The Queen's Rival
Series or Stand Alone: In the Court of Henry VIII series, book three
Series Order: The Secret Bride, The Queen's Mistake
Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: New American Library
Author Site: http://www.dianehaeger.com/
My Rating: 4.5/5
Source: Received for review from publisher
As the beautiful daughter of courtiers, Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount is overjoyed when she secures a position as maid of honor to Katherine of Aragon. But when she captures the attention of the king himself, there are whispers that the queen ought to be worried for her throne.
When Bess gives birth to a healthy son the whispers become a roar. But soon the infamous Boleyn girls come to court and Henry's love for her begins to fade. Now, Bess must turn to her trusted friend, the illegitimate son of Cardinal Wolsey, to help her move beyond life as the queen's rival...
The Queen’s Rival is about one of King Henry VIII’s known mistresses, Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount. It was a very emotional read that put me directly in the court of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. I was both fascinated and horrified by the court lifestyle. The politics, rules, and hidden agendas are enough to make anyone’s head spin. The Tudor time period is another part of history that I avoided both in school and after I graduated. This novel was an introduction into an entire “new world” for me reading-wise.
I have no previous Tudor knowledge before The Queen’s Rival. I’ve also never read any of Haeger’s work before. And even though I don’t have anything to compare the novel to I still really enjoyed the way Haeger treated her characters. While some parts of the story are of course fictional, I felt there was a lot of honesty and raw intensity in each of the characters. Bess, while ignorant and innocent throughout the first part of the book, was a very strong, loyal, and romantic woman. There were times when I wanted to shake the girl, especially when she was younger. It’s easy from an outside point of view to judge all the parties involved and say “I can’t believe she’s letting him treat her that way…etc.” But I know first-hand how impossibly blind one can become when love is involved. Her relationship with the king was passionate and yet so obviously destined for heartache. I felt awful for Bess but I’m an emotional mess when it comes to relationships.
I liked reading the king’s point of view but I don’t know how factual it was to his true personality. Of course no one really knows Henry VIII’s true feelings or intentions. I liked seeing him portrayed as man who had internal conflict, although I didn’t like his actions or ultimate decisions. Like I mentioned earlier I haven’t read any books pertaining to this time period or Henry VIII himself so it was interesting to see Haeger’s take on things. I’m also looking forward to the other books in this particular series to see more of Henry VIII and the other characters.
I never watched the Tudors on TV but was always intrigued. I think after reading The Queen’s Rival I may have to look into watching the series. I do know I’ll definitely be reading more by Diane Haeger and more about England’s history. I think a lot of people will really enjoy reading about Bess, her relationship with the king, and finding out more about Henry Fitzroy (the only acknowledged natural son of Henry VIII). The Queen’s Rival is very emotional, informative and even relatable on a personal scale. It’s filled with stand-out characters in a time period that so many of us like to read about.
P.S. (cover talk)
I love the colors. It’s eye-catching and very pretty.