Rival to the Queen
St. Martin’s, Sep 28 2010, $25.99
Bloody Queen Mary orders Francis Knolly to kill the family tutor. Having no choice, he does his duty to the horror of his loved ones especially sixteen years old Lettie. However, Francis also understands in spite of his loyalty the Queen and her late father, he and family are condemned because they are related to Mary’s imprisoned half sister Princess Elizabeth.
Several years later, Elizabeth is now the queen and Lettie returns to court to serve her cousin. There she meets the queen’s consort Sir Robert Dudley. She falls in love with him and he persuades her to secretly marry him though he would have preferred to be Elizabeth’s husband; not out of love but to obtain more power. She is his second wife with rumors that Lady Any either was murdered or killed herself. She bears him a son who is royally executed and he also has an offspring out of wedlock with another lady of the court. Each of Dudley’s women feels the wrath of the queen.
The latest Carolly Erickson Tudor historical fiction (see the First Elizabeth and The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots) is an engaging tale that focuses on a rival for the affection of Dudley. Lettie is a courageous individual who knows she risks her life for love; while ironically her beloved comes across as a selfish hedonist. However, it is the portrait of Elizabeth that is difficult to accept as she is treated as a jealous angry beast with no redeeming virtues. Told by Lettie, sub-genre readers will enjoy her tale as The Rival to the Queen for Dudley’s affection.