As most of you know I am an avid Tudor’s lover. I find though that after reading about all of Henry VIII’s wives that most of the reads kick off right about when Catherine of Aragon is on the decline and Anne Boleyn’s star is on the rise at court. This novel is completely different in a special way in that it focuses on a different period of Henry VIII’s life. “The Queen’s Rival” is set in the earlier days of Henry’s rein which I really enjoyed. Mostly focusing on Henry’s earlier infidelities like the Duke of Buckingham’s sister mistress Elizabeth Bryan. Haeger masterfully covers one of historical fictions most elusive mistresses of Henry VIII: Elizabeth Blount or Bess as her friends called her. She was the first one to give the King his hearts greatest desire, a flesh and blood living son.
Bess was a sweetie, good hearted and a good natured girl from the countryside at Kinlet. She spent her whole childhood with her big family and dreaming of a life of grander things at the Tudor court. Bess was naive in all the right places for Henry VIII to notice her at court. It really did not help Bess that she was best friends with his current treat of the moment Elizabeth Bryan. I found that Bess was different than the previous women in Henry’s life; she was not like Elizabeth Bryan or Jane Poppincourt in the fact that she truly loved Henry and was not blind to his faults. It would be Bess who gave Henry his heart’s desire, a son. His queen Catherine of Aragon physically could not give him what he wanted and so desperately needed not just as a king of England but also as a man. Henry always got what he wanted and was very fickle when it came to his liaisons with women. He had no qualms about passing off his seconds to his friends. It was the thrill of the hunt he really wanted but it also seemed like once Henry got what he wanted he dropped it like a bad habit especially when it came to affairs of King Henry’s heart
Bess really loved the man Henry was and the complex King that also ruled with a mighty fist over his court. When she came to court to be a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine Aragon, Bess had naive dreams of a real Lancelot coming into her life and stealing her heart away in a state of romantic bliss. Sadly Henry had turned into her Lancelot and we all know how his infidelities typically went. Henry is best known for his six wives but I found this novel opened a window into the early life of the passionate Henry that I always wanted to envision. Bessie Blount’s romantic heart led her to the king and she gave him the one thing no one else could, a prized son but at what cost?
- PG-13 Vague Sexual Reference
- FTC-Sent by the Publisher