Monday, April 22, 2013

Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd - Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd
Howard Books, 2013 

Format? paperback
Source? publisher via Historical Fiction Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of Roses Have Thorns from the publisher in exchange for a review.  However, the review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Cover? meh, not really
Title? Symbolic of the kind of life both Elizabeth I and Helena lead, dancing along the lines of those who are true friends or hidden enemies.

Why? As much as I love reading about Queen Anne Boleyn, I enjoy reading about her daughter Queen Elizabeth I even more.

What Now? 
Bring on the other Ladies in Waiting books because I can't wait to get my hands on them!!!

Golden Lines

"I will marry as soon as I can conveniently.  And as to the succession - I stood in danger of my life, my sister was so incensed against me.  I did differ from her in religion, and for that I was sought for diverse ways from plotters and overthrowers.  So I shall never name my successor, who may will to unseat me!"  (53)

"I walk many times into the pleasant fields of the Holy Scriptures, where I pluck up the goodly green herbs of sentences by pruning, eat them by reading, chew them by musing, and lay them up at length in the seed of memory by gathering them together so that having tasted Thy Sweetness, I may less perceive the bitterness of this miserable life."  (58)

I wondered how heavy was the burden knowing that from the moment of your conception, there were others wishing for and plotting your death. (81)

The queen often surrounded herself with her mother's relatives, including Lady Hunsdon, married to Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the brother of poor passed Lady Knollys and son of Mary Boleyn. (86)

She raised me up then and drew me closer, so much more woman than queen then with her white bed dress on and no makeup.  "Just because I do not speak of my mother in public does not mean I do not speak of her at all.  You have done no wrong, be not afraid." (87)

He was found guilty, and yet the queen was reluctant to sign his death warrant.  To the frustration of her government, she'd signed - and rescinded - the execution warrant twice. (109)

"I have loved Lord Robert since I was a girl," she said. "I am given to him in all manner but one. I had, and have passion.  But I put it under glass, Helena, lest it set my kingdom on fire." (140)

It would behoove us at court, I thought, to better pay attention to what she did and not only to what she said.  She showed us all what she told very few. (143)

A kingdom was complicated; a heart more so. (177)

For my part, I prayed that although the queen had declared her desire to continue the line of her father, she would not continue his sins, punishing for personal vengeance and not for political right. (177)

"To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it," she responded quietly. (178)

The queen held a banquet in honor of Thomas's successful journey to and from Sweden; she was always festive when monies were earned or recovered, or saved.  (191)

"Philip has been plotting for my throne for twenty-five years!" the queen shouted.  "Since he could not pilfer it in my bed, he seeks to steal it like a common thief through the back door." (203)

She would not have a child named after her, but because she encouraged and launched her subjects in exploration, and not merely war as did many monarchs before and beside her, she would have new lands named for her (231)

I knew she was at peace and with those she best loved: in the embrace of the Lord Jesus, then next, perhaps her Robin, and then finally, finally, resting enfolded in the arms of her mother. (303)


Elin von Snakenborg leaves her family and her country, Sweden, to find a new life in England after her fiance' and sister fall in love.  Renamed Helena upon arrival to the court of Her Majesty, Elizabeth I, Elin becomes a principle lady in waiting to the queen.  Elin marries into a noble family with the blessing of the queen but then marries another man whose title is beneath her after her first husband dies very shortly after their marriage.  Over time, Helena's friendship with Queen Elizabeth I grows, even after the test of her marriage, which was not approved by the queen in advance as was customary.  Helena serves her queen and friend with respect and honor and love through happy as well as difficult times.  

What I Liked

the Google factor...if you've been around my blog before, you know I'm a researcher at heart...and I LOVE to look "stuff" up :p 
Just what I need...more info in my brain.

Kat Ashley
Blanche Parry
Lady Knollys, Her Majesty's cousin, the daughter of Mary Boleyn
Anne, Lady d'Aubernon of Usher, favorite lady of Queen Elizabeth I
Meg Wyatt, mother of Anne, Lady d'Aubernon of Usher, favorite lady of Queen Anne Boleyn
Lady Helena von Snakenborg
Catherine de' Medici
Duke d'Anjou
Queen Kateryn Parr's brother William Northampton
Francis Walsingham
Lord Cecil and his home Theobalds
Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury for Queen Elizabeth I's reign.  Just before her execution, Queen Anne Boleyn had asked him to take care of Elizabeth's spiritual life.
Thomas Tallis
Lord Robert (Robin)
Queen Elizabeth I's creation of the London Exchange
Francis Drake
Her Majesty's love of French fashion
perfumes and Her Majesty's use of particular scents
Windsor Castle in the 16th century
Francis Throckmorton
Her Majesty's love of spaniels
Duke of Guise
Ambassador Mendoza of Spain...liason between Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth I
Henry Percy, the Eighth Earl of Northumberland
Bess Throckmorton
King James, son of Mary, Queen of Scots
Sir Walter Raleigh's request to name the land from which he brought back tobacco, Virginia, after his virgin queen.

