Audiobook Mini-Review: The Secret Keeper

2 Sep

The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor. 

Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight in Marlborough. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father’s business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn, or Katherine Parr.

Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his business with Juliana’s father’s estate and sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in the Parr household for “finishing” and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly. For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king’s daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.

As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII’s court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will upset everything she thought she once held dear.


Sandra Byrd‘s first series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was named by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction Books of the year.

Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books of the Year Pick, as was The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.

Victorian Ladies, a new series, offered its first title, Lady of a Thousand Treasures, in 2018.

Sandra has also authored many books for teens, tweens, and devotionals for both adults and children.

Connect with Sandra at, or through any of these social media platforms:


My Impressions:

I am woefully behind on some series, including Sandra Byrd’s Ladies in Waiting series that focuses on the Tudors. So I downloaded the audiobook of The Secret Keeper, put on my tennis shoes, and walked my way through the halls of intrigue in the last days of Henry VIII. This novel tells the story of Kateryn Parr, Henry’s sixth and final wife. The book is rich in historical detail — the author really did her research to bring the world of Tudor England to life. Besides the attention to furnishings, language, and clothing, Byrd explores all of the political and religious intrigues of the day. Kateryn is portrayed as a well-read and intelligent woman, who unfortunately must stay within the boundaries of her class and gender. She wrote a number of insightful books, yet had to bow to men in all things. Her life with Henry, her third husband, was not easy, nor was it free of danger. She outlived him and was married to Thomas Seymour (her true love), brother of Queen Jane (Henry’s third wife) and uncle to now King Edward VI. But a happily-ever-after is denied her.

Kateryn’s story is told through the first person voice of a fictional lady-in-waiting, Juliana St. John. Juliana comes to Kateryn’s household as a naive young country girl. Juliana also faces trouble as she becomes indispensable to the Queen before, during, and after her marriage to Henry. I came to love Juliana — trustworthy, loyal, and undeserving of the harsh treatment she encounters throughout her life. You will love how her story ends.

Byrd weaves a tale that brings a fresh perspective on the Tudor era. I loved how she explored the what-ifs of Kateryn’s life — you will too. Specific to the audiobook: the narrator does a wonderful job of presenting Juliana’s voice. It was perfect for the subject and characters.


Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


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