Tag: Rose Lerner

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner

Posted December 10, 2020 by Ames in Features, Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose LernerReviewer: Ames
A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner
Publisher: Leisure Books, Self-Published
Publication Date: September 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 392
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London 1815, just before Waterloo...

After her noble father disowned her, Lady Serena Ravenshaw clawed her way from streetwalker to courtesan to prosperous innkeeper. Now she’s feared and respected from one end of London to the other, by the lowest dregs of the city’s underworld and the upper echelons of the beau monde, and she’ll do anything to keep it that way.

When mild-mannered chemist Solomon Hathaway turns up in her office, asking for her help, she immediately recognizes him from one fateful night years before. She’s been watching and waiting for him for years—so she can turn the tables and put him in her debt, of course, and not because he looked like an angel and was kind to her when she needed it most.

She’s determined not to wonder what put that fresh grief in his eyes. But after a betrayal even Serena didn’t expect, she must put aside her pride and work with Solomon to stop a ring of French spies and save her beloved inn, her freedom—and England itself.

This review was originally published September 7, 2011

I read Rose Lerner’s In for a Penny last year and really enjoyed it, so I’ve been looking forward to her second book for a while now.  It was worth the wait.

A Lily Among Thorns starts with Solomon Hathaway visiting a brothel with two school chums.  He doesn’t necessarily want to be there and he can tell that the prostitute really doesn’t want to be there.  In desperation (and drunkenness) Solomon gives his lightskirt his whole quarterly allowance and races off into the night.

Five years later and Solomon has entered the Ravenshaw Arms, a hotel with a well-known proprietess.  Lady Serena, aka the Thorn, is known in underground circles as someone who can find missing things (among other skills).  Serena is also the young prostitute whom Solomon’s quarterly allowance allowed to leave her situation.  Serena recognizes Sol immediately, but he doesn’t recognize her until a little bit later.  Sol needs Serena’s talents to locate some family earrings that his sister demands she needs in order to get married and said earrings were stolen a week prior by some highwaymen.  Sol and Serena work out a deal that he’ll stay at the Ravenshaw Arms and do the bed hangings while Serena locates the earrings.  Simple, right?

Not so much, because Serena’s former partner, the Marquis du Sacreval, has returned from France and wants to take the Arms away from Serena.  This is anathema to her because the Arms is her home and something that she’s worked for and proud of.  She also rescues those from her former profession and gives them positions at her hotel.  She has quite a few people counting on her and the last thing she wants to do is hand it all over to Rene.  But he threatens her with a fake marriage license.  By now Solomon has recognized Serena and he’s vowed to help her out…but nothing is that simple and his family, her family, and a ring of French spies are only a few of the obstacles between these two characters.

There was a lot going on in A Lily Among Thorns, but it all came together very well.  I did not even delve into some of the stuff going on in this story.  It had a lot but it was definitely character driven.  And what characters!

First there’s Lady Serena.  She is actually the daughter of an aristocrat who fell for a footman and instead of allowing her father to dictate her life, she ran out.  Yeah she didn’t end up in the best of circumstances, but she took advantage of Solomon’s drunken generosity and made something of herself.  She’s a very strong character who puts up a front in order not to appear vulnerable to former clients who visit her hotel now and then.  She’s also intimidating as hell, with a fierce reputation that makes other unsavory elements quake in their boots when she lifts a sardonic brow in their direction.

Then there’s Solomon.  He is actually an earl’s nephew but who turned his back on the opportunity his rich uncle gave him and went to work for his other uncle in a tailoring shop.  He can match any shade of cloth to the color of your choice.  He is also suffering over the death of his twin, a twin who overshadowed him a bit.  Solomon is very much a non-alpha type of character.  But he has an inner strength that shines through and he has a sense of belonging that appeals to others.  He’s a man who knows what he wants and he makes sure he gets it.  He isn’t in your face about it and that sets him apart from overly-confident alpha types who ooze testosterone.  That’s not Solomon’s style.

So great characters and strong writing are two key elements for why A Lily Among Thorns works for me.  I really like the dynamic between Serena and Solomon.  She can be a bit hard and that’s something that Solomon likes about her.  Solomon also makes Serena believe in herself over the opinion of her extremely disapproving father.  There was also a surprising secondary story that I don’t want to name a romance so much because there was no concrete HEA for those characters (I refuse to spoil the surprise as to who it is) and I would definitely like to see their story wrapped up at a later date.  My only complaint about this book would be the beginning, it took a little while for me to get into what was going on.  But once the story got rolling, I was engrossed.  A Lily Among Thorns gets 4 out of 5 from me.

This book is available from Leisure Books. You can buy it here.


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IN FOR A PENNY by Rose Lerner Re-Release!

