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The Thorn Bearer

(Penned in Time #1)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  279 ratings  ·  108 reviews
From the decks of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of WW1, Ashleigh must choose between the forgiveness of her past, life in the present, and a Savior who can rescue her from them all.

When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father's intimate betrayal. Her wo
Published April 14th 2015 by Smashwords Edition (first published April 11th 2015)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of reading this for endorsement. Fabulous Book. Here's what I said:

"Dealing with the bravery it takes to work past dark secrets and misplaced guilt The Thorn Bearer is more than a historical romance; it's also a story about God's ability to redeem souls and conquer strongholds. Pepper Basham's writing is heartbreakingly raw at times, but always beautiful because of the redemptive scope of the story." -- Dawn Crandall, author of The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart and The Ca
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A stunning debut, The Thorn Bearer is a hauntingly beautiful tale of how the heart-wrenching shadows of the past can usher us into the Light.

Pepper Basham masterfully infused a dark and daring subject with such depth and power, that it lingers in your mind long after the last page.

Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
Woven together with rich characters, poetic language, riveting history, wry humor, and heart-wrenching secrets, The Thorn Bearer is a book that will draw you in and refuse to let go. It isn't often that I finish a fictional book and pause to reflect on it in silence for several minutes, but I did in this case. Even after I finished the last word, this story resonated throughout my spirit for a good long while.

I just can't say enough good things about this book. The main theme of The Thorn Bearer
Andrea Cox
by Andrea Renee Cox

My heart ached for the characters in The Thorn Bearer. Each one had their sorrows and burdens to carry. That was clear and written well.

I struggled with this book, though, because there was so much focus on promiscuity and sexual abuse.

The back cover copy gave away too much. I have been told that the back cover copy should never give away things after the first third of the story, but that was not the case with this one. I felt a little robbed of the anticipation that would ha
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A disclaimer - I'm not a huge historical fiction fan. So when I find one that resonates with me, it's a keeper. Pepper Basham's The Thornbearer is definitely one of those books. I was enthralled from the beginning. The historical details are wonderfully woven throughout the story and the setting so real I felt I was actually there. And the characters … even the one I didn't like had grabbed my heart by the end of the story. Wonderfully story-telling, a realistic faith journey, memorable prose an ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Forgiveness is at the heart of this historical fiction debut novel.

Ashleigh, Sam, Michael, Catherine and more are all broken spirits in need of God's love. It was a delight to watch their journey. While the backdrop of the story is the sinking of the Lusitania and World War I, the main story line is about the characters and their journey toward forgiveness.

Formatting and grammatical errors/typos were a bit of a distraction. Once my mind was trained to look beyond those, I found a delightful nove
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
What an engaging novel! I found myself immediately swept into Ashleigh's story, and my heart hurt for the pain she'd endured at the hands of her father. I loved watching her relationship with Sam grow (though I did want to give Sam a good shake a time or two), and I found the romance to be completely satisfying.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is how Basham showed Christ's power to regenerate a life. Both Michael (Ashleigh's former fiance) and Catherine (Ashleigh's sister) completely cha
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having heard nothing but rave reviews of this book, I had been looking forward to reading it for myself. And it did not disappoint me in the least! Ms. Basham's skill with the pen became quickly apparent as I got swept up into the life of Ashleigh and all her heartbreak. I wanted to put my arms around her and tell her it would be okay so very many times. The girl has been through a lot! And Ms. Basham had no qualms about putting her through a bit more. Ah, my poor heart.

As I was drawn into Ashle
Rachelle Cobb
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm so pleased to review a recent read, The Thorn Bearer. Ever since I ran across Pepper Basham online, I've wanted to read her books. When she kindly offered me a copy to read, I leapt at the chance! And I'm so glad I did! Not only do I find Ashleigh relatable and lovable as a main character, I quickly fell for Sam, too. Why? Because they're flawed and broken but striving to love each other...

