Author: Katherine Longshore
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: June 12, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Book Summary (from Goodreads)
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?
Brazen, by Katherine LOngshore, is a novel set in Tudor England, in one of the most written about time periods around. That being said, I’m a sucker for a novel about Tudor England. But while I love them, they have the potential to be tired before you even begin. Mainly because people choose to write about the same people over and over. Longshore manages to choose a character here that few people ever even remember existed. That’s really what made me want to pick up the book in the first place.
Few books ever get around to writing about Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s bastard son. No one that I know of has ever bothered to remember that he had a wife. This novel is told from Mary Fitzroy’s point of view, and I enjoyed it. Mary is an oddity in court. Her parents are at odds, physically at times, and she is uncertain and easily led at the beginning, even when she doesn’t want to be. She’s honest, sometimes when she shouldn’t be, but learns how to cover that as well in a way that doesn’t deviate from herself, but isn’t going to get her into trouble either.
The author also includes a peculiar character trait that I loved. LOVED. Mary is a synesthete – to her, words (or at least some words) have a taste. Her descriptions of them are lovely, and often hold their own meaning in regards to what Mary is thinking or what is going on around her. Her character growth from beginning to end is really well done. It isn’t unbelievable and is actually pretty subtle. Only when you really think about the beginning do you realize that she did make some serious personal growth and choices.
Her relationship with Henry Fitzroy is a major running thread, and it is an important one, but it isn’t the whole story. To me, her relationship with him is a secondary plot line to her finding her own way in the world. That being said, I loved their relationship. The beginning was rocky and exactly like you think it might have been. Henry is a likeable character, though I must admit that I was having some issues with becoming too involved, because I knew what was going to happen to him. (I won’t say, just in case someone doesn’t know)
The book and its twisting relationships and its weaving of history and fiction are really well done. The author’s notes in the back explain how the author has modified and filled in history for the story, and I really think she did a great job. I especially enjoyed the note about Mary’s book and how it was based on a real manuscript. I found that really surprising and interesting and will be looking into more information about it.
My only complaint, and the reason this book received three stars instead of four, was because there were times when I had to force myself to continue reading. It wasn’t boring – it just couldn’t quite keep my attention until well into the second half. Part of that is the nature of the beast. Tudor historical fiction set in the court has a large cast of characters and all have a part to play. You have to know some of what’s going on, and the secondary characters of Hal, Madge, Margaret, and even Anne Boleyn and King Henry have parts that weave in and out of Mary’s own history. Some of this may also be due to the timing of my reading the book – as I have some big events going on in my life at the moment and it’s hard to concentrate, so take that for what it’s worth.
The last scene between Henry and Mary made me cry, which is rare, and I really think the author did a fabulous job of conveying emotion in this book – not just here but throughout. I really got to know Mary and I really wanted her to win. I wanted to see her happy and to succeed.
So – If you’re a fan of Tudor historicals, this is a good book to try. You may get a little bogged down in the middle, but the book is a good one overall.
Where to Find the Book
Book was purchased by reviewer.