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The Forbidden Rose (Spymasters #1)

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,609 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Marguerite de Fleurignac, once privileged aristocrat, is on the run, disguised as penniless British governess Maggie Duncan. William Doyle, England's top spy, has a score to settle with her, recognized when he pulls her from her burned-out chateau. Drawn inexorably into mad revolutionary Paris, they gamble on a inadmissible love destined for betrayal.
Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Berkley Sensation (first published May 26th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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new_user
Sherry Thomas fans will like The Forbidden Rose. Probably. Succinct like Thomas, Joanna Bourne's prose nonetheless sings with flare, marrying original metaphors for timeless ideas (e.g. "she was a battlefield of possibilities") and a quintessentially French understatement perfect for a French setting and a French heroine. +1000 pts. for a unique setting and research.

William Doyle and Marguerite de Fleurignac meet in Revolutionary France. Aptly, principle drives Doyle and Marguerite and, in the s...more
Barks & Bites
I’m not going to write a long-winded review because I read most of this on vacation, didn’t take notes and I’m feeling rather lazy. I believe this is part of a series but it reads well on its own. The hero is a british spy, scarred terribly and not traditionally handsome, and the heroine is a beautiful aristocrat keeping secrets of her own. Both know they can’t have each other for any length of time but they are inexplicably drawn to each other and unable to resist the pull.

This book has an amaz...more
Verity
William is a veteran British spy, 12 years in the service & 6 of ‘em as independent agent. His mission is to use Marguerite to flush out her dad, who’s responsible for the “Hit” list, the 1 containing the names of promising Brit officers that are marked for death. When H/H 1st meet, Marguerite is caught hiding in her ruined chateau & introduces herself as Margaret Duncan, a Scot governess living in France. William knows her real identity from the get-go, but Marguerite doesn’t know his....more
Felicia
For a straight up romance novel, this was a REALLY good book. Spies during the French Revolution, yes please! Of course it's terribly unbelievable, the plot, but the extravagant nature of this authors writing, I mean it's SO OVER THE TOP, but it draws you in, it's like a really deep dark burgundy damask drape, it's old fashioned and stodgy and heavy but damn if it doesn't STAND for something and not apologize for it! I AM OVER THE TOP AND I REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE FOR IT!

Definitely recommend based...more
willaful
Dec 05, 2011 willaful rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the series
4.5 stars. Spies, political intrigue, French heroines -- these generally top my “oh hell no” list when it comes to choosing romance. But Bourne has made the combo work for me before, so I trusted her to make it work for me again. My reward was a totally swoonworthy hero, in a character who had seemed far from typical hero material in the previous books of the series. Is there anything sexier in a dude than competence... large, quiet, total, large competence?

Set some years before the previous bo...more
Caz
I've given this As for both content and narration at AAR. Audiobooks don't get much better than this!

There has been a long delay between the release of the audio version of Ms. Bourne’s début novel, The Spymaster's Lady, and audios of the other books in the series, but at last, we’re now able to enjoy this, the prequel to that book and can look forward to listening to the remaining books in the series as they are issued over the next few months.

The Forbidden Rose takes place several years before...more
Sandy Williams


I love Joanna Bourne. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed her first two books – The Spymaster’s Lady and My Lord and Spymaster – I didn’t expect to like this one quite as much. I’m happy to report I loved it just as much. Maybe more?

THE FORBIDDEN ROSE is set during the turmoil of the French Revolution. Marguerite de Fleurignac is a French aristocrat who smuggles people who would otherwise be sent to the guillotine out of the country. When her château is burned to the ground, Maggie flees to her hom...more
Katie(babs)
The Forbidden Rose is where Joanna Bourne continues to amaze with her thought out, somewhat complex plots and characters who will take a beating and even after all the danger and life threatening action that comes their way, they refuse to be down for the count and live to fight another day. If there is such a thing as swashbuckling spies, I would say Joanna has placed her claim on it.

Marguerite de Fleurignac has been hiding in the French countryside where her family's chateau has burned to the...more
Misfit
Jul 16, 2014 Misfit marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
*hangs head in shame*

Despite the rave reviews from so many readers here that I trust, I just could not get into the book. The metaphors drove me batty, as did all the spy stuff with everyone having a speshul code name. I lost interest about halfway through and other books kept grabbing my attention until the library said it was time to go home to Overdrive land and took it away.

