Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Ramblings on Tarnish (Prequel to Gilt) by Katherine Longshore

Tarnish, the prequel to Gilt, tells the story of Anne Boleyn’s romance with Thomas Wyatt and her life before her marriage and eventual death at the hand of King Henry VIII.


Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3


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.



Tarnish, the prequel to Gilt, tells the story of Anne Boleyn’s romance with Thomas Wyatt and her life before her marriage and eventual death at the hand of King Henry VIII.

“‘How do you like court, Mistress Boleyn?’…

‘At the moment, it’s frightfully boring.’”

– From Tarnish

This quotation from Tarnish summarizes the entire book very nicely. Katherine Longshore does a very good job of depicting court life during Henry VIII’s rein, including the sharp and witty retorts, constant gambling, deceptions and secrets, and most importantly, boredom. By page 100 (out of 442) I couldn’t wait for the book to end, and I was able to guess what was going to happen on the next page because it had already happened ten pages ago.

However, I kept reading. Why? Because I did enjoy Katherine Longshore’s writing style, which I believe has greatly improved since Gilt. The language she uses is much more poetic, and her writing seems more mature. The high level of romantic content, however, has remained the same since her first Tudor novel. (In others words, there are a lot of comments the characters make that if you didn’t know what they were talking about, you wouldn’t know what they were talking about.)

In addition, I liked the uniqueness of the time frame in this book. Unlike her version of Catherine Howard’s life, Anne Boleyn’s story is told starting from her reintroduction to English society after spending many years in the French court, and ends just as she has caught the king’s eye. Tarnish explores her romantic life before her marriage, including her flirtations with the poet, Thomas Wyatt, her almost-betrothal to James Butler, her secret marriage to Henry Percy, the 6th Earl of Northumberland, and her supposed relationship with her brother, George Boleyn. This story of her early years gave an entirely new perspective on her royal marriage and more background for her more popularly depicted later life. I wonder if Katherine Longshore will ever finish the tale of Anne’s short history if she returns to the Tudor court in future books.

All in all, Tarnish is not as enjoyable as Gilt, but does provide an appealing back story that fills in the details of King Henry VIII’s court, and is a sweet, however star-crossed romance.


One comment on “Gwen’s Ramblings on Tarnish (Prequel to Gilt) by Katherine Longshore

  1. Pingback: Gwen’s Thoughts on Gilt by Katherine Longshore | Gwen & Kate's Library

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This entry was posted on October 6, 2013 by in Author: Gwen, Review, Young Adult and tagged , , .
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