What a setting Pepper has given this novel! Ashleigh spent several years in Asheville, NC--a place I ca
Meghan DeWalt
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. The vivid history and setting of 1910's England ala Downton Abbey jumped off the page, but what most left an impression on this reader were the characters. Both Ashleigh and Sam have secrets, struggle to forgive and come to God's grace. Their friendship is tested when feelings surface, a tragedy strikes, and the fragility of life sends them into each other's arms--but there are still secrets. The twists and turns both of the happy, swoon-worthy romance and the hea ...more
Loraine Nunley
This is truly a story of God’s redemption and a lesson in how God is enough. It was more of a love story between Ashleigh and God rather than between her and Sam. I enjoyed watching her begin to heal from the bitterness and disappointments that her past left her with. 3 1/2 stars - Full review at my website.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I devoured The Thorn Bearer in one day. Pepper Basham had me hooked from the first page and the story didn't let me go until the final paragraph. Each page was filled with beautiful descriptions, excellent world building, and flawed characters that I loved and desperately wanted to see redeemed and healed, all set against the backdrop of the Lusitania and WWI. The Thorn Bearer tackles a most difficult subject and does so in a way that acknowledges the heinousness of the sin, the consequences for ...more
Krista Phillips
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
WOW! Loved this more than I can say! The Thorn Bearer pulled some awesome punches and delved into subjects I've rarely seen touched on, especially in such a God-honoring way. The writing was stellar and the romance sigh-worthy as required by yours truly! Can't wait for the next book to come out!!!! ...more
Savanna Kaiser
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This story quickly caught my eye and touched my heart in ways I had not expected. Its intriguing cover and the historical pull to learn more about the Lusitania drew me to the book in the beginning, but the real pulse of the story is what I will remember the most. It’s a breathtaking story of redemption and healing, a powerful expression of grace and forgiveness. It made me cry and it made me laugh – both more than once.

The characters are very real, very broken, and very relatable. None of them
Charity Andrews
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don’t even know where to begin. I have never read a novel that tackles such a difficult subject with as much clarity, truth, and passion. Sexual abuse is something that over 50% of women have suffered with at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, when it happens, it makes the victim feel dirty and like they are the only ones. I would know. It came to me in the form of a “friend” when I was 10 years old.

In this first book of a trilogy, Ashleigh Dougal’s childhood was stolen from her by her
(Jen) The Artist Librarian
Pepper D. Basham's debut novel has arrived at the perfect time. Thanks to the television series, Downton Abbey, there's been so much more interest in World War I and the early 20th century. Published exactly 100 years after the sinking of The Lusitania, The Thorn Bearer blends real-life events with unique characters, plot twists, and drama that would make Julie Lessman proud!

Believe me, I'm not exaggerating! The tension between Ashleigh and her sister Catherine reminded me of Lessman's O'Connor
Rachel McMillan
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
An ambitious and well-told debut novel, Basham's strengths are most evident in her dialogue and the seamless integration of historical detail in her deftly woven fictional tapestry. The sparks between Ashleigh and Sam spark from the moment they first share page time and flicker and buzz throughout.

Basham does a commendable job of exhuming details of the Edwardian period and its class structures and divides.

Several times I thought this might have made a good series: with the action spread over a
4+ Stars
As Basham's bio states, her novels are truly romances peppered with grace and humor! The Thornbearer has a good deal of family drama, there are some dark secrets and deep wounds. While Basham covers the topic of abuse, and more specifically sexual abuse, she handles it well. The reader is made aware of the situation and its' repercussions but without all the gory details. This story is focused more on grace, love, redemption and forgiveness. There are so many truths shining through this
Mikal Dawn
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pepper Basham has created a world of beauty, pain, tumultuous emotion, and raw love. All in her debut novel.

Pepper's characters are brilliantly portrayed and real, with natural growth. You can't help but like, if not love, them. And love them I did.

The plot, with the Lusitania and WWI England as a background, was gorgeously written and brought me such deep satisfaction, I want to go back and read it all over again. And I just finished!

