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Continuing with the Rights & Responsibilities Challenge:

9) Go to adult jail.
Read a romance where either or both protagonists are being held against their will for some portion of the story, either in a physical sense, i.e., a jail, institution, or house arrest, or in a restrictive relationship, i.e., an abusive, demanding relative or employer.

For this part of the challenge, I read Joanna Bourne’s Forbidden Rose, published in 2010. This is one of a series of novels set around the French Revolution and during the rise of Napoleon, which focuses on English and French spies.

In Forbidden Rose, Marguerite, the daughter of a French Marquis, has been secretly an important part of an underground network which has been spiriting away potential victims of Robespierre’s guillotine. Afraid she has been compromised when her family’s country chateau is attacked, she’s been living in the mansion’s ruins when she meets a traveling bookseller and his young companion. The merchant, who calls himself Guilliame LeBreton, is really an Englishman in the British spy network that’s been working to find out who has been targeting and assassinating promising British scholars in an attempt to eliminate them before they can use their knowledge to help England. Marguerite decides to join Guilliame and his young charge to Paris in the hope of reconnecting with her spy network, while also finding her father to tell him about the attack on their home and warn him. “Guilliame” is also interested in finding Marguerite’s father as Guilliame suspects he may be the one preparing the list of promising British scholars and handing them over to Robespierre.

Bourne is very good at writing this particular sub-genre of romance — the brotherhood and sisterhood of spies and their love interests. The characters are believable and the plots against and by our protagonists are intricate. The parts of the book that fall down for me are when the hero and heroine inexplicably get an opportunity to be intimate and have longish periods of time together when you know they’re under extreme pressure and risk capture. I especially found the prison scenes a little unbelievable, but that’s the nature of the beast, I guess. Also, I found the villain — other than Robespierre — to be a little obvious.

That being said, the ending was nicely done and I had a little tear in my eye and lump in my throat over the fate of a minor character and am looking forward to reading the story involving two side characters we come to know in this novel. I’d give this story a B+.


The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 13 down, 5 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B, C, E, F, H, Q …)

Rights & Responsibilities Challenge – 6 down, 12 to go