The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Katherine Parr (Tudor Ladies in Waiting #2) by Sandra Byrd | Historical Fiction Review

The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Katherine Parr (Tudor Ladies in Waiting #2) by Sandra Byrd

Tudor Ladies in Waiting #2
Historical Fiction

In a court full of intrigue, what if the most heart-wrenching secrets Juliana must keep are her own?

Sir Thomas Seymour offers Juliana St. John a place in the household of Katherine Parr, a welcome reprieve. Juliana blossoms under Kate's maternal warmth, but all is not well. Juliana has the gift of prophetic dreams and "sees" terrible events visited upon the highborn. If her prophetic gift is discovered, she will be accused of heresy or, worse, witchcraft.

Katherine Parr is a beautiful, intelligent woman whose generosity is surpassed only by her kindness. Unsurprisingly, she attracts the attention of King Henry VIII, who recently dispatched his fifth wife. Unfortunately, being Henry's beloved carries no small risk for Kate and her household, especially after she becomes his queen. As a member of the queen's inner circle, Juliana bears witness to a barrage of plots within the increasingly treacherous court—many intended to remove Kate's influence and, perhaps, her life.

As Henry's illness progresses toward death, those seeking to claim his power descend on the queen. Meanwhile, Thomas Seymour is revealed to be both more and immeasurably less than the kindhearted benefactor Juliana once thought him to be. As the queen's trusted confidante, Juliana is a well-practiced secret keeper. But when unforeseen violence upends her future, the most heart-wrenching secret she keeps is her own.

Threading historical fact through gripping fiction, Byrd creates a rich tapestry of one young woman's battle to protect those she loves from harm.


A discussion of potentially sensitive content may be found on the author’s webpage for this book for those who would like to preview it before reading.

Tudor Ladies in Waiting series

Read the entire series:

My Thoughts

I naturally gravitate to historical fiction and I’ve read To Die For, book one in the Ladies in Waiting series, so I had an inkling that I was probably going to like this one. I liked it and more!

In this second installment, Sandra’s voice just gets better. She again tells the story of a very turbulent time in history. While the majority of writers that delve into this era tend to focus on the tawdry details, Sandra focuses on the events that surround the court and eventually shape the makeup of England as we know it.

The story is told through Juliana St. John a lady in waiting to Katheryn Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII. We get to see the conflict with the reformers and the ways in which Queen Katheryn helps the cause. There is a particularly intense and touching portrayal of Anne Askew. I loved the boldness Anne had in proclaiming truth as the flames grew higher.

We are also privy to the ways in which Katheryn convinced Henry to restore his children who will go on to be the ruling monarchs of England. Although Katheryn didn’t have children of her own with Henry she showed great love towards Mary, Elizabeth and Edward.

This book is full of wonderful learning opportunities. The opening pages contain the family trees of all the main characters. I finally put a tab in so I could quickly turn back to that section. It was invaluable in keeping everyone straight. The author’s note and interview in the back of the book gives important information about what was factual and what was fiction in the story. Even with all of that I still had to look up the terms shriven and auricular confession. Go ahead and Google them, you’ll enjoy the education!

My hope is that this series will continue. I love this series and two books just aren’t enough. Whether Sandra continues to write about the nobility of early England or not, I will continue to seek out her work. She has a wonderful writing style that makes you lose yourself in the story.

Favorite quotes from the book:

“Time will discover everything . . . it is a babbler and speaks even when no question is put.”
~ Euripides

“Religion might be the arena the game was played in, but the prize, no doubt, was earthly power.” ~ Juliana

“The men began to moan and cry immediately and I closed my eyes and prayed for them, the words formed upon my silent, moving lips. Askew herself did not scream until the fires hit her face. Instead, till the end, she corrected Shaxton on his Scripture. ‘Yes, he’s got that right,’ she’d boldly call out of a passage, or, ‘No, there he misseth and speaks without the book.’ I was strengthened by her courage and forced open my eyes in order to honor her.” ~ Juliana

Connect With The Author

Sandra Byrd


I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.


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