Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Roses Have Thorns, by Sandra Byrd

I received this book free of charge from the publisher for an honest review.

Roses Have Thorns is the third of the Ladies in Waiting Tudor-era novels by Sandra Byrd. It introduces the reader to a Swedish historical woman, Elin von Snakenberg, or as she came to be known in England, Helena, Marchioness of Northampton. Through the story of Elin we come into the court of Elizabeth I where we are brought face to face with the carefully researched ups-and-downs and at times life-and-death intrigues of life for a queen who had grown up with an all too realistic fear for her own neck after her father ordered the beheading of her mother and her wary half-sister took the throne. Surely such a Rose would have dangerous thorns as a cousin entered her land and was said to contend for her throne. Who around her could Elizabeth trust?

Byrd paints a sympathetic and likeable heroine from the start of the book as Elin must leave her fiance behind obviously entangled in a love affair with her sister as Elin travels to England attending a Swedish princess. A difficult, lengthy voyage and Danish interference cut off communication with her family. Love quickly finds her in England, however, with Lord Northampton, brother of the late Queen Kathryn Parr, and she comes to be the second most powerful woman in the land. Yet we see how Elin endured puzzling rejection and even near death for having brought along into Elizabeth's bedchamber a custom from her homeland.

Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy becoming better acquainted with numerous persons--the Swedish princess, many from Elizabeth's court and especially the not-well-known Elin from Sweden. Byrd won a fascinated readership with this choice of a lovely, young woman who would enchant an uneasy queen with her soothing massage and her discerning words spoken with a lilting accent.

Writing in the first person, Byrd conjures interesting phrases that make reading her fiction a word-lover's delight while raising the level of suspense. "She took my proffered arm, but I felt warned rather than warmed."

The author mentions places, customs and persons of the time without giving the story a textbook feel and without taking the reader out of the story. I was far too intrigued with what might happen next to go looking things up (except for the delightful main character!), yet I grew in knowledge of the period and felt ever more dressed in a Tudor gown.

An appealing cover shows Elizabeth and her lady in cloth of gold, and the family trees of main characters assist the reader in placing them accurately in context. Chapter numbers are underscored with scrollwork befitting the historical setting, and a description of dates and locations for each chapter help the reader remain grounded. Bestselling authors and respected literary journalists fill pages with praise for the book.


Roses Have Thorns is available at Amazon. The publisher is offering to send a copy to one winner. You may enter the drawing by commenting below. Please be sure to leave your contact information. A winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced here by May 29th, 2013.

Roses Have Thorns is published by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Copyright 2013 by Sandra Byrd
ISBN 978-1-4391-8316-8
ISBN 978-1-4391-8318-2 (ebook)


About the author

After 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 BoleynTo 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 to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype.

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The Giveaway Winner is Lady Wesley!


Mari said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. The Plot sounds fascinating.
Marilyn (

Diamond Cronen said...

Hi! This book sounds really good...I love Tudor period histfic!! Please count me in!

Thanks!! Hope you're well!

Lana Williams said...

This sounds like a fascinating story! Can't wait to read.

rhonda said...

I love to read about the Tudor period,love historical

Gina D said...

Love historical fiction - thanks for posting the review and hosting the giveaway.

funmail07 at gmail dot com

Sandra Byrd said...

Thank you so very much for the time and care taken in reading and reviewing. I truly appreciate it - and you!!

Lady Wesley said...

Please enter me in the giveaway.

Denise said...

Please enter me in the giveaway.

Lauren Gilbert said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. This sounds fantastic. bluecrabfla at

Spears II said...

Very excited to read this one! Please enter me in the giveaway. RoseLZ18(at)yahoo(dot)com

Vesper Meikle said...

as a lover of English history I would like to read this, please enter me into the giveaway

meikleblog at gmail dot com