The Queen’s Rival: In the Court of Henry VIII
By Diane Haeger
I can’t pinpoint the moment I had my fill of Tudor stories but it occurred sometime in 2011. Yes, I lasted longer than most. I won’t pretend this will be my last either. Earlier this year I read a non-fiction book on Henry VIII and thought that would be my last but I forgot I had downloaded this to my Nook and found myself reading it when I needed something comforting — this is a setting I know well. I was out of town on a long business trip and I turned to it.
Elizabeth (Bess) Blount is a beautiful and naïve girl who lands a position in Queen Katherine’s household. This new position puts her directly in front of Henry VIII. Amazed by the opulence of the Court and especially by the King himself, she finds herself in a precarious situation. She can become the mistress to the King she believes she loves and in the process ruin her reputation and position with the Queen and possibly bring the downfall of her family. She picks Henry and gives him something he’s been wanting for years, a son.
While nothing about this story felt new, if you read enough books set in Tudor England nothing feels new, but it was well written and interesting. Parts were slow and at other times it felt as if large sections of Bess’s life were left out. We go from seeing her as a 14 year-old, and it feels as if only a few months worth of time, then she’s the King’s mistress and shortly after pregnant with his child. She finds a life outside of Court, and it’s a happy one at that, but it goes by so fast and I wondered when she turned 30. Besides that small quibble, it was good. A solid read.
I was wondering why I purchased this one considering I thought I was done with the Tudors and as it turns out it was for a challenge. So, now it appears I’m finished with The Royal Mistress Challenge. I ended on a good note then.