Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Brazen

Title: Brazen
Author: Katherine Longshore
Pages: 528
Format: E-ARC
Release Date: June 12, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile 
Rating: 5 Cows

Goodreads Description:

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?

When this book was pitched to me as something that fans of the CW's Reign would swoon over, I knew I had to have this book! Reign is my new favorite show so I am really into that time period. Now after reading Brazen, I am even more in love with it. I honest to goodness went and researched Henry VIII and how he is connected to Mary, Queen of Scots. I just had to know. I also learned this little rhyme to help you keep up with what happened to all of Henry VIII's wives:

Divorced, Beheaded, Died,
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

or if you want something a little more fancy:

King Henry the Eighth,
to six wives he was wedded.
One died, one survived,
two divorced, two beheaded.

Brazen isn't so much a love story in my opinion as it is a historical fiction story with a love story in it. Brazen examines life at court and what it is like to be a woman during that time. It depicts the dangers of having ambition and that unless you are the King, you are never safe. Just ask Anne Boleyn. 

I loved reading about the ins and outs of life at court. I had always thought it would be cool to live in that time period and be a Queen but after reading Brazen I'm not quite sure. I guess I never really thought about the other side of it: the pressure, lies, backstabbing, and constant wonder of whether you'll be imprisoned or beheaded. It wasn't a good time to be a woman, especially a royal one. 

I like that the book spans several years so we get to see Mary Howard and Fitz grow and become adults. The Mary and Fitz we see in the beginning of the novel are not the same as the ones at the end. I especially enjoyed seeing Mary's character develop. She goes from being this young girl only wanting to please her dad to a girl that is ready to stand on her own two feet. In a time when women had basically zero rights and their father or husband's title defined who they were, Mary pushes against that. She doesn't want to be defined by her father or husband and I loved that about her.

The pacing of this novel is a bit slower than that of an average YA novel but I think that has a lot to do with the fact it's historical fiction. Still, I didn't mind the slower pace. I actually found it a bit refreshing and just sat back and soaked the story in. 

One of the things I love about historical fiction is that you learn a great deal from the book. After the end of the book there is a note from the author that goes into detail about what is definitely true, what could have been true and what was made up. I was very happy to see that and enjoyed reading and learning more about that time period. 

I had originally rated Brazen with 4 cows but after writing my review and thinking about the book a little more, I am going to bump it up to a 5! It is probably closer to a 4.5 but I'll round it up! I agree with the idea that fans of Reign will enjoy this book. I haven't read the other two companion novels in this series but after reading Brazen I plan to. I highly recommend this book to fans of Reign or simply fans of historical fiction. You won't be disappointed!


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