Roses Have Thorns

A Novel of Elizabeth I

Roses Have Thorns

From the acclaimed author of To Die For comes a stirring novel told that sheds new light on Elizabeth I and her court.

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiancé has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle.

But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

A rich, tautly woven tale of love, deception, and grace, Roses Have Thorns vividly conjures the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.
  • Howard Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439183168 | 
  • April 2013
List Price $14.99 (price may vary by retailer)
In Stock: Usually ships within 1 business day
Buy from another retailer

Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Roses Have Thorns includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Sandra Byrd. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


When Elin von Snakenborg visits England with a royal entourage from Sweden and decides to remain, she drastically alters the course of her life. She marries an English nobleman and becomes one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted ladies in waiting, a position that draws her deep into the intrigue, danger, and treachery of the court.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. If you were Elin, would you have wanted to return to Sweden or remain in England? What factors would have influenced your decision? Would you have changed your name, as she did?
2. Helena admits that she is fond of William but not in love with him, nor is she physically attracted to him. Is this any different from other engaged, highborn women of the time; for example, her friend Anne Russell? How did the system of marrying for dynastic and financial concerns help or hinder women of the time? Is our current system of choosing husbands always better? Why or why not?
  see more

More Books from this Author

A Lady in Disguise
Bride of a Distant Isle
Best Fiction Sampler Ever 2016 - Howard Books
Mist of Midnight

About the Author

Sandra Byrd
Photograph © Studio B Portraits

Sandra Byrd

Award-winning and bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including Mist of Midnight, Bride of a Distant Isle (A Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick), and her most recent, A Lady in Disguise. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.