Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Secret Keeper

Publisher:  Howard Books
Publication Date:  June 5th 2012
ISBN:  1439183147
Genre:  Historical Fiction / Romance
Synopsis:  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.
About the Author:   Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including the first book in her Tudor series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. For more than a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children. For more Tudor tidbits, please visit

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My Thoughts:  This book has everything that I love about historical fiction / romance novels!  Sandra Byrd is now one of my favorite authors!  I absolutely loved her writing style - so very easy to read.  She has an obvious expertise in the Tudor time period.  The book was so rich in historical facts, but not so much that it took away from the narrative.  I have not read the first book in this series, but I know now that I will - as a matter of fact, I just ordered it!!!

Juliana St. John is a fascinating heroine.  I loved that the author did not paint her to be perfect - rather showing her flaws / weaknesses.  Juliana had the gift of prophesy, which was very dangerous in this time period.  She had her share of both friends - some of which were quite controversial -  and enemies - adding to the danger.  Juliana became part of Kateryn Parr's household, prior to her becoming queen.  During this time, Juliana became close friends and confidant to Kateryn.  This allowed Juliana to take part in most everything - even the most intimate events.  Such detail was provided throughout for the characters and events that I often felt as if I were actually there - taking part!  The imagery was amazing!

I fell in love with both Juliana and Kateryn.  Both women were very generous in character, in ways beyond wealth.  It was a shame that not everyone loved them - although many did.  Their relationship was very complex, and so different than the bitter, jealous women of that time.  The love interests of both women were very intriguing.  The motives behind the interests in these men, quite captivating.  There is definitely no comparison to today's world - quite a difference.  There is an obvious difference in the roles of women at the time, no matter what your status.

I must say that I have learned quite a bit about Henry VIII.  I had learned a lot in school about him, but this put a new perspective on the time and person - and the novel was quite accurate to any of the historical accounts that had ever read or been exposed to.  Kateryn's love, Sir Thomas Seymour, sure had some ups and downs.  I both loved and hated him.  The plot twists involving him and Juliana were quite surprising!!!

I was immediately attracted to Juliana's love interest, Jamie.  Although at first, I was not sure they would have a chance, he was very persistent.  The romantic story-line the author created was very enjoyable.

This is a very cleanly and accuratley written historical fiction, that I would would recommend to anyone who loves this genre, and especially those that like this time period.

**I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review.  The opinions expressed here are my own."

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