What would it be like to leave your country and your family forever to serve the most powerful woman in the world and marry one of the richest and most highly-titled men in England?
Bestselling author Sandra Byrd answers that question in the third and final installment in her Ladies in Waiting series: Roses Have Thorns.
As Byrd marked the passage of time between books one and two by the appearance of King Henry VIII, we know around 15 years have passed between books two and three by the way Byrd describes Elizabeth.
At the end of The Secret Keeper, Elizabeth was a sweet 16-year-old princess uncertain how to deal with the attentions of an older lord. But when we meet her in Roses Have Thorns, she’s now a confident queen in her early thirties, with tiny wrinkles at the corners of her eyes.
In the seventh year of her reign, a 17-year-old Swedish girl named Elin von Snakenborg arrives in England and catches the eye of the Marquess of Northampton. He asks for her hand in marriage, and she accepts.
But as her fellow travelers embark on their return voyage—the first of which took ten months—Elin discovers the truth about this man she’s no longer sure she can trust. Has she just abandoned all for nothing?
Despite the forces that oppose her, she becomes Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, and one of Elizabeth’s closest ladies in waiting. Over the next few decades, these two brave women battle betrayal and ultimately learn to sacrifice what is good for what is best.
Roses Have Thorns is a thoroughly-gratifying conclusion to the Ladies in Waiting series (tweet that!) and my favorite glimpse into the life of Elizabeth I. With Sandra Byrd’s superb use of symbolism and foreshadowing, and the true fairy tale that was Helena von Snakenborg’s life, this richly-textured period piece satisfies on so many levels.
Even the genealogy tree hidden at the back adds a lovely surprise to the already perfect ending.
I would recommend this story to women of all ages, especially those who enjoy romance, history, or inspirational fiction.