Tarnish | Katherine Longshore | Book Review

I totally stan for Tudor related historical fiction — ESPECIALLY when it is YA based. Don’t make fun of me, but I totally ate books like The Other Boleyn Girl up. When Katherine Longshore made her debut with Gilt last year, she filled a much needed void in my reading life – that void of compelling, sort of romantic, young adult historical fiction. Actually, last year was kind of a banner year for YA hist fic. Anyways, after reading Gilt I pretty much decided I would be a fan of Katherine Longshore for life. Yet, as we all know, sometimes authors can disappoint you with subsequent books. YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS after being pretty disappointed by a string of duds by authors I like, I was a tiny bit nervous about Tarnish, Longshore’s sophomore book. Turns out, Tarnish is freakin fantastic and one that I closed and practically hugged despite you know, what eventually happens to Anne Boleyn after the events of this book. IT’S SO GOOD MY HISTORICAL LOVING SISTERS IN ARMS, SO GOOD.

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore | Good Books And Good Wine

After being sent away to the country for being totally embarrassing to the family, Anne Boleyn is back in court. Only, nobody likes her because she can’t control her mouth. Anne is engaged to this douche-y Irish dude named James Butler, which sucks for her brother George because if Anne and Butler get married, he gets some lands instead of those lands staying in the family. Anne totally does not want to marry James. With no friends at court and bleak prospects, Anne turns to Thomas Wyatt, court poet for help. Wyatt instructs Anne in the ways of seduction, like they aren’t actually in a relationship but they have to seem like it to attract the attention of everyone at court so that Anne shines. This could very well backfire and Tarnish Anne’s reputation. Unfortunately, Thomas and Anne catch feelings for each other, only OMG OMG DRAMA DRAMA Thomas is married and there is no way in hell Anne will be anyone’s mistress. Also. Also. Anne begins to catch King Henry  VIII’s eye. Court intrigue abounds, y’all. AND I LOVED IT, seriously Katherine Longshore can weave a story.

Friends, I think that Katherine Longshore’s Tarnish has one of my favorite interpretations of Anne Boleyn. Here’s the thing, as a human and a person, I like being able to pick and choose what interpretation of historical figures I like best and because Anne lived so long ago I feel pretty free to do that. I basically read this Anne Boleyn as being quite feminist. Here’s the thing, she is fiercely independent. She constantly remarks on gender roles and how women get the shaft. Anne also refuses anything less than the best. She refuses to be relegated to a quiet corner in the country. She refuses to be anyone’s mistress. She wants what is hers and I freakin love that. I love that Anne is so incredibly strong. I love that she won’t settle. The whole entire book was basically me nodding my head to Anne’s life choices and saying GET IT GIRL GET IT. I actually loved her character way more than Katherine from Gilt.

If you read historical fiction for the sense of place and time, then I think you will be well pleased by Tarnish. I mean, okay I didn’t get the sense that people reeked which I am sure they smelled awful back in the past. However, I really did get a feel for court. Basically people at court have nothing better to do but lounge around all day scheming and playing games and putting on plays called pageants. Also, because people get bored in one place, court moves from palace to palace following the king. I found it interesting how Henry VIII was pretty much described as lighting up the room like sun and how he gets all this attention. I found myself wondering if that was his actual charismatic presence or his role as king that was why people perceived him that way or a combination of both. Anyways, I really just got this sense of claustrophobia because it always felt like everyone was watching Anne during the book and you know because it’s first person, I just really felt for her and again, that sense of time and place, if her reputation is tarnished, well she’s basically sent back to the country where there’s no socialization, thus the claustrophobia.

