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The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr

The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr

4.4 16
by Sandra Byrd

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What she sees in secret, she may not tell.

Mistress Juliana St. John is the lovely, forthright daughter of a prosperous knight’s family. Though all expect her to marry the son of her late father’s business partner, time and chance interrupt, sending her to the sumptuous but deceptive court of Henry VIII.

Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the


What she sees in secret, she may not tell.

Mistress Juliana St. John is the lovely, forthright daughter of a prosperous knight’s family. Though all expect her to marry the son of her late father’s business partner, time and chance interrupt, sending her to the sumptuous but deceptive court of Henry VIII.

Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane, returns to Wiltshire to conclude his affairs with Juliana’s father’s estate and chances upon her reading as lector in the local church. He sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves and wants most to please, Kateryn Parr. Juliana’s mother agrees to have her placed with Parr for a season and Juliana goes, though reluctantly.

For she keeps a secret.

Juliana has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one vibrant vision she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of a highly born young woman, while it was still on her body, to perilous consequence.

As Juliana accompanies Kateryn Parr to court, Henry’s devout sixth queen raises the stakes for all reformers. Support of firebrand Anne Askew puts the queen and her ladies in life-threatening jeopardy, as does the queen’s desire to influence her husband’s—and the realm’s—direction and beliefs. Later, without Henry’s strong arm, the court devolves to competition, duplicity, and betrayal. The risks could not be higher as Juliana must choose between love and honor, personal fulfillment and sacrifice. Ultimately, her course is driven by a final kept secret, one that undoes everything she thought she knew.

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Howard Books
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Meet the Author

Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including the first book in her Tudor series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. For more than a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children. For more Tudor tidbits, please visit www.sandrabyrd.com.

