After loving Katherine Longshore's "Gilt," I couldn't wait to read her second "Royal Circle" series novel—especially when I found out it followed Anne Boleyn's scandalous story. And if I thought I had a historical crush on King Henry VIII, I had no idea that Sir Thomas Wyatt was prowling just around the corner. Seriously, Crushers, swoon overload. A charming and charismatic poet who believes you deserve an extraordinarily epic love? Forget Peeta or Jace, Team Wyatt all the way! Needless to say, as soon as I started "Tarnish," I was hooked.
Anne Boleyn's story is one that's been told for centuries. But Katherine presents her in a unique way, showing readers that before His Majesty ordered Anne's execution, she was simply a girl determined to give herself a bright future. The book opens showing Anne as the odd girl out. Having been away in France, everything about her is different. From keeping her trendy French style to refusing to tame her witty commentary, Anne is unwilling to blend into the background. Even when she tries, she doesn't know how to hold her tongue and fall in step with a society that expects women to be seen and not heard. But when Anne makes a life-changing bet with Thomas to escape an arranged marriage, how she's seen could lead to her demise—or if she plays her cards right—her rise. She could end up as nothing or she could finally become something.
Katherine brilliantly captures Anne's voice in her years leading up to becoming Queen. Often seen as a manipulating home-wrecker, Katherine throws away these labels to give Anne a fresh start with new ones: a dreamer and an optimist with a desire for her words to be heard, for them to have meaning.
Thomas wagers he can mend Anne's tarnished reputation so she's accepted at court. By flirting with her and having her deny his advances for show, he believes she will inevitably fall in love with him. What he doesn't count on is falling in love with her. So when Anne finally catches the eye of more than one powerful man at court, including the most influential man in England, the King, she finds herself in one heck of a love triangle (actually, it's more like a square). Does she settle for a loveless marriage, a safe future, a passionate affair or a chance to make history?
In the midst of Anne's inevitably tragic ending, Katherine Longshore offers hope—not just for Anne, but for us all. Our voices matter. Our words have meaning. Don't settle for less than you deserve. In the end it lead to Anne's downfall, but it also, in a way, lead to her immortality.
Funny, witty and entertaining, "Tarnish" is a must-read for anyone wanting to add invigorating drama and sensual romance to their bookshelf. You can pick up a copy today wherever books are sold.
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