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The Queen's Rival: In the Court of Henry VIII

The Queen's Rival: In the Court of Henry VIII

4.2 16
by Diane Haeger

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From the author of The Queen's Mistake comes the untold story of King Henry VIII's first well-known mistress.

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


From the author of The Queen's Mistake comes the untold story of King Henry VIII's first well-known mistress.

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...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Henry VIII's Court Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Diane Haeger is the author of several novels of historical and women's fiction, including four novels set in the court of King Henry VIII: I, JaneThe Queen's RivalThe Queen's Mistake; and The Secret Bride. She has a degree in English literature and an advanced degree in clinical psychology, which she credits with helping her bring to life complicated characters and their relationships. She lives with her husband and children.

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Queen's Rival 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
HistoricallyObsessed More than 1 year ago
Bessie Blount was a sweet heart. She was a good natured girl from the countryside at Kinlet. She spent her whole childhood with her big family 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 upon her arrival at court. It really did not help Bess that the first friends she made were with Henry's 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 when he was through with them. It was the thrill of the hunt Henry 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 the affairs of his kingly heart Bess really loved the man Henry was and the complex King that also ruled with a mighty fist over his court. When she first 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 Tudor 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?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite her frequent use of titles reminiscent of Lifetime movies and common phrases that become discordant in their repetition ("at the end of the day"), and despite the sappy, romance-like covers presumably chosen by her publisher, Diane Haeger is a respectably skillful historical fiction writer. She particularly shines at recreating the world of the classic European court with its politics and power plays, its intrigues and complexities, and its singular, larger-than-life personalities. Within the tradition of courtly historical fiction, Haeger has carved out a special niche for herself as a chronicler of courtesans, penning tales inspired by Europe's most influential royal mistresses. The Queen's Rival tells the story of country girl, Elizabeth "Bess" Blount, who arrives at King Henry VIII's court to serve as a junior maid to his wife, Queen Catherine. In time, however, Bess captures the eye and soon the heart of the King, thereby becoming the son-less Queen's greatest and most enduring rival. Haeger's Bess is neither Henry's first nor his last mistress, but she becomes his most significant for a number of reasons, the foremost of which is the genuine friendship she comes to represent for Henry both during their romance and long after Bess leaves behind the life of the honored, envied royal mistress. If not quite up to the measure of the superb 'Courtesan,' this novel is a solid, engaging read for new and old Haeger fans. It is particularly notable for its even-handed treatment of the principal female characters. If sweet, hopeful, guileless Bess can be guilty of blind ambition and heedless lust, then tragic, devout, fertility-challenged Catherine can be wily, calculating, and shrewd. Overall, it's good stuff: propulsive and entertaining.
OHARADN More than 1 year ago
I love historical fiction, This was my first by this author. It was ok. Bessie is not my favorite heroine. I found her too simple & niave(?). I prefer a stronger character. The 2 or 3 intimate encounters that are described in detail were not romantic or sensual in any way, I felt more like rather than Henry VIII having love for Bessie, he used her simply for his own gratification as he did with so many others. I may read another by this author but she won't be on the top of my list.
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Hillary White More than 1 year ago
I am glad that a book was finally written about the relationship between Henry VIII and Bess Blount. Henry was shown in a different light than most other Tudor novels, I thought. I actually was dreaming about the book, and just had to get up at 4:30AM this morning to finish it, then go back to bed! A great read.
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Becca220 More than 1 year ago
This has been the first book I've read by Diane Haeger and I really loved this book. I never really knew anything about King Henry IV's first son or the mother, so I thought it was really intersting. I also really liked how it kinda painted him in a different light, then all the other stories about him being cold hearted. This story showed that he actually loved her, so it was a very nice change. I can't wait to read more books by her!
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
Diane Haeger has written several historical fiction books but this is the first one I've read by her. I really liked this book so it's safe to say I will be reading more by her in the future. Especially since she writes about my favorite time in history. The story focuses on Elizabeth(Bess) Blount. Elizabeth comes to the court of Henry the VIII as a young, inexperienced girl from the country. She's grown up fantasizing about court life and about the King of England. She has to learn that things are not always as they seem at court. I really liked seeing her character grow throughout this novel. Bess falls in love with the King of England. Haegar described him exactly as the young King is described in the history novels. It seems any girl couldn't help but be attracted to the young, active, charming man. The attraction between Elizabeth and Henry VIII is so romantic. My heart broke for them at times. This story was very interesting and entertaining. I love how the author brought history to life with this story. The descriptions on court life, the beautiful gowns, and the intrigues were fantastic. In truth, I did not want this story to end. Overall I really liked this story. I definitely want to read more by this author.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Fourteen years old Bessie Blount is part of the retinue of Queen Katherine of Aragon. However, the precocious teen catches the eye of Katherine's wandering husband King Henry VIII. He wants her, which makes her an enemy of her employer. The monarch and the teenager begin a tryst, which ends when she becomes pregnant; replaced by the Boleyn sisters. When she gives birth to a son Henry, her baby is removed from her care and she is forced to leave court. She marries her friend, Lord Gilbert Tailbois and has three children with him before his death makes her a widow. She dies from consumption when she is in her thirties. The latest In the Court of Henry VIII historical thriller (see The Queen's Mistake), Diane Haeger focuses on the life of Bess Blount who was Henry's mistress when she was a teen only to be kicked aside when the Boleyn babes arrived at court. Ironically, their offspring is the only illegitimate that the lusty womanizing monarch recognized. Even with Bessie bringing freshness as a rarely used (if ever) character, the period has been the setting so frequently that fans of anything Tudor will find little fresh though "Bless 'ee, Bessie Blount" makes for an engaging biographical fiction anyway. Harriet Klausner