by Donna Birdsell

September 2004
ISBN: 0-425-19804-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Mass Market Paperback

Well, get out a box of tissues, because you're going to need them. Donna Birdsell's debut romance will have you glued to your seat and weeping for the love of these two wonderful characters.

Lucien Delacourte was once the most sought after artist in the French court. But after the tragedy of his wife and daughter being killed, he soon lost his passion for anything beautiful and could not bring himself to paint another stroke. With his creditors wanting money, Lucien is forced to seek employment, not in Paris, but in England, where his name may be known, but his circumstances are not.

Lady Sarah Essington has been living behind a veil, for what seems a lifetime. When her brother suggests that she take lessons in painting, hoping to bring his sister out of her shell, she readily accepts. She has always wanted to learn how to properly bring her beloved flowers to life on canvas. But she must be careful that her instructor, Lucien Delacourte, never learns the reason for her hidden features. It is her own penence for a mistake that should never have happened and her own cross to bear.

When Lucien finally earns Sarah's trust, she awakens to a world that she left behind and longs to return to again. But can she face the stares, the remembered scandal in order to live again. Lucien has his own ghosts to run aground. Will he ever be able to free himself of the guilt that he was not able to save his family from the fire that took them from his life?

This is a story of two people who have had enough misfortune in their lives to fill five romance novels. Each has their own tragedies they must live with everyday and each will eventually find solace and trust within the others arms. Sarah made a foolish mistake in her youth and sees it every time she looks in a mirror. Lucien faces ghosts everyday in living when those he loved has died.

Ms. Birdsell is going to take the romance world by storm! For a first book, she has hit paydirt in romance, mystery and intrigue. In a genre where romance and love take the forefront, The Painted Rose is the perfect example of what a romance should be. The romance is top notch, the storyline if flawless and the sex is sweet and loving. As you read through this story, which is sure to become a classic, you will fall in love and weep for these characters. You will feel their pain and rejoice in their emerging better people than what they were and encourage them to become lovers and one soul.

I absolutely loved this book. It is now one of my favorites and will definitely go on my keeper shelf with all of my favorite authors.

Reviewed in March 2006 by Debbie.

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