A Bed of Spices
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A Bed of Spices

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  319 ratings  ·  54 reviews
(Print Edition published by HarperCollins)

A heartwrenching and uplifting tale of forbidden love in the middle ages by a beloved and award-winning author.

A Bed of Spices is a wildly romantic tale of forbidden love set in the turbulent middle ages. Solomon and Rica meet by chance at the herbalist's cottage and fall in love despite the divisions of religion, class, and expect...more
ebook, 343 pages
Published July 8th 2011 by Barbara Samuel (first published September 1st 1993)
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Ridley
Well. This is rare. I can't find any flaws with this book. None. I can criticize anything, but this book? Not happening.

It's just the perfect story of actual forbidden love. This isn't about crossed signals, stern parents or mismatched values. Oh no, this is about a highborn German woman and a Jewish physician. In the 14th century. During the Black Death. In the midst of anti-Jewish pogroms. I mean, there's "forbidden love" and then there's "shit just got real."

What I loved most about the book i...more
Julie (Mom2lnb)
Dec 04, 2013 Julie (Mom2lnb) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Romance That Is Sweet and/or Strong on the History
Reviewed for THC Reviews
"4.5 stars" For the second time in as many months, I have been gifted with a little gem of a read that I don't often see mentioned in romance discussion circles, yet I found it to be so unique in both content and presentation that I can't imagine it not satisfying any romance reader who is looking for something different from the norm. A Bed of Spices is an inter-ethnic story of forbidden love between a Jewish man and a Catholic woman who literally risk their lives just t...more
Verity
1 of the most evocative against-the-odds luv stories evah penned... despite the fact that beta heroes are not my cuppa. Anotha bittersweet reminder that U can't choose who U luv & U need more than a li'l luck to have a HEA. There's an epic feel to it just based on the series of potholes H/h gotta go thru' to be together. Makes U feel blessed U don't live in Germany around 13th century & don't evah underestimate the power of paternal luv. The boiling suspense was pitch purrfect... my hair...more
Crista
After reading A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel, I am left with the impression that MOST romance plots are just plain silly. Hardships are not REALLY hardships, common plot obstacles such as "the misunderstanding" are not REALLY that hard to overcome, and many plot lines are shallow. I HAVE NEVER FELT THIS BEFORE, so I guess I will "blame" the richness, historical accuracy, and perfection of this novel on my change in perspective. None other compares to this book.

This book is not a "light heart...more
Mary B.
Finally I'm getting around to writing a real review for this amazing, wonderful book. I've read it several times, and it is still my #1 favorite romance novel. Five stars is not enough.

Rica der Esslingen is the daughter of a German, Catholic baron. She acts as mistress of her Father's estate due to the fact that her mother was killed in a brutal attack that also left Rica's twin sister, Etta, mentally unstable and physically (sexually) destroyed. Rica is free-spirited, romantic, and intellectual...more
♡Karlyn P♡
WOW it was good. One of those books that make you wonder why they don't write like this anymore. A love blooms between a Jewish man and Christian lady. Powerful stuff.
Zumbagirl
What a beautiful story! Twists and turns and seemingly no way out of lots of problems. Many people highly recommended this and I wholeheartedly agree. It was quite angsty and sad at times. This is my third book by Ms. Samuel. I loved them all but I think the first one I read by her still holds first place Night of Fire. What I especially loved about this one was the love the two fathers had for their children. As parents we always want the best for our children. If we see them taking some misste...more
Kelly_Instalove
Grade: A+ - my Gold Standard for medieval romance

He did not kiss her, but his eyes held hers as if he had cast some spell, and in his face, she saw the fever of his need. “For this, I have been waiting,” he said in a low, raw voice. “For this, I would die.”


This book was one of my first Kindle impulse purchases, and I’m pretty sure it was my gateway drug to the evil realm of Romancelandia.

It's one of those books that I feel I could never do justice in a review, other than to say it was BOOK TRAN...more
UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine...


This has been on my wishlist for awhile, and today it's free on amazon! Thanks, Lindsey, for bringing this to my attention!

I've heard fantastic things about it, so all you historical romance lovers out there should grab it while it's free!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/A-Bed-of-Spices...