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The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and at the end I felt that Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour's daughter, Mary, had a wonderful life with Juliana and her family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why do these posters feel the need to write mini books on a review, some of which contains multiple plot spoilers. Tone it down and just write if u liked it or not. Stop with the dissertations
MsDollie 10 days ago
The Secret Keeper in another example of wonderful historical fiction by Sandra Byrd ... delightful. While the storyline is about Katherine Pharr the underling tale is about women, their friendships with each other, relationships between mothers and daughters AND of the cultural challenges that bind all women together. Interesting historical detail about the lives of historical characters told from the perspective of a fictional character. Loved it; will read it again.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I think that Juliana got her abilities from Gentina mutation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd, ©2012 Ladies in Waiting, Book 2 Kateryn Parr (b.1512-d.1548) Sir Thomas Seymour seeks Hugh St. John to settle some business and comes upon his daughter, Juliana, as a lector at the church. Assured she would be just the one to serve as a confidante lady-in-waiting for his beloved Kateryn, her mother initially agrees to one year's service at court for her daughter. Kateryn Parr has long been in love with Thomas, brother of late Queen Jane Seymour. Getting rid of his wives at whim, the King seeks to have Kate Parr as his next wife. Unknown to Henry VIII, she will be his last wife. King Henry VIII in failing health, the Court goes on without him ~ until he hears about it and has them beheaded. To the Tower is a command that doesn't return many. Desirous of keeping all the power himself, he is not overly pleased with the influx of reformers entering and promoting influences amid his reign. If only he had realized the true Queen he had, he would have had a much better outcome. He was swayed by opinion and pompous self-pride, on again ~ off again allegiance to Kate. For all of his misleading, Thomas does indeed do a great service for Kate when bringing Juliana to court for her. She is a faithful friend and continues at court for the duration of Kate's life. Kate, in turn, is the mother figure Juliana unknowingly sought. Benevolence on both parts, they are valuable to each other's lives. Juliana has prophetic dreams that forewarn of coming events, even before she knew she was to be a part of the outcome. Juliana tells the story as an observer and participant in the life of Queen Kateryn. She gives the Queen her complete attendance beyond a life of her own. Juliana is my very favorite character and I was overwhelmed with the acceptance she receives as she leaves court after the death of the Queen. Very satisfactory and a beloved friend. As a believer, she realizes she was never alone nor forsaken. This Tudor story is very thorough and well-written of hidden times revealed within the private chambers. Although Juliana is fictional among the actual happenings portrayed, she stands out as the very needed member. Enjoy the rich stories told in the Ladies-in-Waiting series by Sandra Byrd. Further historical readings of Principal Works of Reference are included in the back of the novel. Also included is a Reading Group Guide and Author Q&A. ***Thank you to Author Sandra Byrd for this story and the opportunity to read and review The Secret Keeper. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Celticlady1953 More than 1 year ago
How I love the Tudor's, let me count the ways....oh there are so many ways I love the Tudor's. The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr is the second novel in the Ladies in Waiting series by Sandra Byrd and this is one of the ways I love the Tudors. Kateryn, also known as Catherine was the Queen Consort of King Henry VIII, his sixth and last wife. This story is also about Juliana St. John, a lady in waiting to the Queen. She does not want to marry the man that her family has chosen for her but would rather go to court. Juliana becomes very close to Kateryn (Kate) and enjoys her day to day duties serving her. A close family friend is Thomas Seymour, who has aspirations to further his career but is in love with Kateryn and she him but she chooses to marry Henry . This time in the Tudor era sees the King as older and maybe a bit more mellow as Kateryn was instrumental in having Henry restore his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth to the succession to the throne of England after Edward. After Henry dies, the throne goes to Edward, but he is a child and as such is subject to the machinations of the Seymour family. Julianna continues in the household of the dowager Queen Catherine, as she is concerned for her welfare as she has had visions of a woman having her dress shredded and does not know who the victim is but knows that something is not right. Thomas Seymour returns to court and pursues his love of Catherine and they are married in secret. King Edward and Princess Mary do not approve of the match and rightly so as not too long after the marriage and after Kateryn becomes pregnant with her only child, Thomas Seymour starts behaving in an improper manner with the Princess Elizabeth who is living with them. Kateryn dies only six days after giving birth to a daughter. Little is known as to what happened to the child but the author does a great job of tying this tidbit of information into a believable ending. This is a story full of courtly intrique, mystery, religious persecution and greed. Rich in descriptions and thoroughly researched, this is an amazing novel about the lives and pagentry of life in the Tudor era. A wonderful blend of fact and fiction that historical fiction fans will love. I look forward to reading the last installment in this series Roses Have Thorns, A novel of Elizabeth I.
