The Queen's Rival

Diane Haeger, NAL, $15 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-451-23220-5
A hazy if disconcerting romantic glow hangs over Haeger's new Tudor romance (after 2009's The Queen's Mistake) featuring Bess Blount, one of lusty Henry the VIII's many conquests. Bess meets the king as an innocent, impressionable 14-year-old girl working in the service of Queen Katherine. As she wins his admiration—and ignites his desire—she makes an enemy of the queen. But her affair with the king is disrupted by pregnancy and the arrival of the Boleyn sisters at court. The son she bears is taken away and Bess leaves, eventually marrying her friend, Lord Gilbert Tailbois, and bearing him three children before his death. She then marries Lord Clinton and also bears him three children before dying of consumption in her late 30s. Although not as famous in Tudor lore as Anne Boleyn, Bess was only one of two women ever to bear Henry a son and Haeger suggests that her heart was forever bound to the king's despite his despicable reputation and the many other women with whom he consorted. Working with material more familiar than fertile, Haeger plots swiftly and fills the court with a plausible cast of characters. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
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