Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd ~ A Historical Fiction Novel Review

Roses Have Thorns
Sandra Byrd
Historical Fiction

Back of the book:

What happens when serving a queen may cost you your marriage—or your life?

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiancĂ© has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle.

But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

A rich, tautly woven tale of love, deception, and grace, Roses Have Thorns vividly conjures the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.

My thoughts:

In Roses Have Thorns we are taken into the inner circle of Queen Elizabeth I. The story is told through the perspective of Helen von Snakenborg, who is a confidant of the queen and the second most powerful woman in all of England.

If you are a fan of Tudor history you are really going to enjoy this book! Sandra Byrd has woven a tale that is compelling yet tasteful. She gives you insight into just how turbulent the times were. We are reminded of how much shifting between Catholic and Protestant religions her predecessors embarked upon. The religious tension of the day was very pervasive in the lives of everyone, from those at court to those among the masses.  

I came away from the book with a new respect for Elizabeth I. She really did sacrifice her life and happiness for her subjects and her country. She was a very devout woman yet her court was still riddled with scandals. One of the things I appreciate about Sandra Byrd’s writing is that she tackles these disgraces head on in a discerning manner. We are aware of exactly what is going on, but we don’t have to muck through the tawdry details.

I was also profoundly affected by the story of Helen. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to live at court. Every luxury is at your fingertips, but your children and even in Helen’s case your husband are elsewhere. The power the queen held over her life would have been completely overwhelming to me. I loved her strength of character and also her flaws that reminded us that we are all vulnerable when we take our eyes off of our Savior.

This is the third and final installment in the Ladies in Waiting series. The first book is To Die For; A Novel of Anne Boleyn.  The second book is The Secret Keeper; A Novel of Kateryn Parr. Even though these three books are considered a series they are easily read as stand-alone novels. I highly recommend each of them!

Connect with the author: 


  1. oh! I love historical romance novels! This one looks like a good one! Thank you for the recommendation!

    1. Yes it is a great historical romance. Come back and tell me what you thought once you've read it!

  2. Thank you so much for this fantastic review - and for your time, too! I appreciate you!


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