Posted June 3, 2014 by Rowena in Promotions | 1 Comment


After being out of print for a long time after all of those Dorchester shenanigans, IN FOR A PENNY by Rose Lerner has been re-released by Samhain (yay!) and it’s got a beautiful new cover! Holly read and enjoyed this book a little bit ago so we’re pimping it out again. Check out her review of In For a Penny, here.

To celebrate the re-release, Rose Lerner is also running a contest for 5 free e-books and a PENNY-themed gift basket, which includes (among other things) a real Regency penny and CDs of music Nev and Penelope would have listened to.

Enter Giveaway Here

To buy your very own copy: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Happy reading!

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New Rose Lerner Winner Announced

Posted March 24, 2010 by Holly in Giveaway Winners | 2 Comments

I want to thank Rose Lerner for visiting and bringing such a great discussion to the site.

The original winner of In For A Penny hasn’t checked in and I can’t find a way to contact her, so I’m choosing a new winner.

Now, for the winner of signed copy of In for a Penny:

Congrats! Please email me at contests @ thebookbinge . com (no spaces) with your mailing info and I’ll pass it along to the author. Thanks again to all of you who commented.

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Review: In for a Penny by Rose Lerner

Posted March 11, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

MedInforaPennyHolly‘s review of In for a Penny by Rose Lerner.


No more drinking. No more gambling. And definitely no more mistress. Now that he’s inherited a mountain of debts and responsibility, Lord Nevinstoke has no choice but to start acting respectable. Especially if he wants to find a wife–better yet, a rich wife. Penelope Brown, a manufacturing heiress, seems the perfect choice. She’s pretty, rational, ladylike, and looking for a marriage based on companionship and mutual esteem.


But when they actually get to Nev’s family estate, all the respectability and reason in the world won’t be enough to deal with tenants on the edge of revolt, a menacing neighbor, and Nev’s family’s propensity for scandal. Overwhelmed but determined to set things right, Nev and Penelope have no one to turn to but each other. And to their surprise, that just might be enough.

Lord Nevinstoke has spent the last few years living the life of a ne’er-do-well, drinking and carousing with his friends and mistress. He really doesn’t think past the end of the night. It’s all about what he wants, when he wants it. He meets Miss Penelope Brown at a ball and is taken with her, so he introduces himself and spends some time with her. Then he has to rush out unexpectedly to avoid a lecture from his mother. Several weeks later he spies her again at Vauxhall Gardens and is similarly taken, though he doesn’t speak to her. That evening he finds out his father has been killed and the next day learns they’re ruined. His father left him with a mountain of debt and no way to see clear of it. Then Nev remembers Penelope. She could be the answer to his prayers.

Penelope is shocked and slightly appalled when Nev shows up on her doorstep and begs for her hand in marriage. He’s upfront with her, telling her he needs her money, but also says he believes they’ll be well suited. She’s always wanted a relationship based on respect and companionship, but two short meetings hardly seem enough to determine if she’d find that with Nev. And yet she can’t seem to turn him down. Despite the misgivings she has, she agrees to the marriage.

But once they’re settled in Nev’s country estate, she realizes marrying a fortune hunter is the least of her problems. Their tenants are about to revolt, her in-laws are insufferable, they have a sinister neighbor who seems mildly obsessed with Nev’s sister and if that isn’t enough, things from both their pasts keep popping up, adding to the drama. At one point Penelope says, “Oh, Nev. What a Gothic novel our life has become!” and indeed, that’s exactly what it seemed – something straight out of a Gothic novel.

As a debut Regency novel, In for a Penny really hits the mark. Despite all the crazy things that keep happening to Penelope and Nev, it was never too much. I was drawn into the story from page one. I think one of the best things about it is the marriage proposal and acceptance. There was no secrecy between them, or Machiavellian schemes on either side. Nev told Penelope upfront that he needed her money. He didn’t try to woo her and pretend to be in love with her, nor did Penelope fancy his proposal as anything but it was – a business arrangement. They were both very pragmatic about it, which I found very refreshing.

Once married, they try to find solid footing with each other. Nev feels like Penelope settled for him and isn’t sure how to prove he cares for more than her money. Penelope wants to believe Nev when he claims to care for her, but she isn’t quite sure he’s telling the truth.

Much of the novel shows Penelope and Nev getting to know one another. There are some lovely scenes where you can see they are in perfect accord, but there are others where they hurt one another without even realizing it. The relationship seemed very real to me.

The descriptions of the time period seemed right on. Unlike so many other Regency novels, this one really dealt with the grit of day-to-day life for a Lord and Lady. They had to deal with tenants and money troubles and difficult friends and family members. I found it to be very refreshing.

