Dignity is an erotic Tudor tragedy that takes place in 16th century England. It is really outside any genre and could be best classified as historical romance with disturbing and explicitly sexual scenes throughout the story. It is the previously unwritten and historically unknown life of a girl, Katheryn Howard, who eventually finds herself to be Queen as Henry VIII’s fifth wife. Although written in a romantic style, Dignity contains explicit sexual content and disturbing themes such as incest, child sexual abuse, and male privilege within the context of 16th Century Tudor history. The dark secrets of Katheryn’s childhood are exposed explaining the commonplace result of over-sexualization and promiscuity. Her lascivious lifestyle was to become her eventual demise as her pre-marital history was uncovered during her short reign as Queen of England. The story explores the viewpoints of many of the characters involved with Katheryn both historically, romantically, and sexually as she searched for love through the only thing that she felt she had some control over, her sensuality. In the time of Katheryn’s short life, women were considered little more than property in a male dominated world. Dignity does nothing to sugar coat this fact and because it is written in a romantic fashion, it can draw the reader in and be quite stimulating yet in some instances, it can be quite disturbing. Furthermore, Dignity covers a span of about 15 years of Katheryn Howard’s life and moves from event to event and place to place without leaving the reader bewildered. Also the story is told not only from Katheryn’s perspective, but from many of the character’s perspectives which allows the reader to understand and empathize with the characters. At the end of Dignity, the reader will understand what has perplexed historians for centuries such as, Katheryn admitting to hundreds of sexual encounters yet denying her betrothal to Francis Dereham despite Francis insisting that they were betrothed. It also explains King Henry VIII’s motivation in having his young wife beheaded which was in direct opposition to his Archbishop and Privy Council who wished for him to simply have the marriage annulled. Also a less sexual ‘harlequin romance’ version is available – Dignity (Censored) Rose Coloured Glasses Included
Targeted Age Group:
How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
As my writing doesn’t really fall under any genre known as yet, these are two reviews I have received from author, Uvi Poznansky. The first is for Dignity and the second is for my newest novel, Rose of Gwynedd.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Blank Canvas for Painting a Queen, Imagining a Woman, December 25, 2012
By Uvi Poznansky “Author of “Apart From Love… – See all my reviews
This review is from: Dignity (Kindle Edition)
I happened to like it when a book cannot easily be classified in the narrow confines of a particular genre. Is this an Erotic Fiction, or a Historical Fantasy? In my mind, life itself (and the art that mirrors it) constantly changes from one genre to the next, depending on the moment of experience. I appreciate a story for its contrasts, which explains precisely why I enjoy this work, and why some readers may not. Perhaps they expect one thing, based on the title ‘Dignity’–and on some pages they get something entirely different, such as a steaming, sensually described love scene. If you are one of these readers, beware. Otherwise, you will find such contrasts quite thrilling.
The book opens with an out-of-place Epilogue (titled Prologue) which describes the queen rehearsing for the most important day of her life, the day of her execution. “It was important, she believed, do end with the dignity of a queen. After all, the only thing that she had left was her dignity.” From there, we cut back to her childhood and her affair and marriage to the king. She becomes the witness–and in the end, the victim–of the high drama surrounding him. “His arrogance both attracted and infuriated her… She knew he could take her by force… she’d still have her dignity, and even he couldn’t have that.”
Katheryn Howard, the heroine of this story, is based on a historical figure about whom little is known (not even her date and place of birth.) Henry the VIII married her immediately after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves was arranged. Katheryn was beheaded after less than two years of marriage, on the grounds of treason for committing adultery. This life, which is barely sketched in historical books due to its unknowns, provides a great, blank canvas for painting every emotion, every thought of this sensual woman. Confined in the tight dresses of the time, she is fighting to survive, as best she can, in the world of men.
One last note: when his painting The Nude Maja created an uproar, Goya created another painting of the same woman identically posed, but clothed. This book is provided in two versions: censored and uncensored, so you may take your pick.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love and Upheaval Story from a Bygone Era, February 24, 2013
By Uvi Poznansky “Author of “Apart From Love… – See all my reviews
This review is from: Rose of Gwynedd: The Noble Tribes of Wales (Volume 1) (Paperback)
There should be a unique, new genre invented in order to attempt to classify her writing. Perhaps something like this: history-tales-with-an-erotic-scent. While arousing to some readers, others may find it quite unexpected within the framework of a historical genre, and therefore, perhaps off-putting. So a word of caution to you: beware… Starting with the very first page, you will find a vivid, sensual description of the act of love: “All through the day they’d played much as they always had; yet on this day, something was different. It was a quickened vibrancy, an intense yearning, and a hunger that neither of them had ever realised previously…”
As with all good writing it is evident how much research went into creating this book. The author, Christian Ashley, takes us away to the kingdom of Gwynedd, known to be a place deliciously rich with upheaval and chaos. Such is the birthplace of the heroine of this story, called Rose.
