To Die For
Series or Stand Alone: Ladies in Waiting series, book one
Release Date: August 2011
Publisher: Howard Books
Pages: 352 (paperback)
Author Site: http://www.sandrabyrd.com/
My Rating: 3.75/5
Source: Received for review from Historical Fiction Book Tours
To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.
Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.
I still have a lot of catching up to do in the historical fiction genre and I just love discovering more and more with each book I read. And I'm quickly becoming a big fan of the Tudor time period. To Die For was a very interesting look into Anne Boleyn's rise and fall through the eyes of her very close friend Meg Wyatt. It seems most people either love or hate Anne Boleyn and I haven't read enough yet to form my own opinion. The last Tudor book I read was Diane Haeger's The Queen's Rival and the small portion of the book featuring Anne portrayed her as a temptress and I was all for being against Anne. While To Die For wasn't from Anne's point of view, it was still heavily centered around most of her life.
I know some basic facts about Anne and how she inserted herself into Henry VIII's court. She is often portrayed as manipulative, seductive, heartless, etc... Anne had power over men and she knew how to use it to get what she wanted. I liked that To Die For portrayed Anne as a not only a woman but as a human with emotions that can often lead us astray. I'm sure she wasn't the kindest woman most of the time, especially when she didn't get what she wanted. But it was nice to see how her feelings may have came into play regarding her ascension to being Queen of England. Having Meg's perspective furthered Anne's more vulnerable portrayal in this story. Sandra Byrd, while very Anne-sympathetic, still showed how Anne could be unkind and somewhat cruel in parts of the story and I appreciated Sandra being honest and still staying true to her opinion.
Meg's story was heartfelt and engaging as well. From her childhood to the tearful ending of the book I felt that I really got to know Meg and her strong personality. Her loyalty to Anne, along with her friends and family, is astounding. Her struggle with God and her own personal faith was an interesting addition to the overall theme of the English Reformation topic of the story. I strayed completely away from all types of history (European, US, etc) in school so it was nice to learn a little something about the Reformation. It was enough to get me interested even more in the time period in hopes of adding to my knowledge of what happened. I may not run to non-fiction right away to find out about certain topics but I love when a fictional novel can get my brain gears turning and my curiousity piqued.
I thought the characters were developed very nicely from Meg's servants to her brothers and her love interest. I became attached to quite a few of them and came to really dislike others. I also really enjoyed Sandra's writing style. The flow of her dialogue and writing worked well and it was hard to put down at times. I was so excited to learn that To Die For is the first book in a series. I think I'm going to really like the historical christian fiction that Sandra will put out and I think a lot of others will too!
*click here to see Sandra's book tour stops*