The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd
A Novel of Kateryn Parr
Ladies in Waiting, #2
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 331 Trade Paperback
Date Published: June 5th 2012
Publisher: Howard Books
The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor. What she sees in secret, she may not tell.
Mistress Juliana St. John is the lovely, forthright daughter of a prosperous knight’s family. Though all expect her to marry the son of her late father’s business partner, time and chance interrupt, sending her to the sumptuous but deceptive court of Henry VIII.
Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane, returns to Wiltshire to conclude his affairs with Juliana’s father’s estate and chances upon her reading as lector in the local church. He sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves and wants most to please, Kateryn Parr. Juliana’s mother agrees to have her placed with Parr for a season and Juliana goes, though reluctantly.
For she keeps a secret.
As Juliana accompanies Kateryn Parr to court, Henry’s devout sixth queen raises the stakes for all reformers. Support of firebrand Anne Askew puts the queen and her ladies in life-threatening jeopardy, as does the queen’s desire to influence her husband’s—and the realm’s—direction and beliefs. Later, without Henry’s strong arm, the court devolves to competition, duplicity, and betrayal. The risks could not be higher as Juliana must choose between love and honor, personal fulfillment and sacrifice. Ultimately, her course is driven by a final kept secret, one that undoes everything she thought she knew.
4 stars? 5 stars? Perhaps 4.5 stars or 4.75. Sandra Byrd weaves an incredible historical tale in the end days of Henry VIII and his last wife Katheryn Parr and beyond her life even. The connection of characters both in court and in a familial sense was very appropriate for the times and added and interest level. I started this one in a rush after completing To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn and had a hiccup for a little bit before I got to finish the last few chapters, but enjoyed every minute of it. (Well, minus two certain uncomfortable scenes, obviously!)
The Secret Keeper is a beautifully told story that kept the pages turning. It was heart breaking, tear making, and suspenseful with curiosity on what might or could be in the end. Once again, she took a romance that had no place to move forward and turned it into a sighing out loud absolute pleasure to experience and read. I had to hug my husband I enjoyed the last few chapters so much.
My friends were right, and Sandra’s historicals are on my keeper shelf and I’ll be planning to read Elizabeth’s story next in addition to my other pile of Tutor novels I’ve started stacking up. Actually I enjoyed these two books so much that when Sandra’s contemporary series came re-released as a eBook for a bargain, I just had to buy them all. So look for reviews of those to come eventually as well!
I really hope I’ll be blessed to get my hands on the third novel of Elizabeth, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I, in the months to come as well.
*Thanks to Sandra for providing a copy for review.*
Best-selling author Sandra Byrd has published nearly three dozen fiction and nonfiction books including her new Tudor-set series, Ladies in Waiting. Book 1, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn launched in 2011. Book 2, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr will debut in June, 2012.
Her other titles include the French Twist series, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and its sequels, Bon Appétit (2008) an Piece de Resistance (2009) as well as the London Confidential series for tweens.
For nearly a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the writing students she mentors and coaches.
Before turning to full-time writing, Sandra was an acquisitions editor. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband, two children, and little dog.