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Thornchapel #1

A Lesson in Thorns

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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…
From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes...

***A Lesson in Thorns is the first of four books in the Thornchapel series.***

343 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 21, 2019

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Sierra Simone

80 books14.8k followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,603 reviews
Profile Image for Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰.
173 reviews2,697 followers
June 16, 2019
“The realization that everyone right now is probably throbbing with the need to come shivers over me, and I have a brief fantasy of all of them—every last one of them—using my body to sate themselves with. My mouth and my tight cunt and everything, until every last person is spent and loose.”



Ms. Simone, you filthy, dirty, brilliant woman...


After several cold showers...
I don't really know where to even begin with this beautifully screwed up story. This was so enrapturing and stunningly sexy, to the point where I can't even begin to tell you what it's about. *sigh* I didn't know the premise of the story when I started and I enjoyed it even more because of it. Just trust that you should go into this blind, and open your mind to all the foul and dirty creations that Sierra Simone very magically devises.


There are certain trigger warnings that the author posted during the cover reveal that is perhaps all you need to know:
"CONTENT WARNING: pretty boys pouting and staring at the rain, old library filled to the brim with moldering manuscripts full of secrets, aggressively bisexual, ritual deflowering of virgins, kink, angst, blood, jealousy, archival minutiae, Latin words, tragic backstories, murder, Prosecco, and a dog"

But if you're like me, those would have only intrigued you even further. As soon as I started reading this, the atmosphere was enchanting. It almost felt like there was a sense of magical element, a paranormal asset to the setting. Thornchapel is a place, but also a feeling and you can really understand it through the writing. Which brings in how vivid and alluring the writing itself was. I loved the prose and the imagery that was given on every single page, with every single line.

“I bloom like a rose when I’m handled like a weed”

This is going to sound so fucking weird, but if you read YA; this almost gave me Raven Cycle vibes. Like a disturbed, erotic, adult version of the Raven Cycle. We had the whole crew and the mystery and history repeating itself, and slightly magical air.

“You don’t pick up on the vibe here? Like this whole place is cloistered in a strange, timeless little bubble? Like a Sarah Waters novel but with pizza delivery?”

There were so many plot twists that I never saw coming, and I began to realize that expect the unexpected works so perfectly with this book. I loved every single character and all the dynamics between them, the interwoven relationships, the sexual tension. EVERYTHING! It was so hauntingly memorable, and I'm itching to get my hands on book 2. I need more of Thornchapel and Rebecca and Delphine. I need more angst between Saint, Poe and Auden. And damn, if I don't need me some more Becket and Sir James!!! My cute lil gang of horny, kinky adults and their dog.

“Thornchapel waited. And in a clearing in the woods, in a church ruined by thorns and time, something stirred. Something called all six of them by name."

The Dirty Laundry
I've devised a naughty scale for this book:

1: blushing in public.
2: closing the kindle and waiting to get home because there is no way people won't know what your dirty little mind is up to.
3: panty dropper
4: no need to even wear garments anymore, take the day off work and just... read... ;)

If you read this book and enjoy all senses of depravity, you will be somewhere along this scale. (Hopefully)

I can’t tell. And I can’t tell who can see what, but I do know that it’s a forcefully erotic idea. That if they wanted, my friends could see my cunt. Maybe they could pet it, maybe they could lean down and kiss it to make it feel better. I could almost cry with how much I want that.

In all honesty, I feel like "erotic" is an understatement. But yes, this book was all sorts of erotic but it was erotica with a fucking interesting storyline. I find it really hard to enjoy 100% erotica because there is often no plot or character development. This had all the wet dreams you could ask for but also had me rooting for the characters? turning pages to find out about the certain mysteries of thornchapel? wanting to slip into a coma till the sequel comes out in summer? yes.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
June 29, 2019
Me, making the conscious decision to read erotica knowing damn well this is firmly outside my circle of interests and immediately regretting it: I didn't sign up for this. I mean. Technically, I did sign up for this. I just...didn't read the fine print. [incoherent mumbles] Fine. I did read the fine print. And I still signed it.....[inhales] Why did I sign it.

This is a glaringly obvious case of "it's not you, it's me." It is me. I'm really just too asexual for this.

That said, the book is definitely not without merit. On a subtler level, A Lesson in Thorns examines, with grace and veracity, the social construction of "virginity", affirms sex positivity and the choices others make regarding sex, and completely annihilates the concept of heterosexuality being the default. It might not be the read for me, but I do appreciate the questions it asks and the important conversations it drags to the fore.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
December 30, 2020
Reread, because I'm going to finish out this series in 2021 one way or another."


"In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one."

-T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Ok, wow, so hold up one minute. I feel the need to preface this review for my regular readers because this is a very different type of book than I typically pick up. If you follow me for my mystery/thriller/suspense musings, here is your PSA that this book is an erotic romance featuring graphic sexual content. If that's not your jam, no hard feelings, feel free to bow out until the next regularly scheduled programming continues, but if you're here looking for something new, like I was, then follow along as we fangirl over one of the best books I've read in 2019.

"Everything is possible."

To be honest, I wasn't really sure what to expect going into A Lesson In Thorns, but I've been really slumping inside my comfort zone, and have been looking to expand my reading horizons in hopes of getting my mojo back. I've never thought of myself as a lover of literary fiction, but I've fallen in love with the genre over the past few months, so why not give erotic romance a try? I'm no prude, but I've stayed away from the genre previously for the sole reason that I like my steamy sex to be mixed up with a bit of plot, otherwise I lose interest. This book was the perfect balance of sexy (oh lawd help me) and compulsive, fantasy-like mystery.


Plot wise, we have a group of six friends who have gone their separate ways after experiencing a rather intimate childhood. Proserpina, or Poe as she not goes by, is returning to her old friend Auden's sprawling country estate to help digitalize the manor's library (swoon) and also find out what happened to her missing mom. All of the friends are somehow drawn back to Thornchapel, and what follows is a sensual, somewhat mystical romp of ritualistic sexual awakening.

