Title: Bed of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sondra Allan Carr
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication date: 31 May 2011
Author’s website: http://www.facebook.com/sondraallancarr
Source: eCopy received from author for review
This review was also published on The Romance Reviews.
Heir to a wealthy robber baron, Jonathan Nashe had every advantage money could buy until a tragic fire left him horribly disfigured. Now he lives secluded in his isolated country mansion, finding what solace he can in his scientific research. Declining health eventually threatens to rob him of even this small comfort. Forced to choose between his work and his privacy, Jonathan reluctantly hires a secretary.
Victim of a brutal rape as well as her alcoholic father's emotional and physical abuse, Isabelle Tate long ago abandoned any hope of personal happiness. Instead, she focuses all her dreams for the future on her younger sister Jenny. When a handsome doctor unexpectedly offers her a position as secretary to his reclusive and wealthy patient, Isabelle sees the opportunity to make a better life for Jenny. She signs a contract binding her to employment for one year and, after a tearful farewell, leaves Jenny for her new home at Jonathan Nashe's country estate.
When he sees Isabelle alight from the carriage, Jonathan curses his friend Dr. Garrick. It had never occurred to him the doctor would hire a woman for the position. What would she do when she saw his mask? Probably run from the room screaming. At the very least, he will have to endure her revulsion.
Their first meeting is disastrous, to put it mildly. Even worse, Jonathan soon realizes that sacrificing his privacy is the least of his concerns; he never expected to sacrifice his heart as well.
Afraid of losing Isabelle, Jonathan proposes marriage, phrasing his offer as a business transaction, asking nothing more than her companionship. But Isabelle refuses. She guards the secrets of her past as vigilantly as Jonathan hides the scars beneath his mask. Will they confess their growing love for one another knowing that to bare their deepest feelings, they must also bare their deepest shame?
This historical romance brings all our favourite elements of a love story together – two emotionally scarred characters trying to find peace in each other’s arms. Sondra Allan Carr just overwhelms with her sensitivity of this love-against-the-odds novel.
Isabelle was an easy character to love. She always seemed to put her sister’s happiness above her own, trying to give her a better life than she had. This endeared me to her. She is hired as a secretary for the elusive Jonathan Nashe and from the beginning it is a difficult relationship both professionally and personally.
I will admit that I have a soft spot for a tortured hero and Jonathan made me just want to put my arms around him and never let go. He is the perfect “beast” character – scarred both physically and mentally. He just could not fathom the idea that anyone could tolerate his presence never mind love him! I was so happy the first time he came out of his room!
Together Isabelle and Jonathan start to help each other out of their comfort zones and they start living for the first time. At first it is just little Sunday morning strolls which then develops into evenings in the library.
They have led such utter miserable lives and have experienced only hardship and pain, that as their love story slowly develops, we cannot help but wish them only happiness. Unfortunately the path to happiness is never easy and there are lots of misunderstandings. This was the only negative point for me. I felt that some of the misunderstandings could have been resolved immediately and that it got drawn out a bit too much.
The subplot between Isabella’s young sister and the doctor-friend of Jonathan was a fun addition to the book. I loved their relationship so much that I would have loved them to have had a book of their own.
This is the ultimate “Beauty and the Beast” story. True love comes in all forms and are strong enough to wipe away even the worst of our pasts. That is the message of this book and I could not agree more.