Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Title: Brazen
Author: Katherine Longshore
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: June 12, 2014
Rating: 4 Stars
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?-Summary from Goodreads

I fell in love with this book right from the beginning and I read the whole thing in about 6 or 7 hours. Considering it’s a 500 page book I think I did pretty darn good. On the other hand, this review took me 3 or 4 days to write so maybe it’s not so impressive.

Brazen follows the story of Mary Howard who marries Henry ‘Fitz’ Fitzroy, Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, in the first chapter. While the young couple are married it is in name only, and they are not allowed to spend time together alone. Mary decides she wants to get to know Fitz and that is when things begin. Their romance is sweet and awkward which is refreshing change to the normal political alliances of the Tudor court. Mary believes she loves him, but at the same time she wonders if love even exists. All she knows is her parents abusive marriage and the constant adultery that is committed at court. She holds up Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage as true love, but we all know how that ends.

This book takes place towards the end of Anne Boleyn’s time as Queen. While you don’t need to read Tarnished to understand Brazen, they do act as part 1 and part 2 of Anne’s life. I really enjoyed the little nods here and there to things that had happened earlier in Tarnished.

Mary’s partners in crime are her friends Madge and Margaret (Henry VIII’s niece). Whenever those three are on the page together it shows that although hundreds of years have passed teenage girls haven’t changed. They help Mary navigate court life while also finding their own way and causing scandal themselves.

I love the Tudor era; all the scandal and intrigues of court. The people who lived in King Henry VIII’s court were playing a dangerous game and always had to be on their guard. I like to compare courtiers to spies, one of the many things they have in common is that the only way to stay alive is to leave the game. While trying to live up to the expectations of her family and the rules set by royalty Mary Howard tries to find some form of freedom for herself.

My favorite thing about Katherine Longshore’s novels is how she manages to capture the time period so perfectly. You can tell when reading her books that she researched a lot, but unlike some historical fiction Brazen does not get bogged down by the facts, it has heart and never gets dull. Brazen is the perfect combination of historical fact and creative license.

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