DanicaPage More than 1 year ago
Beautiully written. One of my favorites of the year. My Rating: 4 out of 5 rating. Disclaimers: I received this book for review from the publisher Howard Books in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks! My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I love this time period, but I haven't actually read a lot from this period outside of required English class. I went into this novel with high expectations. I was a little worried about how Byrd would tie in the paranormal-ish element of visions into her story. I had no reason to be concerned. Byrd's writing was masterful, her characters masterfully crafted, and her novel absolutely brilliant. I adored this novel. Thirty pages in and I was hooked. Byrd's novel had a depth to it that I appreciated. So often I read novels and I leave thoroughly entertained, but they don't have the depth to make me want to come back to them time and time again. Byrd's novel left me entertained and thoroughly enraptured. I absolutely adored this novel. Juliana was a character that I found myself rooting for from the very beginning. She was down-to-earth and yet so spunky. I loved her. And then there was Jaime. Oh how I adored him from the second I was introduced to him. He definitely made my "top male characters" list. This was the first novel I read by Byrd; it won't be the last. I desperately want to go back and read the first in the series. I can't wait to see what Byrd comes up with next. Definitely recommend this series, especially to all you history buffs out there. In Summary: A beautifully written novel with masterfully crafted characters that I absolutely adored. This novel is a must-read. Go get it now! Warnings/Side-notes: A rape scene (not too graphic but it's there). References to sex. But really this novel was very clean. The Wrap-up: Very rarely do I get to read a novel about the time period of Henry VIII, because usually they are quite filthy. This one was very clean and had a Christian element to it. Naturally I was ecstatic to read it. The Christian elements were never overbearing or seemed forced, which is another huge plus. Trust me read this one! Love, Danica Page
girlsmama More than 1 year ago
As those in London are celebrating the 60 year reign of their beloved Queen Elizabeth with the Diamond Jubilee, we in America have cause to celebrate as well. For us, it’s the release of another “Tudor Treasure” The Secret Keeper which comes to us compliments of the multi- talented Sandra Byrd. For those that enjoyed her first offering of To Die For featuring Ann Boleyn, I am sure that you will equally enjoy this new book highlighting dear Henry’s last wife Kateryn Parr as told through the eyes of her friend and lady in waiting Juliana St. John. As with any Queen of Henry the VIII, there were those amongst her court that were for her and those that were definitely against her- “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is very apropos here. Those in power are seeking out more power and the sharks are circling particularly as the King’s health is waning. There is much jockeying for position in the court and in influencing of the Henry’s children. Kateryn Parr tries to influence her step-children as best she can particularly in reformist type ways, which brings out enemies against her. With her friendship with Juliana St. John, she gains a powerful ally as Juliana has the gift of prophecy through dreams which proves to be very beneficial to Kateryn. The Tudor history and reformist storyline is well written and woven into a convincing chain of events, but also as compelling is Juliana’s storyline which showed the demands of the court as well as secrets, intrigue, and heartbreak. Juliana endures some difficult situations at court which I don’t want to give away here, but at one point my heart broke along with Juliana’s and I was cheering for her to not give up and press on. Juliana’s loyal friendship to Kateryn plays out to the very last page and when you finish this story you can’ help but think of her love, her sacrifice and loyalty to her friend and Queen and admire her for it. This is Historical fiction at its finest as I love how you are transported back to Tudor England, picturing the knights and ladies in waiting, the gowns, etc, but the dilemmas of the character’s are not that different than what we face today- heartache, betrayal, greed, as well as joys and triumphs. It was a wonderful book, which I am sure many will enjoy. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own. 5 stars.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Sandra Byrd has written another excellent novel. This time, the story is about Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife – one of his wives who survived marriage to the notorious, murderous monarch who got rid of wives by way of the executioner’s axe. I thoroughly enjoyed Sandra Byrd’s interpretation of Kate Parr’s life. She is portrayed as a kind-hearted, generous, and loving wife and mother figure with a strong faith, great patience, and high tolerance for others’ shortcomings. The story is told through the voice of Juliana St. John. Juliana is no ordinary noblewoman. She has the gift of prophecy through her dreams. When Sir Thomas Seymour spots Juliana, he arranges for her to become lady in waiting to Kateryn Parr, the woman he loves, and soon to be wife of Henry VIII. Kate’s trust in Juliana is profound and their close relationship results in Juliana becoming her ‘secret keeper’. But unbeknownst to Juliana, there are secrets about her own past that beg to be exposed to her. Sandra Byrd’s novels always delight, and I found this one quite refreshing – about a lesser known Tudor wife. Mistress Juliana St. John is the lovely, forthright daughter of a prosperous knight’s family. Though all expect her to marry the son of her late father’s business partner, time and chance interrupt, sending her to the sumptuous but deceptive court of Henry VIII. There, Kateryn’s support of Anne Askew, a woman unwilling to bend to new religious laws, puts her and her ladies lives in jeopardy. This tale nicely blends historical fact with fiction. The story is well-paced, well-written, and a gentle read. Sandra Byrd’s extensive research about the Tudors is evident in the rich details and descriptions. The conflicts Julian faces when having to decide between love and duty and sacrifice kept me interested from start to finish. And of course, the biggest secret of all is revealed in a highly satisfying, but rather unusual ending. A thoroughly enjoyable book well worth reading.