There were times when I became frustrated with both main characters because of their lack of communication, but since I understood where both of them were coming from I was never bothered for long. Something I had a harder time letting go was the way Nev’s mom acted. She was very much a stereotypical Regency-era mama. The way she treated her daughter and Penelope annoyed me to no end. I really wish in the end Nev had made it clear that wouldn’t be acceptable.

Overall this was a lovely Regency novel with beautifully drawn characters in a richly painted setting.

4.25 out of 5

This book is available from Samhain Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

Rose Lerner is guest blogging with us today. Be sure to stop by and say hello for a chance to win a signed copy of In for a Penny.

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Guest Author: Rose Lerner

Posted March 11, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 27 Comments

Today I’m thrilled to announce regency author Rose Lerner is with us to celebrate her debut release, In For A Penny. Please join us welcoming her.

The hero and heroine of my book In for a Penny love Le Morte d’Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory’s 1485 book collecting together various pieces of Arthurian poems and legend.

Le Morte d’Arthur is the major source for most of our modern retellings of the Arthurian legends, but at one point it was out of print for almost two hundred years. The Arthur legends weren’t all that popular in Britain until the Romantic craze for all things medieval brought them back into fashion (and made Arthur a popular name for English boys again). Just a few years before my story starts, in 1816, the book was reprinted for the first time since 1634.

I fell in love with Arthurian legend in middle school and read about a dozen retellings, from Idylls of the King to The Mists of Avalon. But Malory always seemed long and dense to me, so I didn’t read it until a few years ago when I decided it would play a small part in In for a Penny. What immediately struck me about it was the complete lack of judgment in the storytelling. Malory simply relates “facts” without feeling the need to comment on them.

This was especially striking with the women. In this excerpt, the Damosel of the Lake has just done a spell to get the guy she had her eye on to stop being in love with another woman:

‘Sir Knight Pelleas,’ said the Damosel of the Lake, ‘take your horse and come forth with me out of this country, and ye shall love a lady that shall love you.’ ‘I will well,’ said Sir Pelleas, ‘for this Lady Ettard hath done me great despite and shame,’ and there he told her the beginning and ending, and how he had purposed never to have arisen till that he had been dead. ‘And now such grace God hath sent me, that I hate her as much as ever I loved her, thanked be our Lord Jesus!’ ‘Thank me,’ said the Damosel of the Lake.

And that’s that! There’s a strong strain of what I’ll call “judginess” (it’s a technical term!) in British literature. As far as I can tell, it got more pronounced throughout the eighteenth century and reached its peak in the Victorian era (*cough*Dickens*cough*), and has been relaxing only gradually since the turn of the twentieth century. Virginia Woolf described it best when she said about Dostoevsky, “There is none of that precise division between good and bad to which we are used.” The British reader is really, really used to a precise division between good and bad. You always know exactly which characters you’re supposed to approve of and exactly how much. Large portions of most major novels are devoted to explaining that, in detail. And the rules are very strict, especially for female characters.

That kind of story makes me uncomfortable. I don’t mind a book having villains, obviously–In for a Penny has several. But I don’t like stories where I feel like the author is punishing characters for being the wrong kind of person, or rewarding them for being the right kind. I don’t like stories that feel punitive. I’ve never felt particularly good or triumphant about seeing mean people get their comeuppance. When I read the Grimm version of the Cinderella legend and discovered that the stepsisters had to cut off their toes and then have their eyes pecked out by birds, I was horrified.

t’s not because I’m just a generous, empathetic person or anything. It’s because I always had a sneaking suspicion I was the wrong kind of person, that I was a wicked stepsister and not a Cinderella. Punishment being meted out made me feel uneasy and unsafe. The standards for being a Cinderella are pretty high, and girls who are angry or lazy, or even who just want things for themselves and not for other people or aren’t pretty enough or talk too loudly, don’t qualify.

When I was a kid and reading tons of classic English novels, I loved the books but I was pretty sure they didn’t love me back. They made me happy, but they also made me feel guilty and angry and sad. And that was me, growing up in late twentieth-century America with a feminist mom. To my nouveau riche, Jane-Austen-fan heroine, used to constantly policing her own behavior for sense and ladylikeness and modesty, I can’t begin to imagine how intensely refreshing Malory would have seemed.

Do you like stories where evil is punished? Did you ever read a story where you felt sorry for the villain? Tell me about it in the comments! I’ll be giving away a signed copy of In for a Penny to one commenter, chosen at random. Thanks for having me!


Thanks Rose! What an interesting question. I guess I hadn’t thought about it like that before. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has to say.

You heard the lady. Leave a comment answering her questions above and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of In For A Penny.

Rose is holding another contest at her website. She’s giving away another signed copy of In For A Penny, plus one package of 10 of her favorite Regency books (there are some awesome books on her list, too)! Click here for details.

In For A Penny is available from Leisure Books. You can buy it here.

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