The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby (published by Dutton, March 19, 2009)
Born into the ambitious Howard family, Catherine has never had much control over her life and fate. Her cousin, the infamous Anne Boleyn, lured King Henry VIII into marriage then met a grisly end. Hoping for a marriage that will benefit the family, Catherine’s relatives send her to court in 1540, when she is fifteen. There, Catherine catches the eye of the king, who decides to divorce his current wife, Anne of Cleves, and marry her. Though Catherine would prefer to marry for love, one does not refuse the king, and even if she could, her family is determined to gain power through her marriage.
From the start, Catherine feels like she is living a lie, and playing a part to be the wife Henry desires. He wanted a pure, innocent maiden, and Catherine had a foolish and youthful love affair before coming to court, an event the king must never learn about. Woefully unprepared for the life she must live, Catherine struggles with her own immaturity and the conflicting desires of the king and her family, and is forced to make terrible choices that will lead to her doom.
The King’s Rose is a wonderful historical novel for young adults - and adults as well - about the life of King Henry VIII’s fifth and youngest wife, Catherine Howard. The author did a good job of bringing Catherine to life and making it understandable why she made the choices she did. Catherine is tragic figure - a young girl, unprepared for the life of a queen, forced into a terrible situation by her family in a time when a young woman had few choices and little right to control her own destiny. I highly recommend this book to readers who are fascinated by the Tudors as well as those who enjoy historical fiction in general.