Roses Have Thorns

Written by Sandra Byrd
Review by Beth Turza

Elizabeth I is on the throne, and we see her from the point of view of young Elin von Snakenborg, who visited England at 17 years old as a maid to Princess Cecelia of Sweden. Not wanting to return to Sweden and to her unfaithful betrothed, Elin remains a part of Queen Elizabeth’s court as one of her most trusted ladies, capturing the heart of the much older, but very kind Marquess of Northhampton. Elin’s marriage transforms her into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, at age 23, making her the highest ranking woman in England, second to the Queen. She becomes a young widow and finds passion and love in her second marriage with Thomas Gorges and begins her family. Helena finds that the demands of court life separate her from her children, and Thomas’ missions take him abroad, further straining their relationship. Secret support from the English Catholics who wish to assist Mary Queen of Scots and her cause to overthrow Elizabeth causes further strain when Helena discovers that the Gorges family are practicing Catholics. Can she trust that her husband is not involved in activities that can brand them both as traitors and leave the children orphans with no future?

The book spans nearly 24 years, and readers will be very caught up as the story unfolds and they see some of the familiar players of Elizabeth’s court through the eyes of a gentle and affectionate friend to the Queen. With this well written novel, rich in history and everyday court life during the Elizabethan period, I can now count Sandra Byrd as one of my favorite writers of historical fiction.