Hugh and Bess: A Love Story
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Hugh and Bess: A Love Story

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,044 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Forced to marry Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, Bess de Montacute, just 13 years old, is appalled at his less-than-desirable past. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he really loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past, can Hugh and Bess somehow make their marriage work?
Just as walls break down an...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published October 29th 2007)
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Misfit
Hugh and Bess are Hugh le Despenser, son of the infamous traitor "Hugh the Younger" and Bess, daughter of William de Montacute 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 deta...more
Amy
Elizabeth de Montecute (Bess) is not a happy camper when she learns she is to be married to the son of the notorious Hugh le Despenser, lover to King Edward II. The fact that the son is nothing like the father does nothing to assuage her displeasure.

Now, Hugh is no more thrilled about the arrangement than Bess, but he’s a realist and when the king offers you an heiress and daughter of his closest advisors, you take it!

After the grisly execution of his father, the third Hugh le Despenser was imp...more
Sara
After reading and loving The Traitor’s Wife, I eagerly anticipated Higginbotham’s sequel of sorts, Hugh and Bess. When it finally did arrive, I became so wrapped up in the soapy romantic drama that I dropped everything and finished it in a day. The story centers on a young Elizabeth de Montacute or Bess, the daughter of favored Earl and the much older, Hugh le Despenser, a wealthy (yet disgraced) Lord. Hugh’s grandfather and father were executed as traitors, and Hugh’s father was accused of adul...more
Lisa
Not to be over dramatic, but this book came at the PERFECT time in my life. I literally JUST finished “Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden, and while not being a BAD book, it was not an overly HAPPY one. And from the first sentence of Hugh and Bess I knew that it was going to be a delightful read. Which it totally WAS. I LOVED IT.

I really do not know much about Edward II, but interestingly enough I DID know about the standoff at Calais so parts of the book were very cool for that reason. What I LO...more
Steven Peterson
I enjoy historical fiction, with the emphasis more on the history than the fiction. In this tale written by Susan Higginbotham, the emphasis is more on the story of an historical couple than the history itself. But it works nicely!

One of the key protagonists in this novel is Hugh le Despenser. Seldom could anyone have been so unlucky to have acquired a name! His father and grandfather had also had that name, and they died being tortured and disgraced because of their hold over the rather weak Ed...more
Orsolya
Many women have been forced to marry men with dubious pasts. Bess de Montacute had to marry one with a disgraced father and grandfather: Hugh le Despenser. Susan Higginbotham brings the relationship to life in “Hugh and Bess”.

Similar to “The Traitor’s Wife” which precedes “Hugh and Bess”; the novel begins with a slightly slow and uneventful pace. Not only does it seem as though Higginbotham is unsure of her initial writing (this was my same complaint in “The Traitor’s Wife”) but the text is over...more
Alaine
This books does have a link to Susan Higginbotham's previous release The Traitor's Wife but it is not necessary to read it first. I've got both books but decided to read Hugh and Bess first, primarily because it is smaller and I don't have a lot of time on my hands at the moment. It was very easy to slip into the 1300's and the difficulties of life during that time.

Hugh Le Despenser's father and grandfather where executed when Hugh was a young man. He spent months in prison but eventually was re...more
Isis

Hugh and Bess, sequel to The Traitor's Wife, felt to me more like an extra treat for readers who loved the Despensers in the latter novel and want to know what happened to them next, rather than a standalone novel in its own right, let me just say that straight off the bat. It's a good book with a sweet story at its heart, but those expecting the same type of novel as The Traitor's Wife won't get it. Hugh and Bess is not the sweeping epic that The Traitor's Wife is and is instead a cosy characte...more
Jennbarnes
Hugh and Bess is the story of Hugh le Despenser and his marriage to Bess de Montacute during the reign of Edward II in England. I would say it falls into the Historical romance category but it is by no means a bodice ripper, in fact I thought it was a very sweet love story. Most of the first half of the book is taken up by the back story of Hugh's family and his life before he met Bess. I liked that the author explored the human side of his father and did not stereotype him based on what history...more
Tara Chevrestt
Hugh is the son and grandson both of traitors who have been executed. Bess is much dismayed at being told that she is to marry him and at the mere age of thirteen. Thankfully, he must wait one year to bed her. But when that year is up...

