forever changed.
"Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel . . . "
The messenger tore through the night. The desolate, snowy streets of London posed little danger in the comforting dark, but at Tower Bridge he reined in his nervous mount. Torches flared along the bridge, casting lurid shadows on the traitors' heads lining the poles. They leered at him with mocking grins as snowflakes melted into their empty eye-sockets and rotting flesh, pervading the eerie night with menace. He calmed his horse and braced himself.
Cautiously, he trotted past the chilling sight, averting his face from the light. The sound of lapping water drew his attention to the inky river below. A boat was bearing a prisoner to the Tower. The man's chains flashed a warning as he passed beneath the bridge and the water-gate screeched open to receive him. The messenger wondered if it was someone he knew, and shuddered.
Once over the bridge and safe again in the shadows of the night, he spurred his mount. Minutes later, at a stately stone mansion on the Thames, he gave the password and gained hasty entry. Racing up the steps, he was surprised to find himself face to face, not with the captain he'd come to seek, but with the Commander of the Yorkist army who was said to be fighting in the Midlands, the mighty lord known to all England as Kingmaker. He fell to his knees and delivered his fearful tidings.
The Kingmaker paled. Barking orders, he grabbed his cloak and made for his horse, his retinue in hot pursuit. Together they galloped along the deserted streets and drew up before a gabled home set behind a wall.
"Who goes there?" demanded a guard.
"The Kingmaker, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick."
"White Rose Vanquishes Red."
"Enter!" The gate was thrust open.
The small courtyard filled with the shouts of men and the neighing of horses. Two young faces, one blond, one dark, appeared at the window above the entry, noses pressed against the glass. The boys' eyes widened when they saw the Kingmaker. He entered the house, and the faces disappeared from the window.
* * *
"It's Cousin Warwick, Dickon!" said the older boy.
Richard choked back a cry. Their cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, had fled London months ago. If the Lancastrians caught him, he'd lose his head. No doubt he'd be chopped into pieces first, as traitors always were, unless their sentences were commuted. She would never commute Warwick's sentence. She was England's Queen, the savage Marguerite d'Anjou, and she was very angry with their cousin Warwick, maybe because he had called her the Bitch of Anjou. He wasn't sure what a bitch was but Nurse had scolded him when he'd asked, and told him he must never use the word himself.
"Isn't London dangerous for him?" he asked breathlessly. "Father said London's for Queen Marguerite — even if she is away in the North. Do you think Cousin Warwick lost the battle, George?"
"Worse than that, Dickon, or he wouldn't have come himself," replied his brother.
Richard took tight hold of George's hand as they cracked the door open. With his ten-year-old brother leading the way, Richard stole along the corridor that was decorated with greenery for Yuletide, tiptoeing carefully on the creaky floor.
Voices drifted up from the hall downstairs: a man's nasal tone, sounding alarmed, insistent; and a woman's softer cadence, anxious and pleading. His mother? But that wasn't possible! His mother was a Neville, proud and fearless—she never raised her voice, never implored anyone for anything. She gave commands calmly, like the queen she would be when his father won the throne from Marguerite's husband, mad Henry of Lancaster.
They halted at the stairs. The man's voice had risen in volume, grown heated.
"No one would do such a thing, I assure you—'tis preposterous. My gracious aunt Cecily, even this wretched queen wouldn't harm children!" A pause. "In any case, I came only to bring you the news, sore tidings though they be. Now time grows short and I myself must leave with all haste."
"You cannot go without them!"
"I must. They'll slow us down."
"You didn't see Marguerite at Ludlow — she's capable of anything! In God's name, has she not proven it to you with this dreadful deed? Oh, my beloved lord husband . . . my sweet Edmund—" Her voice broke.
Richard and George exchanged glances. What could have happened? They descended the steps. Richard gasped and grabbed the pillar for support. He had never seen his mother this way. Not even at Ludlow when they'd been captured by Queen Marguerite's troops. She stood in the centre of the torch-lit room, clinging to his velvet doublet. Her eyes held a wild expression and her golden hair hung dishevelled around her shoulders.
"You must take them. You must. They may be babes but they're brave—they'll ride hard—they won't slow you down, I swear it! They'll die unless you take them with you. She'll murder them as she did their father and Edmund at York."
Now Richard and George understood the awful truth. Richard let out a wail. George ran down the stairs. "Let me at her!" he yelled. "I'll burn her at the stake, the stinking witch! I'll rip her entrails out! — Let me at her — I'll send her to Hell —"
For a moment, everyone stared. Then George, kicking furiously, was restrained by Warwick's henchmen. Eyes turned to little Richard mutely gripping the pillar on the staircase with both hands, his face ashen pale and his body vibrating like a plucked harp string.
"Richard," said his mother softly.
From somewhere in the shadows, his nurse materialised. She sank down on the step beside him and gathered him to her. "Come, my sweet little lord . . . come, my dear one . . . "
Richard didn't hear. He didn't feel her arms around him. He felt only the cold, and the fear, and the only thought he had was that he mustn't cry. Nurse had said that men didn't cry, and he knew his father had expected him to be a man.
"Ludlow," Cecily breathed. "That's how he was at Ludlow—" She turned desperate eyes on her nephew. "You weren't at Ludlow, nephew. What Marguerite did there was Devil's work. And what she has done at York has changed the world forever." She lowered herself to her knees, clasped her hands together, looked up at him beseechingly. "I humble myself to you, my Lord of Warwick."
A shocked gasp went around the room to see England's true queen kneel at Warwick's feet. Even Warwick seemed stunned. He stared at her a long moment. Then he gave a tense nod.
"Make haste, then. We've no time to lose. She's closing in on London even as we speak."
"If you are looking for excellent historical fiction novels on The War of the Roses, then check out Sandra Worth."
A Romantic Times Magazine “Top Pick!”