mrsinserra More than 1 year ago
This is a historical fiction book told from the POV of Juliana St. John, the daughter of a knight. She becomes a member of Kateryn Parr, King Henry the VIII’s last wife’s household. There is a bit of the supernatural mixed in with the history, which adds an interesting element to the story. I enjoyed this book, but not as much as other books I have read. I think that was mostly to do with one of the scenes in the book, it left a sour taste in my mouth and influenced my opinion of the rest of the story. There was a vividly described scene in which Juliana is raped. This event influenced Juliana’s life greatly. She forever felt unworthy of any decent gentleman’s affection since she was ruined and tainted by that event. This was even emphasized by a suitor telling her he wanted nothing to do with her after her so called friend betrayed her and told her suitor of the rape in order to gain his affection for herself. How Juliana ever forgave her, I will never know. Secret Keeper is full of lies, deceit, and intrigue, portraying almost all of the bad things that can happen to one involved in the inner workings of court life. I would never have wanted to be a courtier or even a woman in that time period. I know that it looks fun and that the clothing was beautiful, but women were treated terribly. The double standard of what was acceptable behavior was so much more pronounced then, and women were so cruel, crueler than women are to each other in an average person’s life today. On a happier note, this is actually more of a romance story than one would think given the title and what you may know about the life of Kateryn Parr, at least it is for Juliana. I am not going to give away anymore of the plot, except to say that it is very good and keeps the reader riveted to the story. This book has so many levels, plots and sub-plots that all mix and intertwine to give the reader a fresh perspective on the life of Kateryn Parr and the women who were loyal to her. Even if you are not fans of the supernatural, that element of this story is so small that it is almost insignificant and should not deter you from reading this book. In case you wanted to know, there is sex in this book, besides the rape scene. There are not many sex scenes and there is a significant amount of material between the rape and the next sex scene, but sex in general is brought up fairly often because of the insecurities that this traumatic event created for Juliana. I would recommend this book for adults only because of its overall content including but not limited to sex scenes, the rape scene, and events that follow due to the rape. I do not feel those would be appropriate for kids. If you are very sensitive to rape and all that follows, this book would not be good for you. It may bring up things you don’t want to think about and the scene is described in quite a bit of detail. It is also a main part of the plot and continues to be brought up throughout the entire novel. I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy. Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com
steelergirl83 More than 1 year ago
Wow! Does Sandra Byrd know how to write a book or what? I'll be the first to admit that I don't often seek out books set in 16th century England but since having read To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn last year I make a point to read all Ms. Byrd's stories. I don't know a lot about the Tudors or English royalty but reading books like The Secret Keeper makes it feel like I'm living it up at court or that I'm right in the midst of a royal intrigue. Juliana St. John, a companion and maid of honor to Kateryn Parr, quickly becomes attached to the last wife of Henry VIII especially since Kateryn shows more affection for her than Juliana's own mother. Life within the palace's inner circles isn't without its disadvantages, especially to an innocent young woman like Juliana. The secrets that she must hold close abound and if they ever come out everyone could be in danger including the new queen herself. Writing seemingly authentic to the time characters and the ability to make the struggles of a person who lived hundreds of years ago relevant to the modern woman takes true talent and Sandra Byrd definitely has it! Every moment of Juliana's story was gripping, entertaining, and chock full of emotion. Getting to know Juliana as a naive young woman and follow her as she matured while in service to queen, king and country was truly a joy. Don't get me wrong there are definitely moments that will make you want to weep, especially concerning the treatment of women and assaults, but the ending was terrific without being an over the top happily-ever-after. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Tudor court set fiction regardless of whether or not they like Christian fiction.*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