If you want diversity that feels natural, here it is. Our cast features a wide spectrum of race, culture, socioeconomic status, but also of sexuality. We have an extremely positive portrayal of polyamorous relationships, BDSM, and consent. Bonus-a really cool and honest portrayal of a character with narcolepsy without cataplexy. The ending wraps things up nicely without leaving a huge cliffhanger, but also leaves us ready and waiting for more in the next installment. Highly recommended to readers looking for a super sexy read that also features a compulsive mystery and delightful gothic atmosphere.

"Thornchapel knows my name and the crooked corners of my heart, and it wants me to make promises that I'm going to keep."
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,052 reviews49.2k followers
August 21, 2019
not as wild as people say

- real kink shit
- lots of bi rep

- poe was annoying
- saint was whiny
- auden was a pretentious lil cuck
- every sex scene or reason to justify the ritual sex felt like watching a bad porn
Profile Image for SueBee★bring me an alpha!★.
2,417 reviews14k followers
Want to read
March 21, 2019


Book 1
Once upon a time, six children stumbled upon a wild place hidden deep in the moors, shrouded by secrets and fog. There we played a game among the roses and the thorns that would change us forever, that would follow us the rest of our lives. A game that ended with a hard kiss in the rain and tattered flower petals fluttering from above…
And twelve years later, we’re back.
The heir.
The dreamer.
The priest.
The genius.
The socialite.
The saint.
I’m not going to dream of a forgotten place covered in thorns every night.
I won’t be enchanted by Thornchapel and its glossy, glamorous people. I’m not going to fall in love or have my heart torn in two.
I’m not telling the truth.
Because as this place slowly tightens its coil of secrets and thorns around us, as we uncover the knotted mysteries that grow here, the six of us begin to unravel into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Fulfilling the promise we once made as children in those whispering ruins, and awakening a fate that will either anoint us or leave us in ashes…

Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
532 reviews34.5k followers
August 15, 2020
”He dreamed and he burned.
Thornchapel waited.
And in a clearing in the woods, in a church ruined by thorns and time, something stirred.
Something called all six of them by name.”

Ahh hell! This was so dark, sexy, delicious, mysterious and alluring! I have no idea how Sierra Simone did it but boy, was this good! I’ve read plenty of smut in my life, I’m no stranger to breaking taboos and the idea of BDSM certainly doesn’t cause me to leg it, so nothing that was written on the blurb of this book made me feel uncomfortable.

Quite the contrary, if anything it made me even more curious. I mean it’s really rare to read about 6 characters that are all bi and enjoy the idea of ritualistic sex and BDSM. Even rarer that one of them is actually a priest. *lol* So was this as wild as I thought it would be? Well, nope. Either I’ve read way too much smut (which is more than just likely ;-P) or “A Lesson in Thorns” wasn’t as shocking as I thought it would be. I think for some of the more sensitive readers out there this will break a lot of taboos, for me it was nothing new though. XD Anywayyy, let’s just say I’m thoroughly tainted and get on with it. Haha!

”A kiss that was almost a bruise, almost a bite, and how he wanted both, he wanted kissing and bruising and holding and biting – and he wanted to shelter them from the rain and force them to kneel in the mud too, and he didn’t know what it meant or why it was happening or even why they were letting him yank them close.”

There were many things I loved about this and other things I considered to be kind of unrealistic but I suppose that’s just one of those “It’s me not the book” cases. For instance I found it pretty unrealistic that four of those 6 characters were actually still virgins. I mean seriously? They are lusting after each other and constantly horny but four of them never had sex? Not to mention that they are all about 22 or 23 years old. Admittedly two of them had a very good reason to be virgins, but Poe?! I find it hard to believe that a person is so into BDSM but never even slept with someone. Usually you explore your sexuality first and then go into your own special brand of kink. Just saying! *lol* If this would have been a smut book I’d have booked it as “particular appeal” but since this was so much more than that I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Which brings me right to our six bi characters I couldn’t help but love.

Auden – The Lord:
”He wants both of them so much he thinks he might be entirely made up of want, he thinks all his thorns are finally puncturing through his skin and out into the real world and everyone will see and they’ll know. His darkness and his light and all the twines and ravels of his depraved, thorny heart.”

Poe – The librarian:
”Why am I so messy? So eager? I feel like an overgrown garden, lush and crowded, rioted and jumbled, except instead of leaves and roots and petals, I’m jealousy and hunger and pain and thrill.
All the bitter and all the sweet, all mixed together.”

Delphine – The Star:
”For a long time, I was the only fat girl in my circle,” she says pensively. “Or even in the circle outside of that one. I started the Instagram account because I needed to feel like all the parts of myself were real, and that they were real at the same time – that I was well-dressed and interesting and cultured and fat.”

St. Sebastian – The Saint:
”You don’t know what it’s like to see someone you care about, someone you’d tear out a lung just to talk to, and you can’t. You can’t talk to them because what you’ve done to each other in the past is an iron door without a lock between you.”

Becket – The Priest:
”What are rules when God Himself has filled him with holy fire?
Because the other thing he knows is that tonight is holy. And he is a holy man.”

Rebecca – The Domina:
”Normally, Rebecca is all cool equanimity and analytical composure, and she takes everything in stride – with the possible exception of Delphine. Nothing ever seems to disrupt her confidence... apart from this snarl of hedge and gravel.”

It was so amazing to read about people that are bi and comfortable with it. They were all secure in their sexuality and I loved this so much! You rarely see that in books and usually bi characters are always conflicted because they just discover their sexuality. Not in this book though. They all knew what they liked (even Becket) and they stood by it and weren’t ashamed of their desires. It was such a refreshing take on things I couldn’t help but love it! <3 Give me more characters that are okay with being bi!!! For once it was no big deal and I was super happy with it. If there is one thing that is to be criticized then it’s the simple fact that at least one of them could have been pan too. But that’s me counting beans. ;-P

”Like you come to a place and instead of planting a flag and saying mine, the place plants something in you. The place claims you, it knows your name and the crooked corners of your heart, and you’ve pledged yourself to it before you’ve even realized what’s happening.”

