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REVIEW: The Briar Rose by Dinah Dean

Dear Readers,

This was a nice little book. It’s set in 1540 England during the dissolution of the last monastery by Henry VIII. Now, when’s the last time you read a book with that background? The heroine’s father has been the bailey of the monastery of Woodham which is to be surrendered to the King. I got the impression that a bailey was the man responsible for managing the monastery grounds, record keeping and such. Anyway, the hero is with the Court of Augmentations, the group of men who traveled around the country seeing to the take over of these church lands and property and guess who’s house he’s come to inventory? Not an auspicious beginning for our love story.

Kate is in love with a showy courtier who’s come in the company of the King to Woodham (the fictional town and Abbey which is based on the real Waltham Abbey) to go hawking and enjoy rural life away from London for a few days. She’s upset about the closing of the monastery both for religious reasons and because her father is about to lose his job. Master Matthew Hartwell seems to her to just be itching to take over her home after he’s inventoried it. But she hopes that Amyas, her love, will come for her one day despite the fact that she now has no dowry. But she’s beginning to worry that Amyas is more interested in his advancement at court than he is in her. And why won’t Master Hartwell leave her alone? He knows she loves another. Besides he’s too quiet and dull for her. No matter that he does seem to be a kind man who does her numerous small favors with no ulterior motive in sight. But Matthew is nothing if not persistent in the pursuit of his lady love and Kate learns to tell true love from dross.

Dean writes more quiet, slow romances. She takes her time to set the stage and gives lots of background info on the times and places about which she writes. But she does it in a very subtle, non bashing you over the head style. However, she’s not one for lots of sexual tension and the love story in this one is played out very slowly. Maybe too slowly at times. Still, the period detail of Tudor England is fascinating. So many jobs that don’t exist anymore, so many traditions that have fallen by the wayside, so much pomp and ceremony that has vanished with that age. B for it.


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Marg
    Nov 11, 2006 @ 06:12:49

    Now this sounds like my kind of book!!

  2. Jayne
    Nov 11, 2006 @ 06:19:27

    And Marg, you are in the perfect place to find Dinah Dean books. Readers in the UK, Australia and NZ have better access to them since most were only released by Mills and Boon. I got lots of my OOP Dean books from a book dealer Down Under!

  3. Jayne
    Nov 11, 2006 @ 06:24:59

    Oops, I forgot to mention that “The Maid of Honour” is a sequel to “The Briar Rose.” It’s set in Restoration England and involves a descendant of Kate and Matthew. From what I’ve read, “The Country Gentleman” and “The Country Cousins” are further sequels set in Regency England.

  4. Marg
    Nov 11, 2006 @ 10:19:38

    I will certainly keep my eye out for them!

  5. Estelle
    Nov 11, 2006 @ 14:06:02

    Well, for once living in france is an advantage! I found a used copy on the net–old harlequins are always so ridiculously cheap in france; in UBS you can buy 10 for $1. I checked out Amazon UK first because I like to avoid horrid french translations when I can but it was priced at £60! I paid $2 form ine and it’s a duet so there’s another book in the pack also. Can’t wait to read it.

  6. Catherine Hartwell
    Jan 30, 2007 @ 01:50:59

    very cute book, slightly difficult to picture seeing as my brothers name is Matthew Hartwell and is the complete opposite of this quiet fellow. but lovely nonetheless

  7. Jayne
    Jan 30, 2007 @ 13:10:25

    Catherine, that’s too funny. Someone posted that her name was the same as the hero’s name in a Lori Handeland book I reviewed a while ago.

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