Lady Amelie de Clerq’s prickly demeanor and earth mage abilities have earned her the nickname “Lady of Thorns,” keeping potential suitors at bay and making her the butt of the nobility’s jokes. Determined to attract a husband who will love her for herself rather than her fortune, she decides to embark on a journey of sensual self-discovery.
Alain LaPorte, wily lawyer and toast of the capital’s social set, has been summoned to Lierdhe to oversee business negotiations with a neighboring earl. When Amelie asks Alain to tutor her in the bedroom arts, he agrees to introduce the virgin mage to pleasure.
But lessons in lovemaking soon turn into a matter of the heart, forcing both Amelie and Alain to confront their fears about intimacy, loyalty, and love.
I have no idea why I picked up Nicola Cameron's Lady of Thorns. While it's well within my criteria for light reading, it's not generally something I'd spend money on, not with the huge stack of, you know, actual paper books waiting on my nightstand. Do sleeping books dream of being read?
I have very little patience for books that waste my time these days, and I've been having even more trouble than usual getting into books in genres and by writers I generally enjoy reading. So I have no idea why I found Lady of Thorns so utterly readable.
Okay, cons: the book is fairly lightweight, with a moderately predictable plot, the kind of arc any romance reader knows like the back of her hand. The story is set in a magical pseudo-Europe; everyone speaks one language, although there's some sort of equally pseudo-Latin in the background that the mages and lawyers use to obfuscate what they do for the commoners. The book is littered with language anachronisms like "no skin off my nose" and "lock, stock, and barrel." (Since "lock, stock, and barrel" refer to the parts of a rifle, and Cameron's world is most distinctly pre-firearms, that's more than just anachronistic!)
And yet... it's just so damned readable. I devoured the book during my commute, reading the whole thing in about three hours, which is about right— a page a minute or so. It's a fairly adorable book; our heroine, Amelie, is a 20-year-old earth mage and heir to a county seat; her mother is a famously powerful earth mage and countess. Both are known, almost famed, for their prickliness and sarcastic wit. The Countess asks the Earl of the neighboring county, an engineering master, to help her establish irrigation systems for her farmlands, and hires a city lawyer to help negotiate the deal. This throws two marriagable men at Amelie: the Earl's retained fire-mage, and his oh-so-handsome son.
Spoiler: In fact, if I have one other complaint about this book, it's that no one in the whole damned kingdom appears to be queer. You'd think Amelia's mother would crack a joke about "maybe you're interested in women?" to reassure us that the consensual fantasy world extends its boon to queerfolk. Something. Anything. It's a small quibble in a book that actually does pass the Bechdel test, although by only the smallest of margins, which is also surprising given how many women have speaking roles.
But it's no giveaway, as the back-cover blurb reveals, that it's the lawyer our heroine falls for. Amelie decides that before she puts herself on the dreary marriage market she should at least know how to please a man, and asks Alain to teach her. He's a late-20-something rake, fond of the ladies but always respectfully and consensually so. That's actually the major fantasy of the novel: Alain asks at every step in the bedding process and really is ready to stop when she says stop. He's not a "nice" guy but he is quick with of kind words and thoughtful compliments, slowly bringing ease and joy to the wounded soul hiding behind that facade of thorny wit.
Four stars for just how ridiculously un-put-downable it was, and one for all the small complaints.
(Extra kudos to the copyeditor; epubs are notoriously poorly copy-edited, yet I didn't find a single flaw in this one. Yay!)
Lady of Thorns is the third book in the Two Thrones series, and we focus on two characters we met in the previous book. Amelie and Alain are about as opposite as you can get - noble-born and street rat who has worked hard and got himself a career. However, their births play no part as the sparks fly between these two. They are evenly matched in intelligence, wit, and humour. And then, through Amelie's courage, they find out they are matched in other areas too. With the Harvest Ball coming up, her mother to contend with, and a husband to find, Amelie is happy to take her chances whilst she can. And of course, it doesn't hurt to have a Queen as your best friend!
It was wonderful returning to this world. It is easy to read, and the characters are all superb. It is smoothly written, with no editing or grammatical errors that I found. I would have loved to have heard more about Matthias and Danae, but then I am greedy where they are concerned. All in all, this book was thoroughly enjoyable, and completely un-put-downable. Palace of Scoundrels is still my favourite so far, but Lady of Thorns is absolutely recommended in every way.
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
This is my favorite in the series so far! Though I️ usually don’t read this genre, Nicola’s storycrafting always draws me into her books right away and keeps me going until the end. And in this case a very enjoyable end! Strong female characters, and good randy fun!