And last but not least, I loved, LOVED, LOVED and absolutely ADORED the atmosphere in this book!!! Thornchapel was such an intriguing place and I would have loved to be there and to discover its huge library and maze myself! This place was described so vividly I found myself wanting to get lost in it. There was something utterly charming and mysterious about it and I really wish a place like that would exist. It felt like Cabeswater, mystical and dangerous at once and I think when people refer to this being the “adult version of The Raven Cycle” they are talking about Thornchapel and the intensity and love between the six MCs. The chemistry between all of them was off the charts and I constantly found myself craving for more. XD

”Maybe it’s the dark pants clinging to his long thighs, or the black shoes that give off a dull gleam from the fire. Maybe it’s in the way he presses his long fingers under Saint’s chin and lifts his face to his own. Or maybe it’s his expression, intense and holy, as he lowers his mouth and kisses St. Sebastian Martinez on the lips.”

I mean that kiss alone! Give me more Saint and Becket! *LOL* It’s probably bad that I want Becket to drop out of priesthood and to condemn his celibacy but seriously that man is not made to be alone. That man needs to be loved just like Saint! <3 I’m sure most people will love Poe and Auden but if you ask me Saint and Becket were the most interesting characters of this book. I admit I’d love to see more of Delphine and Rebecca though. Those two could be great together but I need more than the few interactions they had. And yes, I’m kinda down for the Poe/Auden/Saint love triangle as well. *lol* Talk about feeling conflicted. XD

”And his blame shifted to hate, and the hate spread from the altar to the chapel to the grounds and the entire house itself. Until the house’s thorns and his thorns became one and the same, and he knew if he could defeat one, then he could be free of the other.”

All told “A Lesson in Thorns” was a captivating mixture of delicious desire, intense relationships, beautiful mysteries and a more than just steamy atmosphere. (Figuratively and quite literally speaking.) XD Do I even have to say that I’ll read the second book “Feast of Sparks” soon! ;-)


Ahh this was dark, sexy, mysterious and sort of delicious!
I loved the atmosphere of Thornchapel and all those 6 hot af characters. *lol*
Definitely not a book to think about too hard, but a book to experience. ;-P

Full RTC soon! XD

To all my still innocent readers: (how did you even manage to stay innocent? *lol*)
This is going to be one of those rather dirty books so erm yeah... better don’t read the updates if you want to stay innocent. =)

To all my already “tainted” and “corrupted” readers: to whom I obviously belong
This is probably going to be right up your alley. So enjoy the wild ride with me?! *lol* ;-P

To everyone who doesn’t belong to any of those two categories:
I was told this has:
- 6 characters who are all bi
- 1 of them is a priest
- Orgies? really orgies?!?!
- And apparently it’s the adult dirty and dark version of “The Raven Boys”?

So umm... this was enough to make ME want to read it. Maybe it’s also for you?!
Anyway, it’s been ages I last read any smut so here I come! *lol* ;-P
Profile Image for Lana ❇✾DG Romance❇✾.
2,020 reviews12k followers
March 17, 2019
5++++ STARS
The place claims you, it knows your name and the crooked corners of your heart, and you’ve pledged yourself to it before you’ve even realized what’s happening.
Thornchapel knows my name and the crooked corners of my heart, and it wants me to make promises that I’m going to keep.”

Spell binding.
All enrapturing.
Those are just some of the words that were running through my overly sensitized brain as I was reading this book. No. Not reading. EXPERIENCING. Because this isn't just a story you read. It's one that unravels before your eyes with every turn of the page. It's an out of body experience unlike any I've ever had with any other book. And I don't even know how to begin to even TRY to review what I just read.
I want him to be mine. Or I want to deny him the right to ever call me his. I want to heal him and I want to hurt him. All because of one broken kiss.

Truth be told, I jumped at the chance to read this book way before it had so much as a blurb. All I knew was that Sierra Simone wrote it and so I had to read it. I went into it completely blind not knowing what to expect and if you were to take away one thing from my review it's this; go into it in exactly the same way. Trust me. For the reason of allowing every reader out there to experience this book in exactly the same way I did, I'm going to keep this review just as vague as the blurb. And you'll thank me for it after.
I’d let him do anything.
I’d let him love me.
I’d let him make me fall in love with him right back.
I’d admit that I’m already in love with him.

I won't tell you who the main characters are. I won't tell you how the romance evolves. But I will tell you that there is most definitely a riveting romance at the heart of this story.

The story spins around six characters.
The heir.
The dreamer.
The priest.
The genius.
The socialite.
The saint
Each a unique and broken soul in their own right. Each one you will be dying to learn more about. Each that will capture your heart in their own way.

There's an added allure of something almost...paranormal about this book. There's a deep history that drives what happens with these characters. There are rituals, love and pain, jealousy and betrayal. The story has this haunting auto to it that weaves its way around your heart and doesn't let you draw a breath until the last page. It may take a vanilla reader out of their comfort zone at times. It may make you question everything you just read. And it will leave you with a reeling head and not knowing which end is up.


If you read one book this year, make it this one. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to rock myself in the corner with a bottle of vodka until the next book.

ARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for Kim.
690 reviews1,698 followers
June 14, 2019
I'll start with the positive things: I liked the cover, writing, I learned a lot of new and difficult words, I adored St. Sebastian (who is the reason for the second star, otherwise I wouldn't have made it to the end because of all the ridiculous stuff I have to wrestle myself through) and I liked the idea of the setting (the house, the maze, the chapel,...). That being said... this book... -sighs-

To sum it up: convenient. The entire plot is convenient. They even added some bad weather (without really saying anything else about it, aside from it being cold and the roads being bad) as a reason for all of them to spend the night together. Like I said: convenient! So here comes the bad stuff and the spoilers.