Getting to know Queen Elizabeth I in a more personal (as much as possible) way.  The woman. Her heart. Her love of her "family." Her strength, both physical and intellectual.  

Insight into how the queen's ladies lived with her and still had families of their own outside court - this was not always an easy balance.  If a choice was to be made between queen and the lady's family, the lady chose queen.  Anything the queen gave, she could always take away.

Queen Elizabeth I's honor for actors and playwriting...she was their Queen of Revels 

A more in depth look at the faith of Queen Elizabeth I - "There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith.  All else is a dispute over trifles." (236)

According to Byrd, "Elizabeth was a uniter.  She did not let Catholics take over her realm, nor the far wings of Protestantism - Puritans and Calvinists - though she had beloved friends and councilors amongst all three." (310)

I never tire of the story of how Queen Elizabeth I put on armour and rode out to see her troops as the Spanish were approaching.

The works of reference provided by Byrd at the end...yes, I'm a geek...but I'm not gonna apologize for it.  I LOVE a reference section!!! 

What I Didn't Like

Princess Cecelia from Sweden - spoiled brat
Mary, Queen of Scots - nuts

Even though she reigned for 45 years, Queen Elizabeth I constantly had to defend herself against those who still considered her a bastard Queen...even to the point of being turned away by the Pope.

It is a challenge for me to keep up with all the titles, cousins, lords and ladies, as well as so many people with the same first names...gracious!

I didn't care very much for Lady Helena's stories...many of them were from her own childhood, Swedish legends and fables, as well as others from around the world.  I skimmed right through these because I wanted her to get back to Elizabeth.  

Overall Recommendation

Don't shy away from this book because of your Tudor over saturation or bc you aren't a Tudor fan.  While the Tudor reign certainly is a part of this story, that's not all the story is about.  If you're in the least bit interested in Queen Elizabeth I as a monarch, you'll fall in love with her in Roses Have might even find yourself understanding completely how other women could have left their own families to serve her.  I found myself many times getting frustrated with Helena's husband Thomas...why can't he just be happy that he never sees his wife because she is a principle lady in waiting to the queen and he never sees her??? :/  What a difficult balance it was for Queen  Elizabeth I to be a woman, a queen, her father's daughter, a ruler to not cross, her mother's memory keeper, and a faithful friend.  

The Author

Sandra Byrd

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book

Wednesday, April 10
Review at Layered Pages
Review & Giveaway at My Reading Room

Thursday, April 11
Review & Giveaway at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, April 12
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, April 15
Review at Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, April 16
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, April 17
Review & Giveaway at One Book at a Time

Thursday, April 18
Review & Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria

Friday, April 19
Review & Giveaway at Bloggin’ ’bout Books

Monday, April 22
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Tuesday, April 23
Review & Giveaway at Julz Reads

Wednesday, April 24

Thursday, April 25
Review at Book Drunkard
Guest Post & Giveaway at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

Friday, April 26
Review & Giveaway at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Monday, April 29

Tuesday, April 30
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, May 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 3
Review at Book Dilettante

Monday, May 6
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview at Reading the Past

Tuesday, May 7
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader

Wednesday, May 8
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Tina’s Book Reviews

Friday, May 10
Review at The Bookworm

Monday, May 13
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 14
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book

Wednesday, May 15
Review & Giveaway at Legacy of a Writer

Thursday, May 16
Review at Bitches with Books

Friday, May 17
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict


  1. I've got this one coming up. I've enjoyed the other books I've read by the author so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one.
    Elizabeth is a fascinating woman.

    1. There are not a lot of people (current or historical) in this life who just bowl me over...but Queen Elizabeth I is one of them. I pretty much just go gaga :/ Fascinating is a perfect word.

  2. Hey Peppermint! Thank you so much for your thorough and very fun review. You might want to check out an interview I've just done for the Historical Novel Society (will post soon) for further history geek information; I'm a history nerd too. Thanks again for the read and review; I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Sandra! I'm so glad you stopped by!! I can't wait for your interview; I'll stop by the Historical Novel Society now and bookmark it so I won't forget :)
      I just can't get enough of history...I'm an English professor but so much of history and literature are intertwined that I can very easily get swept away by both. Thanks again for commenting!! :)

  3. I so want to read all three of the books in this series, and can't wait to read this one, which I have seen everywhere! It has great reviews all over the place, and I am really anxious to read it. Very nice job with this review!

    1. Thanks, Zibilee!! I want to read the one about Anne Boleyn next, but her story always makes me sad too :(

  4. I just finished & reviewed this book myself -- my first by Sandra Byrd and it definitely won't be my last! Loved it!