Author: Katherine Longshore
Published: June 18th 2013 by Viking Juvenile
Source: ARC in exchange for an honest review
"Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court--and to convince the whole court they're lovers--she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice--but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history."
First line: "A deep breath is all it takes to enter a room."
Thoughts: First off, I must pronounce to the world that Katherine Longshore writes some of the loveliest historical fiction novels I have ever read. Vivid, heartbreaking, and incredibly human, TARNISH constantly tugged on heart strings I didn't know I had. You may think you know about Anne Boleyn, but you haven't heard anything yet.
TARNISH may be the story of Anne Boleyn, but this is her story before she became queen. I loved Longshore's spin on Anne's relationship with Thomas Wyatt. In this book, it's not just some fling or rumored affair. It's a story about love and inevitable heartbreak. I relished in Wyatt's poetry and Anne's reactions to not only Wyatt but also Percy and The King. They're so insanely human that I could feel her fear and emotions just soaring out of the book and slamming right into me. To say this novel took me on an emotional journey is an understatement.
Throughout the book, Anne believes the only reason people can see her now is because of Wyatt's poetry. This is somewhat true but what I found fascinating was how she couldn't see how beautiful she was and why men would literally go to war over her. I always thought of Anne Boleyn as this confident seductress, but now I see her more as an insecure girl stuck between love and duty. Even though I knew the end result, I still hoped that the story would change somehow. I guess it's just the naive girl in me who still believes in love and how it conquers all.
Though this book does focus a lot on Anne's secretive affairs (and her not so secretive ones), it also focuses on her family and the relationships she has with her siblings. Anne's kinship with Catherine and Mary were complex (to say the least), but her relationship with her brother George was brilliantly written and just lovely in general. I loved how much he adored her and how everyone could see it. Keep in mind, his life wasn't easy either. He's there to advise Anne as well as carry the Boleyn name, even if that means marrying someone he doesn't love. The one thing that stayed true was his obvious adoration for his sister and her love for him. Everyone should have a brother like George.
My only regret for this novel was that I wished it were longer. I wish we could've seen Anne as the queen and everything that unfolded after. With that being said, will there be a sequel? A companion? PLEASE?
All in all, I highly recommend TARNISH to all Tudor fans and historical fiction buffs out there. If you're not a fan of historical fiction, I still recommend checking out TARNISH. It reads like a contemporary novel and believe me, you don't want to miss out on all the glorious poetry. They will make you swoon right before they breaking your heart.