However, I am going to give the second book a try, and hope it's from St. Sebastian's POV because I can't stand to follow Poe around that much again.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
September 16, 2019
4.5 stars

I'm upsetti spaghetti that this book ended as soon as it did.

I went into this thinking it would be just vapid smut, so boy was I surprised. The writing in this is actually one of the most gorgeous styles I've read all year, and I'm 100% gonna read more from this author. This had a great segmenting of smut versus actual plot, and the actual plot was.... wait for it.... interesting! I will admit that .5 stars came off of the rating because it was a little confusing, but it was an enchanting concept nonetheless. I just wish there was more direction on why the characters were doing what they were doing because it felt a bit aimless, and by the end of the book, I forgot why the characters were so invested in doing this ritual.

Still, I think this book is really modern in how it examines virginity and polyamory. In between the sexy scenes, there's so much angst and pining, and it's my exact cup of tea. I've heard lots of negative things about book two, but I'm interested nonetheless to see where this goes.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
April 30, 2019
You know when you're reading a book and it's not really grabbing you by the hair from behind but you still want to finish it so you start a second book to accompany it and then the second book doesn't smack you on the ass while pulling your hair from behind? 

This is that second book.

Honestly I only finished this book so that it would count towards my 2019 Reading Challenge to read 5000 books this year. For those of you keeping count I am a mere 1590 books behind schedule so no worries.
July 14, 2019
4th read ➸ 14th July 2019:

petition for rebecca, delphine, and poe to have a threesome in book two, while beckett and saint have sex. auden can... idk come in his pants elsewhere


─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

3rd read ➸ 20th June 2019:

“Do I just want to have sex with everybody? Is that it? Auden and Saint? Hell, maybe even Delphine and Rebecca and Becket?”


There has been some questioning about whether all the characters are actually bisexual, and the author has confirmed it multiple times, but there is still a possibility she could make some pansexual. However, at the present moment, she has stated they are nothing other than bisexual. The following quotes are taken directly from a Q&A on her Facebook:

“I also connect so much to the Thornchapel crew because they are so deeply, aggressively bisexual”

“my starting point for Thornchapel was that bi was the default. I think there's lots of books in romance where we have straight as the default assumption, like straight until stated otherwise, and I thought, what if I flipped the script a little and made bi the default? And then because queerness is the default, we can kind of move past the place in these characters' arcs where they've grappled with identity, and coming out. ”


You'd expect after reading A Lesson in Thorns twice, then I'd be familiarised with everything it has to offer, but you'd be wrong. This book has so many nuances, so much excellent foreshadowing and symbolism, that you need to do a close reading of it to pluck them all out. For example, Sierra Simone has thrown Easter Eggs to a lot of her other books that you'd only notice if you've actually read them. If you've never read the New Camelot trilogy, then you wouldn't pick up that Auden and Poe reuniting at Thornchapel was not a coincidence, and you wouldn't understand how Poe has no idea who Ryan Belvedere is. If you hadn't read any of Simone's historical fiction, you wouldn't be familiar with Poe's last name and the surnames of her other characters (who - coincidentally - had very kinky sex lives as well). Becket could even be associated with Tyler from Priest, but it's a very vague connection. Either way, it's genius and something for the dedicated people to uncover.

Cool things to point out while I try not to spoil you:

➵ First of all, you can DM me if you want me to discuss any of this in length. We should all know by now that I'm a slut for this book and love talking about it.
➵ Proserpina is named after a goddess associated with rebirth and resurrection, and St. Sebastian is named after a god associated with death. Which is incredibly interesting when you think about their connection. Mainly, Saint is reintroduced back into their friend group after her reappearance at Thornchapel and finally considered one of them again. It's a recurring motif with the characters that I'm not going to directly point out, but consider Auden's character development as well.
➵ In American Squire, Ryan tells Auden to hire Poe and he's... very stressed, to say the least. He dramatically drops the thing he's holding and whispers, "holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck". I wish I was exaggerating. However, at the beginning of this book, he acts like he was pleased and excited. The absolute comparison.
➵ Merlin from the New Camelot trilogy is definitely orchestrating something. He sent Ryan Belvedere there to get a book (something he could've gotten anyone to do) so he would meet Sidney, meanwhile, he wanted him to tell Auden about Poe at the time. WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING, MERLIN? JUST FUCKING /TELL/ ME.
➵ With the hindsight of the magical twist in the New Camelot trilogy, I definitely have theories about this series now. There are certain throw-away lines Sierra Simone includes that seem too out-of-place to ignore. Not to mention, she reveals the exact ending at the beginning of the book through a joke said by one of the characters. No seemingly pointless sentence is sacred.
➵ Auden at the end still makes me cry. That's all.

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

2nd read ➸ 15th June 2019:

buddy read with yvee and, unfortunately, ree 🤠

* I had a review from my first read, but I've rewritten it so please reread if you care. Thanks, bye.

representation: mc with narcolepsy (#ownvoices), six bi mcs, black mc, biracial Mexican mc, fat mc

trigger/content warnings: mentions of rape/sexual assault

Q: What happens when six horny, dumbass, bi nerds are thrown together in one estate?

A: A lot of spanking and ritual sex.

When Prosperpina Markham spent one summer as a child at Thornchapel, she never imagined her soul would become so entwined with the friends who accompany her, the two boys she "marries", and the chapel that calls for her. Years after that brief period in time, Propserpina - now nicknamed Poe - receives a letter from Thornchapel in her missing mother's handwriting, containing the ominous Latin word for "it rises". By chance, she's offered a job as Thornchapel's librarian by the new lord of the manor, Auden, who happens to be the boy she married alongside St. Sebastian when she was younger.

When Poe arrives back at the manor, she becomes entwined in the complicated lives of her friends from all those years ago. Auden, the owner of the estate now that his abusive father has passed, dons a mask that's instantly transparent to the newcomer. St. Sebastian, has been outcast after a mysterious betrayal. Delphine is now engaged to Auden, much to this dismay of his late father, and Rebecca is drowning herself in anyone but blonde women to repress her feelings. Becket, a rare bisexual priest, questions his dedication to the role in regards to his sexuality.