This is not an exciting, pulse pouding tale. There is no great mystery. Nor is there scandal to make one gasp in shock or dismay. Rather, it is a love story. It is about marriage and how if nurtured properly and with an open mind, a seed can become a flower. It i...more
ladywallingford
I had meant to read this one right after I read The Traitor's Wife by the same author but alas, here I am over a year later and just now finishing it.

Hugh and Bess is a sequel to The Traitor's Wife (with a few flashbacks from the point of view of Hugh le Despenser the son) and tells the story of the marriage between Hugh and Elizabeth de Montacute.

What I didn't like: I didn't always know the emotion of the scene. The biggest example coming to mind is the morning after Bess gets drunk and flirts...more
Amanda
In the novel Hugh and Bess, historical author Susan Higginbotham returns to fourteenth century England. In what is more of a continuation or sequel to The Traitor's Wife than a stand-alone novel, Higginbotham explores the life of Eleanor le Despenser's oldest son Hugh, heir to the Despenser family. As the son of a convicted traitor, Hugh must rebuild his family's reputation and take care of his younger siblings while navigating court games and ever-changing intrigues.

In particular, Higginbotham...more
Nattie
This was a good quick read. Only a drag or two here and there. The same cannot be said about Susan's The traitor's wife, I read that one a couple days before this and I still have an ache in my head.
As good as this book is, it got on my nerves something awful. Bess is still 12 when set to marry Hugh, and 13 when they wed. Her father asks Hugh not to "take" his little Bess until she is 14. No matter how many times I come across such doings in historical fiction, my lip still curls. Children, usua...more
Cynthia Haggard
HUGH and BESS by Susan Higginbotham continues the story of the le Despencer family begun in her first novel TRAITOR’S WIFE, by talking about the heir of Hugh le Despencer the Younger (also called Hugh le Despencer), and his young wife Bess de Montacute. As the back-cover copy says, who would want to marry this Hugh le Despencer? For he is the son and grandson of traitors. Yet fourteen-year-old Bess de Montacute is told she must marry this fellow.

She is not pleased.

What follows is a love story i...more
Ana T.
I've heard much about Susan Higginbotham's books but I had never tried any when this Hugh and Bess attracted my attention. I know that it is not her first book and that the first - The Traitor's Wife - is a sort of prequel to this story but since I already had this one I couldn't resist picking it up.


I did find it a nice, fast read. It is mostly a romance but with a strong historical background that gives you an idea of what was happening in England at the time. Besides the main families here -...more
Gaile
An easy and dreamy read, written against the background of the reign of Edward III.
Young Elizabeth De Montacute is first married while still a child. The groom being old, the
marriage was never consummated and on his death Bess returned to her home only to find
herself betrothed to another, Hugh Le Despenser, whom father and grandfather had been
executed for treason. Bess is defiant, Hugh reluctant being in love with another. The
marriage contract is hammered out with all the vigilance of a mortga...more
Rio (Lynne)
This is the follow up to The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II. You can read it alone, but I don't think you will enjoy it as well if you don't read them in order. The first 75 pages recaps what happened from Hugh's experience during The Traitor's Wife, which I enjoyed. In this book Hugh is trying to bring honor back to the le Despenser name. As for "the love story" I never warmed to Bess. She acted more like a 14 year old in current times, than a 14 year old in medieval times. I...more
Jenny
The best thing I can say about this book is that it helped me sort out the Edward II-III part of English history. But flashcards would have done the job, too-- and been more challenging. Boo.
Lady Jane Grey
Pleasantly surprised! I heard the other books by this author aren't as well written as this one, but I am excited to read them and see for myself :)
Dixie
Turned out to be a romantic novel loosely based on some events in English history. My expectations were for a historical novel.
Anea
I had quite high expectations for this book but it all came off as rather... wishy-washy.
Karen
Touted as the next Jean Plaidy, this author doesn't even come close! Pedantic, with dumb downed prose, she makes history look like a day in the 21st century. Historical details completely lacking, Susan Higginbotham uses this to create a story based in her imagination, which is absolutely uninspired. Blah doesn't begin to describe the actual storyline, it goes more like this - blah, blah, blah. Using historical figures in a way that is highly unhistorical, I didn't find any pleasure in reading a...more
Veens
Set in the 1300s, Hugh and Bess by Susan Higginbotham is a great historical novel about 2 people brought together by fate and there lives under the rule of Edward III.
Elizabeth de Montecute (Bess) is not happy when she learns that she is to be married to Hugh Le Despenser whose father, Hugh Le Despenser the second, was the lover to King Edward II and who was executed in a very gruesome manner along with his grandfather. Young Hugh after the death of his father had to spend sometime in prison un...more
Tiffany
What would be your first reaction if your parents arranged a marriage for you? What if the spouse they chose was the child of one of the worst traitors of your time? What would you do if you discovered you really did love them?

