Home / Book Review / Tudor-Era YA Fiction | Book Review: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Tudor-Era YA Fiction | Book Review: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

If you’re looking a YA historical fiction book that’s both bawdy and demure, Brazen is the book for you! Despite divorcing and beheading numerous wives, Henry VII knew how to PARTY, ok?

Book Review: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

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brazen katherine longshore book review

Title & Author: Brazen by Katherine Longshore/p>

Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction

Release Date: June 12, 2014

Series: Companion to Gilt & Tarnish

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

How I Got the Book: Copy from 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?”

For True History Buffs

Note: Brazen is a companion book to Gilt and Tarnish. You do not have to read the other books to successfully follow along with this story.

Brazen was my first Katherine Longshore book, and my first YA historical fiction read in awhile. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of loving your own husband, yet being forbidden from true intimacy (and I mean that in its full definition).

Although I’ve read historical fiction books before, Brazen stands above them all. It’s got a richness of detail that is marked. And the historical accuracy is very, very close to the actual events. I don’t mind when a book deviates from what really took place, but in this novel the small changes that were made only added to the sweetness of the story.

For example, no one can know with certainty that Mary Howard had feelings for her own husband, but the idea that she could have, and that it was forbidden is quite romantic and silly by our modern-day standards.

It’s not that she and Fitz couldn’t be in love, it was that because Fitz was the illegitimate son of the king and the only male heir, he could have been made king. And, the king didn’t want him to die, which he feared because he thought too much sexual activity had hastened Fitzoy’s elder brother Arthur’s death, and the King had ordered the couple not to consummate their marriage. (Thanks, wikipedia).

Strange but true.

Court Life, Shaken Not Stirred

I liked that Longshore showed what the inside of court life was really like. It seems tumultuous and changeable. There are sides to be taken and favor to be lost.

Plus, Mary Howard is a writer of sorts, and her descriptions and metaphors of marriage and friendship and kissing are so powerful. She describes these things in tastes and smells, and I loved seeing how she viewed the world.

Books like this connect me with the past and make me marvel again at how things used to be and how teenagers still act like teens no matter the era.

Because of the historical accuracy of the book’s timeline, there are definitely a few lulls in which there is not huge driving force behind the plot – court life is just what’s going down. I didn’t mind this in the least, but it’s certainly a different pace from say, a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel, so just be prepared.


In a time when women had little independence and obedience was expected, I loved reading about the quietly strong Mary Howard. Longshore did a fantastic job of making the Tudor life as unruly and opulent as it’s reported to have been and to make young adult issues hundreds of years ago as relevant and interesting as ever. Brazen is a YA powerful historical fiction read, and I’m officially a fan of this author!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.