Anna (Bobs Her Hair)'s Reviews > The Forbidden Rose

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne
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's review
Aug 04, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance, romantic-suspense
Recommended to Anna (Bobs Her Hair) by: new_user
Recommended for: romance fans
Read from July 29 to 31, 2011 , read count: 1

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 aristocrat, is a member in La Flèche, an underground network that smuggles to safety people marked as threats to national security and destined for the guillotine. Her greatest threats came from Jacobins and Maximilien Robespierre, who was the main implementer during the Reign of Terror.

La Flèche has been betrayed. Maggie needs to carefully warn the network members, find the traitor, and go to her father in Paris. She is discovered by Guillame LeBreton and young Adrian Hawker. She knows they are not what they seem, but they will take her to her destination.

Guillame LeBreton is not the book dealer he pretends to be. He is William Doyle, a British Secret Agent. He needs a specific list written by the Marquis de Fleurignac. Maggie will lead him to her father.

What Makes This Book a Delight
The characters are cleverly written. Maggie is brave, resourceful, and quick-witted. She has a whimsical personality, which she displays after snaring a rabbit at the beginning of the story. ”Do not expect pity, Citoyen Rabbit. I am without a heart. It was the first thing I ate when I became hungry.” (p. 15) Maggie believes in her cause. She goes to Paris accepting she will die for she will most likely be caught. The hero, William, is a seasoned spy. He is described as a big man with “impolitic muscle,” and his father once called him “that hairy bog jumper.” Even though Maggie sees that he is not handsome she finds admirable qualities in him.

What I especially liked about Maggie and William is that even though they feel they can trust each other they show restraint. Sensitive information involving their dangerous pursuits is not revealed. It always annoys me when characters betray confidences when they shouldn’t just because the author states they are the hero and heroine. I understand they’re the “good” guys but disclosing life-threatening secrets lessens character credibility and effectively throws me out of the book. Even though Maggie and William feel they have something they would pursue in a normal situation, they never set aside their goals.
”I have fallen in love. It does not change anything.” – Marguerite de Fleurignac
“I don’t have to like everything I do.” - William Doyle

Another positive about these characters is that they don’t have any Big Misunderstandings. They each know the other is not what he or she seems. Bourne avoids the “You lied to me!” along with all the internal dialogue on how the character realizes his or her feelings are irrational. Yay!

The setting is fairly rich in history for a historical romance. I learned something about the French Revolution. It’s as if Joanna Bourne assumes we all know about Jacobins and Robespierre. I didn’t know the clergy were persecuted having always assumed it was only the aristocrats that were beheaded. The setting is not a distraction. Bourne has a descriptive way of writing that puts the reader right into the story.

How This Book Could Have Earned One More Star
While The Forbidden Rose had an incredible plot the romance could have been stronger. I didn’t “feel the love” until halfway through the book. Maggie and William share a physical attraction and admire each other but all of a sudden Maggie declares in internal dialogue that she loves him. It was a BIG leap. The rest of the story made up for it with their actions and words. For a historical romance, the romance felt secondary.

This was my first Joanna Bourne novel. It felt deliciously different from all the other novels I’ve been reading lately. What a fun trip! I’m ready for another one and will be reading The Spymaster’s Lady. I can’t wait for Adrian’s book, The Black Hawk to release in November. His character was part of this story and from what I’ve read his love interest was in it too. Overall, I give The Forbidden Rose a B+.

Memorable Moments
page 283 - Marguerite and William

”I was waiting for you. I will always be waiting for you.”

“You…” he breathed out. “Damn.”

p. 292
Think of my enthusiasm, at night, when you are in dangerous places. You will know that I am waiting for you. I shall, of course, take lovers, but I will shove them swiftly out of the house when you arrive. You must pretend not to notice their coattails disappearing around the corner.”

“Right.” His hands were confident and amused, drawing her in. “Good thing I’m not a jealous man.”

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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new_user Yay! Glad you liked it! I hope you like Spymaster's Lady too!

I think Bourne's tack is to indicate the characters' love for each other through actions, so that the reader knows they're in love before they announce it, and she doesn't stage dramatic I-love-you scenes either. It's just natural. I like that.

Anna (Bobs Her Hair) Thanks for the rec! It was a breath of fresh air.

new_user No prob!

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