Who?
Hugh le Despenser: The son and grandson of two traitors to the English crown who is trying to redeem his family name.
Bess de Montacute: The daughter of the Earl of Salisbury, future wife of Hugh.
Emma: Hugh's childhood friend and mistress.
Will de Montacute: Bess's brot...more
Kirstin
Susan Higginbotham, you did not let me down. This is my third book of hers and I think it was my favorite. It is a love story at its roots and you really do find yourself cheering Bess and Hugh along in their relationship. It was an arranged marriage, of course, and Hugh's family history didn't exactly make him the ideal husband. Bess soon learns that one's past isn't everything after all.

This book was an easy read and very enjoyable. There aren't any big surprises or twists and turns, but it di...more
Jill Myles
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
This is a very quick, easy read that focuses almost entirely on Hugh le Despenser and Elizabeth de Montacute, fondly known as Bess. It is a very effective sequel to "The Traitor's Wife," and provides a brief view of the political climate following the downfall of the Despenser family (the storyline of the previous book) as well as the advent of what became known as the Black Death.

It was interesting to follow Hugh and Bess's marriage as it developed through the rocky days of their early union an...more
Marie
Feb 26, 2010 Marie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Hugh and Bess is the medieval story of two people who were not a love match at first sight. Young Bess Montagu expected to marry high due to her father's (William Montacute, 1st Earl of Salisbury) high standing in the royal ranks. She never expected to have to marry a man whose very name of Despenser was known as traitorous, due to both Hugh's father and grandfather having been executed at Queen Isabella's orders in 1326. But Hugh was working hard to restore his family name, and he knew it woul...more
Lauren
Hugh and Bess is the sequel to The Traitor's Wife. It is a much lighter novel than The Traitor's Wife however, focusing on the efforts of Hugh Le Despenser to overcome the stigma of being the son and grandson of traitors. After years of striving to prove his loyalty to the crown, Hugh becomes engaged to the teenaged Elizabeth de Montacute (Bess). Bess is horrified to learn about her betrothed's family history and is forced to marry him against her will. Against the odds, Bess learns to love her...more
Lori Anderson
I really enjoyed Higgenbotham's first book, "The Traitor's Wife", so was looking forward to "Hugh and Bess". Unfortunately, I didn't think this book held up. It could have been the history itself -- "The Traitor's Wife" had a far more active story to build upon, while "Hugh and Bess" was a calmer love story. I also kept finding myself comparing her to Sharon Kay Penman, which was totally unfair -- Penman is just hard to beat.

The book was far from horrible, and I did enjoy it -- it just didn't ro...more
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I am the author of two historical novels set in fourteenth-century England: The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II and Hugh and Bess. Both were reissued in 2009 by Sourcebooks.

My third novel, The Stolen Crown, is set during the Wars of the Roses. It features Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Katherine Woodville, as narrators. My fourth novel, The Queen of Last Hopes,...more
More about Susan Higginbotham...
The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou Her Highness, the Traitor The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Infamous Family

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“Hugh had led men into battle with success and was on reasonably good terms with the king, though they would never be intimates; in any case, his father had been so close to his king that this would probably have to suffice for whole generations of Dipensers.” 1 likes
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