From Goodreads: 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 and love begins to grow, the merciless plague endangers all whom the couple holds dear, threatening the life and love they have built.
My Thoughts: I apologize that this won't be a very lengthy review. Hugh and Bess is a sweet little love story about two people who didn't really want to marry each other but wound up falling in love with each other. It was a very simple story and at times it felt more like I was reading a short story rather than a novel. There wasn't a lot of depth to the story or much of a plot. I read The Traitor's Wife a few years ago and Hugh and Bess felt like a continuation of that book; it was almost like a really long epilogue in that you get to see what happened to Eleanor and Hugh le Despenser's children after Hugh was executed. While the book is mostly about their eldest son, Hugh (there are a lot of Hugh's in this book), their other children make appearances and the reader gets to see how their lives turn out.
I enjoyed the story but it wasn't really what I expected as it is completely different than any of the other books I have read by Higginbotham. Hugh and Bess were fun characters and I liked that there were a lot of more well-known historical figures thrown into the story (Edward III, the Fair Maid of Kent, Queen Isabella). I also liked how Higginbotham showed that despite Hugh's parentage, he was able to bring some sense of respectablity back to his family. In the beginning, he and his family were kind of blacklisted but by the end they had proved themselves to the king and everyone else. Overall, this is a nice, easy read that would be perfect to take to the pool on a hot summer day. 3 stars.