“Don’t you ever imagine things different than what they are …
want to discover a new author or read a debut novel?”
“No. I do not.”
“Oh, Marilla, how much you miss.”
Okay. I took some liberties with the Anne Shirley quote, but you can imagine her saying it. Right?
A great new book hit the shelves this month by an author from Asheville, North Carolina–arguably the most romantic city in my home state. You may think Biltmore. I think my honeymoon! Apparently, what should come to mind is a hotbed of great writing.
Meet the Author
If you aren’t yet familiar with Pepper Basham, author of The Thorn Bearer, please let me introduce you. There is so much to love about this woman. Sure, a lovable–even likeable–author is not a prerequisite to a good book (although it helps). I am not ashamed to admit that knowing this author is a speech-language pathologist, who spends her days loving on autistic children, meant I didn’t hesitate for a single second on deciding to purchase her debut novel. I owe a lifelong debt to the SLP who gave my son the gift of spoken language. That’s just a soft spot for me.
Pepper is also the mother of five and a music minister’s wife. Story-telling is a natural part of her life, passed down through her mountain heritage. She loves hats, and she rocks them–the ones people like me just dream about actually wearing. Plus, she writes great books! When? Oh, I would like to know.
When I opened The Thorn Bearer, I begged it not to disappoint me. Yes, I talk to my books, sometimes. Usually just short exclamations like, “No!”, “What?”, or “Oooh, I have to read that part again”. In this case, I wanted to be able to tell Pepper her book was terrific. I was just a tad afraid of that awful moment when you can’t finish the book. How do you explain that to the person you wanted to encourage? I had NOTHING to worry about. This was a no-bathroom-break kind of book.
Top 5 Reasons I Loved
The Thorn Bearer
Click to Shop
#1 The Heart
The heroine of this story, Ashleigh Dougall, is a survivor. Despite great personal tragedy she has a will to live and to love. With dignity and grace, the author leads us through the darkest alleys of Ashleigh’s personal struggles. I promise no spoilers with my reviews, but I will tell you that the resolution is beautiful. No trite platitudes or easy resolutions. This is a story of faith and forgiveness with a very sensitive heart.
#2 The History
The release of The Thorn Bearer coincides with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania in World War I. I never dreamed that would be a favorite part of the book for me. I only watched Titanic once. That’s right, I never found shipwrecks to be very romantic. Yeah … well … Mrs. Basham knows how to tell a story and keep you on the edge of your seat. The details of her research mercilessly wretch you back in time to experience the intrigue of a world of both fact and fantasy.
#3 The Hero
A good romance needs a great hero. The Thorn Bearer has Sam Miller. He has a dime-a-dozen name. He’s not a duke or a prince. He makes at least one serious blunder. He is human, after all, but Sam is not any ordinary man. For Ashleigh Dougall, he is a life-line to her weary soul. For the reader, he keeps the pages turning and the romance sparking.
#4 The Writing
Seamless. Captivating. Heartfelt. Truly enjoyable.
#5 The Title
Seriously? Yes. Once the identity of the Thorn Bearer and the theme of his sacrificial healing is clear … well, the title is genius. Be that as it may, the masterful delivery of the themes of faith and forgiveness hidden in the title are what I love most about this book.
Bravo, Pepper Basham!
Click to Shop
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.