Thirteen year old Bess de Montacute is very unhappy to learn that her parents have chosen a husband for her. Her misery is complete when she learns that her intended husband is none other than Hugh le Despenser, whose father and grandfather were both executed as traitors. On top of that, he is twenty years older than she is. She detests him before they ever even meet.
For his part, Hugh has had a hard time of it. He was a prisoner for years after his father was killed and has done his best to show the King that he is loyal and worthy. His saving grace has been Emma, his childhood friend and lover for many years. She hasn't got the birth or wealth he needs to help him regain his family's lost place and so she refuses to marry him herself. With an aching heart, Hugh and Emma agree to sever their romantic relationship but remain close friends.
Though their marriage is frosty at first, Bess and Hugh gradually warm to each other and their growing relationship has a lovely tenderness to it. The many obstacles they encounter serve to draw them close together until neither can imagine why they had the feelings they both did at first.
This book is quite different from The Traitor's Wife , it is both shorter and less complicated. There are fewer outside characters and the tangles of court life are largely avoided. The stars of this story really are Hugh and Bess and their relationship, so the title is completely appropriate. The reader gets a rich, focused tale of complex emotional weight that is has a totally different feel than her first book did but is just as satisfying. I love Susan Higginbotham's books and am so looking forward to her next one!
Please visit the author's website for more information on her books and her fantastic blog for all kinds of cool historical stuff (it is one of my favorite blogs, always something interesting there!).
Hugh and Bess is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1527-8
This review is part of a blog tour. Here is a list of the rest of the participating blogs:
Musings of a Bibliophile (7/28)
Passages to the Past (8/1)
My Friend Amy (8/1)
Reading Adventures (8/2)
Jennifer's Random Musings (8/2)
Peeking Between the Pages (8/3)
Historical Novels.info (8/3)
Grace's Book Blog (8/4)
The Written World (8/5)
Mrs. Magoo Reads (8/5)
Historical Fiction (8/6)
Jenn's Bookshelf (8/6)
Book Addiction (8/9)
Steven Till (8/10)
Medieval Bookworm (8/11)
Carla Nayland (8/11)
The Literate Housewife Review (8/12)
Diary of an Eccentric (8/13)
Bookfoolery and Babble (8/14)
I have an extra paperback ARC copy to give away! To enter, just leave me a comment here. This contest is open WORLDWIDE! The winner will be drawn at random, enter thru midnight eastern on August 22. Below are some ways for you to earn extra entries. Please leave ONE comment for each thing you choose to do. You can combine your comments together if you like but please do not leave multiple comments for the same extra thing (for example, one comment if you fave at Technorati or subscribe via Feedburner, not three).
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Good luck everyone and many thanks to Sourcebooks for sending this to me for review!