Posted By Claire on June 2, 2014
Last year I read and reviewed Katherine Longshore’s YA novel Tarnish, a novel which I thoroughly enjoyed due to Longshore’s engaging writing style and characterization, so I was more than happy to agree to reading and reviewing an ARC of Brazen and being part of the Brazen blog tour.
Brazen, which is due out on 12 June, follows the life of Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, from autumn 1533 to autumn 1536 – just three years, but ones that had a major impact on Mary’s life. These were the three years that saw Mary’s cousin Anne Boleyn go from the heights of power, as queen consort, to being executed as a traitor and they saw Mary being married off to the King’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. Little is known about the couple’s relationship, except that they were ordered not to consummate it, but Mary never married after Fitroy’s death. How did Mary and Fitzroy feel about the marriage? Did they get to know each other? How close were they? Did they love each other? These are the questions which are explored in Brazen.
Mary and Fitz are not the only characters the book focuses on, Longshore also allows readers to follow the stories of Mary’s friends, Madge Shelton and Margaret Douglas, and the men they know and love. All three girls serve the queen in a climate of courtly love flirtation, but find out to their cost the damage that gossip, loose tongues and twisted words can wreak.
Although Brazen is a YA novel, recommended for age 12 and upwards, I never felt like I was reading a teen novel. It was a riveting read and Longshore’s style and characterization gripped me from the start. I knew the history behind the story, I knew what was going to happen to Anne Boleyn and to Fitzroy, but there was still a sense of the unknown because of the exploration of Mary’s feelings for Fitz and his for her, and I loved that. I also loved the fact that it didn’t take a chapter or two to get going, the reader was taken straight into the action: Mary and Fitz’s wedding. I left the novel lying around and my husband picked it up and started reading it too – he got hooked, yet he’s not usually one for historical reads.
Brazen is a novel of friendship, love, loss, betrayal and death. It explores many themes within its main historical theme, and is also entertaining. I loved it and I know it’s a novel I will revisit.
Available 12 June 2014, Kindle and hardcover
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (June 12, 2014)
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?