Sorry guyz.
Zumbagirl
4.5 stars.
The Forbidden Rose was an excellent read - still not as good as The Spymaster's Lady - but very good (I like the cover and title better, tho). It is set in France again, starts out in countryside and they travel into Paris. Things are super crazy there as they are in the middle of the revolution and Robespierre is having everyone sent to the guillotine and no one is safe. Marguerite de Fleurgnac is part of a secret network that works underground to get people out of Paris who are thoug...more
Quinn
Joanna Bourne is one very talented author. Her crisp, unfettered style is brilliantly lacking the over-wrought sentimentality that often prevails in historical romance, and results in moments of breath-taking poignancy. She is a striking talent bringing a fresh and unique voice to the genre. It’s no surprise that she has rocketed up the list of my favourite authors.

The Forbidden Rose is a prequel to the amazing The Spymaster's Lady and My Lord and Spymaster, and doesn’t disappoint on any level....more
Anna (Bobs Her Hair)
Aug 05, 2011 Anna (Bobs Her Hair) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: romance fans
Recommended to Anna (Bobs Her Hair) by: new_user
The Forbidden Rose is a delightful spy/suspense/historical romance set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. It’s also prequel to Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series, which includes The Spymaster’s Lady and My Lord and Spymaster. Bourne provides an involved plot, mature characters, and a descriptive setting. If you are looking for a historical romance that break away from predictable plot devices then I highly recommend this book.

The Plot
In 1794, Marguerite de Fleurignac (“Maggie”), an ar...more
Rosina Lippi
I've reviewed Jo Bourne's novels before, and here again I am full of praise. Historical fiction is not easy to write. That is, it's harder to write than contemporary fiction, and she pulls it off beautifully.

We're in France, close to the end of the Reign of Terror. Everybody fears for their lives. Think Stalin, but not quite so grand a scale. We have the young woman, daughter of nobility, who has been busy smuggling aristos (as they are called so charmingly) out of France. We have the English sp...more
Jane Stewart
I just couldn’t get into the characters, plot, or events, but there was some good information about the French Revolution.

REVIEWER’S OPINION:
I wanted it to be over. Although I did enjoy the secondary character Hawker. Strangely, the sex scenes were missing passion/emotion. As a positive, I learned some things about the French Revolution, the Jacobins, and Robespierre.

I loved and gave 5 stars to “The Spymaster’s Lady” (TSL) also by this author. The characters, plots, and settings in these two boo...more
Wicked Incognito Now
When I first read The Spymaster's Lady, I was blown away. The style of Joanna Bourne's writing is lyrical in a way that speaks to me. It has a flow about it that I find entirely compelling.

Also, she tells a great story. I don't like spy novels as a rule, but JB does it well. She doesn't bog the story down with too many characters, or too many details. I actually find myself thoroughly enjoying the intrigue in these novels. Which, let me tell you, is rare for me. I seriously dislike my romances b...more
Keri
Completely awesome read! Don't know why it took me so long to read it. I wish I would have read it before I read Hawk and Justin's book as there were tandem events going on. I knew Maggie and Will's book was going to be great. JB has such a lyrical way of writing, that you just can't help be drawn in.
Rea
For me, the story was not particularly well-written, the characters were not particularly engaging, the plot was not at all solid. I cannot say in all honesty that I particularly enjoyed reading it.

It was one of those romances where the relationship is built on mutual lust rather than a steady growth of feelings towards the other person. Within a couple of chapters she's naked in his arms, has no idea who he is, he knows that he's using her to get to her father, whom he intends to kill, his "des...more
Kate
I've always enjoyed a good spy story, but I haven't, until now, read a really GOOD one. Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose was everything I wanted in a spy novel, complete with romance - the kind that (as it does in war) blossoms unexpectedly and with a desperation that, at any moment, either party could be lost.

The Forbidden Rose takes place during the French Revolution, and Bourne does not shirk from showing the ugly side of the revolution - this is no over-romanticized France. It is a land to...more
Suzanne
'The Forbidden Rose' is one of those unforgettable romance stories that linger in your thoughts long after you turn the last page. Brilliant prose, suspenseful historical drama, and deep emotional connections between the brilliant hero and heroine, and the accompanying cast of memorable characters. A keeper!
Ruth
I really enjoyed this read. The romance is a part of, rather than the central theme of the plot, which is relatively complex without being overwhelming. I absolutely loved how this book was written. The characters, the plot, the setting and the action were all well-described, but not in a distracting way, and the pace was maintained throughout. The tension started from page 1 and the uncertainty and precariousness of the main protagonists' situations did not let up. You feel throughout, as the m...more
Mary
I wish I could find a romance with engaging characters and an intelligent plot. Does that even exist? Maybe the required "happily ever after" negates any realism and promotes over-writing, I don't know. I do know that I stop here:

