Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

Title: The Forbidden Rose
Author: Joanna Bourne

Type: Historical Romance
Series: Related, a prequel to The Spymaster's Lady

Thoughts: Wow. Every one of Bourne's titles thus far have been a Wow for me. This one as much as the first. It is Bourne's voice--it is dark, yet witty, sparse, yet rich. A keeper for me.

Three things stand out for me. The first gets me every time. It is the silent observations a Bourne hero makes of the heroine. Here, Doyle's absolute first thought about Maggie was her stillness. Within minutes, it was her wit--insulting and uttered under duress--but funny nonetheless. In short, Doyle saw the power of her mind first. He saw control, cunning, instinct. Yes, her breasts were a fast second, but that did not detract from the power of these first moments. For me, it set the sexiest of stages--a hero that would dominate through expectation rather than will. Because he recognized the spine in Maggie, I knew he would not simply take her over, charming her and the reader both into following him around for the remainder of the book. Bourne accomplished this in just pages. Doyle's presence and Maggie's control.

So it is the concise, often witty, thoughts a Bourne hero shares (in italics of course) that turn me on.

The second thing that gets me is Bourne's ability to weave a million strands into one, tightly-written story. You absolutely cannot miss a minute of this book. If you do, if you skim even the shortest of paragraphs, you will miss one of these strands. Every word counts. For this, I've heard Bourne called "masterful" and "brilliant". I agree. Immerse yourself in Bourne's details and you will be rewarded with more than one emotional or brain-twisting punch by story's end. In this one, it was the fate of the littlest girl that packed the biggest punch. It left me breathless.

So rich, rich, rich. That's the second thing.

Third--despite all of these clever details, so richly layered--literally anything can happen. And does. Bourne endangers everyone, then assigns responsibilities (of the heroic kind) where you least expect them. All of Bourne's characters are smart. None are untouchable. I worried sick more than once. And this angst added to the tension already present through her voice alone. Dark, yet witty; sparse, yet rich.

I had only one regret. Besides the fact that it ended. I did not 'research' this title before picking it up. Consequently, I did not know that it serves as a prequel to The Spymaster's Lady. I recognized Doyle and Adrian both, but will admit to a bit of confusion. It was Adrian's age--I couldn't place him as a teen and it nagged at the back of my mind throughout. Now that I know, so much more of it makes sense.

Thinking back now--as I write this review--I'm remembering Doyle more clearly as well. One of the things I liked best about The Spymaster's Lady was Doyle's language. He was hilarious. And yes, that course humor was here in his own book. It was simply shadowed, ever-so-subtley, by the vulnerability that love brings.

Awww hell. I think I'm going to sign off now and go re-read The Spymaster's Lady.


  1. Can you believe I haven't read any of Joanna Bourne's books? I have her first two on the tbr pile but have yet to start them. Might be all the hype they got but you seem to agree with it. All Wow books - that says a lot!

    Your review makes me want to dig right in. :)

  2. LOVED this book. Wanted to have babies with it. (I held myself back lol) Bourne is just a wonderful storyteller and this was, I think, my favorite of the bunch.

  3. Well Leslie--since it was Wow for me and Tracy wanted to have babies with it, I think you should go read Bourne NOW! LOL Seriously--awesome book. And yup, Tracy, it may be my favorite of her titles too.

  4. Darn it - you make me want to read it. And you know how I feel about that!

  5. I have a Joanna Bourne on my TBR pile. I think it needs to move closer to the top! Thanks for the review.

  6. Happy Saturday! I have an award for you:)…d-my-1st-award/ ‎


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