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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (716 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Carolly Erickson Narrator: Susan Lyons Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781427211088
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Wife of Henry VIII comes a novel about the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her fascinating cousin, Lettice Knollys, for the love of one extraordinary man.

Powerful, dramatic and full of the rich history that has made Carolly Erickson's novels perennial bestsellers, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen— her own cousin, Lettie Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettie soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a man so enamored of the queen and determined to share her throne that it was rumored he had murdered his own wife in order to become her royal consort. The enigmatic Elizabeth allowed Dudley into her heart, and relied on his devoted service, but shied away from the personal and political risks of marriage.

When Elizabeth discovered that he had married her cousin Lettie in secret, Lettie would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband's love and ultimately losing her beloved son, the Earl of Essex, to the queen's headsman.

This is the unforgettable story of two women related by blood, yet destined to clash over one of Tudor England's most charismatic men.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In her sixth historical novel, Erickson again displays her remarkable ability to paint an exquisitely realistic portrait of Tudor England. . . . This is much more than a historical romance; Erickson's attention to historical detail and the depiction of Elizabeth's struggle to maintain her control over her kingdom make for compelling reading. Fans might also be interested in one or more of Erickson's four Tudor biographies. Historical fiction fans can't get enough of the Tudors; this engaging story is a worthy addition to the genre. Library Journal

  • Erickson turns her attention to the dramatic love triangle that changed history. One man, Robert Dudley, held Elizabeth I's heart and Erickson draws on that love to bring the life of Elizabeth's cousin and rival, Lettie Knollys, to readers. Erickson portrays Elizabeth as a jealous woman, Dudley as a rake and Lettie as the innocent, endearing her to readers. Rival to the Queen gives this forgotten woman a place in history. RT Book Reviews (4.5 stars)
  • Erickson's knowledge and exacting recreation of how it really was in the 1500's is astonishing and adds much to the story. (It also reminds me that royalty of that period is not to be envied.) Beautiful, intelligent and independent, Lettice leads a life of luxury, but because of the times in which she lived and because of her beauty, her life was always lived on the razor's edge. . . . If you are a fan of Carolly Erickson or historical fiction, this book is for you. Affaire de Coeur
  • Erickson writes gracefully. Publishers Weekly
  • The romance between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley is a story that has survived the centuries, but what about the woman who married Robert, Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth's own cousin. . . . A new Carolly Erickson novel is a wonderful and decadent treat, eagerly awaited and Rival to the Queen is no exception. . . . Rival to the Queen shows that political sex scandals and intrigue are not a new thing, and that murder, romance, and power don't mix well for a happy ending. Fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory will want all of Carolly Erickson's books on their shelves, these are definitely novels you don't want to miss out on! Night Owl Reviews
  • Rival to the Queen is a richly detailed telling of a woman who falls in love with the man whom Elizabeth loves to dangle and toy with. From beginning to end, the life and times of Lettice Knollys is intricately portrayed, from her service at court, throughout her first marriage to Walter Deveraux, and on to the days when she meets and falls in love with Robert. She could easily have died for marrying a man--the queen's favorite!--without Elizabeth's consent, but instead she is banished from court forever. In part, Rival to the Queen is historical fiction blended with nonfiction, with a sprinkling of romance to boot! Romance Reviews Today

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bianca | 2/15/2014

    " An entertaining story especially for those who love the intrigue and mercilessness of royal women. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 2/3/2014

    " Good read... was nice to read about Elizabeth and another point of view of her life... would definitely recommend this to anyone. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 1/28/2014

    " To my fellow Tudor fans....skip this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juanita | 1/20/2014

    " So far I find this book fascinating. I did not know much about Queen Elizabeth 1's cousin Lettie Knollys. I highly recommend this if you like historical fiction, particularly Tudor or Elizabethan history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 ~terri | 1/18/2014

    " This book about Lettice Knolly's was really good. I don't know why I am so pulled into reading this time period but this book makes me want to keep reading more. I try to gain new insight from every book I read and this one did not fail. It moved along smoothly for me. I had read Jean Plaidy's "Myself-My Enemy" about Lettice and really enjoyed that one also. Looking forward to reading more of Carolly Erickson books. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jessica | 1/5/2014

    " Drags a little bit, vague. Hard to believe that THE Carolly Erickson wrote this :( "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie Jarrell | 12/13/2013

    " This story is about Queen Elizabeth's cousin, who ends up marrying the man that Elizabeth loves. It gives a different side of Tudor history. I liked this book, just because I like all things Tudor. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa DeHart | 12/13/2013

    " a quick and easy read about the rivalry between Queen Elizabeth and her cousin Lettice Knollys. Not too much detail but an enjoyable read "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lee | 12/12/2013

    " Not one of her best....I ended up skimming the last third of the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly | 11/28/2013

    " Another interesting look at Elizabethan times. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenn | 10/19/2013

    " Blah- Phillipa Gregory does it much better. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jami Buchanan | 2/25/2013

    " This was just really bad and poorly written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosie | 2/1/2013

    " very good as are her other books "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsey Cook | 1/4/2013

    " A good historical entertainment, fairly historicaly accurate, but there are some inaccuracies. The author admits that it isn't meant to be. And that's ok. She writes these books not to be biographys, but to interest you in the subject so you will want to learn more. Good book, entertaining "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shiela Beresford | 11/29/2012

    " I am loving this book so far. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Neal | 9/21/2012

    " Another good book about Tudor England. I enjoyed it! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joan | 1/21/2012

    " Not quite up to my standards for historical fiction; too much fiction and not enough history. Lettice's scenes with Dudley and particularly her last visit with Essex are emotional one can empathize with her. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carly | 10/21/2011

    " Too many discrepancies in this book. I like historical fiction but it has to be based in some kind of reality. If a book goes off on a tangent and starts chnging event places, times and invents characters that never existed it is going to lose its creditability, at least for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mlg | 9/30/2011

    " The story of Lettice Knollys, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, granddaughter of Mary Boleyn and the wife of Elizabeth's favorite, Robert Dudley. Erickson has a very spare type of historical prose, but easy to read. Some of the events of the book stretch credibility. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alyson | 6/9/2011

    " it was great! love the whole set up of the book. it gave a feel that I found this diary somewhere and was let in on this incredible secret story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Allison | 5/15/2011

    " Interesting perspective of a woman who has been vilified in history.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeanne | 4/22/2011

    " A sympathetic portrait of Marie Antoinette that I really enjoyed. I'd like to read another book by Carolly Erickson. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carissa | 3/29/2011

    " Really well done, great pacing, an extremely interesting yet reasonable way to examine her life. I really was surprised by how much I liked it. Very recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelli | 3/16/2011

    " I enjoyed this story of Marie Antoinette....I was surprised at how sad I was that she dies at the end....as obviously, I knew it was coming. I didn't get all worked up over historical acuracy....I enjoyed the story and the characters...real or not. I will look for more from this author. "

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About the Author
Author Carolly Erickson

Carolly Erickson is the bestselling author of many distinguished works of nonfiction and a series of historical entertainments, blending fact and invention. Her historical biographies include The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Her Little Majesty, and Alexandra. She lives in Hawaii.

About the Narrator

Susan Lyons has appeared on numerous television shows, including A Country Practice, Police Rescue, Something in the Air, and All Saints. Among her film credits are Winds of Jarrah and In a Savage Land. She is married to Tony Award–winning actor Jefferson Mays.