I’m really excited about this review – very gratifying!
Romance novels often tell stories of women imprisoned by circumstance but whose hearts, and other parts, ache for true love. Here, that tormented soul is 15-year-old Catherine Howard, a vivacious young woman who catches the eye of the lusty, aging King Henry VIII and soon finds herself playing the part of his fifth wife, with strict orders to produce a male heir . . . or else. It’s a perilous role. Henry’s second wife, Catherine’s cousin Anne Boleyn, was beheaded, and Anne’s ghost haunts her with admonitions about the fickle king: “His tiny man-member wagged, and he followed it wherever it led him, destroying all that stood in his path…Do you think he will hesitate to destroy you?” The constant fear of retribution for her past and present sexual indiscretions taints Catherine’s genuine pleasure in her newfound status, bejeweled gowns and other courtly extravagances, and this daily conflict is vividly, often poetically expressed in the queen’s first-person voice. More drama than history, this suspenseful, downright racy tale will send readers hurtling headlong toward the novel’s bitter end. (Fiction. 15 & up)