This book is an erotic novel, and features content that is not suitable for readers under the age of 18.
If you are not 18 or older, please do not continue to read this review and do not purchase the book.
☾ about the book
Title: A Lesson In Thorns
Author: Sierra Simone
Series: Thornchapel Quartet
Sequel: Feast of Sparks
Format: ebook, novel
Smut Rating: 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️
Trigger Warnings: mention of sexual violence/rape
☾ the synopsis
When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her…
As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes…
☾ the characters
Poe Markham is a librarian.
She suffers from narcolepsy and the constant need to have kinky sex – even though she’s still a virgin and has never had sex before.
Poe travels to Thornchapel to catalogue books in the libary, but she gets caught up in her desire – for Auden, and to find out what secret Thornchapel hides and what her mother’s last message to her means.
Auden Guest is the master of the house at Thornchapel. He inherited it from his father but it soon becomes obvious that Auden doesn’t really care for the house, though he tries to make the best of his predicament.
He is planning to get married to one of his childhood friends, but when his childhood friend Poe returns to Thornchapel, Auden begins to figure out what he really wants, but tries to fight it at the same time.
St. Sebastian is the most mysterious out of the three main characters.
Poe can’t figure him out, even though she tries, and Auden acts defensive around him every time – and that’s because Auden and St. Sebastian share a secret.
☾ the world building
The book is set at Thornchapel, a massive and mysterious mansion with huge grounds that house a chapel as well.
Most of the book is about discovering Thornchapel’s secret, which has to do with old paganic rituals.
All the characters in the book are childhood friends who come together under mysterious but not unplanned circumstances to finish what their parents had started.
☾ what i liked about this book
I really liked the world-building.
I know I did a really bad job at explaining it above, but Thornchapel is a very mysterious setting that gave me a lot of historical fiction vibes.
I also liked the characters.
I think Poe is a little crazy, but Auden and St. Sebastian are two really mysterious men and I would want to pick up the sequel to find out what’s going to happen to them.
From time to time, this book got really kinky – Poe is a submissive and one of her female friends is a dominatrix, so there was some steamy content, especially towards the end when it came to the ritual.
☾ what i disliked about this book
This book was advertised and recommended to me as erotica, but in that department, it’s actually really lacking.
Poe spends a lot of time talking (or rather fantasizing) about how she wants to have sex with all of her friends, but nothing really happens except for that one time she gets spanked by her friend after confessing that she’s into BDSM and then towards the end – yes, I just said it got really kinky. It did, but I was expecting a lot more.
I also was quite confused about the plot and I didn’t understand that it was not a character driven book – which is as what the book seems to present itself – but rather a plot driven book about the history of the house and the history of the character’s families.
I feel like this plot got really lost in the fact that Poe was pining for about five people at the same time and so it took me a while to realize that the book has dark academia elements in it.
☾ should you read this book?
I really enjoyed the second part of the book, when the plot picked up and the relationships between the characters finally cleared up.
If you like dark academia but also don’t mind some occasional kinky BDSM content (especially erotic scenes with F/F and F/M/M dynamics), you will like this.
I can definitely say, though, that you’ll probably have to pick up the entire series before judging this book, which is something I have yet to do.
It also won’t hurt to check the goodreads reviews.