The Thornless Rose

the thornless rose

The Thornless Rose by Morgan O’Neill

Overview by Amazon:
No one ever knew what really happened to Dr. Jonathan Brandon back in 1945. He simply disappeared from a London pub, leaving behind an unsolved mystery and his fiancée—Anne Howard’s grandmother. Seventy years later, Anne herself is haunted by the strange tale, along with inexplicable hallucinations straight out of Elizabethan England. Including a scarred, handsome man whose deep blue eyes seem to touch her very soul….

Anne wonders if there isn’t something more to the story. Is it even possible that Jonathan disappeared into the England’s dark past? And why does Anne keep hearing him whisper her name? Because now she too feels the inexorable pull of the past, not to mention an undeniable attraction for a man she doesn’t even know.

It’s just a matter of time before Anne will step back into history, and face a destiny―and a love―beyond imagining…

This was an enchanting story. I have been reading a lot of the time travel genre this year (or this past year) and this book was a unique and fascinating glimpse into the history of one of England’s most amazing time periods. From the end of World War II to modern day to Elizabethan England, this story weaves together a story that encompasses love, trials and political intrigues. If you are a fan of the time travel genre, check out here and here and here for some other great books.

I finished the book last night and sat down this afternoon to write my review. I’m glad I took the time to let the book digest. I don’t know if I would classify this book as pure historical romance fiction. There was so much history in this story that any history lover would adore reading about Elizabethan times and getting to know how a modern thinker would interact with the people of the times. Although there was definitely a love story and connection between the two main characters, Anne and Jonathan, it wasn’t a hot and steamy story. If that is what you long for, then this book is light on the graphic bedroom scenes in many other books. However, I found myself so caught up in the plot and the love of Anne and Jonathan that I found it did not detract from my enjoyment of reading it.

Whenever I think of Elizabethan times, I immediately pull from modern references, specifically ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and ‘Elizabeth’ with the incomparable Cate Blanchett. The costumes, the castles, the scenery is all I can visualize as the authors weave their tale.

cate blanchett


Yes, I said authors as in plural. One of the most amazing things about this story is that it is written by two women and the publishing name is a moniker from their identities. I have written professional articles with colleagues before and even with data and articles to help us, it has been a daunting task to mesh personal writing styles and vision. For this story to be co-authored only raised my estimation of the book.

So what was so enchanting? The love story was the heart of the story. The time travelling was compelling and interesting and it led Anne to Jonathan who was trapped in time. Although he was her grandmother’s fiancé, it becomes clear quickly that a union between the two was fated. When you read about a love connection and you wonder about their motivations and feelings that is when you know that you are affected by the writing. I wondered if Anne and Jonathan would be together if they had met in modern times. Anne is quick to point out that she would be attracted to Jonathan if she saw him in a bar, and he finds her captivating. Circumstances throw them together and Anne is clearly in need of a protector. It’s not like they were just making the best of the situation as a real romance and relationship develops, but I still wondered what would be if they didn’t have dangerous secrets and equally dangerous men after the knowledge they possess.

The world of Elizabethan England through Jonathan and Anne’s eyes was fascinating. Anne describes the stink of the world, which we all know, but don’t often think about when romanticizing the era. The clothes Anne is forced to wear to fit in seem strange and confining and you can’t help but chuckle when she longs for a bra. The language was really different and it helped to remind you what century they were in. Anne’s modern vernacular was not well received and even using ‘you’ and ‘I’ was not part of the dialogue of the Elizabethan times.

Jonathan is a doctor and he draws royal attention to himself with his superior knowledge of human anatomy and disease prevention. I also had to keep in mind that Jonathan disappeared in the 40’s and the medical advancements we enjoy in modern times were unknown to him, although he had Anne to enlighten him. It was amazing to read how he fell into royal favour with a simple aspirin. Things we take for granted were lifesaving to the Elizabethans. The housekeeper thinks Jonathan and Anne are nuts because they want to bathe at least weekly. It was hard to imagine the stink of unwashed bodies and especially no deodorant. It made me so grateful for the times we live in!

I loved the theory of time travel the authors develop and the mystical magic of druids and the veil. It led Jonathan and Anne together. They were both wonderful characters that I enjoyed spending time with. They develop a wonderful relationship and it was amazing to see modern sensibilities in the Elizabethan times. The struggle to not change history was ever present for them, but the love they have did transcend time. This book is well worth the read. It was a story that anyone would enjoy, not just lovers of historical romance. I commented that this book was enchanting and it was. It takes a time period that is not covered often in historical romance and spins an elaborate tale that offers a fascinating glimpse. I couldn’t help but get on google as I was reading and afterwards to research as much as I could about this time period. My next movie will be to rewatch Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love so I can imagine Jonathan and Anne living in this world.


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