Carlybird More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Sandra Byrd since her French Twist series. When I first heard about her Tudor novel, To Die For, I was uncertain that I would like it. I thought it might have been boring and dry, but my goodness, was I wrong. I loved that book, actually that’s an understatement, but close enough. When The Secret Keeper was released, I thought no way could Sandra do it again, this one won’t be as good. About two pages into the book (right about the time I got hooked), I had to ask myself why I keep doubting this absolutely amazing author. Sandra is incredible and she has done it again, perhaps even better? It’s hard to say because it has been a while since I read To Die For, but it doesn’t matter which is better because they are both excellent and impossible to put down. One of the things I tend to struggle with is when authors overdo it on trying to get the language and accents authentic to the time and place of the story. I have always found that it slows the story down and that is a huge negative for me. Somehow Sandra is able to be completely authentic without the book lagging. I never once felt like I wasn’t right there in the court of Henry VIII. Sandra’s talent is truly unmatched in historical fiction. So, the stage was expertly set with authentic historical detail and we have an amazing story as well. So many times I have read historical novels in which the author focuses too much on either the setting or on the story. That can create a disconnect with me because either the story is lacking or it is hard to tell just where and when the story takes place. The balance between historical detail and story is absolutely flawless in The Secret Keeper. I highly recommend The Secret Keeper, and To Die For. I also recommend reading the author’s note at the end. I always enjoy reading those anyway, but it was especially interesting in this book. The Secret Keeper is my favorite book so far this year! I can’t wait to see what’s next and I promise that I will have only high expectations. Sandra has earned it.
Faye_reviews More than 1 year ago
A sweeping historical novel of the little known Kateryn Parr. We've all heard about Henry VIII and his six wives, and we know about his first and second wives Katherine (or Catherine) of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but what do we know of Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, Kateryn Parr? If you read this book you'll find out. The Secret Keeper is another book to add to my exclusive favorites pile, rich with real-life characters and full of intrigue The Secret Keeper is everything and more than I expected. I loved being able to sit back and seep into another time and place, a world of power, secrets, and rarest of all true love. I absolutely loved Ms. Byrd's attention to detail and how she brought a character so often tucked away into the back round to the forefront, through the eyes of Juliana St. John. I knew that there was alot going on in the court of Henry VIII during the time he was married to Anne Boleyn, but I never guessed how dangerous it was even in the time of Kateryn Parr! I was absorbed into the era through the eyes and ears of Juliana, a young woman who had secrets of her own. I came to be so invested in the tale that I read it all in two sittings, only because my mother insisted I go to sleep! I loved getting to know Kateryn better, and learning more about the time between Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth. The Secret Keeper is a lush historical read, that gripped me in a strangle-hold from beginning to end, and that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a fully engrossing read. Many thanks to Sandra Byrd and Howard Publishers for providing me with this copy of The Secret Keeper in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
skovach More than 1 year ago
This book has everything that I love about historical fiction / romance novels! Sandra Byrd is now one of my favorite authors! I absolutely loved her writing style - so very easy to read. She has an obvious expertise in the Tudor time period. The book was so rich in historical facts, but not so much that it took away from the narrative. I have not read the first book in this series, but I know now that I will - as a matter of fact, I just ordered it!!! Juliana St. John is a fascinating heroine. I loved that the author did not paint her to be perfect - rather showing her flaws / weaknesses. Juliana had the gift of prophesy, which was very dangerous in this time period. She had her share of both friends - some of which were quite controversial - and enemies - adding to the danger. Juliana became part of Kateryn Parr's household, prior to her becoming queen. During this time, Juliana became close friends and confidant to Kateryn. This allowed Juliana to take part in most everything - even the most intimate events. Such detail was provided throughout for the characters and events that I often felt as if I were actually there - taking part! The imagery was amazing! I fell in love with both Juliana and Kateryn. Both women were very generous in character, in ways beyond wealth. It was a shame that not everyone loved them - although many did. Their relationship was very complex, and so different than the bitter, jealous women of that time. The love interests of both women were very intriguing. The motives behind the interests in these men, quite captivating. There is definitely no comparison to today's world - quite a difference. There is an obvious difference in the roles of women at the time, no matter what your status. I must say that I have learned quite a bit about Henry VIII. I had learned a lot in school about him, but this put a new perspective on the time and person - and the novel was quite accurate to any of the historical accounts that had ever read or been exposed to. Kateryn's love, Sir Thomas Seymour, sure had some ups and downs. I both loved and hated him. The plot twists involving him and Juliana were quite surprising!!! I was immediately attracted to Juliana's love interest, Jamie. Although at first, I was not sure they would have a chance, he was very persistent. The romantic story-line the author created was very enjoyable. This is a very cleanly and accuratley written historical fiction, that I would would recommend to anyone who loves this genre, and especially those that like this time period. **I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own."