Thank you, Pepper, for a beautiful story. I can't wait to
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is more like a 3.5 but I'm going to leave it at a 3 because it really needs another copy edit. Errors like "her wearing legs" instead of "her weary legs" pop up more often than it should though not so terrible that it made it unreadable or anything. But if you aren't one of those who lets little stuff like that drive you up the wall, you should try it. Very internally angsty. ...more
Heather Tabata
I love historical fiction. This isn't the time period I usually read, but I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the culture. This story is a powerful demonstration of forgiveness, grace, self-respect, and the need of all of us for redemption. I'm invested in even the supporting characters and will be finding out what happens next very soon. ...more
Michelle Lunsford
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love it when a historical fiction can capture real-life accounts from the past in a way that is gripping, heart-felt, and authentic. Pepper Basham has accomplished that and more in this narrative. I was moved to tears by the events of the attack on the Lusitania, but I was equally moved by the fictional accounts of the experiences of these complex characters as they work through life, learning to trust in God, offer and accept forgiveness, and struggle through the ups and downs of love. I don' ...more
Pepper D. Bearer You are a gifted story teller! You engage your reader take them away to the story in the book! Chapter four one of may favorite parts was a word picture that touched my heart on prayer When you grieve pray...., pray when you dream... pray when your confused...pray when your joyous... pray... but do not stay alone with your prayer hold it before you like a beacon and step back into your life, where ever you are, no matter how dark. Place hands and feet to your prayers by focusing ...more
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
An astonishing debut; there are no other words to describe it!

"The Thorn Bearer" embodies the very best that inspirational historical romance fiction has to offer with its engaging characters, interesting and intriguing historical backdrop, and a story line that moves along as naturally as the ebb and flow of an ocean wave; peaceful at best and dangerous at worst. At its core however, is the steady, resounding heartbeat of a God who loves and abides and forgives and redeems; even the deepest, da
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ashleigh Dougall carries deep shame and insecurities, byproducts from the dark secret she harbors of her late father's inappropriate indiscretions during her childhood. When her fiance, Michael, deserts her eight months before the wedding with very little explanation, Ashleigh finds new purpose in her role as a nurse in an English hospital during WWI. Coming along her transatlantic journey is Sam Miller, her best friend from childhood and her sister's former fiance. Sam has his own reasons for t ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So many times as Christians we sweep difficult topics under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. Pepper Basham takes one such topic and handles it with grace and tenderness. While this book may contain triggers for those who have been abused, there are no scenes in which the abuse takes place. My heart broke for Ashleigh but watching her travel the difficult road of forgiveness was a balm for that heartache. Each of the characters in this book take their own road of growth that is beautiful to ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ashleigh has hidden the secret of what happened between her and her father from everyone, but the pain has caused countless struggles in her life. With a disastrous end to her engagement to Michael, Ashleigh was on her way back to England to assist as a nurse at a local hospital. The trip across the Atlantic aboard the Lusitania was going to be a struggle of a different kind, as her companion was to be Sam Miller, her best friend and sister’s latest throw away. Sam is in need of a final response ...more
Beckie Burnham
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Is The Thorn Bearer really Pepper Basham’s debut novel? This book has it all — complex plot, well-devoloped characters and a strong faith message. Oh yeah, there is romance for those of you who like a good love story. All in all this book is one I can highly recommend!

Ashley Dougall keeps a heart-shattering secret, but that isn’t unusual for the Dougalls who all seem to harbor one deceit or another. Left at the altar and feeling like damaged goods, Ashley makes her way from her beloved Nort
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The cover image for The Thorn Bearer immediately drew my attention—so dark and mysterious that I had to know what it was about. I was hooked at the mention of the Lusitania, given its tragic history, but do admit to some measure of apprehension after I read about the heroine’s painful childhood. Knowing that God can redeem any past, however, I decided to take a chance and request to read this book early and leave a review.

I don't know that I have ever had a debut novel leave me speechless, but
Just Commonly
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A bang! That's how Pepper Basham's The Thorn Bearer started off. Did you read the snippet from my earlier post today? My "bang" is not referring to what happened in the snippet, but what the very first words of the story. "Death hovered in the shadows of the room..." (1). I didn't expect to be wrapped in so early on, but I was - the very first page. Pepper's The Thorn Bearer splashed us with a surprising revelation of the horrors of what Ashleigh faced growing up, and doused us with a sense of d ...more
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Pepper D Basham has been telling tales ever since she was a little girl. When her grandmother called her a “writer” at the age of ten, Pepper took it as gospel and has enjoyed various types of writing styles ever since. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate, Pepper enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction whe ...more

Other books in the series

Penned in Time (3 books)
  • The Thorn Keeper (Penned in Time, #2)
  • The Thorn Healer (Penned in Time #3)

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