HE FILLED HER DREAMS WITH DESPERATE LONGING

The exquisite Frederica der Esslingen fled from her father's castle to the herbalist's cottage, vowing she could never give in to her father's wishes and marry the man he
...more
Elie Camp
Wow. A truly passionate and heartbreaking novel of a Catholic woman, Rica, the daughter of a German baron, and a Jewish man, Solomon, the a son of a merchant. The story is set in Strassburg, Germany (now Strasbourg, France) in 1348-49, at the coming of the Black Plague, at a time when fear was rife and Christians blamed the Jews for the Plague. At the time, any romantic interaction between the two would have meant death - and Rica and Solomon fight their love in order to stay within the social o...more
Carolyn
I'm almost speechless. Such depth. Such brilliant writing. Such a unique pairing in such a brutal time period. Such heartfelt emotion. Simply a perfect book.
Jane Stewart
Good enough to keep my interest. Average or slightly above average for a romance novel.

STORY BRIEF:
Identical twins Rica and Etta are 16. Ten years ago Etta was brutally raped. Since then she has rarely spoken and appears to have mental problems. Rudolf wants to marry Rica and the father gives his permission. Rica does not like Rudolf and does not know she’s been promised to him. Rudolf does not want Etta because he considers her damaged goods. Etta desires Rudolf and starts coming out of her she...more
Megan
A "drop everything and read" kind of romance. I could NOT stop turning the pages; the possibility of a happy ending seemed so impossible for the Romeo-and-Juliet love affair, and I liked (and felt for) the main characters so much, I wanted things to work out for them so badly!

The premise is a dire one: Rica, the devoutly Catholic and only marriage-able daughter of a wealthy nobleman, and Solomon, the physician-in-training son of a Jewish merchant, fall in love against the backdrop of the spread...more
Kelli
Ok, I was slow to add this book to my TBR pile, but....after glowing reviews from Mary B. I reluctantly did so. I suffer from cover aversion syndrome and immediately disliked and almost didn't purchase the book. Well, you know the old adage about not judging a book.....I am so glad I read this. Premise is basic romeo and juliet/star crossed lovers with a HEA. But the chemistry between them had me wondering if menopause had come early. HOT FLASHES!! The pair are from the two completely different...more
Elijah Jacobson
Jan 06, 2012 Elijah Jacobson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Elijah by: Mary B.
This was an incredible romance novel! The writing style by Barbara Samuel was superb. And beyond the genre of romance, this is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. Set in the 1300s during the Black Plague, it is a story of a forbidden love. Though forbidden, it emanates the theme of love superseding all. And, indeed, being more powerful than all other things. I would recommend this book to anyone, whether they read romance novels or not. I must give a special shout-out to my best f...more
Melanie (Moviemavengal)
Wow. After Ridley's glowing review I had to buy this book, and I'm so glad I did. Forbidden love between a German noblewoman and a wealthy Jewish doctor in medieval times. Tons of angst and not of the contrived misunderstanding variety. The joy these two unlikely lovers find in each other is palpable. In a setting of the black death, Jewish martyrdom by burning, not to mention possibly mad evil twins you can't believe there will be a HEA, but it is extra satisfying when it comes.
Lorelle
Very well written HR of forbidden love between a Jew and a gentile. The story takes place in the late 1340's in Germany where the Black Plague is blamed on the Jews. The story was emotional at times and I couldn't predict where the story line was headed. 4 to 4 1/2 stars.
Anna Bowling
Okay, this is why the world needs more historicals by Barbara Samuel. Medieval Germany, unique use of twin heroines, and an exquisitively sensitive look at an interfaith romance and the effects of the period in which they live on both lovers and relationship.
Emmy
**3.5**

Heads up to anyone reading the kindle version: the book ends at the 80% mark (at least mine did). Which I learned after picking the book up today at the 79% mark and then got to the end 4 pages later. Which was kind of annoying.

Anyway, on to the book itself.

Rica and Solomon do experience love at first sight, which I'm not a fan of, but considering, I think the author handled it well. By the end she did have me believing that Rica and Solomon were soul mates. However, in the beginning, I...more
The Eleventh Hour
I thought this was a truly lovely romantic story. So often historical romances, nowadays, are what I like to call “regency-by-rote.” No matter the author, it’s the same stale characters and plots, recycled over and over again with only the slightest variations to tell them apart. The feisty, book-loving spinster set against the alpha-male rake. You know exactly everything that is going to happen, from the first page to the last. A Bed of Spices is not one of those romances, however; it features...more
Larou
Bed of Spices is very much not your run-of-the-mill historical romance novel. That starts with the setting, which is not Regency England but Strassburg during the Plague, continues with the protagonists, namely a Christian daughter of a local noble and a Jewish apprentice physician, and ends with the plot, which reads not at all like a Romance story set against a historic background but more like a historical novel with a Romantic love story at its centre. So much so in fact that at times I even...more
Sarah Gruwell
If you are looking for a romance novel that knows how to pack in the emotional wallop, look no further. I've never had a romance that made me feel so much before. And I'm not just talking about the heat of passion, either, though there is tons of that. But the heart-wrenching pain of sorrow, fear from mounting religious fanaticism, the sweet love of family, and the agony of betrayal. Everything in this book is stark, vivid, and goes right to your soul. Every page is saturated with emotion. A ver...more
xxkattiaxx


