Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Queens Rival by Diane Haeger

Diane Haeger tackles the elusive story of Bessie Blount. Bessie, a romantic dreamer comes to court expecting to find Lancelot from Camelot. But in the court of Henry VIII, Lancelot is hard to find. When Bessie arrives, she is befriended by Elizabeth Bryan, and Gilbert Tailbois. Elizabeth catches the eye of Henry, but Bess assumes it is innocent flirtation. Meanwhile, Gil falls madly in love with Bess and is determined to show her. When Elizabeth unexpectedly becomes engaged to Nicholas Carew, Bess assumes its a family made match. While life runs on, Bess longs for her Lancelot, unaware of Gil's love.  Time marches on, and soon Bess finds herself dangerously close to Henry. Despite her loyalty to Catherine, Bess becomes Henry's mistress and lives happily knowing that she is loved. Oblivious to all but Henry's love, Bess lives enclosed in her own world. She soon finds herself pregnant. After giving birth and being replaced in Henry's affections, Bess is heartbroken, but oddly happy. She soon marries Gil, first for convenience, then for love. As Gil and Bess make a life away from court, Henry wonders about his long lost Bess and his only son. Henry decides to take his son from Bess, re-wounding her heart. It is not til Gil dies that Bess is reunited with her son. As both father and son try to pull Bess back into court to offset Anne Boleyn's rising star, Bess refuses and finds love once again. But life will never be perfect for Bess.
This is the first Bess Blount book that I am aware of. And I want more Bess Blount. Its so interesting to see the woman who shook more than one queen's throne. I love Diane Haeger's previous work, and this is another great book! Bess is a gentle soul, with no thoughts of wealth or rising favors. Bess reminds me a little of what Jane Seymour would have been like. Gil is perfectly dreamy. Forget Lancelot. Give me Gil!!! Like Haeger's other books, this one is lush and lovely. I also recommend The Ruby Ring and Courtesan. Both are wonderful books!
I won this book from Taylor at All Things Historical Fiction.
Thanks Taylor!!!! I loved it!

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