The language is intentionally outdated: “At a great ceremony held in honour of Rose’s long awaited induction into womanhood, Lady Moyrin and Eyevlyn did grant Rose this magical crystal to keep at an alter within her home wherever it may be.” Words are chosen, and sentences crafted in such a way as to impart the impression that this book is a find, a rare find from a bygone era, perhaps unearthed in some quaint, dusty library of ancient text…
A final note about the graphics on the pages of this book. They include illustrations of coat of arms, and maps of the kingdom of Gwynedd from the middle ages. Interspersed with these symbols of war are images of a scarlet rose, dew trembling upon its curved, succulent petals, symbolizing the heroine of the story. Love, at a time of war.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Let it flow 🙂
Christian Ashley is an author of Historical Romance, Paranormal Fiction, and Erotic Fantasy. All of her Historical Fiction novels to date, Rose of Gwynedd, In Daddy’s Arms, and Dignity, came to her through dreams that evolved with ample research into the historical period being presented. As Ms. Ashley often states, “It’s so nice when history plays well into my story.” The author’s work is written in a romantic fashion from each character’s perspective and therefore, draws the reader in. History and circumstance are intricately intertwined taking the reader back in time into the “real-life” situations indigenous to the place of the story.
Christian Ashley’s first novel, Dignity, is an erotic Tudor History Romance that takes place in the sixteenth century and portrays the historically unknown life of Katheryn Howard, a girl who found herself to become the fifth wife of Henry VIII. As numerous scenes in Dignity are sexually explicit, the novel is available in a Censored version as well, Dignity Censored: Rose coloured Glasses Included.
Her second novel, In Daddy’s Arms, is a look into the intriguing times and unique challenges of a fictional Mormon family in the mid-eighteen fifties. The story revolves around the life of Sara; a young girl raised within the faith.
Her third novel, Rose of Gwynedd: The Noble Tribes of Wales takes place during the later part of the 12th century. Four centuries after the birth of the legends of King Arthur, the Lady of the Lake, and the disappearance of Avalon, being Welsh and of Gwynedd during the twelfth century did not lend itself to easy living. Not even for the noble Princes and their Knights as Gwynedd had always been a place rich in history of upheaval and chaos. Morhys Rhys had christened his daughter, Annest ferch Rhys, yet she knew no other name but Rose. This is Rose’s story…
Raised in Los Angeles, California, Christian Ashley has four children who are now adults. Currently, she and her husband live in the scenic Colorado mountains. The author is also an artist; Christian Ashley’s illustrations of her characters are portrayed on book covers, web sites, and in book trailers created by TechArt Video Studios.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When I was a little girl, I loved, more than anything, to spend the night with my great grandmother who was born and raised in Kent, England. The youngest of eight children, she was born on May first and had been named, Martha May Howard. She was always called May, and she’d been told by her family that the May Pole celebration on May Day was for her. As I fell asleep, she’d tell me the stories of her childhood; how she’d run barefoot through the wildflowers and loosen her red hair so that it cascaded down her back. She’d speak softly about playing with her Shetland pony and how her older brothers and sisters spoiled and protected her. I was transported, through her words, to her childhood. At some point, she told me that one of her aunts, long ago, had actually been the Queen of England and that her name was, Katheryn Howard.
From my early years, I have always had a vivid imagination and would play with pretend brothers and sisters rather than real people. Similarly, I’d dream of children running and playing and see myself as a golden haired child running through the yellow wildflowers of my great grandmother’s youth. I woke disoriented after nightmares of dark places with cold walls, and became afraid of the dark. I remember that my mother got me a nightlight. My great grandmother died when I was about nine; however, my dreams of England continued.
In the early 1970s, when I was about twelve, a book arrived in the mail about the Tower of London. I felt chills climbing up the back of my neck as I opened the book to a random page and saw a picture of a block of stone. The inscription read that the block had been carved for Catherine Howard and that she had practiced laying her head upon it the night before her execution. I believe that I decided then that someday, I’d write her story.
I started working on it in 1994 as an outline in which I told the whole story. Then I put the outline, which was hand written, away. I began writing “Dignity” in 1995 and changed it in 1996 to make the main character older. However, in 2002, I realized that it had to be rewritten to how it was originally because, historically, it was the only way that it would be accurate. I worked on “Dignity” off and on and then completed my first draft in 2007. The first manuscript was submitted in 2008 and it was recommended that more dialogue be added. So it was re-written to include more dialogue. I then revised “Dignity” in 2010 to add the full names of many of the historical characters as there had been so much written about Tudor history that it made sense to do so. Much of this story is historical including the names of her family members which I did not know were accurate until researching post hoc in 2007. The parts that are not came through me from somewhere otherworldly. Also, after writing the story, I found that many of the events depicted, such as the gentlewomen’s chamber, were actually historical though they are hard to believe.
I never looked at the hand written outline again. I wrote Dignity straight through and remembered the story from heart. I found out, when I began researching online in 2007, that the name of Katheryn Howard’s oldest brother (10 years her senior) was Henry. Harry is the nick name for Henry, and his wife’s name was recorded as being Anne (all facts that I did not know until after the story was written). Many of the letters in Dignity are real and were paraphrased, by me, from Old English including the statement that Katheryn made at her death.