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A Bed of Spices

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  596 ratings  ·  74 reviews
“With her unique and lyrical style, Barbara Samuel touches every emotion. The quiet brilliance of her story lingered in my mind long after the book was closed.”—Susan Wiggs

"The tale that Barbara Samuel tells is exquisite. It is based on the Romeo-and-Juliet theme, but the two star-crossed lovers are not divided by feuding families, but by the even deeper gulf of religion,
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published August 23rd 2010 (first published September 1st 1993)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  596 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
3.5 Stars

A BED OF SPICES was, for all intents and purposes, a tale of forbidden love. 'Rica' der Esslingen was a devoted daughter, a loving sister and a friend to many of her father's subjects. She was also a Catholic living in very dark times.

She had a thirst for knowledge uncommon to women of her era. When not required to solve problems in her father's home, she borrowed her sister's wolfhound and visited the village herbalist. She felt most at ease when she was picking and grinding herbs, re
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
♡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.
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 TRA
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
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

3.75 ⭐

This was honestly the very first book I picked up out of school and chose to read. I remember where I purchased it from because I was bored and thought it looked interesting.
It was the book that started my love affair with reading and historical romance.
It still holds up on the reread. It probably wasn’t as good as I remember but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The historical aspects are well done.
I liked that it revolves around the time of the Black Plague. It adds a sense of fear to th
Jane Stewart
Good enough to keep my interest. Average or slightly above average for a romance novel.

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
Apr 24, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"You are the spouse of my heart :')))))"

1 cheerfull star.

The story isn't new, and the forbidden love story drama wasn't new either. Yes, I do suppose the love was seriously forbidden, and the character's peril real enough, but the author's skill level didn't do the story justice.
The dialogues - my favorite the soul spouse one - were ridiculous. I mean, which self-respecting character would actually (very mild spoiler) (view spoiler)

****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
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
UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish
Jun 21, 2011 marked it as own-need-to-read
Recommended to UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish by: Ridley

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!



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
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.
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
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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)
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
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.
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.
Jun 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very bad. Only interesting character is Jacob, the male love interest's father. I don't demand a staggering degree of complexity & nuance from a romance novel but Bed of Spices was just unforgivably lazy.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Margaret Smith
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Joy from sadness, lots of violence

Set in Strassburg in the time of the plague, with a Jewish hero and heroine (Rica) the daughter of local gentry, this book has far more tragedy than most modern or Regency romances. The Rica's mother died after being gang raped, and her six year old twin sister was mentally and physically injured in the same attack. The father inexplicably betroths Rica to a man who is a religious fanatic who hates women. Jews are being blamed for the plague and killed all aroun
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I decided to not heed the negative reviews and let them keep me from reading this wonderful book. I loved both of these characters and the richness of their love and the historical aspects of this story. They did have many things to overcome in that day and age, where the plague and racial tensions ran high.

There are many wonderful supporting characters I grew to love in this story also.

I absolutely love Barbara Samuel's writing! So many good passages I re-read. I love that her stori
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
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
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it

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
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
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Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. "A Bed of Spices" by Barbara Samuel 1 2 Jan 27, 2013 01:11PM  

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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
“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.” 11 likes
“It only takes one man to make a woman a fool.” 2 likes
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