The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr   -     By: Sandra Byrd
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The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr

Howard Books / 2012 / Paperback

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Product Description

From the author of To Die For comes the story of a young noblewoman torn between love and honor in 16th-century England! Juliana's mother arranges for her to join the household of Kateryn Parr---the last wife of the notorious Henry VIII. But after a frightening vision, Juliana is reluctant to go. Is she in terrible danger? 352 pages, softcover from Howard.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Howard Books
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 5.50 X 8.44 X 8.44 (inches)
ISBN: 1439183147
ISBN-13: 9781439183144
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

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.

Author Bio

Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the Christian fiction and nonfiction market, including her series for adults, French Twist, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake.

Publisher's Weekly

A young woman with the gift of prophecy becomes entangled in Henry VIII’s court in this engaging novel. After her father dies, Juliana St. John is encouraged by family friend Sir Thomas Seymour to enter the household of Kateryn Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Juliana adjusts relatively well to her new environment, but soon she has recurring visions of Sir Thomas, her father’s former business partner, chopping up a young woman’s dress. It is only when Juliana begins to connect her dreams to the new people in her life that she discovers some startling secrets. Byrd (To Die For) crafts a well-researched historical novel that engrosses readers in Juliana’s world and the juicy details of the Tudor court. Although the prose often lapses into overly stylized Renaissance speak, Anglophiles and history buffs alike will surely enjoy this bird’s-eye view into royal politics, love, and scandal. Agent: Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (June)2012 Reed Business Information

Editorial Reviews

“Rich in historical detail, full of intrigue, and starring a memorable heroine—Juliana St. John—who grows in both character and faith, Sandra Byrd’s The Secret Keeper kept me completely engrossed in the tumultuous court of Henry VIII. I felt a part of the times, thanks to the author’s skillful storytelling, vivid descriptions, and inspiring characters. Readers are in for a special treat with this remarkable novel.”
"'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,' wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning long years after the Tudor period of Sandra Byrd's remarkable book, The Secret Keeper. But the poet's words come to mind often as I count the myriad ways I love this story. Exquisite attention to detail of time, language, and place. A deft creation of character voice that invites the reader in and never lets her go. A delicate suspense that keeps pages turning. And throughout, the evidence of a remarkable storyteller who moves emotions in ways that both inspire and satisfy. I fell in love with Juliana St. John and with her heart, and hope she and her secrets find the widest possible audience."
"A young woman with the gift of prophecy becomes entangled in Henry VIII’s court in this engaging novel. [. . .] Byrd (To Die For) crafts a well-researched historical novel that engrosses readers in Juliana’s world and the juicy details of the Tudor court. [. . .] Anglophiles and history buffs alike will surely enjoy this bird’s-eye view into royal politics, love, and scandal."
"Juliana’s character as the main protagonist is both surprisingly fresh and perfectly presented. There is much more to her than a lady’s maid, and finding out her secrets as the story unfolds is a great pleasure. Unlike many novels of this kind — which portray a fictional character in the lead — this one works very well. A female’s place in society is expanded upon, but not so much as to become monotonous and spoil the historical theme."
"The Secret Keeper emulates the fast-paced tension of a great romantic suspense novel but relies entirely upon court intrigue to accomplish that pulse-pounding feat. Anchored by the proper but down-to-earth voice of Juliana St. John, the reader remains lip-bitingly engaged in the story and its characters even through the most mundane activities in which they take part. [...] Like its predecessor, The Secret Keeper illumines roles the royals played in the ebb and flow of the English Reformation Movement, but does so in such a suspenseful, romantic fashion that the reader is every bit as entertained as she is educated. [...] I'd be willing to wager that, come December, The Secret Keeper will find a firm ranking on many bloggers' Best Books of 2012 lists — including mine. The Secret Keeper is simply superb. It grabbed me from the start and never let go. [...] Even readers who shy away from the well-researched historical will get wrapped up in the Tudor trickery and lovely romance within this story. Byrd's tightly woven plot is laced with ever-splicing threads of intrigue that worm their way into your imagination and all but tie the book to your hands. Read it!"
"The Secret Keeper is a beautifully crafted story of heartache, love and loyalty. The reader is gifted with glimpses into the lives of many of the key characters of that day: Kateryn Parr, Thomas Seymour, and the young Elizabeth Tudor. The heroine's secrets are compelling, but the biggest secret others have kept from her changes her life. However, it is no secret that Sandra Byrd writes compelling fiction on women's trials and triumphs. Enjoy, but keep a handkerchief nearby."
"Atmospheric, dramatic and full of twists, this second title in Byrd’s 'Ladies in Waiting' series (after To Die For) is a sure bet for fans of Deborah Vogts and Tudor fiction."

Product Reviews

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  1. Jamie
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 8, 2013
    Jamie
    This review was written for The Secret Keeper: Kateryn Parr - eBook.
    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!

    booksandbeverages.wordpress.com
  2. Christy Janes
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Novel to Savor
    December 11, 2012
    Christy Janes
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    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.
  3. Faye
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Another Favorite is in the House
    July 15, 2012
    Faye
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for The Secret Keeper: Kateryn Parr - eBook.
    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!
  4. Renee C
    PA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Tudor Fiction: The Secret Keeper; A Novel of
    July 11, 2012
    Renee C
    PA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This review was written for The Secret Keeper: Kateryn Parr, Large Print.
    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.*
  5. CKendall
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Secret Keeper
    July 11, 2012
    CKendall
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    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.
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