****Positive points:

*love scenes are beautifully written without being graphic.
*characters are believable in their portrayal.
*angst is not too unbearably torturous.

***Negative points:

*Lots of foreshadowing without arriving to foregone conclusion- I kept expecting certain characters to get their comeuppance... didn't happen.
*Lots of buildup and then a hurried ending. I felt there should have been three or four chapters left at least to round out the novel to its end.
*The antagonists in the st...more
Larisa
Romances set in the Middle Ages aren't my preferred RHF reading era...the severe restrictions on behavior, the excessive concern for piety and sin, women usually being illiterate usually add up to "no, thank you," save a few notable exceptions.

Bed of Spices is one of those beautiful, poignant, lush, divine exceptions. The heroine is plausible for her era, with a believable reason for being literate, independent and strong, while still dutiful, thoughtful and young. The shifting POV between her,...more
 Frenchie
Jun 19, 2013 Frenchie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone who likes medieval times

This review is from: A Bed of Spices (Kindle Edition)

A very powerful Medieval Romance.
Although, I am loathed to call A bed of Spice a mere romance. It is much more than that. It is a very emotional account of a forbidden love between a young man and a young woman due to the differences in religion but it is also the powerful love between two sisters and how women had no say in front of lust and greed and no voice for their future.
But it is good to be reminded of these appalling dark times for wo...more
Karenw
A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel is a wonderful period romance novel that is well-written, rich with historical detail, and entertaining from start to finish. The story centers around Rica and Solomon, and their forbidden romance. Set in the 1300’s, the book deals with the plague and its subsequent impact on the Jewish population who were among those falsely blamed for the Black Death. Rica and Solomon can’t help falling in love, but circumstances keep them apart.

There are several sub-plots wov...more
Patty
I picked this book up for two reasons. The most important is that Barbara Samuel also writes as Barbara O'Neal and I really enjoy her contemporary books. The second reason is it was free and so I would get to try Samuel with very little investment.

This was not quite your typical romance. It almost seemed possible that happily ever after might not come for Rica and Solomon. The fates appeared to be especially against these two.

I do believe that Rica was atypical of her time, but her character is...more
Nancy Herkness
Set in Germany in the mid-14th century, this fabulous historical romance brings together two lovers who know as well as anyone that their love is impossible.

Rica is the daughter of a Christian nobleman while Solomon, a medical student, is the son of a Jewish merchant. Ultimately their love transcends a forced betrothal, family tragedy, bubonic plague, and several massacres. Rica and Solomon are strong, sympathetic characters whom the reader cheers on through all their trials.

Ms. Samuel immerses...more
Lola4
Words fail me in communicating how much I enjoyed this book and appreciated the skill of the writer. I'll just leave it to others more eloquent than I and just say that this was one of the finest and best-crafted Historical Romances ever.
J. Lynne
I generally liked this book. I could definitely feel the connection between Rica and Solomon. However, I admit to enjoying the first half of the book more than the second half. After the midway point, I lost some respect for the characters.

Being that this book is set in medieval times, I knew there would be moments where I felt frustrated. Indeed, some scenarios made me want to throw my Kindle at the wall. At times, my 21st-century mindset had difficulty grasping the motivations and actions of t...more
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Barbara Samuel is a multiple RITA award-winning author with more than 38 books to her credit in a variety of genres. She has written historical and contemporary romances, a number of fantasy novellas with the likes of Susan Wiggs, Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney. She now writes women’s fiction about families, dogs, and food as Barbara O’Neal.

Her work has captured a plethora of awards, including six...more
More about Barbara Samuel...
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“It's not being a woman I mind so much," she said slowly. "'Tis the way men seem to always order my life." She leaned earnestly toward him. "Your hand, Papa, has wielded a sword and cradled a child and held power over hundreds of men." She held up her own hand. "This one has far fewer adventures before it.” 8 likes
“It only takes one man to make a woman a fool.” 3 likes
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