After her perusal of Thornchapel's library, Poe and Delphine find the Imbolc ritual, where a maiden is presented to the lord of the manor, and the group of six decide to re-enact it together in the rundown chapel.

The synopsis is vague and difficult to define because there isn’t much plot. It's like The Raven Cycle, where the story is driven by the characters and the lore they're uncovering, not a series of intense actions. It was difficult for me to summarise because it becomes irrelevant once you reach the halfway point, or you're left wondering why the author has included certain information. I definitely feel your enjoyment of this book relies on your love for the character dynamics and the writing since it's confusing and tedious. The lack of plot was simply the only thing I disliked about this book, but I obviously overlooked it because of my love for the characters.

➸ Prosperpina/Poe

Believe it or not, Propserpina Markham is simultaneously the love of my life and my mother. She gave me all of my rights as a human being. She's a queer, Sagittarius librarian in the streets and a horny, submissive nerd in the sheets. I've never read from a more hilarious - and unbelievably horny - character in my life. Everything about her inner monologue is perfect. At times, she's talking about her love for sex, her past relationships (including being queer and falling in love), her nerdy love for books and her new job as the librarian. Somehow I want to be her, and have sex with her at the same time. We're introduced to her adult-self through a scene where she describes the hellish flight from America to England with bruises from her ex-girlfriend - and "Domme's" - flogging printed on her thighs and ass. If that isn't a perfect introduction to Poe, I don't know what is. I loved how she was also an imperfect character and is portrayed to have faults, which only made me adore her more. Even if most of her thoughts are full of lust - and horniness - she discusses her desire for other women and her past relationships, that were hinted to be serious. We see her interacting with men and women during the story and I loved having a truly bisexual character be unapologetically horny on the page. Did I mention Poe is horny? In my initial review, I suggested I was irritated at the inclusion of her virginity, but I'm not as irked on my second read. I feel that it was significant to the climax (no pun intended) and her overall character - she was unconsciously saving herself for something special. No matter how cheesy that sounds.

➸ Auden

Throw your manwhore, "I'm more experienced than you" possessive male characters straight in the trash because now we want "inexperienced and came in his pants from spanking someone five times" representation. Auden appears like your typical, tortured love interest, but Simone doesn't make you hate him. He's allowed the liberty of being soft and showing genuine emotions. I was shocked when he was written saying something "softly" or allowed to joke around. It says a lot about the current romance genre if that was a considerable moment for me. Or my standards are very low. You decide.

What's truly, truly revolutionary is the fact that his entire character doesn't revolve around his difficult relationship with his father. He actually has qualities that aren't the result of being abused by his dad. He actually has autonomy over his own personality to not treat others like garbage because he was beaten on a regular basis. Again, this genuinely should not be shocking, but it is.

➸ St. Sebastian

Somehow Sierra Simone made me thirst over someone who unironically wears a lip ring in the year of 2019. And I was okay with it. Upon my first read, I wasn't a huge fan of his character. However, after theorising about the future of the books and learning more about him through information on the sequel, I feel like I can understand him. I'm still not entirely sure why he's the runt of the pack, but I'm hoping it's elaborated on in the sequels. What's most interesting about St. Sebastian, however, is his complicated past with Auden. Something occurred between them before the events of this book, and we don't know what. Other characters - and both of the boys - hint at it, but the audience is never told. I think it's been universally acknowledged that he either physically abused Auden or his actions led to something of that extent. However, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't think the other characters would be as tolerable of him if he was an abuser, especially in the same room as Auden and Delphine. It's possible he unintentionally got Auden physically hurt in another way, but we won't know until the sequels.

But thank you, Saint, for awakening the horny in Poe AND Auden. Thank you so much for your service.

➸ Delphine

Thank you, Sierra Simone, for writing the first fat character whose entire personality doesn't revolve around their enormous boobs and appetite. Truly, thank you. Delphine is somehow the first time I've seen a positive, accurate representation of a fat character. Yes, there are a few other ones, but reading them - especially when I used to be fat myself - I could tell you with certainty that they weren't accurate or positive. If your fat character has a flat stomach, narrow hips, VOLUMPTUOUS BREASTS, a SIZEABLE ASS, and no chub anywhere else on their body whatsoever, they are curvy. They are not fat. If your fat character has two personality traits and the main one is their love of food, that is not positive representation. Food is definitely not all fat people think about.

Anyway, I loved how Delphine was prolific on social media and took agency over the way she was presented. She doesn't allow others to bring her down and instead boasts body positivity for herself - and others. In addition, I adored how she overcame the trauma over her past and took autonomy over not only her body but also her virginity. Only she was allowed to decide what sexual experience should be considered hers, and it was incredibly powerful.

➸ Rebecca

We love one (1) unapologetic black girl who drowns herself in curvy girls with every hair colour except for blonde because she's in denial about her feelings for a certain childhood friend. She's definitely not as developed as the other main characters, but I loved the glimpses into her life. She openly discusses the difficulties of being a black woman in rooms full of white people and bemoans the pressure of always having to be perfect in comparison to others. I also liked how she was a Dominant but wasn't presented as the stereotypical angry black girl.

➸ Becket

Dear Becket,

Please get laid.



An undercurrent theme throughout Sierra Simone's books is feminism, and A Lesson in Thorns is no exception. It mainly explores the concept of virginity and gender roles through the ritual the characters complete. In Rebecca's eyes, virginity is a construct and shouldn't play a factor during the ritual, while the characters contest Delphine not considering herself a prospect because of the past. When discussing who the bride and lord should be, the characters initiate a discussion about whether it must be a man and a woman. Of course, there are additional discussions about fat women and how some individuals use submission as a form of independence or autonomy. I truly believe this author is a revolutionary in the romance genre and I applaud her for actively including feminism in each book.

