Brazen – Review

You’re supposed to be the person you are, faithfully and truly, because that’s how you were made. 

Brazen by Katherine Longshore was beautiful. Lush with good writing and truths about love and life, I fell into the book slowly. It felt like a walk in a rose garden; sprawling out lazily, with a natural grace.

Brazen is about love and all the hurt, passion, joy, betrayal and jealous it evokes in a person, and how it can change a person for the better – or worse.

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?

I like this cover. It’s not an eye-catcher, but it’s pretty. The title is raised text, so I love the dimension it adds to the cover.

What I loved the most about this book was the way she identified emotions through taste:

Shame tastes like ashes, and guilt like soured ale, and both hang heavy on my tongue.

Brazen seemed far too interesting to be history! Katherine Longshore does a magnificent job of weaving fiction into fact, that were the characters not so well-known historically, I could have imagined they were entirely fictitious, merely set in the 16th century.

Fitz and Mary were amazing. I loved seeing the arc of their relationship from married-but-no-clue-who-the-other-is to madly-hopelessly-treacherously-in-love. I didn’t expect to love Fitz, but right from the beginning, I knew:

For the first time, I really look at him. Try to see the whole and not just the parts. The eyes, brows, nose, mouth, chin, encompassed by a face still round with a boyhood completely at odds with his bold self-confidence. He raises an eyebrow into the flop of hair. Definitely an invitation. 

The only thing I wished for Mary was that she would stop peeping at the world and open her eyes! She was so naive and entirely too trusting about people’s motivations and the priority they would place ambition, power, and love. I would have loved a look at the Mary we hear about in the author’s note. The one who fought for years to own what was hers.

I cried, at one point. I didn’t think I would, but I did because Katherine Longshore did such a beautiful job of painting the emotions that I was hard-pressed not to. Especially when this came, enveloped by a page of white:

But he does. 

This book was near-flawless. As I look through my reading notes, I realize the majority of them are quotes that I found to be so moving or true and real to life, I had to put them down and remember them:

“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.”

“We could all aspire to have someone love us that much” 

*

“You will make mistakes,” she says. “But you will also set precedents.” 

*

“It doesn’t matter if the space between us is an inch or the length of the room or nonexistent. I belong with you. Wherever you are, I’m complete.” 

*

“I don’t think it matters when you know [that your love is real],” she says. “Just that you do. And when you do know, you hold on to it. You don’t break it for anyone.” 

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