Friday, February 24, 2023

Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd Book Review

About the Book:

What happens when serving a queen may cost you your marriage—or your life?

From the author of To Die For comes a stirring novel that sheds new light on Elizabeth I and her court, a book that evokes the Tudor period's complexity, grandeur, and brutality.

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiancé has fallen in love with her sister, and her dowry money has been gambled away. Ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power and plunge her to the riskiest, most heartrending lows.

Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth's circle and Elizabeth's dear friend and confidant. But in a court surrounded by enemies plotting the queen's downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she's not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

Vividly conjuring the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots, Roses Have Thorns is a multi-layered exploration of treason, both to the realm and the heart.

My Review:

This novel of Elizabeth is seen through the eyes of Helena (Elin). While she was a lady in waiting, she married twice and was frequently gone from Elizabeth's side. In that respect, it seemed the personal aspect of Elizabeth's character was not presented as strongly as those of the Queens in the previous two books in this series. There was plenty of historical information included but I felt Queen Elizabeth was a secondary character and Helena was the real focus of the book.

This novel well portrays the religious controversy still prominent in England. It also explores the trouble with Mary, Queen of Scots, and her desire to rid the world of Elizabeth. We also clearly see the expectation that marriage be between equals in society's rank. Violating that principle without the Queen's permission could result in death.

This is a novel that well relates the political and religious situation at the time as well as the historical events of Elizabeth's life. I appreciate Byrd's Author Note at the end of the novel identifying fact and fiction.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: To Die For and The Secret Keeper.

About the Author:

Sandra Byrd
 is the author of more than fifty books and has received many awards, nominations, and accolades, including a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and multiple starred reviews and Best Book selections from Library Journal. Other awards include the Historical Novel Society's Editor's Choice award, two Christy finalists, a Bookpage Top Pick for Romance, and inclusion on Booklist's Top Ten Inspirational Books of the Year list.

A dedicated foodie, Byrd cooks through the topic and location of every book she writes. In addition, she collects vintage glass and serve ware in her free time, loves long walks with her husband, and Sunday Suppers with her growing family. She lives in Tacoma, Washington. You can find out more at

Quaystrokes, 338 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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