I love these books! The Secret Keeper, Sandra Byrd's second book in the Ladies in Waiting Series, follows the life of Kateryn Parr, King Henry VIII's last wife. After reading her novel about Ann Boyeln, I knew this would be a quite the read as well. Because royalty in those days were what the French call drah-ma.
Told from the perspective of one of Parr's ladies in waiting, Juliana, this was not only interesting to dive more into that era, but through her eyes, the reality of society for women was brought to life. It really is sad, but also encouraging to see how some women did stand up in different ways. At least we've come a long ways in society.
There were definitely a couple of twists I didn't expect and kept me on my book reading toes :) . Once again Byrd opens up a fascinating world with fantastic writing! There's beautiful details, stirring stories and of course the crazy British drama. I can't wait for her new one, Roses Have Thorns, A Novel of Elizabeth I, to come out this Spring!!
I definitely recommend this series, so be sure to pick up a copy!
While many of the historical novels and movies of late featuring the wives of King Henry VIII are nothing more than sensationalism, Sandra Byrd shows that historical fiction can be accurate and still entirely sensational in her latest book The Secret Keeper. Sweeping through 8-plus years of court intrigue, royalty, and grandeur, Sandra tells the story of Kateryn Parr through the eyes of a humble lady-in-waiting, Juliana St. John. Juliana's journey begins innocently enough, but hairpin turns are only a moment away, and what was once an exciting adventure to be included in the company of the Queen quickly becomes Juliana's duty to protect her from those who intend to discredit her. She also does not count on shameful circumstances affecting her directly, and thus, charts a firm course for the remainder of her life...to which, God has another plan.
Sandra's study of the Tudor period and Kateryn's life was intense, providing the reader not only with several family trees in the beginning, but an extensive author's note in the back detailing her meticulous research. From the royal garments and stunning jewels to the actual letters and books used in conversation during that time, The Secret Keeper had a natural authentic quality that set it apart from other historical novels regardless of their time period. As a reader, I paused several times to savor the rich language and dialogue that made up each scene. This was not a novel that I wanted to race to complete, but one that grew sweeter with each and every page.
I have been so impressed with all of Sandra's books over the years, but historical fiction is where her talents shine the brightest. Although I am anxiously awaiting her next Tudor novel about Elizabeth I, it comes with a hint of sadness that it will bring this series to a close. And for a reader whose tendency is to never re-read a book, I have no doubt I will be making *several* exceptions for Sandra's entire Ladies in Waiting series.
A sweeping historical novel of the little known Kateryn Parr.
We've all heard about Henry VIII and his six wives, and we know about his first and second wives Katherine (or Catherine) of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but what do we know of Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, Kateryn Parr? If you read this book you'll find out.
The Secret Keeper is another book to add to my exclusive favorites pile, rich with real-life characters and full of intrigue The Secret Keeper is everything and more than I expected.
I loved being able to sit back and seep into another time and place, a world of power, secrets, and rarest of all true love.
I absolutely loved Ms. Byrd's attention to detail and how she brought a character so often tucked away into the back round to the forefront, through the eyes of Juliana St. John. I knew that there was alot going on in the court of Henry VIII during the time he was married to Anne Boleyn, but I never guessed how dangerous it was even in the time of Kateryn Parr!
I was absorbed into the era through the eyes and ears of Juliana, a young woman who had secrets of her own. I came to be so invested in the tale that I read it all in two sittings, only because my mother insisted I go to sleep!
I loved getting to know Kateryn better, and learning more about the time between Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth. The Secret Keeper is a lush historical read, that gripped me in a strangle-hold from beginning to end, and that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a fully engrossing read.
Many thanks to Sandra Byrd and Howard Publishers for providing me with this copy of The Secret Keeper in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Great Tudor Fiction: The Secret Keeper; A Novel of
July 11, 2012
Wow! Does Sandra Byrd know how to write a book or what? I'll be the first to admit that I don't often seek out books set in 16th century England but since having read To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn last year I make a point to read all Ms. Byrd's stories. I don't know a lot about the Tudors or English royalty but reading books like The Secret Keeper makes it feel like I'm living it up at court or that I'm right in the midst of a royal intrigue.
Juliana St. John, a companion and maid of honor to Kateryn Parr, quickly becomes attached to the last wife of Henry VIII especially since Kateryn shows more affection for her than Juliana's own mother. Life within the palace's inner circles isn't without its disadvantages, especially to an innocent young woman like Juliana. The secrets that she must hold close abound and if they ever come out everyone could be in danger including the new queen herself.
Writing seemingly authentic to the time characters and the ability to make the struggles of a person who lived hundreds of years ago relevant to the modern woman takes true talent and Sandra Byrd definitely has it! Every moment of Juliana's story was gripping, entertaining, and chock full of emotion. Getting to know Juliana as a naive young woman and follow her as she matured while in service to queen, king and country was truly a joy. Don't get me wrong there are definitely moments that will make you want to weep, especially concerning the treatment of women and assaults, but the ending was terrific without being an over the top happily-ever-after. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Tudor court set fiction regardless of whether or not they like Christian fiction.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
I have been a fan of Sandra Byrd since her French Twist series. When I first heard about her Tudor novel, To Die For, I was uncertain that I would like it. I thought it might have been boring and dry, but my goodness, was I wrong. I loved that book, actually that's an understatement, but close enough. When The Secret Keeper was released, I thought no way could Sandra do it again, this one won't be as good. About two pages into the book (right about the time I got hooked), I had to ask myself why I keep doubting this absolutely amazing author. Sandra is incredible and she has done it again, perhaps even better? It's hard to say because it has been a while since I read To Die For, but it doesn't matter which is better because they are both excellent and impossible to put down.
One of the things I tend to struggle with is when authors overdo it on trying to get the language and accents authentic to the time and place of the story. I have always found that it slows the story down and that is a huge negative for me. Somehow Sandra is able to be completely authentic without the book lagging. I never once felt like I wasn't right there in the court of Henry VIII. Sandra's talent is truly unmatched in historical fiction.
So, the stage was expertly set with authentic historical detail and we have an amazing story as well. So many times I have read historical novels in which the author focuses too much on either the setting or on the story. That can create a disconnect with me because either the story is lacking or it is hard to tell just where and when the story takes place. The balance between historical detail and story is absolutely flawless in The Secret Keeper.
I highly recommend The Secret Keeper, and To Die For. I also recommend reading the author's note at the end. I always enjoy reading those anyway, but it was especially interesting in this book. The Secret Keeper is my favorite book so far this year! I can't wait to see what's next and I promise that I will have only high expectations. Sandra has earned it.