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Hugh and Bess: A Love Story

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,811 ratings  ·  131 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
Paperback, 287 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published October 29th 2007)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,811 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Amy Bruno
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Steven Peterson
Apr 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Regina Lindsey
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hugh and Bess by Susan Higgenbotham

Hugh and Bess by Susan Higgenbotham
3-1/2 stars

In what could be seen as a sequel to The Traitor's Wife, Higgenbotham follows the next generation of Hugh le Despenser's family. His son, by the same name, is desperately trying to right his family's name by showing loyalty to the king and averting the court's intrigue. Receiving blessing from the king to marry young Elizabeth de Montecute (Bess), who reluctantly acquiesces to her parents' demands, he tries to forge
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 14th-century
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
It was ok I guess. The ages of the characters didn't bother me, though I have read in the reviews that it did some. It wasn't really all that much about Hugh and Bess, more about what was going on at the time. The cover says "A novel following in the footsteps of Jean Plaidy..." and this is very true. Jean Plaidy's books were big on history, but she was not a good storyteller. (Among the most boring historical fiction I have ever read btw) SH is not nearly so bad, but the book did not pull me in ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
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
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
Cynthia Haggard
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
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 -
Rio (Lynne)
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Blodeuedd Finland
I read the book about Hugh's dad, and I must say this one was much better. This one I could actually enjoy. Though I do not like that she made it..cute? They liked each other too much. Is that fact or fiction?

Ok, Bess is told she must marry Hugh. She is 13, a widow, he is 30. The age thing did not bother me. Marry them away young before they do something stupid. It was the 14th century after all. They waited until she was mature enough for that other business.

Hugh is the son of a traitor. Bess t
Deborah Pickstone
I am somewhat bewildered by this novel - it appears to be about nothing. There are two characters but nothing happens to them - even the chap, we can only assume to have died - possibly - of the plague. Yes, he was the son of the dreadful Hugh le Despenser - another Hugh - quite a lot of them about! They were married for a short time, I presume she dreamt up the love story and she certainly dreamt up the lover (for him). The writer did write some nice dialoge but it was so bound up with historic ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had quite high expectations for this book but it all came off as rather... wishy-washy.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Turned out to be a romantic novel loosely based on some events in English history. My expectations were for a historical novel.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 :)
Mar 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
A girl, slightly spoiled and immature, bemoaning her arranged marriage with a much older man with a less than reputable family history. A man, haunted by his past, constantly trying to find opportunities to ingratiate himself with the royal family, and right the wrongs of his father, even if it comes at the cost of casting away the woman he loves in favor of marrying a young lady from a lofty family. All seem like a setup for a perfect historical novel that examines the nature of relationships i ...more
Katie Bee
Nov 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017-books-read
This one didn't work for me. I was expecting a historical fiction novel that used Hugh & Bess's relationship to explore the era more broadly, or at least to have some historical plot. But apart from Hugh's lingering angst about being the son of an executed traitor, it turned out to be quite light on the history. Instead, it was a melodramatic, cliched romance novel in which the author invented whole subplots to amp up the drama and left me with a slightly queasy feeling.

In brief, this is the
What a charming historical fiction. I don't recall such type of genre. I would name it "a gentle historical fiction".

First of all, one can see Susan Higginbotham knew what she wrote. She had to make a wide and deep research. It isn't simply a story which took place in the past, it is one of the book I call "historical-fiction-to-learn-history".

Secondly, there is an enchanting love story. And the fact it was a true story makes it even more fascinating.

Last but not least, the narration, the way H
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plantagenets
Fair warning: my copy does not have the subtitle of "A Love Story" that goodreads does, but it aptly describes the novel. Hugh and Bess is a lot of fluff, and very little substance. Luckily I already knew what to expect, and as a result I enjoyed the book for what it was. If you go in expecting a painstakingly accurate account of events along the lines of Sharon Kay Penman, then you're going to be disappointed. The focus is on the relationship of Hugh Le Despenser (son of the reviled Hugh Le Des ...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,
“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.” 2 likes
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