Welcome to my stop on The Thorn Bearer tour, hosted by Singing Librarian Books. The Thorn Bearer by Pepper Basham was one of the first books I reviewed on the blog, way back in April, so I thought it was time to remind y’all why I love it so much!
When Ashleigh Dougall’s fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. In an attempt to escape her shame, 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 his childhood friend, Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and companionship 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 the love of his childhood friend.
Neither are prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.
SERIES: Penned in Time #1
GENRE: Historical Fiction, WW1
PUBLICATION DATE: April 11, 2015
PAGES: 362 pages
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in spring 2016.
Connect with Pepper Basham online:
Click on the picture to read my interview with Pepper, in which I ask her what in the world ‘frog gigging” is!
When I originally reviewed The Thorn Bearer, I was a couple weeks into this whole blog thing & I featured it as a Favorites Friday post. At the time, I said, “I’m sure I will still be thinking about The Thorn Bearer months from now…” Now several months later, I not only am still thinking about it as predicted, but I would also still feature it as a favorite because it’s just that beautiful. In fact, I’ve talked about The Thorn Bearer on several Top Ten Tuesday posts (including my list of the best historical novels I read in 2015) and named it as one of my favorites of 2015 on Straight Off The Page.
And it’s not just me – Others love The Thorn Bearer, too, as it won a 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award and most recently made the longlist for Debut Fiction for the 2016 Inspy Awards. (Not gonna lie – I jumped up and down and fangirl squealed when I saw The Thorn Bearer on that list!)
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.
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 released on May 7th, 2015, 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. (You know what I’m talking about! You’ve read books where you turned to the back cover just to make sure your former history teacher didn’t sneak in a textbook and call it fiction. I assure you – The Thorn Bearer remains always a novel, never in any danger of entering textbook territory 🙂 )
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. If you love Dawn Crandall and Carrie Turansky, you definitely need to be reading Pepper Basham too! If you love reading books that capture you with the poetry and artistry of the author’s talent, then you need to absolutely check out Pepper Basham’s books!
My Review: 5 stars / Fantastic!
KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion (But just wait for book 2 – The Thorn Keeper – KissingBook Level FIVE!!!)
Click on the Rafflecopter Link for the tour-wide giveaway of 2 digital copies of The Thorn Bearer!
January 25—Reading Is My SuperPower
January 26—Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance
January 27—Bookworm Lisa | Singing Librarian Books
January 28—Griperang’s Bookmarks | The Green Mockingbird
January 29—Just Commonly | The Artist Librarian