The Queen’s Rival by Diane Haeger
Source: I received a copy from the publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review
Release Date: March 1st 2011
Release Date: March 1st 2011
Setting: It’s 1513 and Henry VIII is King of England. He is desperate for a male heir, which his wife Queen Katherine of Aragon has failed to produce. In order to take his mind off his duties as king and relieve some stress due to the of a male heir, Henry decides to turn his attention to the beautiful young ladies of the Queen’s household.
Synopsis: Little Elizabeth “Bess” Blount is just a little country girl who dreams of one day going to court and becoming one of the Queen’s ladies just like her mother. Bess finally gets her chance at court life when her mother decides to give up her position in the Queen’s apartments in order to take care of her father who has been injured while fighting in France among the kings soldiers.
Upon her arrival, Bess is put in her place by being constantly reminded that she is only there based on a personal request from her father. All the Queen’s maids have titles and she is merely Mistress Blount. Court life is nothing like she expected. She soon learns that Queen Katherine is a pious woman and is disappointed when she discovers that the Queen does not condone music or dancing in her apartments while she is with child. As a result, all of Bess' fantasies about the glamorous and exciting life at court is squashed.
Bess did not expect to feel the overwhelming feeling of being homesick; however, her spirits are lifted when she makes friends with Elizabeth Bryan and Gilbert Tailbois who are notorious for causing trouble at court. When the king finally returns to court after being fighting in France, the atmosphere of the court becomes more cheerful and glamorous just like Bess always dreamed it was. When she is finally introduced to the King, Bess becomes completely in infatuated with him. After watching her friend Elizabeth flirting and capturing the attention of both the king and his closest friends, it was obvious to Bess that she is way behind the other court ladies when it comes to charming young gentlemen of the court.
It did not take long for Bess to start capturing the attention of the king with her youthfulness and charming naivety. It becomes so hard for her to fight her feelings towards Henry. She feels that by giving in to her true desires she will be betraying the Queen who has so graciously excepted her into her household. By giving in to her temptations and becoming the king's mistress, Bess gives Henry something he has desired more than anything in the world, but what will it cost Bess in the end?
Review: Diane Haeger has done it again everyone! Haeger is an amazing writer who knows how to capture every minute detail. She peered into the life of King Henry VIII as a young man who is battling his emotions and learning how to control them. This is a new side of King Henry VIII that I haven’t seen portrayed be any other author. The book gets its name The Queen’s Rival because Queen Katherine views Bess as a threat to the king’s heart and soul, which she has lost due to her failure of providing a male heir.
This was such a refreshing read because Bess Blount’s story is a side of Tudor history that hasn’t found its way in many historical novels. Bess has only been briefly mentioned in Tudor novels as being his most loved mistress who provided him with something no other has been able to give King Henry.
I loved this book! It was so beautifully written and I could not help but to fall in love with Bess Blount. It was such a romantic story that I would recommend to all HF lovers and especially Tudor fanatics like myself!
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