Friday, May 17, 2013

HFVBT: Review--Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd {Giveaway}

Giveaway Winner - Lara Frame

My thoughts
I think what is best about historical fiction is the opportunity to find out about historical figures we know little or nothing about. This is the case in Sandra Byrd's new book, Roses Have Thorns, where we get to see the story of Elizabeth's Tudor court told from the point of view of Helena, Marchioness of Northampton. Helena comes to England from Sweden as Elin von Snakenborg and soon ingratiates herself with Queen Elizabeth. Helena is a very likable character. I enjoyed her kindness and wit throughout the book. What I liked the most though was the view of the queen through her eyes. Elizabeth is probably my favorite historical figure and the way she is portrayed in this book is how I feel she really might have been. Helena may have been Elizabeth's lady in waiting, but Byrd has portrayed the relationship between them with a light of friendship. This adds real charm and authenticity to the story. We get to experience Elizabeth as a flesh and blood human, not just a figure head. I was so very touched by this quote at the end when Elizabeth dies at the old age of 70:

"I knew she was at peace and with those she best loved: in the embrace of the Lord Jesus, then next, perhaps her Robin, and then finally, finally, resting enfolded in the arms of her mother."

That brought tears to my eyes. To know that you have made your mother so proud of you in what you did in your life and to finally see her again after so many years. I really hope that was true for Elizabeth.

This is the final book in Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series. I have the other two books (graciously sent to me by Ms. Byrd) and I can't wait to read them, even if I'm reading out of order. Ms. Byrd has a talent for telling a great story and creating characters we care about while preserving the historical details that surround the story. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.

About the book
Publication Date: April 9, 2013
Simon & Schuster/Howard Books
Paperback; 336p
ISBN-10: 1439183163

From the acclaimed author of To Die For comes a stirring novel told that sheds new light on Elizabeth I and her court.Like Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, Sandra Byrd has attracted countless fans for evoking the complexity, grandeur, and brutality of the Tudor period. In her latest tour de force, she poses the question: What happens when serving a queen may cost you your marriage--or your life?

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiance has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth's circle. But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot 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 brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.

Praise for Roses Have Thorns

"In Roses Have Thorns Sandra Byrd has given the reader another amazing heroine to tell the intimate story of England's greatest queen, Elizabeth I. What a unique point of view and deeply moving story Helena von Snakenborg provides. Byrd is especially adept at blending political and private lives. This is a timeless women's friendship novel as well as a poignant love story to cherish--both the roses and the thorns." (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Mourning )

"There is something golden about this tale of Elin, an eager young woman in a strange land, diligent in her duty but alive to love. A tale gracefully told, even as it renders the terrors of treachery that form the crucible of Elin's hard-won wisdom. A heartfelt story of loyalty, longing, life-long friendship, and the many seasons of the heart." (Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen's Gamble and Blood Between Queens)

"Beautiful prose and masterful research combine to bring this fascinating tale to life, treating the reader to fully realized characters and providing an original window through which we can view Elizabeth's court. Ms. Byrd's work will stand as an unforgettable contribution to Tudor fiction." (D.L. Bogdan, author of The Forgotten Queen)

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. Her second book, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, illuminates the mysteries in the life of Henry's last wife.

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 Follow Sandra Byrd on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #RosesHaveThornsVirtualTour

One copy of Roses Have Thorns and an Elizabeth I necklace (pictured below) to a winner in the U.S. only. Please leave a comment and be sure to leave a way to contact me if you win (email address, Twitter handle, etc). Last day to enter is Friday, June 7 at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!


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A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means so much.

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  1. SO.VERY.EXCITED. about this book. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  2. I REALLy wanna read this book!! I love historical fiction, and I've been wanting to read this book ever since I saw it :) thanks for a great giveaway! I love that necklace pretty!

  3. I've been wanting to read this for awhile! Thank you for this giveaway!

    jenniferhaile1 at gmail dot com

  4. Thanks for the giveaway... On my TBR list for sure! mosthappyreader at gmail dot com

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