Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Sandra Byrd

Howard Books (April 9, 2013) 336 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars(Favorite!)

My Thoughts:

Elin von Snakenborg starts out as a young, 16 year old young lady. She makes a long, cold journey with Sweden's Princess Cecelia to visit Queen Elizabeth in England. She soon meets an older man, and the prospect of marriage is on the horizon. She makes the difficult decision to stay in England as a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and takes on the English name, Helena. After all, her dowry has been gambled away, and her fiance is cheating with her sister. Staying in England looks much more promising than returning home to Sweden. She soon learns that all may not be as it seems, though.

It's rare that I keep books once I've read them. This whole series is one that I have gladly given a permanent spot on my keeper shelf. In fact, when writing this post, I discovered that I could not find the first book, To Die For. A panic induced house hunt was promptly put into place. I had recently moved all of my keeper books from upstairs to downstairs, since we use our downstairs space more often. When Jonathan asked why I was moving them, I told him looking at my favorite books make me happy. I'm sure all of you married ladies can guess his response. "Maybe you should look at them more often." He said it with a smile, so I'll forgive him. ;) During the move, it had gotten a little misplaced.

While this edition to the "Ladies in Waiting" series still has the same overall feel, it's also completely different. In the other two books, Meg and Juliana were ladies in waiting to King Henry's wives(Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Parr). In Roses Have Thorns, Helena is a lady in waiting to the actual Queen. Both her duties and the Queen's are different. Also, Helena's "happily ever after" comes halfway through this story, as opposed to the end. We all know there's no such thing as a perfect happily ever after! Right?! While the other two books proved the difficulty in finding the "happily ever after", Roses Have Thorns shows more of the difficulties after the "happily ever after". We have the opportunity to see just how difficult being a lady in waiting to the queen was. It put a tremendous strain on those women's marriage and family life.

I liked Helena! She was a bit more outspoken than an average lady during that time was allowed, but she also knew not to overstep her boundaries. She was courageous, and even let her temper show when the time came to show it(in my opinion). She wasn't perfect! She makes one particular decision involving her husband I didn't necessarily agree with. She was kind and generous, though, and I grew to like her more and more.

I've read a few books now pertaining to Queen Elizabeth, and Sandra's portrayal is by far my favorite! She kept Elizabeth's stern qualities, but added a softness to her that I enjoyed seeing. While she is also portrayed far from perfect(we all have flaws), she is portrayed in a way that made me think of her with respect. Her life involved many sacrifices and difficult decisions!

Overall, this is a beautiful edition to the "Ladies in Waiting" series, and my favorite book of Sandra's so far. While I highly recommend the whole series, Roses Have Thorns can be read perfectly fine as a standalone.

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Ladies in Waiting Series

Book 1:
To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn

Book 2:
The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr

Book 3:
Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I


  1. Well! A favorite. And you will keep it on your shelf. And it sounds FUN! I shall have to look these up!

  2. I've seen this series around but didn't give them a second glance until I read this review. Will have to put this series on my list.

    1. I really think you would like them!

  3. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this - especially given the busyness of your own family lately! (Congratulations on a new little love!) I really appreciate the time you take to thoughtfully review. You are a blessing. And I hope you'll give them a try, Carrie and Laura! :)

  4. It was my pleasure to read them!! And thank you for the congratulations! We're well entertained right now. ;)