A Lesson in Thorns is a shocking, disturbing, messed-up, and phenomenal book all at once. It's unlike anything I've ever read before, or will ever read again. It has a well-deserved space on my favourite books of all-time list.


Okay, now there are obviously things I noticed during the reread that I disregarded during the first attempt, SO LET'S DISCUSS (there are lots of spoilers in the following discussion so only open if you don't give a fuck or have read the book):

Also, it's connected to the New Camelot trilogy! If you haven't read that trilogy, then you definitely wouldn't have picked this up. However, in the beginning, Auden mentions that Poe was recommended to him by Ryan - Ash's presidential aide - who was visiting Thornchapel on an errand for Merlin. Yes, Merlin, the fucking wizard. Merlin the fucking wizard who knows something and wanted Poe to be reunited with Auden. [miley cyrus screaming] WHAT DOES IT MEAN? And if you've read that trilogy, then you'd know Merlin was responsible for ensuring those characters' fates entwined. Therefore, I think we'll explore a similar path in this series, but I'm not sure what yet. Propserina is a goddess connected to the underworld and her mother revived her, which is like a switched version of Poe's story. Maybe Poe will get to revive her mother? Maybe her mother and the ritual are connected to the underworld? Maybe I'm stupid and theorising about something that's not ever going to happen?
Profile Image for Jessica ❥Chatterbooks Book Blog❥.
774 reviews2,631 followers
August 24, 2019
I'm going to be upfront and say I chose to read this book based mostly on the cover. LOL Call me shallow if you want, but it's the truth. It just looks so gothic and beautiful that I had to have it! 😍 I also heard it was weird, involved group sex, and was a good book by the majority of the people I know that read it. I mean, who wouldn't be intrigued, right?

A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone is enchanting, kinky, mysterious, and steamy.
It's everything I was expecting and more. So many things about this book worked for me!

The writing is beautiful, decadent and atmospheric. Thornchapel is like a character in itself, a big historic mansion filled with old, rare books in a giant library, with a huge maze and an ancient chapel on it's expansive grounds. The author does a magnificent job of making you feel the magnetic pull the characters have to this mystical place.

All of the main characters' parents came together at Thornchapel one summer and did things they won't talk about. Then never returned or spoke to each other again. A large part of the book revolves around the secrets of their parents, what they did that summer, a murder on the property, and old Celtic rituals. The mystery of it all intrigued and captivated me from the beginning!

What about the group sex? Honestly, there is a spin the bottle scene in here that was even hotter than the group sex. I know it's hard to believe, but just read it! There is some kink involved, and that's all I'm going to say. 😏

All in all, a fantastic read! There were a couple of things I had a problem with like the reasoning behind many of the actions of the group and individuals and religion. They may make or break the next book for me. No matter  what though, I'm glad I gave this book a try!

If intricate plots and polyamory with a bit of kink are your thing, don't hesitate to give this one a try!

Profile Image for Deanna❤Pink Lady❤️.
816 reviews838 followers
March 20, 2019
5 “Convivificat” Stars

WOW....... what an incredible read. I’m not sure what to feel except that this book was sensual, erotic, intriguing, mesmerizing, addictive, and captivating. I felt like I was on a heightened journey with all six characters. It was also very hypnotizing to be held captive by six different and charismatic characters. Every time I thought that I could stop reading and be productive, the book waved it’s magic torc and lured me back to reading.

I’m not sure what to say about the book except that it’s a must read. Sierra Simone is exquisite in her storytelling. Her words cascade off the page and into your soul. It penetrates deep and resonates with a glimmer of paranormal and fantasy all mixed into a cauldron of sensual erotic tension.

Auden, Delphine, Rebecca, Becket, Saint, Prosepina, and Thornchapel are all woven together. They share a past, an experience that, while it was 12 years ago, resonates with each other. Now as adults they come back together and their pilgramage to find out the mysterious hold that the thorn chapel has over them begins.

This story has much going on......there are 6 characters in an English manor that is filled with secrets and it’s own inner voice that speaks to all six. Each character is fascinating and intriguing. There is much to learn in the 12 years that has alluded their time together. There are secrets and yearnings, lust and love, hurt and hatred and a missing person. There are many sub plots all revolving around the story that flow with comfort and ease. As you get comfortable with all the characters they become mesmerizing and you can’t get enough of them.

Did I really tell you anything about this book, No. I think you should go in and organically let the story unfold. It’s a little complicated in the beginning keeping track of the characters but it very quickly feels as if they are connected to your being. This author and her imagination, her connection to religion, her eroticism and her eloquent and intellectual way of storytelling is exquisite and not to be missed!!

A Best of 2018 in my books for sure.

*advanced copy provided by Candi Kane PR in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for ~**Anna**~ A Romance Reader.
619 reviews329 followers
March 20, 2019
So good!!

This book consumed me. Its so unique. It has a mystical almost magical quality to it. Its hard to write a review without giving spoilers and trust me this is a book you want to go in blind.

There’s 6 people involved, 6 people that are connected to a place called Thornchapel. They feel its calling and they venture in a sensual, mysterious, erotic path.

I don’t want to give anything away but just know this is an incredibly well written book that will capture you from page 1. I can’t wait for book 2 that’s coming out in June. This story has just begun and I am here for it!

Profile Image for Pavlina Read more sleep less blog  .
2,434 reviews4,574 followers
March 22, 2019
<3 5 STARS <3

This was a unique,brilliant and addictive story.I was mesmerized from the prologue, all the characters, were interesting and original.I was hooked and I couldn't put it down.


This is a story about six children whose lives were unknowingly entwined and changed twelve years ago.I love the mystery around the story I was intrigued.I loved every minute of A Lesson in Thorns, there are twists and turns, there is romance, lies ,betroyals.So many things to keep you on the edge and make you crave for more.

I highly recommend it!


