Series: Ladies In Waiting #2
Publication Date: 5th June 2012
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Synopsis: The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor.
Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight in Marlborough. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father’s business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn Parr.
Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his business with Juliana’s father’s estate and sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in the Parr household for “finishing” and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly. For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king’s daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.
As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII’s court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will upset everything she thought she once held dear.
I never seem to tire of the Tudor period but it's refreshing to be swept away with a unique perspective. The Secret Keeper is the story of Kateryn (Katherine) Parr through the eyes of fictional character Juliana St John.
Juliana is an intelligent young woman with the spiritual gift of prophecy, she's forthright, brave, as loyal as they come (something of a rarity) and a breath of fresh air for those tiring of the Tudor period. As lady in waiting, friend and trusted confidante to Kateryn, Juliana looks upon Kate as a mother figure, shares her reformist beliefs and the value of education for women.
Twice widowed and in love with Thomas Seymour, Kateryn is best remembered as the 6th and final wife of Henry VIII, recognised for little other than surviving where others did not but there was so much more to this remarkable woman - learned, deeply spiritual, enlightened, compassionate, loving stepmother, writer and fierce supporter of religious reform.
The Secret Keeper is a captivating blend of history and artistic embellishment. Sandra Bryd makes use of the ambiguity and mystery surrounding Lady Mary Seymour (daughter of Kateryn & Thomas Seymour) to embellish a plausible and highly likeable 'what if.' I wasn't ready for the story to end, I'd have loved a little more about Mary Seymour, Juliana & Juliana's love interest, the chivalrous Irish knight, Jamie Hart.
The Secret Keeper was a truly effortless read, I'll be one of the first in line to read the final novel in the Ladies-in-waiting series, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I, due for release 2013.
There's still time to enter the GIVEAWAY for a copy of THE SECRET KEEPER ... enter here and if you've commented on my review I'll give you an extra entry. US/Canada Only. Ends 20th July
Want to know more about Sandra Bryd and her work? Visit her website.