Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Brazen
Katherine Longshore
Viking Juvenile
[June 12, 2014]
egalley provided by publisher

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?

Oh Katherine Longshore, what you do to me (oh, it's what you do to meeeeeeeee /end Plain White T's reference).

Katherine Longshore does not write short books. This book? Over 500 pages. I read about 100 pages. Took a break, ate dinner, watched some TV, goofed off. Went to read a few more chapters before doing some other things...except instead I read the last 400 pages and didn't even get to shower like I meant to until after 3 in the morning. The writing and the story were just THAT gripping and Katherine Longshore is clearly an autobuy author for me.

Unlike her previous two books in this series, I didn't really know this story. I knew a little bit about Fitz's fate from watching The Tudors, but based on their portrayal and this story, it wasn't an accurate portrayal, so I had NO idea how this was really supposed to turn out. So besides just making for a more intriguing story where I don't know how it's going to turn out, it also enabled me to look at the story differently. I wasn't comparing Katherine's portrayal to others and trying to decide how much I agree with it based on what I know. I wasn't comparing the book to any other interpretations of the Tudor era because I didn't know any from this angle. I was able to see Brazen as Brazen, a heartbreaking love story with some serious politics, and nothing else.

And this was like the definition of a slow burn romance. Fitz and Mary were getting to know each other and really discovering their feelings and taking time to identify them. I thought it was such a unique way to go about a romance in YA. Mary asked the kind of questions about their relationship that I knew I would ask. She was insecure in herself because she was a kid, really, so she was totally off balance in her own marriage and I just felt that SO much. It meant that I really understood what Mary was feeling and that was really important as the book went on.

The way Katherine Longshore built the characters and the relationships was astounding. There was a pretty sizable cast, but I felt like I knew all of them and exactly where they stood with each other, but sometimes Mary and therefore my own perceptive changed. None of the characters or relationships were stagnant. They all grew and developed so it wasn't just Mary's story, even if the spotlight was on her. She needed the novel's focus, but the other characters weren't just going to sit there either.

I loved Mary and Fitz. They were complex and intriguing. I worried a little bit when they were introduced and definitely younger, only 14. That gets a little awkward reading about that age getting married and the voice of a younger teen wasn't what I was in the mood for, but I was silly to doubt Katherine Longshore. These two characters were crafted over the course of the pages and I just...God I loved them. So, so much.

There comes a point in the book where things start to hurt, but there's still pages left and I wondered why. What else could there be? Oh dear readers, I was naive. The ending was absolutely brilliant. Beyond amazing. It was evidence of the distance Mary came in the book and how her relationships have changed as she's gotten older and grown into herself. The ending I wanted just wasn't possible, so this was the next best thing.

I really think that Katherine's series works for anyone who loves history, but also for anyone who loves romance and political drama. The political drama is intense in ANY Tudor book. So much intrigue and backstabbing and gossip and maneuvering. And the romance was intense and just perfect. Unlike any I've seen in YA in a long, long time. Don't miss this book, is what I'm really getting at.

--Julie

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