Bed of Flowers by Erin Satie (Sweetness and Light #1)
Releases: June 19, 2018
This is just a fantastic book. I loved every second of it. I honestly did not want to put my kindle down once.
Bonny Reed grew up wealthy, as her father owned many warehouses down by the dock in their town of New Quay, just south of Liverpool. But when a fire breaks out, it destroys the Reed’s future. Their name is still in good standing, and they keep their fancy house, but there isn’t much left inside of it. This book starts eight years after this fire. Bonny, the eldest daughter, needs to marry well, to get her family back on track. She is a beauty, and attracts the attention of a handsome and wealthy man in town, named Gavin. He eventually proposes, and Bonny is thrilled to be able to make this match, and provide for her family and give her younger sister a chance at a season.
Our hero is Baron Orson Loel. Eight years ago, Loel, a wealthy young lad, tripped with his lantern, and accidentally started the fire that destroyed the docks and Bonny’s wealth. Loel felt horrible, and tried to make amends. He went to the Reed household to apologize, and when Bonny opened the door, she said horrible things to him. Blaming him for all the terrible things that her family suffered. He left London, and Bonny never told her parents that he attempted to apologize, cementing their hatred of him.
Loel found himself at sea, traveling the world, and started to collect rare orchid species, which eventually becomes his passion. During this time on the boat, something horrible happens, which causes his family to disown him. He comes back, his parents dead, and he is written out of the will. He can live in their grand estate, but can’t sell or trade a single item in the house. No investment money is his. Over the years, the house starts to fall apart, and Loel earns a living selling orchids at auction, as a sailing buddy still travels the world and brings him back different species. Loel literally lives in his greenhouse, tending finicky orchids 24 hours a day. He is hated by the town for setting the fire, and is a recluse.
Bonny has a best friend named Cordelia and their friendship in this book is outstanding. While Bonny is a beauty, and eager, and a little naive, Cordelia is contemplative and deliberate – a thinker who has a slow burning passion against those that wrong others. I LOVE her. They start a little circulating library in town to encourage women to read. They fill their basket with books, and knock on doors, allowing women to take a book for a few weeks, and then return it for a new one. They don’t have the money to buy new books, so Bonny tentatively, and secretly, walks down the long path to Loel’s broken estate, knowing he once had an extensive library, in hope for a book donation.
But Loel hates Bonny for reasons!! (like the fact she said horrible things, making him leave on a boat where more horrible things happened). He is gruff, and cruel and cold to her. It made my heart pitter-patter knowing he was the hero. He tells her that her fiance is a horrible man, which causes Bonny to start to wonder if he really is. And while there is cold, hard feelings between them, he also has moments where his hero status shines through. When she is roughly manhandled by her fiance, Loel shows her what it should be like between lovers:
He shifted his grip, so that her hand lay cradled in his larger one, both palms up. Then, with his free hand, he began to unbutton her glove, folding the soft leather over itself, a move that served two purposes: It bared her wrist and bound her fingers.
Instead of lifting her hand to his mouth, he bent to kiss the bared sliver of flesh at her wrist, inhaling the scent of her skin like the finest perfume.
Then he looked up to meet her eyes, because she needed to see the truth he’d wanted to hide—even from himself. Especially from himself. He burned with desire when he saw her. He burned with desire when she came close. Everything about her made him burn. And still he touched his lips to her wrist as lightly as a down feather falling onto a rose petal.
Eventually things happen between them (I can’t give away all the good stuff!!!) and they are forced into close proximity and they start to fall in love. It’s so swoony and romantic! It’s not the easiest journey, I will say that. People can be truly cruel. Cruel to Loel, cruel to Bonny. This book is not all rainbows and sunshine. And when you think there is going to be a turn, and Bonny and Loel are on a true path to love, more things happen. But it’s all wonderfully written and totally engaging. So much happens – and you will just have to read to find out about it.
Things that really stood out:
Bonny is a fantastic heroine. She has faults, as Cordelia says, she is “a lamb with a lion’s heart.” She isn’t afraid to speak the truth. She isn’t afraid to make waves and fight for what she thinks is right. She refused to be wed to a man who shirks all responsibility and didn’t treat women well. She admits to using her beauty to an advantage and she learns that using that beauty doesn’t always get the best results. She never admits defeat and I will remember her fondly.
Cordelia, Bonny’s best friend gets unwrapped layer by layer, and by the end you will be dying for her to get a HEA in life. Their friendship is fierce and unwavering:
“What do you see in her?” Loel asked. “She’s… difficult. Judgmental and—” Bonny interrupted.
“Not another word.”
Loel fell silent, eyebrows rising.
“She has more courage in her pinky finger than most people have in their whole bodies,” said Bonny. “She is fiercely intelligent, scrupulously honest, industrious, principled—”
Loel showed her his palms in surrender. “Point taken.”
Loel isn’t perfect. Before he really has a relationship with Bonny, he looks upon her beauty and her smile as though she is a goddess out of reach:
What if he could have her? What if he could be the man on his knees, thanking God every day until he couldn’t stand? Even as he chided himself for concocting such a fanciful image, a thread of fantasy spooled out: Bonny Reed in his bed, Bonny Reed with his baby…
He snipped it. If it hadn’t been for the fire, she would be wealthy and beyond his reach. And so she would remain, to him at least, because he would take no benefit from the harm he had caused.
But I also found it fascinating that once they were in a relationship, he realized she isn’t perfect, and he lashes out a bit when her flaws come out. I wanted to shake him and make him realize he had put her on a pedestal and I wanted grand romantic gestures, rather than his ire at times. But it also made him real and made their relationship more cemented in honesty and love.
Erin Satie has a beautiful voice. She writes a terrific grumpy, cold, recluse hero who will win your heart. And she gives us a heroine who refuses to give up on him. Throw in a great female friendship and a lovely romance and I can’t recommend this one enough.