In For a Penny

A Lily Among Thorns
by Rose Lerner
(Dorschester, $6.99, PG-13) 978-1-4285-0989-4
5 Hearts A Lily Among Thorns is a deep story about a woman who left home at a young age ruined. She hit rock bottom, but was able to pull herself together and make something of herself. She vowed to protect her heart and keep people at armsí length. This story is an incredible tale of breaking through the armor to find happiness.

On break from Cambridge and visiting London, a very drunk Solomon Hathaway finds himself entering a brothel with his friends. He is dazed and confused, but is instantly being led to a room by a woman. The woman is very striking, but has an empty aura in her eyes. As this woman undresses, Solomon suddenly comes out of his confusion, drops his quarterly allowance on the floor, and flees.

Fast forward six years and Lady Serena Ravenshaw has just been alerted that there is a man calling for a visit. She would not normally accept a strangerís visit while working on the books at Ravenshaw Arms, her reputable inn in London, but she is intrigued. When the mysterious man she met six years ago enters the room, she is in shock. Serena easily recovers, as it is evident that this man does not remember her from that night that changed her life.

Solomon has contacted Lady Serena to find a family heirloom. A pair of ruby earring was stolen and Solomon discovered that Serena has a talent in finding stolen items. Serena doesnít want the moment to end for she fears her connection with Solomon could be lost. She agrees to find the earring, as it should be an easy task, but her stipulation is that Solomon stay at the Arms to assist.

Solomon is a man with a lot of potential. His mother comes from an affluent family, but she left that family to marry a parson. Solomon was never fully accepted by his motherís side of the family, but they did send him to Cambridge for an education. He is a brilliant chemist, but all his life he knew he wanted to work at Hathawayís Fine Tailoring, which has been in his Fatherís family for several generations. His talent is in fabric dyes, but regardless, society sees him as a common man.

Serena is very scarred. She was banished from her family for an indiscretion with a man she thought she loved. She was then rescued from life on the street to become a whore at a London brothel. It provided for her and kept her safe, but the relationships with all the men left her incredibly miserable. Thanks to Solomonís money she was able to leave the brothel, but she carried that unhappiness with her and used it as a shield of protection.

This story follows the amazing journey of a very strong willed woman coming to the self-realization that happiness is possible.

A Lily Among Thorns is not an overly emotional book, but it is a deeply moving book. Serenaís emotions and thoughts are made very real to the reader. While the details of her past are repeated throughout, it is not done in a way of annoyance. As the story progresses, the reader is captured little by little in the progression of Serenaís journey. And she is not alone. Solomon has had a pretty easy life that has worked out exactly as he knew it would. Even though he knows how to deal with Serenaís temperament, he certainly doesnít understand it. So the story is also about Solomonís comprehension and growth in perception of the struggles others in his life are facing.

The main characters are dynamic and vibrant in their own unique way. While I have highlighted Serena and Solomon in this review, the story has many separate plot lines and secondary characters that are entertaining in their own right. The dialogue is very witty, but not overdone which allows the story to be more believable.

Rose Lerner has done a superb job in her second book, A Lily Among Thorns. I encourage anyone who enjoys a character driven historical romance to pick this one up. Iím planning to pick up a copy of her debut book, In For a Penny.

--Nichole Howell

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