Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Roses Have Thorns, by Sandra Byrd

Elin is leaving her home in Sweden, and her unfaithful fiance, to head to England,  and the court of Queen Elizabeth.  Through marriage, Elin gains rank, and changes her name to Helena, embracing her new identity as a British woman.  Helena develops a close relationship with the Queen, seeing her through perilous interactions with Mary, Queen of Scots.  Throughout the years, Helena learns much about love, loyalty, and what it is that she holds most dear.

Sandra Byrd never fails to bewitch readers with her historical fictional accounts of life in the Tudor court.  I really fell in love with Elin/Helena as a character.  It was interesting to see the perspective of an outsider coming into court life, making choices regarding her loyalty to a country that was not the one of her birth.  I loved watching Elin grow throughout the years, and see the different roles she took on.  I particularly loved watching her relationship with the Queen.  While there was still the appropriate royal etiquette in place, Elin helped the Queen appear as more than just a monarch, but also a real woman, with heartaches, desires, and disappointments.

The Tudor dynasty is fascinating to a great many readers, both British and American.  I really love the way the author weaves small historical details into the larger historical fiction picture.  When historical fiction is done well, it allows history to really come alive, and that certainly happened for me with this book.  I knew very little about the conflict between Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, so watching it unfold through Elin's eyes really helped me connect to that aspect of the story in a way that no history book ever could.  When I read a book like this, my first instinct is to then research the actual history records to learn more.  I think that is a tremendous compliment to an author of historical fiction, because clearly, the story connected pretty deeply.

Fans of historical fiction will adore this, particularly Anglophiles.  This book is a must read for anyone who is fascinated with the Tudor monarchy.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in exchange for my honest review.

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