Hugh and Bess are Hugh le Despenser, son of the infamous traitor “Hugh the Younger” and Bess, daughter of William de Montacute the Earl of Salisbury. After Hugh’s father is executed for treason (drawn and quartered) he is imprisoned for several years, and even when released he is still tainted with the “sins” of his father. Hugh must eventually marry, although the very young Bess is none too thrilled with her parent’s choice of an older groom and a son of a traitor to boot.
The rest of the book details the relationship between the two, from a frosty beginning to one that culminates in a strong and loving marriage. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two, especially in the latter half of the book as Bess matures. I liked the banter between the two (ROFL when they went to court and she got a bit too tipsy), as well as getting glimpses of Joan of Kent and that old she-wolf Isabella. I also liked the way the author wrote the dialogue, she didn’t throw in all those let’s-try-and-make-this-sound-authentic words like “woe”, “tis” and “certes”, she just keeps it short and to the point. A refreshing change from some other books that I have recently sent flying.
While I did find the first half a bit slow paced (it might have been me, we did have just a tad bit of a record setting heat wave here), I was turning the pages at the very end to find out what happened next. I just wish it could have been longer with the secondary characters fleshed out more, but that’s just me, I like big fat books. I would definitely recommend you read The Traitor’s Wife first so that you have background knowledge of the period and Hugh’s father and the relationship with Edward II. I am very much looking forward to Higganbotham’s next book set during The Wars of the Roses, The Stolen Crown.
A big thanks to Susan for my copy of the book.