Everyone knows the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. It’s infamous. I love retellings, and this one fascinated me. The Tudors are some of the most well-known monarchs in British history, and being as I’m already a sucker for stories being retold, this one made it to the top of my must-read, I’ve-got-to-have-it list.
Enter a modern day Henry VIII: rich, successful (at least, everyone hopes him to be), and the guy everyone either wants to be or wants to date. The brother everyone loved, Arthur, died in a tragic accident, and now it’s Arthur who’s expected to win not just the school presidency, but the United State presidency. (When the time comes, of course.)
I loved Henry. A lot of the information surrounding the infamous King of England is negative. Ius does a wonderful job of creating a likable Henry, though the second half of the book did decorate a paltry picture of a king on a precarious throne. Plus, I know Jane Seymour was the one he loved the most…but I didn’t like her. She’s only in one scene, and I had a difficult time even liking her name. I loved Henry for how good he was; I didn’t like how weak he was at the end. I wanted the sweet, lovable guy that I rooted for to stay true to himself and follow his dreams. For a guy destined to not get a happily-ever-after, I wanted him to have one.
Before I give too much away, I need to move on to the other side of the duo: Anne. While I liked Henry more at the beginning of the book, I liked Anne the most in the second half. She’s a train wreck, and frankly she got on my nerves at first. Her brashness didn’t come off as brazen but obnoxious. The more I got to know her, though, the more that her strong exterior showed what it really was: insecurity. I liked that side of her, and I liked knowing that she wasn’t an impenetrable force to be reckoned with. It caused her demise, but still – it made her relatable.
The romance was fast and furious. Anne and Henry were so bad for each other it was good. Everyone blamed Anne for the breakup between Catherine and Henry, and Ius threw all that guilt and responsibility on Henry. That brings me to one of the things that I didn’t like about Henry. He didn’t know how to stand up for himself, and he slowly falls into the bad habit of letting others’ decisions and opinions influence his own. Their relationship was, surprisingly, sweet. While it started out as something completely physical, they had a connection. I wanted more of that and less of the typical high school behavior that ended the infamous run of Anne Boleyn and Henry Tudor.
I know this is a retelling. The point of a retelling is to retell a story with a twist. So while my hope that the story would end differently than it did makes zero sense, I had an inkling of hope. I can’t recall where I found that hope, but it was there. So when I finished this book I wanted something more. The book ended with a bang, I’ll give it that, but I wanted finality.
I’ve probably been reading to many happily-ever-afters.
The series needs to continue, but it might destroy me. (So it’s probably best if it doesn’t.) I liked the story while I read it. I enjoyed the story and meeting the characters. I wanted a different ending, but the story already had an ending. While some people enjoy sticking to the original story, who’s to say that they couldn’t have had something more hopeful for themselves? Maybe I’m asking too much, but it made me want to read more Henry VIII retellings. It’s kind of like a bad car wreck on the interstate. I can’t look away.