THE THORN BEARER by Pepper Basham
SERIES: Penned In Time #1
GENRE: Historical Romance (Christian)
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2015
BRONZE MEDAL—CHRISTIAN FICTION—READERS FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS
FINALIST—2015 GRACE AWARDS
SHORT-LISTED—2015 INSPY AWARDS
From the decks of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of France, Ashleigh must choose between the forgiveness of her past, life in the present, and a Savior who can rescue her from them all.
When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman?
In an attempt to escape the shame and disappointment of her past, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.
Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and protection as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend’s former fiancé and his own childhood companion.
As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.
When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of war and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever.
“There is a distinct difference between marrying a man you do not love, and falling in love with a man you cannot marry. “
I just can’t say enough good things about this book. The main theme of The Thorn Bearer is this: we are all broken, and we all need a Savior’s rescue. Even those who seem to be without obvious sin. Sometimes, it’s as simple (or as impossible) as holding on to unforgiveness and bitterness for the wrongs done to you by the people who were supposed to love and protect you. Sometimes it’s as pervasive as letting desperation take you down roads you never dreamed you’d travel. Either way, brokenness leads us all overboard and our Savior waits patiently for us to accept the rescue He offers.
Pepper Basham treated the topic of Ashleigh’s childhood sexual abuse with such grace and dignity and purity. She writes the reality of Ashleigh’s emotional scars – the anger, the bitterness, the fear, the shame, the self-recrimination – but she also masterfully weaves all of this into a beautiful tapestry of grace and forgiveness. Ashleigh’s earthly father stole many things from her, but her Heavenly Father pursues her relentlessly to clothe her with beautiful dignity, shower her with gracious love, and gift her with a sweet romance that surprises her. (Honestly, there are so many wonderful poetic quotes that I could share, but there are TOO many! I would end up quoting the entire book. You just need to go buy it for yourself.)
Lest you think that the book is too heavy to endure, let me be the first to assure you that this is completely not the case! There is such delightful flirting (oh the winking! and the kissing!) and moments of pure fun and humor. I fell in love with countless characters from The Thorn Bearer – Ashleigh, Sam (I have a thing for winking apparently… and a new craving for LifeSavers candy), Jessica, David, Kara, Fanny, and even some of the more villainous characters won a place in my heart in the end. But my absolute favorite character is Fiona. She is a hoot and a half, if I may go Southern on you here for a moment. In fact, if I could choose one character from The Thorn Bearer with whom to spend a day, I believe I would have to choose Fiona simply for the laughter that would ensue! What a spitfire of a young lady! Climbing trees, snapping her fingers, telling it like it is. Can’t wait for you all to meet her too.
The paperback version of The Thorn Bearer by Pepper Basham is due for release on May 7th, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania – an historical event that figures very prominently in the plot and our characters’ futures. I loved all of the history that Ms. Basham was able to seamlessly incorporate into the story, the events playing out on the world stage coinciding with what happens to the characters without feeling at all like a history lesson.
Bottom Line: Woven together with rich characters, poetic language, riveting history, wry humor, and heart-wrenching secrets, The Thorn Bearer is a book that will draw you in and refuse to let go. It isn’t often that I finish a fictional book and pause to reflect on it in silence for several minutes, but I did in this case. Even after I finished the last word, this story resonated throughout my spirit for a good long while. I’m sure I will still be thinking about The Thorn Bearer months from now. (Update from 2023 Carrie – I’m still thinking about it 8 years from my original post ♥ )
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / fabulous!
KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion
Pepper D. Basham has been telling tales ever since she was a little girl and fell in love with storytelling while listening to her granny share oral history. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate, Pepper enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction wherever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC, where she works with kids who have special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of Seymour Literary Agency. Her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, arrives on May 7th 2015 and is the first book in the Penned in Time series. Her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, is slated to release later the same year. You can find her at www.pepperdbasham.com or follow her writing antics on her Facebook page or Twitter.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Thorn Bearer by Pepper Basham?