Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Dreams. We don’t often consider the devastation wrought on dreams. We don’t recognize that lost dreams oftentimes lead us to living safe lives, fearful of losing more of our dreams since the gravity of a lost dream is life-changing.
It would be too reductive to see Saffron A. Kent’s These Thorn Kisses as new adult romance. It would be easy to chalk up Kent’s story to an age-gap forbidden romance between a young girl and her best friend’s older brother who just so happens to be her high school soccer coach. And it would be too simple to tell you, readers, that Kent’s newest St. Mary’s Rebels book is a decadent story replete with an eroticism that screams off the page.
But again…all of that is too small an explanation for this story because the essence of These Thorn Kisses, its true depth, lies in its message about lost dreams and the consequences of it in the context of the romance between Conrad, Kent’s hero, and Bronwyn, her heroine.
If you’ve been reading Kent’s St. Mary’s series, then you know the running theme of it: forbidden romance usually between an older hero and a teen-aged heroine. Usually, the older hero underestimates the teenage heroine, thinking they know better about the situation. However, Kent infuses her heroines with a backbone and an intuition that falls the hero. This is the case in These Thorn Kisses. Yes, Kent drafts Conrad as protective and possessive in the very best ways for a romance hero. Yet, it’s Bronwyn’s tenacity and insistence on loving Conrad even when he cannot or will not love her back because she knows that Conrad’s existence has been predicated on living his life for other people at the expense of his dreams. This truth is infused in every aspect of These Thorn Kisses. Kent takes the entirety of the story to remedy this problem, the force that drives her story forward.
In a different way, besides her need to be an artist, Bronwyn’s hope (read this as dream) is her parents’ acceptance of her dreams and their support for them. Instead, Conrad becomes the purveyor of her dreams and the protector of them against her parents as she realizes that they will never accept her and her dreams. This is what binds them and makes their partnership fated. Therefore, she is his wallflower, and he is her thorn.
It’s this message that pulls at your heart and allows you to accept the relationship between an eighteen-year-old and a thirty-three-year-old. It is easy to suspend your disbelief over their coupling because Kent makes it necessary for them to be together. You cannot consider anyone else for Conrad even though there is a different offering, and Bronwyn’s existence isn’t complete without Conrad.
Add in the other St. Mary’s Rebels characters with future teases of Poe’s story, and you will fall madly in love with Saffron A. Kent’s These Thorn Kisses. I will say that there are moments that feel repetitive in a way that I didn’t find in the first two books of this series. That is the reason for my 4-star review. Yet, this book is everything you expect from Kent: a stream-of-consciousness delivery, a delicious offering of eroticism, and a tortured hero and heroine who eventually find the most decadent of happy endings. I could tell you that this is a new adult, forbidden age-gap romance, but I would be undermining the depth of this story’s message to follow your dreams even when you must reimagine them.
In love and romance,