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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ARC Review: Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd

Publisher: Howard Books
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Format: DRC
Source: publisher via edelweiss

Byrd’s third novel in her Ladies in Waiting series is told from the viewpoint of a Swedish noblewoman in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. Elin comes to the English courts with the Swedish princess Cecelia in 1564, leaving behind a betrothed who from the very beginning the reader is able to tell is not interested in her. After Princess Cecelia is asked to leave, Elin stays behind to become maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth I. She takes an official English name of Lady Helena and catches the eye of Lord Northampton. After learning that he isn’t free to marry, Helena wonders if she made a huge mistake in staying behind. Once Lord Northampton is finally free to marry the marriage only lasts 5 short months before he dies. Now Helena is a marchioness and a very high ranking lady. Her friendship with Queen Elizabeth grows to the point that Elizabeth cannot live without her. But Helena has dreams of having children and another husband and she finds that in Thomas Gorges who is a mere nobleman and Helena knows that Elizabeth will never allow her to marry beneath her station.

Byrd does capture the familiar story of what we know of Elizabeth’s reign. There is the constant plotting and the need for Elizabeth to control everyone around her. You also see a softer side of Elizabeth that only Helena would have seen. That softness is especially noticeable during the time that Elizabeth was making the decision whether or not to execute Mary Queen of Scots. I was taken on an amazing recap of Elizabeth’s life and death that left me feeling like I was seeing her through Helena’s eyes.

I have not read the other two books in this series but after reading Roses Have Thorns I will be adding them to my wish list. This is a great historical novel that doesn’t have a heavy underlay of information that normally tends to make a historical work heavy. I felt it was a light enough read for any novice historical fiction fan.