What if you were in love with a nobleman when you caught the eye of the king who just executed his last wife? (Tweet that!)
By 1542, King Henry VIII had married five women. Two he’d divorced, two he’d beheaded, and one he hadn’t had time to tire of because she died from childbirth just a year after they said, “I do.” Despite the prestige and privilege inherent in becoming queen, who would sign up to become his sixth spouse?
In The Secret Keeper, the second novel in the Ladies in Waiting series, Sandra Byrd tells the story of that brave and brainy beauty through the eyes of a fictional lady in waiting named Juliana St. John. (For my review of the first novel in the series—To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn—click here.)
The daughter of a rich knight, Juliana is expected to marry the bland son of a prosperous merchant, the only eligible man in their town. But she hopes for something, and someone, more.
When Sir Thomas Seymour comes to Wiltshire on business, he hears Juliana read Scripture in church and offers her an opportunity to join the household of his beloved, Lady Kateryn Parr. Juliana goes, but warily, for she carries a secret.
Then King Henry starts pursuing Kateryn, and Juliana is thrust into a world of power and peril that could prove the end of her dreams and even her life.
With perfect pacing and rich historical detail, The Secret Keeper transports our heart, mind, and senses to the time of the Tudors while addressing issues women from every generation face. From rape to romance and infertility to spirituality, I sighed in both sorrow and satisfaction along with our plucky heroine.
In short, The Secret Keeper kept me enthralled from its opening chapter until the last lines on its final page. Even now, the character’s triumphs and tragedies resonate in my heart.
I would recommend this book to women of all ages, especially those who enjoy romance, history, or inspirational fiction.
Read my review of the last novel in this series—Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth 1—here.