Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner

Rose Lerner’s stunning prose and keen eye for detail come together to create a unique, spellbinding novel

A Lily Among Thorns coverFive years after Solomon Hathaway gave his quarterly allowance to a prostitute, he walks back into her life to ask a favor.

Serena recognizes Solomon immediately. She used his money to buy her way up in the underworld, eventually becoming mistress to several high-flying men before going straight and opening an inn. She wants to return the favor, but having him around threatens the barrier she’s built around her heart in order to survive.

I’m not sure I can find words to express how much I love Rose Lerner’s prose. A LILY AMONG THORNS is only her second novel; her first, IN FOR A PENNY, came out last year and immediately became one of my favorite books of 2010.

I didn’t think it would be possible, but Rose Lerner’s second novel is even better than her debut. Her intricately drawn characters break romance-novel norms. This is no typical gentleman/courtesan story. Selena is a lady who chose to leave her family’s wealth in pursuit of love and lust. And Solomon is a parson’s son who chose to become a tailor and—in today’s language—a fashion designer.

Their differences in class, and the ways they struggle against the constraints of society’s expectations of them, provide oodles of humorous conversations—like this one, which takes place long before the two of them are intimate, in a scene where Selena’s aristocratic father arrives at the inn to browbeat her for taking up with someone like Solomon. Solomon responds:

“Your daughter has done what none of your blood has done since the Conquest—kept an honest roof over her head with the fruits of her own honest labor! And you come here and insult her under it. Are you not ashamed?”

Lord Blackthorne’s lips were white. “If you were a gentleman I would call you out for that. As it is, you are fit only for horsewhipping.”

“That’s just as well, for I should certainly not meet you,” Solomon bit out. “Dueling is an outmoded and barbaric custom, fit only for killing off the stupider members of a thoroughly useless class.”

Lord Blackthorne had been angry. Now, he was simply astonished. “Is he this prosy between the sheets?” he asked his daughter.

Her smile was cold, but her eyes were dancing now. “Oh no, Father. There he is pure poetry.”

I highlighted so many passages that made me smile or made my heart clench. Rose Lerner is masterful at bringing out the details that make characters human, in a way that reminds me of Judith Ivory and Meredith Duran. I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait for her next novel.

Rating: 9
Heat: 4 (Hot)


  1. I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile now. It was delayed from earlier this year. I’m so happy for Rose Lerner that it’s finally being released. I absolutely love Eegencies that include lead characters that are not nobles.

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