When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton {review}
Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl {review}

A Lesson In Thorns (Thornchapel #1) by Sierra Simone {review}

A Lesson In Thorns

Genre: Erotic Romance


My Review - 5 Stars

It should surprise no one that A Lesson In Thorns was everything I never knew I always needed. Sierra Simone’s talent is unparalleled and I love this new direction for her work. She explores the intersection of the sacred and profane in such fascinating ways. And her prose never ceases to blow me away. Symbolism galore and I ate it up with a spoon.

This had such a dreamy, fairy-tale quality and yet it was very much rooted in reality, albeit with a slight magical glaze. Poe reconnects with several friends twelve years after a memorable summer as pre-teens. She’s there to work as a librarian but also to see if she can find clues as to her missing mother’s whereabouts. Thornchapel, a remote manor with gothic vibes, holds the key to it all in true Sierra Simone fashion.

There’s a bibliophile mystery element and the group all has to read dusty old books for information. This is basically my dream. Send me off to the UK to organize someone’s personal library and if there are some hot men nearby, all the better.

Poe, Auden, St. Sebastian, Rebecca, Delphine, and Becket were such richly developed characters. While the story is primarily told from Poe’s perspective, we’re given interludes that allow us to delve into the others’ POVs so I had a great sense of who they were and what they wanted, as well as their hopes and fears. There’s also a range of diversity, which is always appreciated.

Sierra’s title of erotic theologian is firmly in place as the story delves into rituals and holy holidays, all with the lens of kink and sex. The story explores virginity as a construct, the meaning of sex, and the way we engender religion and God in some really interesting and thought-provoking ways. I wish everyone thought about sex and God the way these characters do. The context for all of this makes a world of difference. The group has to decide what they think about Imbolc and the ritual sex at its center; they have to imbue it with meaning and figure out what parts of the ceremony to keep or reclaim and what to make their own. And yes, let’s be honest: the end result is hot. Do I wish I had an Auden and Saint of my own? Absolutely.

The group is collectively and individually becoming themselves. They each come to an understanding about who they are, whether it’s a side they didn’t know they had, such as Auden’s dominance, or whether it’s the chance to finally be who they were meant to be, as with Poe. The sex scenes are incredibly steamy but they also serve the plot in some memorable and important ways.

Again and again we’re given this idea of “waking up.” This is contrasted with Poe’s narcolepsy without cataplexy and the way she manages it. In some ways, they have all been asleep. They are waking up to who they are but I suspect Thornchapel is also waking up, although we don’t yet know how or why. But change is coming.

The idea of place is really important. Thornchapel means something different to each person but they’re all inexplicably drawn there. And events at the end will certainly propel the story in some big ways. There was a good amount of angst and a good amount of satisfaction at certain developments. There isn't a cliffhanger at the end but there’s still a lot of story to tell. I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next.

CW: parental abandonment, grief, references to abusive father, references to past rape



When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her... 

As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes… 
From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes... 

***A Lesson in Thorns is the first of four books in the Thornchapel series.*** 


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Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice 


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