Review: The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd

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. 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 concerns with Juliana’s father’s estate and sees instantly that Juliana would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in Parr’s 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 undo everything she holds dear.

Henry VIII wasn’t someone I knew much about before reading these two books by Sandra. Other than the whole “blame his wives for having girls then chopping off their heads” thing. And the “Henry the Eighth I am, I am, Henry the Eighth I am” thing.

After reading To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, I thought I knew what to expect from Henry in this novel and I wasn’t terribly disappointed. I did wish for Kateryn to have more of a chance at happiness once Henry passed and she became the Dowager Queen [no spoilers here – only what is pretty commonly known].

Julianna doesn’t just live through the turmoil of being close to one of Henry’s wives, but also through personal experiences I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. She survives it all with grace and as much dignity as she can muster.

Her knight in shining armor [literally? ;)] Jamie is wonderful and the resolution with their relationship is enough to make a girl give a waffy sigh and revel in the ending for a few minutes before getting back to the “real world.”

Not long after I finished this one [less than an hour actually], I started the next one – look for it tomorrow.

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars