Book Review: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

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Synopsis: 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?

Why I Chose This Book: I got this book as a prize for beating my sister at the 2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge last year. Being obsessed with historical fiction, specifically anything set in Henry VIII’s court, I have had this on my radar since it started getting publicity. As soon as it was in my hands, I started devouring it.

First Impression: My one disappointment with this GORGEOUS cover is that the jewel under the z is off center. This was so distracting!!! It drove me so crazy that I just took the dust cover off and left it on the shelf.

What I Liked: I loved that Anne Boleyn was such a large part of this book! She’s my favorite historical figure and I love seeing her from different perspectives because so much of her life is uncertain. Fitz was so sweet and I really grew to love Mary. Her poetry is gorgeous. She has a love of words that many bookworms will super relate to: “I flinch a little at the word. [Concubine]’s not as bad as whore. The round u and long i make it taste almost fruity. But the hard c’s are like seeds, puckering the mouth.” There’s so much of this almost tasting of words, and it’s such a gorgeous way of connecting to Mary.

There are many quotes I wrote down in my notes just so I could share them.

“There are some people who make an impact as soon as you meet them. Lodge themselves in your mind. Embed themselves in your very soul. Anne Boleyn is one of those people.”

“Power undetected is not the same as powerless.”

“‘What does love feel like, your majesty?'”
“‘It’s like music only plays when you’re together. Like the very air tastes of strawberries. And like one touch-one look-could send you whirling like a seed on the wind.'”

“‘And when he looks at her- have you seen it?'”
“‘It’s like his gaze is a nod. As if he agrees not only with everything she says but with everything she is.'”

SO BEAUTIFUL, AM I RIGHT?!

Another very cool thing in this book is that it describes how the Devonshire Manuscript came to exist. The semester after I read this, we actually studied the Manuscript in class and it was so amazing to see history and fiction combine. I highly recommend looking into the Devonshire Manuscript whether you read this book or not.

What I Didn’t Like: In the first few pages, Mary spends a whole paragraph describing her surroundings, and ends it with “My eyes never left him.” Sure, Mary. You just have all-encompassing peripheral vision. I had to put down the book for a little bit after that, but thankfully it got much better. It really took my breath away, and I grabbed Tarnish (Longshore’s book from Anne Boleyn’s perspective) as soon as I could afford it.

Ratings and Recommendations: Good for anyone that loves historical fiction, Henry VIII, Tudor court, or seeing history through the eyes of a young girl and her friends.

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: I’m really excited to read more of Longshore’s work and see how she uses real events to bring history to life.

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? What’s your favorite setting for historical fiction? Let me know!

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