"He was vast and beautiful. He could have been one of the first men on earth, the men who lay with goddesses in the morning of the world."
Rose Lerner
Joanna Bourne is a BRILLIANT writer, no surprise there. There were some passages in this book that stunned me with their beauty, insight, or just all-around awesomeness. Maggie and Doyle are both brave and resourceful and charming, and the book made me want to go back and read the other spy books for glimpses of them. But my favorite thing was, of course, Hawker. I can't WAIT for his book. Part of me is worried it can't live up to my expectations, but...this is Joanna Bourne. She can do anything...more
Elaine Mcdonald
I love this series of books. I think I would have preferred to read them out of order.The first book in the series takes place after the 2 other books. I wouldn't mind reading them again, and I never reread a book! Yes, they are that good!
Kaetrin
Why I read it: I received a copy of the audiobook as a gift.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): I briefly reviewed the print version of this book back in March 2011.

I said then:

I’ve had this one on my TBR for ages and I really don’t know what took me so long to read it. However, inspired by the DABWAHA tournament, I decided to pick it up. I’m very glad I did. This is kind of a prequel to Bourne’s first book, The Spymaster’s Lady. Set shortly after the revolution in France, it follows the stor...more
Kit
Don't let the cover fool you. Joanna Bourne continues to write beyond romance- something more akin to spellbinding historical fiction with a great romance as it's anchor.
Tina
I first came across Jo Bourne's Spymaster series after reading a rather interesting debate about the heroine in The Spymaster's Lady. Initially I had no interest in that story. Zero. I was not interested in historicals at the time and definitely hated anything that had to do with what I call the dreaded 'Spying Duke.' But I actually ended up getting that book as an audiobook, I had a truckload of audible credits and became rather desperate to offload a few of them.

That book became a 5-star liste...more
Regan Walker
Wonderful “prequel” to read first in the Amazing Spymaster Series!

For those who haven't yet read THE SPYMASTER'S LADY or MY LORD AND SPYMASTER, you should know this book comes first in time--it is a "prequel." Unfortunately it was written later so for those of us already fans to the series, we knew how it ended before it began as this is Doyle's and Maggie's story (and they are in the other books but later in time).

Set in 1794 in France, it's a great tale of English spies and French undercover w...more
Brownbetty
Okay, if you sometimes binge on historical romances, and then read all the ones your friend recommended and then try heading out on your own and suddenly realize, oh wait, the majority of the genre is awful, full of 'his forceful kisses stifled her protests!' type stuff where the protagonists are cardboard cut-outs distinguished only by how annoying they are...

Here is an author to start your next binge with.

I suspect the 'historical' part is not something you should lean on too hard, so if that'...more
Frezanda
I've read the previous Joanne Bourne's books before but I didn't find hem anyhting special. At least I didn't remember the characters at all. This book though...It's really amazing.
What I like:
1. It's set in the French Terror era. Frankly I seldom read books happened at this era. The historical titbits are greatly woven in the story which what makes the story seems believable.
2. Many great characters. This story was told not only from the POV of the main characters (Maggie and William), but also...more
Aemelia
Joanna Bourne seems to be a popular author on the top of may bloggers and reviewers lists...with all the talk I decided to finally giver her a try. I was given the chance to review her newest book THE FORBIDDEN ROSE for NightOwl Reviews. I figured that since she has been given glowing reviews for this book and her past books that this would be a safe choice.

Boy was I wrong, I was burned bad by this one. I found very little in her writing to like. Her prose and her characters' conversations ramb...more
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486041
Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat.

She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars. She's fascinated by that time and place - such passionate conviction and burning idealism ... and really sexy clothes.
More about Joanna Bourne...
The Spymaster's Lady (Spymasters, #2) The Black Hawk (Spymasters, #4) My Lord and Spymaster (Spymasters, #3) Her Ladyship's Companion (Spymasters, #0.5) Rogue Spy (Spymasters, #5)

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“And fetch some straw.
We’ll put it between us and the ground. No reason we shouldn’t sleep soft tonight.”
“Straw. I love luxury.”
2 likes
“Her breasts were nudging out of her bodice. And . . . he had his hand on one of
them. When did that happen? God. He jerked away fast and took hold of her shoulder instead. That was neutral ground up there. “Sorry. Don’t mean
anything by that. An accident.”
Fine pair of breasts she had. White as split almonds. Round as peaches. The nipples peeked out, since the fichu wasn’t doing its job. A pair of
dark little roses, pulled up into buds. Tasty looking. And if he got any closer he could put his mouth down and lick them.
That’s going to reassure her—you slavering at her tits.”
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