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Review: Roses Have Thorns, A Novel of Elizabeth I by Sandra Byrd

Title: Roses Have Thorns, A Novel of Elizabeth I
Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Howard Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 9 April 2013
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Historical Fiction, Romance, Tudor, Queen Elizabeth I, England, Sweden, 1500's
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 336
Rating: 5 Stars
Thought to be the painting of Elin at age 21

The year is 1564, and 17 year old Elin Ulfsdotter, von Snakenborg travels by ship from Sweden with an entourage of the Swedish royal court. Their destination is England and principally with Queen Elizabeth. During her departure Elin finds out her fiancée and her dowry have slipped away. After arriving in England Elin decides to make England her new home. Elin changed her name to Helena, she became a lady in waiting to the queen, and later married the Earl of Northampton. Helena rose socio-economically in becoming a titled and wealthy woman. During this time period Catholicism versus Protestantism are at enmity. Queen Elizabeth is protestant, but her nemesis and cousin Mary Queen of Scots is Catholic. Deception, entanglements, alliances, spying, and faithfulness, are tested by all in the royal court of England. Helena will be sorely tested. Her decision will be the earmark of her life.
Darnley stage 3.jpg
Queen Elizabeth I

My Thoughts:
  • The strength of this story is in Elin or Helena. She is an admirable, trustworthy character. She is a near-perfect blending of personality traits. She is beautiful both outwardly and inwardly. She is thoughtful, loving, patient, charming, insightful, and gentle. She is also judicious, and is proficient in voicing her feelings. She is a keen observer of people and this gives her a bonus working in Elizabeth's court. Helena is with the queen at all times. Rarely dismissed from her presence. Helena eyes and mind are quick to pick up on the nature of other people, as well as being clued in to the queen's demeanor. I was very impressed with Helena. In every way she embodies a virtuous woman. She makes the most of every opportunity to pray. With her keen observations, she takes them all to the Lord in prayer. 
  • I loved seeing a personal side of Queen Elizabeth. Most books I've read of her have shown me her qualities that wanted to show me she could rule, as expected, as if she were a man, and the daughter of kings. Instead in Roses Have Thorns I also saw---her passion, insecurities, fears, and moments of sadness. I was very pleased to see in this novel a dimensional Elizabeth.
  • During this era, men ruled. They ruled on the throne and they ruled in the home and they ruled in all of society. But, because of a certain timing of circumstances a woman became Queen of England. I loved it that this novels principle player's were women, not men. Not that I don't like men, I do---very much, but I loved it that women were the focus of this novel!
Thank you to CBA-Renee Chaw, author Sandra Byrd, and Howard Books, for my FREE review copy!

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I, will publish in April, 2013.
Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens.
A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has also published many nonfiction articles and books. She is also passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype.

Connect with Sandra on Twitter:

Link for the book @ Amazon:
Paperback $11.91
Kindle $9.72 

Above paintings from

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Chelsey said…
I am looking forward to reading this book soon! Awesome post and blog. New follower :)

I would love it if you would stop by my blog and follow too!

Chelsey@Charming Chelsey's
Sandra Byrd said…
Thank you very much, Annette! I love your comments, and am thankful that you chose my book to read and review!
Annette said…
Thank you so much Chelsey and Sandra for stopping by and commenting!