tl;dr: I’m normally not a romance novel person, but this one knocks my socks off.
Romance isn’t one of my usual genres because it falls into the usual (albeit addictive) formulas that isn’t mean to reflect real life. Okay, fine … nobody reads romance because it reminds them of real life. I didn’t read The Rose because it’s supposed to resemble real life. I read it because the description sounded interesting and and the reviews were good.
And perhaps it’s because I went in with little expectation that I was blown away by what a fantastic read this was.
Lia’s parents throw her a graduation party. Because of her interest in Greek mythology, her father presents her with something called a Rose Kylix, a drinking vessel used in ceremonies dedicated to Eros in ancient Greece. Enters August Bowman, a wealthy art collector (Greek, of course) who has a fixation of acquiring the kylix and far more knowledge about it than anyone Lia knows. He offers to show her and off they went on a fantasy erotic escapade in mythological Greece.
At the same time, Lia had been running an escort service through university and her secret was about to be blown by someone from her past. He blackmailed her for an amount of money that she could only raise if she accepted August’s offer to buy the Rose Kylix from her.
As part of the deal, she and August embarks on many, many sexy adventures with the help of the magical drinking vessel. Naturally he falls for her. Meanwhile, Lia has to come to grips with her blackmailer and their shared history.
The Rose is a next-generational follow-up to The Red (which is about how her parents met), which I had not read and am now dying to get my hands on. The Rose stands alone well, which is the better news.
Author Tiffany Reisz hits a lot of right notes with this book – engaging and endearing lead characters, great sex scenes, a device that makes your erotic fantasies come true. Escapism at its finest. The only part I rolled my eyes on was the part about Lia’s past with her blackmailer, but I also keep forgetting that Lia is young enough not to be able to deal well with this scenario.
As for August Bowman, what leading man in a romance novel doesn’t have a mysterious past? This takes the cake as far as any other mysterious pasts are concerned, but I was fully invested in the fantasy by the time the reveal came that I grinned rather than rolled my eyes.
A solid 5-star from me because I enjoyed it far more than I’m going to admit.
ARC courtesy of NetGalley.