Tag Archives: Tudor England

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 http://www.sandrabyrd.com, http://www.sandrabyrdbookcoach.com 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.)


Book Review: To Die For

16 Oct

183113_w185To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.  

Meg’s childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.

Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book — Meg.

aboutAfter earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her 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 by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I will publish in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has also published many nonfiction articles and books. She is also passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.
Please visit http://www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype.

My Impressions:

I have always loved the Tudor era and in particular the lives of Henry VIII’s wives. Sandra Byrd’s book To Die For offers an interesting look into the life and times of Henry and Anne Boleyn. Told by Anne’s longtime friend, Meg Wyatt, the novel is a fresh look at the woman who did much to bring the Reformation to England.

Meg Wyatt, sister of poet and courtier Thomas Wyatt, is the narrator of To Die For. She is truly a woman of her time, bound by the patriarchal society that determines a woman’s future while controlling her present. Meg is the childhood friend of Anne Boleyn and attends her rise and fall with loyalty and love. Although Meg’s story is fictionalized, Byrd brings to life the historical events and people surrounding the court of Henry VIII. The politics, power and greed are all shown through the mostly unbiased eye of Meg. And while Anne’s tale is fascinating, it is Meg’s story that holds the reader’s heart. Controlled by her family, Anne’s court and the laws of the land, Meg finds her way by committing herself to service to God and Queen.

For those of you who love historical details, you will enjoy To Die For. King Henry’s court — its extravagance and glory and its intrigue and deception — comes to life. The royal excesses are aptly contrasted with the sacrifices of men and women seeking religious reform. To Die For is book 1 in the Ladies in Waiting series, and I am looking forward to more great reading from Sandra Byrd.


Great For Book Clubs.

(I purchased this novel. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of To Die For, click on the image below.