Profile Image for sarah.
392 reviews262 followers
August 22, 2020
dark, atmospheric, steamy and angsty; a lesson in thorns was the perfect read for a cozy rainy day.

my favourite part of this romance book was shockingly not the romance, but rather the aesthetics. It was immersive and transportive, and I felt as if I were in thornchapel exploring the library and maze alongside the characters. the writing elevated the atmosphere to the next level, with some of the best prose I have experienced in a smutty book. while I will most likely not remember the characters or their interactions a few months from now, I will still remember the dark almost magical feeling this book evoked.

for a book centring on an ensemble cast and their relationships with one another, I felt like many characters were underdeveloped. I know this is a series, so perhaps that issue will be solved in subsequent books. however, a lesson in thorns felt like poe, saint and auden's book- with the other three as side characters just included to keep the plot going. that being said, I found the characters to hold great potential and I am intrigued to learn more about them.

looking at this book from a critical gaze it is easy to find problems and convenient plot points. however, I went into it with the sole purpose of entertainment and I think it succeeded in that regard. I am nothing like these characters, their lives or their desires, but that was part of the fun. sometimes I just want to be completely detached from reality and experience another's life for a few hundred pages.

I have heard absolutely horrible things about the second book in this series, a feast of sparks, but a tiny masochistic part of me just wants to know why. I love drama and messiness, so how bad could it be? I will most likely continue on with the series, and will definitely check out other books by sierra simone in the future.

★★★☆☆.5 stars
Profile Image for Ari.
337 reviews223 followers
March 22, 2019
What did I just read?

Read the whole review at Readin' Under Street-Lamps

I don’t even know where to start with this review to be honest, but we gotta start from somewhere I guess- so let’s start with 3 ruined panties, 4 cold-showers, and about 8-9 victims of involuntary public moaning, and one friend who is convinced I’m a sex fiend.

I guess you get where I’m going with this one, eh?

This book was a study in contrast- when you think of erotica, you’re usually thinking a lot of dirty talk, filthy sex, and a general lack of deep plot. No? Just me? Anyways, what you’re probably not thinking is writing as graceful and elegant as they come, and a story that wraps itself around you like thorns until you’re fucking throbbing for more, see what I did there? *wink wink*

And I won’t say anything else, because this book is an experience, and even little Miss Ruin-it-all-with-spoilers won’t give them away this time. Because this is perfect.

I will just say this though—

A Lesson In Thorns is a study in sensual elegance, and I have to give it to Sierra, the woman can somehow make even the most impervious one of us blush. ‘Nuff said.

Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,150 reviews1,206 followers
February 14, 2023

↑ These are the six young people this book is about. ↑

They've known each other since that summer they spent together at Auden's family's estate in England - their parents were friends.... or something.

Now, twelve years later we're back at that house.

Librarian Poe is telling us their story.
(Even though we get some pages from the other five's POV too!)

Poe came from Kansas to work for Auden. He inherited the house and is updating everything - including the huge library.

St. Sebastian is there too. Even though Auden seems to hate him for some reason.
But still, those three have this deep connection. Ever since they got married in the estate's old crumpled secret chapel when they were only ten years old. ☺

Rebecca, Becket and Daphne are there too.

Six friends who love (and hate) each other. Who lust after each other. Who might not tell each other all the secrets and dreams that are in their hearts. Six friends who share and are about to uncover mysterious secrets we can't even begin to understand yet - and maybe not even by the end of this first book!

Grab a huge mug of tea/coffee/whiskey, settle down in front of the fireplace on a rainy night and get ready for an amazing story ...

(insert this creepy whaaahahaaaaa laugh from Halloween comedies!)





Well. What can I say?
I was thinking of not doing my typical longish review. Just a short thingy like:


But I can't have you running to amazon without a bit more detail. Well, not more detail - I don't want to spoil anything. I don't think I could spoil anything anyway. I still don't know what happened here.☺

So hard!

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading.

I thought, ugh, six people? How will I keep all those names apart and how can I remember who did what and who and how and ugh. BUT! Sierra tells us about them and bam - eff you booksalzheimers! I remembered all six names. What they do. How they look. Who loves whom.

The reader is immediately in love with all of them. We want all of them to get their happily ever after with the love or the loves of their lives. But of course it's not as simple as that.

We have a huge-ass story to survive first!!
A story so full of ALL THE THINGS!
Lust and Hope and History and Love and Pain and SO MUCH MORE!

And then we get a cliffhanger!!! Whaaaaaaaaat!???
And there will be FOUR books in this series!!!
Can't wait to get my hands on Feast of Sparks!!!


IS IT AUGUST 1st YET????? ☺

A LESSON IN THORNS was such a beautiful & poetic New Adult Love Story! I can't even pick a genre for this book. Mystery. LUST. Love. Hate. Suspense. Pain. Submission. Past. Future. SEX. Passion. Hope. SECRETS. Parents. Myths. Ugh. It's a book so full of THINGS! You just have to read it to fall in love with the three girls and three boys and their house and their chapel and their story like I did!! Hurry to your nearest amazon for your own SIX! They'll be sold out in no time!

.... Plus also - I'm pretty sure Netflix is already waiting 'round the corner to grab this!!! ☺

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Profile Image for Sentranced Jem.
1,090 reviews572 followers
March 24, 2019

Title: A Lesson in Thorns ( Thornchapel #1)
Author: Sierra Simone

Thornchaple Out Now.jpg

I have read just one other series by Sierra Simone. Her New Camelot Trilogy was a shock to my senses and I loved it! I honestly didn't think I was going to shocked after that series but colour me surprised because this book is insane!
I can't wrap my head around it. One second I am gobsmacked and the other, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that this isn't a dream and that I did actually read this beauty of a book.

A Lesson in Thorns is a slow burn, Erotic dream. Don't expect hearts and flowers.. this book is angst filled, panty-dropping, "WTF!" , mind-blown type of book. I guess if you haven't figured it out, this book is definitely going to push your boundaries, so..if that is something you are not comfortable with ...STEP AWAY from the buy button on AMAZON. BUT, if you are like me...dance to your heart's content and click that button as fast as you can because this book is to die for!

