In a companion to Gilt (2012) and Tarnish (2013), Longshore chooses as her heroine a member of Henry VIII’s household less well-known than Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, the respective subjects of her earlier novels.
Mary Howard FitzRoy’s story provides a fresh perspective for a retelling of the cruel and tragic drama of the Tudor court. The child bride of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy, young Mary has the misfortune to fall in love with her 14-year-old husband. Although marriage to the royal heir makes her a duchess and thus higher in rank than her haughty mother, her life as a royal wife is mostly frightening and lonely. The young spouses are forbidden to consummate their marriage for fear of injury to the male heir. Fitz is often away on court business, while Mary is alienated from her female companions and left to wait on the doomed Anne Boleyn. Mary’s unsatisfying romance with her young husband plays out against a backdrop of court intrigue, power struggles, and the sequential rises and demises of Henry’s wives. The couple plot to run away together, but they are held by the invisible ties of the powerful men who determine their destiny and those of the people around them.
In this third novel in her trilogy, Longshore skillfully blends history with romance, weaving a compelling, poignant story of love, loss and betrayal. (family tree, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-17)