The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

December 3, 2014

Glomming is great!
For those of you who are interested in the Spymasters series by Joanna Bourne, a word of warning. These books were not written and published in chronological order. So, even though The Forbidden Rose was the third book released, it is actually the first book in the series. This is the order they should be read:  The Forbidden Rose, The Spymaster's Lady, Rogue Spy, My Lord and Spymaster, and The Black Hawk. Of course, the way Ms. Bourne has written this series means that she can squeeze another book anywhere into the series - pretty tricky, Ms. Bourne!

The time period in The Forbidden Rose is 1794, and is one of those underutilized time periods for romance. Maybe that's because it was such an alarming time to have been born in that it doesn't make for a good romance, especially if one were living in France. Just the moniker "Reign of Terror" says it all. In this book we don't have Napoleon; we have an even more threatening villain, Robespierre. This may not be a good time period for romance (although I think it is,) but it's perfect for daring-do, spies, intrigue, thrills, chills, and chases down dark alleys.

The Forbidden Rose has spymaster William Doyle, who is looking for a list. By the way, he's one of those big, big, big heroes who comes awfully close to buffoonery, but not quite. Then we have Marguerite de Fleurignac, who runs an underground organization called LaFleche. She has organized a number of people to help aristocrats in escaping France and the ever-present guillotine. Why she's doing this isn't made perfectly clear since she doesn't seem to have a particular fondness for any of the people she's helped. Nonetheless, she's helping them flee, or she was until her cover was blown and now she's the one fleeing. Unbeknownst to her, Doyle is looking for her father because of some crime her father committed (or at least the British think he did). Doyle and Marguerite join forces. He knows who she is, she hides things from him, she knows he knows who she is, he knows she knows he knows. Their relationship was very interesting to watch because even though they are keeping secrets from each other there is a level of trust that binds them together. The dialogue between the two of them was wonderful.

As with the Rogue Spy, when you read this book you will become absorbed in the exciting and colorful storyline. The secondary characters are a superb bunch of people, especially Hawker who in this book is twelve or thirteen. He is wise to the ways of the dark streets way beyond his chronological age. The dialogue that comes out of his mouth is both amusing and poignant. He is a child who never had a childhood and I'm looking forward to his story, which is the last in the series.

As with Rogue Spy, The Forbidden Rose is a well-developed story that is much more than just a romance. It is a deeply beautiful, thrilling narrative and it was a pleasure to read. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next in the group.

Time/Place: England/France 1794
Sensuality: Warm/Hot

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