READER FRIENDS! You know how I mentioned closing the book and practically hugging it? Well, that’s because of the romance and I also just think Anne Boleyn really needs a hug. So, okay, with Thomas Wyatt, the whole romance is forbidden and swoonworthy and you know they can’t do grown up things but at the same time you just kind of spend the whole book hoping that Longshore invents a time machine to change history because those two are perfect together. Y’all, who knew wordplay could be so… romantic? Clearly, I did not know this before reading Tarnish. And basically everything is ON THE LINE yo. Everything. And it’s like please please please just hook up because you guys are perfect. Then it’s all, grrrrr there goes King Henry VIII fucking everything up. Alas. I just really loved this book and think you should know there will be parts where you will want to dog ear the pages because of the swoons. Promise.

If you are jonesing for a great historical fiction book, get your hands on Tarnish. Legit, it was exactly what I had hoped for and my expectations were actually met. I KNOW. Basically if you like historical fiction, want to picture Jonathan Rhys-Meyer the whole time, and like to imagine historical women as being paragons of awesome, then read Katherine Longshore’s Tarnish, I loved it and I would never bullshit you.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other reviews of Tarnish by Katherine Longshore:

Basically this review has been scheduled over a month in advance sooooo, if you’ve reviewed it, drop your link in my comments and I will add it up here!

Books by Katherine Longshore:

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Thanks for sending this to me!!! I’ll be starting it soon, and I’m so glad it’s this level of awesome. 😀 You rock.

  2. ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ was one of my favourite guilty pleasures when I was growing up and was one of the books that first inspired me to dabble in writing historical fiction. Along with Georgian and Victorian England, there are few periods I find more fascinating than the Tudor period. That said, I’ve yet to read ‘Gilt’ or ‘Tarnish’ because the majority of reviews I’ve read for this series have been less than flattering. It seems like ‘lighter’ historical fiction that is heavy on the fiction and light on historical accuracy, and as a university graduate who majored in history, I think that might prevent me from truly enjoying this sort of novel now. I do appreciate that Longshore seems to portray Anne as an early feminist figure. There is little doubt that Anne was ahead of her time in terms of her vast and varied education and often traitorous opinions that went against the accepted norm. I think there’s a habit to villainize Anne, both then and now, because she was seen as the enemy who helped to overthrow Catherine of Aragon, but the reality is that if it wasn’t Anne, it would be another woman. Henry was already discontent in his marriage to Catherine and his lack of viable male heirs, and Anne merely capitalized on the situation as best she could. She played the hand that she was dealt, and there was little else that she could have done, particularly given her role as a woman in a time when the king’s words and desires were law and she was essentially at the behest of her family to use as a pawn as they saw fit. To resist him would have been tantamount to suicide, and Anne leveraged Henry’s desire for something most couldn’t imagine her ever achieving. Unfortunately, she let her temper get the better of her and didn’t know how to maintain her position as queen once she achieved it. I’m still not sure Longshore’s series are the books for me as I’m fairly picky when it comes to historical fiction, but I would be lying if I said that you review didn’t tempt me to change my mind! 😉

  3. I’ve never read Gilt but I do like stories about the court of Henry VIII and your enthusiasm counts for like 100 votes, so… have now added it and Tarnish to my massive TBR mountain. Gee thanks April! 😉

  4. I also adore historical fiction that focuses on Tudor England and am a definitely Philippa Gregory fangirl! So yeah, I totally get your feelings on this. I haven’t read Gilt yet, so I’m hoping that this isn’t a series where I need to read one before the other. If so, I’ll have to get on that first. The main thing I’m curious about here is how this sort of story translates for a YA audience, since all Tudor-era books I’ve read previously were for adults. I’m so interested in Longshore’s new interpretation of Anne as well. Looking forward to reading this!

  5. This is the second raving review I’ve read for this book! I definitely think I’m going to need to read it! It sounds like it’s right up my alley. 😀

  6. Okay, so I’m not a frequent reader of historical, but this sounds AWESOME and you have pretty much sold me.

  7. RachelB. says

    Yeah, she gets it in the end….she gets it! Girl Power!


  1. […] cover that I saw everywhere. It’s just so ugly and, to me, a bit freaky. But recently I saw April’s enthusiastic review of the sequel, Tarnish, on Good Books & Good Wine, in which she talks about how much she loves […]