I am usually a fairly speedy reader but “The Secret Keeper” was so rich in historical details that I had to slow down in order to assimilate them and understand exactly what was going on. It has been years since I spent any time reading anything about the Tudors so it took me awhile to get up to speed on the multitude of characters and their roles in this story.

In “The Secret Keeper”, Juliana is a young woman who is devoted to the Lord and is plagued by prophetic dreams. Through a family connection she is sent to London to serve as a lady-in-waiting to the woman who became King Henry VIII’s final wife. Her time spent in court opened her eyes to the undercurrents there where men used religion to further their personal quests for power and did not hesitate to manipulate the king in order to reach their goals. It was an era during which no one felt safe. One unguarded word could send them to the tower or even to their death. Even family members turned against each other. Although Juliana was sometimes tempted to return to her home, especially after a vicious attack, she was certain that she was exactly where the Lord wanted her and she put her total trust in Him.

Although the plot seemed to move slowly at times, “The Secret Keeper” exposed strong women who were willing to do anything for their faith and the secrets they shared in order to protect others. With its attention to historical detail and a story filled with danger, intrigue, and a touch of romance as well as more than one surprise along the way, “The Secret Keeper” is a must read for those who enjoy historical fiction set during the Tudor period.

This book was provided for review by Howard Books.

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.

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.


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