A Lesson in Thorns Available Now.jpg

A Lesson in Thorn is a book filled with the seductive elements of love, agony, mystery and history that is like a lightning that strikes your body. It's electrifying, addictive and I AM OBSESSED!

Can we please take a moment to absorb that cliffhanger?! I mean...come on! Feast of Sparks is expected to be published in June. JUNE! that is ages away 😭


Profile Image for Isabella. R.
789 reviews1,469 followers
March 25, 2019
4 Entangled Stars ⭐️

Six children brought together over a summer vacation in the village of Thorncombe.
A child’s whimsical wedding to two boys amidst the ruins of Thornchapel.
* Auden
* St.Sebastian
* Proserpina (Poe)

A destiny that entwines them comes to fruition 12 years later.
The unexplained disappearance of Poe’s mother 11 years prior and a mysterious letter in her mother’s handwriting gives Poe the final excuse to return to Thornchapel where she has longed to be.

A Lesson in Thorns is a poetic experience requiring time and concentration to fully appreciate the magic in these words. It reminded me of a pilot episode. It focuses heavily on all 6 children, now adults, providing us with flashes of their entangled childhood, their present lives and glimpses of the future, laying the foundation for their upcoming books.

This prelude was filled with mystery, unanswered questions, a supernatural prophecy and Sierra’s signature kink. I think the best is yet to come.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,818 reviews32.4k followers
December 28, 2021
4 stars

Well, I can honestly say I haven’t read a book quite like this before. A Lesson in Thornes is about six childhood friends reunited in their early twenties at Thornchapel. The heir, the dreamer, the priest, the genius, the socialite, and the saint.

It’s full of secrets and intrigue, and the ending had me so curious about what’s going to happen next. Sierra Simone writes so beautifully and I enjoyed this one a lot!

Audio book source: Audible
Story Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Sara Ormenyi
Narration Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 10h 15m

Profile Image for Katie.
Author 14 books3,384 followers
September 5, 2019
this was weird af

also there’s a million things wrong with it. namely: every scene in which they were discussing the ritual/trying to justify doing it was hecka cringe.

but like...I liked it?

idk man. idk.
Profile Image for Meagan.
333 reviews174 followers
January 18, 2020
This was perfect! An instant fave 😍😍! I like that I went in basically blind (I didn't read any reviews ahead of time). So I didn't know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised 😜😜. I genuinely don't have any criticisms of this book right now. I haven't written a full review in a long time lol. So I'm a little rusty.

The six characters the story focuses on were childhood friends brought together for one summer by their parent's visit to Thornchapel. All the kids knew was that the parents were "working" on something the entire summer. Something happened that caused the parents to leave abruptly and the kids went their separate ways. Now they are all adults and back together again at Thornchapel.

There are these brief glimpses of polyamory between the characters and I can't wait for this to be fully tackled in the future books. And they were all so sex positive and open. All the characters are bi-sexual 😍😍. Simone was able to create chemistry and sexual tension between all six of the characters. It didn't feel over the top or forced, which is an amazing feat to accomplish between SIX characters. Of course I had my fave pairings.

I appreciated Rebecca's character and not making her a "caricature" of a black woman. It was the little things that made her character authentic. I really appreciated her inner battle with perfection in a world that sees her as flawed. There was also other little nuggets of social commentary sprinkled throughout and I really appreciated this as well.

Becket is a priest and and tries to overcome his darker desires through his priesthood. He was the most intriguing character because his desire and predicament was the most forbidden. He was so interesting that I immediately checked out Simones other book titled Priest from the library. I need more a priest grappling with forbidden sexual desires.

Delphine, the social media influencer, was my least favorite but by no means uninteresting. Her tragic backstory was interesting. I was just so much more absorbed in Saint, Auden, Poe and Becket.

Saint was our other diverse character and the most broken and tortured of them all.

Auden is the rich boy who had a shit father. He is also the owner of Thronchapel.

Poe our resident naughty librarian. It's sounds cheesy but it actually worked really well. She was also drawn back to Thornchapel due to her mother's mysterious disappearance.

Poe, Auden and Saint had such fire 🔥🔥chemistry. I hope the next book really focuses on them.

All the characters were so deliciously tortured and some even broken (both my fave kinds of characters). They carry secrets that I can't wait to be revealed as the series continues.

There is so much going on in this story beyond the sex and romance elements (don't get me wrong I'm not complaining; those elements were amazing!). There is the mystery of what happened to Poe's mother. What brought the parents together in the first place? Are the kids heading in the same direction as the parents? What happened between Saint and Auden in the past?

Thornchapel has the this otherworldly, preternatural presence in the story. It's fascinating because there aren't any blatant supernatural elements, but the influence that Thornchapel has over the six characters is almost supernatural. It's similar to the magical quality certain places or buildings can take on due to peoples collective beliefs about the place and their superstitions. It really lends to the atmosphere of the story. Then there are the pagan elements that further the supernatural-esque feel of the story. I love that "place" plays such a major role in this story beyond being a mere setting. Thornchapel really added a uniqueness to the whole story. The way Simone explored sex and religion (specifically Catholicism and Paganism) was also intriguing and added some uniqueness (at least for me).

The story ended with so many loose ends and I ABSOLUTELY have to know what happens to Auden, Saint and Poe. Rebecca and Delphine? Will Becket eventually break his priestly vows? What is going to come of the shocking discovery at the end?

I am just glad the next book comes out this Thursday! I hope the magical quality of Thronchapel isn't pushed aside in the next book.
Profile Image for Madalyn (Novel Ink).
495 reviews825 followers
June 20, 2019
EDIT 6/20: I’ve lowered my rating to four stars after finding out that, in a cast of six main characters who all experience attraction to multiple genders, none of them ID as anything except bisexual? As someone who IDs as bi... I don’t get it. What a disservice to pan and queer people.

this book well and truly f*cked me up (in all the best ways)
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