Review: Rivals in the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan

by D.L. Bogdan

Publication Date:  April 26, 2011
Kensington Publishing


The death toll in Henry VIII's England can be counted in the thousands. No one was more aware of this than Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk. Relying on his indomitable force of will, cleverness, and sheer good fortune, Thomas Howard manages to be one of the king's only intimates to survive an unforgettable reign of terror. This impeccably researched companion piece to "Secrets of the Tudor Court" chronicles the ambitious duke's life, loves, and remarkable capacity to endure. Before he was the king's uncle, before he was his nieces' ultimate betrayer, Thomas Howard was a hostage at the court of Henry VII while his father was imprisoned in the dreaded Tower of London. There he would marry the queen's sister, his forever princess Anne Plantagenet. While he founded a dynasty, his career as soldier and sailor brought him acclaim and the trust of the Tudors. But when unspeakable tragedy robs him of family and fortune, Thomas must begin again. Abandoning notions of love, Thomas seeks out an advantageous match with the fiery Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of the duke of Buckingham. Clever, willful, and uncompromising in principle, the young duchess falls victim to a love she cannot deny. When Thomas takes on a mistress, the vulnerable Bess Holland, Duchess Elizabeth prepares to fight for all she holds dear. Only then does she learn she faces a force darker than anything she could ever have imagined, an obsessive love that neither she nor Bess can rival. 


In Rivals in the Tudor Court, author D.L. Bogdan explores the life of Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, whom readers will remember as the cruel father of Mary Howard in Bogdan’s first novel, Secrets of the Tudor Court

Thomas Howard
The man who would become a prominent member at the Tudor courts, serving two Tudor kings (Henry VII & VIII) and a Tudor queen (Mary I) started off life in a cold and loveless home, with a violent grandfather who never lost an opportunity to drill into Thomas the importance of being a Howard – something he would never lose sight of throughout his life. Ambitious and ruthless and eager to bring honor back to the Howard name, Thomas’ star rises high in the court of Henry VIII, becoming a close confidante of the monarch and ultimately, royal matchmaker. By leading his two beautiful young nieces, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, into the arms of the king, Thomas is rewarded with royal favor, titles and money. And as soon as Henry finds cause to get rid of his wives, Thomas is the one who leads them to the scaffold.  For his part in the two failed marriages Thomas will also find himself being threatened to share his niece's fate.

Rivals in the Tudor Court also focuses on Thomas’ love life. In his first marriage to Anne Plantagenet, Thomas found true love but suffered great loss, causing him to become cold and angry, never allowing himself to get close to anyone. His second marriage to the formidable Elizabeth Stafford was tumultuous to say the least and is covered extensively in the novel, as is Thomas’ relationship with his mistress Bess Holland. The two women couldn’t be more opposite, excepting their love for Thomas and their strong survival instinct.

Bogdan has once again written a riveting novel that this reader found hard pressed to put down! Like Bogdan’s first novel, Secrets of the Tudor Court, I thought Rivals in the Tudor Court was engrossing and entertaining. One of the things that I love about Bogdan’s writing is her ability to provoke emotions from the reader. With wonderfully fleshed out and three-dimensional characters, Rivals will draw you in and keep you captivated! Highly recommended!

Favorite Quote: “It seems sons are destined to lead lives of glory; to them we hand our fortunes and our names and our titles. But the daughters, they are a mother’s salvation. To them we hand our hearts.”

Soundtrack: Breakdown by Seether | Love the Way You Lie by Eminem & Rihanna

For more information please visit D.L. Bogdan's WEBSITE and BLOG.

FTC:  I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.



  1. I'm fascinated by the Tudors, and this one sounds very good.

  2. I am still new to the Tudor court, although they are one of my favorites. I am trying to remember who Thomas Howard is from the TV show! lol

    I am reading The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory right now. I am loving Catalina (Katherine of Aragon).

  3. I have always been intrigued by the Tudors. Quite a turbulent era that has birthed many works of historic fiction. Great review!


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