The Forbidden Rose
By Joanna Bourne
Release Date: June 1, 2010
When I first started reading The Forbidden Rose I couldn't decide if I should devour it in one sitting, like a decadent chocolate truffle or savor each word like a rich, luscious creme brulee. Well, the creme brulee method won out, and I was rewarded by an incredible story that's a veritable gourmet banquet for the senses!
Caught up in the horror of the French Revolution and the bloody Reign of Terror, aristocrat Marguerite de Fleurignac is hiding out in her family's burned out chateau. Disguised as a governess named Maggie Duncan, she is part of La Fleche, an underground network that smuggles French citizens across the channel to England. As an aristocrat, Maggie is in constant danger, but if her participation in La Fleche is ever discovered, she would be headed to the guillotine for certain.
William Doyle, one of England's best spies, is working undercover as Guillaume LeBreton, a peddler who is traveling with his servant boy, Adrian Hawker. He is really in France to find Maggie's father, who is possession of a list of English men who may be targeted for assassination. When Doyle and Adrian arrive at the chateau, they discover Maggie hiding in the stables. Doyle's goal is to earn Maggie's trust in the hope that she will lead him to her father... and his list. Although Maggie is wary of Doyle, she realizes that if she travels with him and Adrian, she will have a better chance of reaching Paris safely. But she never thought she'd have to guard her heart, which she is in danger of losing to Doyle.
She did not say that she had begun to ache for him at the threshold of her body, between her legs. That he was simple bread to someone who had been hungry for a long time. That he was the shelter of trees to a traveler lost in the freezing rain. She could only give him one small part of the huge truth. "I become one of my stories when I touch you."
Maggie, Doyle and Adrian must travel the perilous roads to Paris, hiding their true identities from those who watch them and wish them harm. Amidst the terror and intrigue of the Revolution, Doyle and Maggie succumb to the passion that overtakes them. Passion quickly turns to love, but can they trust one another or will their fledgling relationship end in betrayal?
I have been looking forward to Maggie and Doyle's story since they first graced the pages of The Spymaster's Lady---one of the best books I have ever read!---and Ms. Bourne brought them both so vividly to life that I could practically see and hear them. She can say more in one sentence than most people can convey in an entire page. When I review a book, I mark passages that "speak to me". I lost count of the number of markers I had. Just when I thought I had read a line that took my breath away with its eloquence, I would quickly find another.
One cannot put the fruit back on the tree. One cannot unbreak the egg. She could not, not ever again for all of eternity, unknow what she knew of his body. Someday, when she was old, she would take this knowledge out as if it were a letter she had treasured. By then, the pain would be thin and crackly, like old paper.
She would be changed as well. She was quite certain old women did not feel this sort of pain. As if the air were knives that cut, going in and out of the throat.
The Forbidden Rose is a prequel of sorts to The Spymaster's Lady, and fans of Ms. Bourne will delight in every page of this historical romance gem. And for those who have been waiting for Adrian's story, it will be up next. We get a glimpse of his heroine in The Forbidden Rose, and is she ever going to give Adrian a run for his money! Joanna Bourne is a gifted wordsmith whose talent knows no bounds. I highly recommend The Forbidden Rose---it's destined for a coveted spot on my keeper shelf....and hopefully yours, too.