Thursday, July 11, 2013

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Title: Tarnish
Author: Katherine Longshore
Narrator: Leslie Bellair
Series: Gilt, book #2
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Source: from publisher via Audiobook Jukebox
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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.

I was thoroughly impressed with how much more I liked Tarnish than I did Gilt.  Admittedly, I've always liked reading stories about Anne Boleyn, so it makes sense that I preferred reading a young adult story about Henry VIII's second wife more than one about Catherine Howard and her cohorts at court.

But it wasn't just the fact that this book was about Anne Boleyn that stirred me more.  Despite some deviant and otherwise unacceptable behavior, the characters in this book were simply more likable.  Young Anne is a misfit among the court and simply wants to find her place.  Actually, she wants to make her own way, to be somebody.  I think that's something most of us can relate to, and it made her character quite engaging.

If you know the history of the Tudor period, you know how Anne's story ends...and it's not on a particularly happy note.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, knowing the inevitable was coming.  But Tarnish is not the story of Anne's demise.  Rather, it's the story of a young Anne, trying to make her way and outshine the other members of her family.  It's about Anne trying to overcome terrible rumors of misbehavior and keep her good name untarnished, to triumph over a bumbling alcoholic brother, to prevail amid whispers of a sister who's become the king's mistress, and to transcend a father who wants nothing to do with the lot of them.

Along the way, Anne hopes to marry and make her father proud, without having to ally herself with the man her father has already chosen for her.  I often find arranged marriages squicky, but even more so when the partners are so obviously incompatible.  But Anne does find someone suitable...if only circumstances were different, it might have worked out for her.  She might have lived to a ripe old age, had she not instead caught the king's fancy.  But that is a story for another day.

It also helps this book that I adored the narrator chosen for the audiobook.  I can't remember if Jennifer Ikeda used an English accent when she read Gilt, but either way, that audiobook was just okay.  This one, however, was fantastic.  I felt swept away to the time of castles and balls and glittering gowns.  Anne was just a girl full of hopes and dreams, the King was pompous, and the voice given to Master Wyatt was worthy of his poet's wit and sharp tongue.  I couldn't imagine a more suitable narrator for this story.

This was such a fabulous piece of historical fiction.  It made me sad as I was reminded of how little power women had over their own lives, but it also encouraged me to further research King Henry VIII and the Tudor period for no other reason than that it is utterly fascinating to see just how much this one man and his many wives changed the course of history.

Rating:  photo 4-1.png  1/2

About the author:

I've always been a writer. I've been writing stories since I learned how to hold a pencil, asking my dad how to spell words while I worked under the bar stools at our kitchen counter.

In the course of my life, I've worked as a dishwasher, lingerie seller, coffee barista, cake decorator, ship's steward, video rental clerk, freelance journalist, travel agent, waitress, contracts manager, bookseller and Montessori preschool teacher.

But in writing for teens, I've finally found my calling.

And through writing, I am able to encompass all my loves. Becoming a character made of words. Exploring new worlds. And living history.

Find Katherine:

Website | BlogTwitter | FacebookGoodreads


  1. Anne Boleyn is definitely the most interesting of his wives, so I can understand why you'd find this one more interesting to read. I haven't read any of this series and tend to shy away from historical fiction, but this does sound good. I like that it focuses more on her life and the way she tries to get out of the shadow of her family than on her unfortunate demise. Great review!

  2. I have seen the covers before, but I had no idea what they were about! I love all things the Tudors, so I will definitely have to grab this series. Plus, it's good to know that book two is better than book 1.

  3. I love reading about the Tudor era. Trash TV has nothing on these people. I haven't read this series yet. I might just have to pick it up in Audiobook instead the narration sounds awesome!! Great review.

  4. I love historical novels. and this one sounds like a winner. I like that this sounds like it stays true to the era, and the narrator makes it all the more realistic! I will have to see if I can get a hold on an audiobook of this!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

  5. YAY! I got Gilt from ARCycling and while excited to read it because I love historical books, I was nervous because of the mixed reviews. So now I'm happy that you liked the first one AND that you liked the second one too. Woo!

  6. Okay, on another post I told you to listen to this and I'm glad you have. I LOVED this book :)


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