Over the past several weeks I’ve been able to read some exceptionally good books. My streak is still going strong and I absolutely must share my good luck with you. I had the great good fortune to read an advance copy of Joanna Bourne’s June 1st release The Forbidden Rose. Basically I’d like to tell you to run, don’t walk, and buy this book. I’ll make it easy for you. Just put your cursor over the book cover and click—it will take you directly to the "purchase this book" button. What? You need more? Oh ye of little faith.
Alright, alright. But first let me tell you that I think it takes an author of considerable talent to use the French Revolution as a backdrop for a historical romance novel, and that is what Joanna Bourne is—an author of considerable talent. Ms. Bourne’s prose is captivating. I am not exaggerating when I say she can encapsulate a myriad of thoughts, ideas, and feelings in only one sentence. And each sentence is an amazing foray into a beautifully crafted world that unveils and exposes the inner thoughts and workings of the people in it. Her words are perfection and should be savored and treasured. I don’t say this lightly. Reading her book was a feast for all my senses. You still need more?
Her new book The Forbidden Rose takes place five years into the French Revolution with Robespierre at the height of his power and the Reign of Terror at its bloodiest. Miss Bourne takes the historical facts of this most insane time in history, when the streets of Paris were over run with the Secret Police, Gardes, Jacobin radicals, and a network of spies; where aristocrats and counter-revolutionaries were being sent to the guillotine by the hundreds, and with a deft and clever hand, the context of one of the bloodiest and unstable times of France’s history is brought to life through the characters of aristocrat Marguerite de Fleurignac and one of England’s top spies William Doyle. You think you may not be interested in a romance novel that takes place during the French Revolution? Think again.
You may already be familiar with the major players in The Forbidden Rose—Marguerite, William, and Adrian—as this book is what some may call a prequel to her first book The Spymaster's Lady. Here we find Marguerite, once an aristocrat who graced the halls of Versailles, running for her life after an angry mob has burned down her Chateau. Alone and with no funds she is captured by a stranger. The stranger? William Doyle. Doyle is actually working for her Majesty’s Secret Service and he has come to Marguerite’s home in hopes of finding a list of names of English men marked for assassination. As they travel to Paris together, each is wary and suspect of the other’s motives but they will use each other as a means to an end. Doyle, is using Marguerite to find her father, the man who has the list, and Marguerite is using Doyle as a safe passage to Paris in order to continue her work as the head of a secret organization that has been responsible for helping aristocrats flee France before they are sent to the guillotine. Ah, what tangled webs we weave… However this ruse is only a means to an end. Their journey together brings them closer and in that closeness they discover and find each other.
That’s all you need to know to get started on your way to a compelling story that is filled with intrigue, mystery, political conspiracies and romance all within the context of a frightening historical setting.
So dear reader, if you are looking for a historical romance where each character is vividly brought to life, where each word is significant, where the romance between the hero and heroine is tender, commanding, flawed, engaging, and undeniable, where tensions run high and the payoff is rewarding, where you can almost smell the streets of Paris, and the writing is superb, might I suggest The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne?
Until next Monday, remember, there’s a book waiting to be read.
I’m curious what is your favorite setting for a historical romance?
Marisa O’Neill is an avid reader and television producer.
Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow when Melanie Murray will reveal the Romantic Reads for this week; and on Thursday Maria Lokken is going to be telling us all about author Jodi Thomas and her new book Welcome to Harmony. I’ll see you then.