The first volume of The Rose of York trilogy, Love & War begins the tale of Richard III, remembered by history as a malevolent hunchback and murderer of the princes in the tower as much as for the judicial reform he inspired. With a fresh perspective, Worth introduces her readers to a complex young man, dark where his handsome older brothers are fair, serious while they are ribald, his motto “Loyalty binds me.”
While George, Duke of Clarence, harbors a growing envy of Edward IV, Richard has no such ambitions, content to learn the ways of a gentleman-soldier at the estate of “the Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Richard’s father lost on the field of battle, Warwick remains an important role model for Richard. It is Warwick who assures Edward’s kingship, their close friendship tested to the breaking point; as the years pass, Edward fears his subjects love the Earl better than their king.
From the first time they meet as children, Richard falls in love with Warwick’s daughter, Anne Neville. No matter the complexities of their lives and the unpredictability of Richard’s future, the pair is inseparable, planning one day to marry. Circumstances soon interfere with their innocent promises, but the couple is destined to be together, Anne the only comfort Richard will find in an increasingly difficult world.
Edward, the Warrior King, grows weary of war as he becomes more dissolute, but perhaps the most significant act of his kingship is the impulsive marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, with whom he is hopelessly enamored. Over time, the venomous Bess poisons her husband with whispers of the Neville’s incipient treason, salting the court with the divisive influence of Woodville interests.
Blind to the true nature of the queen, Edward is soon isolated from his family, increasingly at odds with them - especially the arrogant George and the Neville family. Bess achieves her objectives, but Richard remains close to his older brother, bound by blood and loyalty. Eventually Warwick breaks from Edward, supporting Henry of Lancaster in a bid for the English crown. After Warwick’s death, even Anne slips through Richard’s fingers, George in control of her fortune. Richard finds himself with little bargaining power in his quest for Anne, George claiming guardianship after Warwick’s death.
Grown from child to honorable young man, Richard abhors the infighting that surrounds the court, sure only of his love for Anne and his loyalty to Edward. Finally rid of Henry of Lancaster, Edward pursues an uneven kingship, trapped in the folly of his intemperate and disastrous marriage.
Meanwhile, without waiting to receive a dispensation to wed from the Pope, Richard and Anne are finally wed. Escaping briefly to his estate with Anne, Richard finds much satisfaction, newly awakened to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised, beginning a lifelong passion for equity before the law. His greatest challenges ahead, Richard prays for peace for the sake of his newborn son.