Growing up hard and fast on the mean streets of Chicago, Thorn McKinney didn’t have a prayer—until tragedy inspired him to join the seminary. Now the time has come to take his vows, and yet he’s haunted by the woman he can’t leave behind: his best friend’s little sister. Despite Thorn’s promises that he’d keep her safe, she’s going through hell. And now he finds himself torn between duty and desire, entranced by the seductive pull of her trusting eyes, innocent heart, and sinfully sweet curves.
Trying to let Thorn pursue his calling, Rose Gallagher has been hiding some things: namely her abusive boyfriend and her job as a stripper. But when she hits rock bottom, Thorn is there for her—and now there’s no denying the raw temptation that draws them together in their darkest moments. Rose may have found salvation in his strong arms, but she knows that Thorn must choose his own path: in the church, or in the warm embrace of a woman’s love.
Praise for Lust Is the Thorn
“Jen McLaughlin delivers a sinful and gratifying tale about a love that can endure all. Lust Is the Thorn is simply brilliant!”—New York Times bestselling author L. P. Dover
“A man of the cloth and the woman he’s destined to love come together in a lustful forbidden romance with chemistry so off-the-charts you’ll be atoning for their sins.”—New York Times bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin
“Lust Is the Thorn is one of those great romances that will stay with you long after you’ve reached the last page. It’s tragic and beautiful all at once!”—USA Today bestselling author Nora Flite
“This isn’t your mama’s Thorn Birds! With forbidden love and passion held in check until it explodes in carnal delight, Lust Is the Thorn is a satisfying emotional read with steamy sex and heated desire. I loved this book!”—USA Today bestselling author Jamie K. Schmidt
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Sweat rolled into my eyes, and my muscles screamed for mercy, but I had none to give to myself, and hadn’t for years. My life was too dark, too cruel, too hard for me to be soft. Gritting my teeth, I grunted and pulled myself up again, held still, counted to five, and slowly lowered my body back down. After a deep breath, I repeated the process, exhaustion and determination intermingling in my veins until the room blurred and I suspected I might feel the delicious burn for the rest of my godforsaken life.
Just the way I liked it.
Pain was my constant companion.
There weren’t many things in my control, but how I took care of my body was. On top of that, the only way I kept myself in check was by making myself hurt. Boxing. Running. Weights. I’d take on anything, as long as it quieted my thoughts.
Silence was always welcome.
I was more aware of my mortality than most men my age, I think. I’ve seen a lot. Suffered a lot. Done a lot. Learned a lot of lessons the hard way. It’s what you do with those lessons that makes you the man you should be. The man you are destined to be. That’s what I kept telling myself. The thing is, though, I was still trying to figure out who that guy was.
Who I was.
I thought I had it all figured out. Thought I knew what I wanted, and who I should be. But when it came time to actually commit—I hesitated. And I had no idea why. All I knew for sure was that after almost eight years of studying, I hadn’t yet committed the rest of my life to the very thing I’d been studying all this time. I’d started down this path as a way to atone for some crimes I’d committed, but now I was left to wonder if I had atoned at all.
Had I really changed for the better?
Was I really making a difference?
Would Mikey have been proud of me?
My phone rang mid-pull-up, and I dropped to the floor. Sweat coated my body, and all my limbs trembled from the hourlong workout. I swiped my damp forearm across my forehead and crossed the room to my iPhone. Glancing down at it, I frowned at the unfamiliar number. I didn’t get many calls, and none from people I didn’t know, and when I did, it was never good news.
Swiping my finger across the screen, I lifted it to my ear. “Hello?”
“Is this Thorn McKinney?”
I cleared my throat, my heart pounding full speed. “May I ask who this is?”
“This is the Eleventh Precinct, South Side Chicago, and I’m Officer Forkes.” The officer paused. “Are you Thorn McKinney?”
I closed my eyes. If the police were calling, it had to mean one thing. Mom had gotten herself arrested again.
“Yes, I’m Layla McKinney’s son. What did she do this time? Drugs? Prostitution? Both?”
“Uh . . .” The officer laughed uneasily. “I’m not calling about your mother, though I am familiar with her . . . uh . . . work.”
I opened my eyes quickly, relief hitting me in the gut. Every time I bailed out Mom, it was a trip to the past—a trip I never wanted to take. Ever. “Then why are you calling me?”
“Do you know a Rose Gallagher? You’re listed as her emergency contact on her job application at—”
Just like that, my stomach dropped. She was the one person in my life who mattered. The last remaining reminder of who I’d been, once upon a time.
More than that, she was my only friend.
Sure, the only reason I’d hung out with her initially was because I had been her brother’s best friend. When Mikey died almost eight years ago in a tragic accident, I slipped into the role of older brother as best I could. And I’d never once strayed from that role. But over time, my “obligation” became something more.
Something I looked forward to.
Earlier today, I’d gone out to lunch with her—like I did every week—and even through my distraction and my need to tell her something that would probably make her hate me, I could tell that something was off. Her beautiful blue eyes had seemed less shiny, and her smooth, pale skin had been a little less bright. She’d still been breathtakingly beautiful, perfect in every way, enough to tempt a saint into breaking his vow of celibacy, but she’d seemed . . . tired.
Rose was never tired.
I knew her better than I knew myself, so I’d known something was wrong and kept pressing her for information, but she shrugged it off and changed the subject each time. And now . . . “Is she okay?”
“She was attacked—”
I grabbed the first shirt I found off my dorm bed, my heart twisting. If she wasn’t all right . . . I didn’t know what I’d do. “Is she okay?”
“She’s alive. But she got attacked outside her workplace.” The officer paused. “She’s in the ER now. They might keep her overnight, considering the nature of the attack, but then she’ll be released.”
I shrugged on the black shirt as best I could while holding the phone to my ear. I tried to keep calm, but this was Rose, and there was no calm. “Where is she?”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My Rating: 3.5 Favorite Quotes: That's never going to happen, and you know it. Stop blowing rainbows and perfume where there's only #@! and gunpowder. Being alone became almost comforting after a while. Like, you almost forgot what it was like not to be lonely. The funny thing about plans? Sometimes they're simply detours to get us where we need to be. I'll be here to help you when you need me to, and to stand aside quietly when you don't. I'll shut up when you need me to be quiet, and give my best advice if you ask for it. Whatever you need, whenever you need it, I'll give it to you... I'll give you all of me, and I ask for nothing in return. Just let me love you. That's all I want. My Review: Lust Is The Thorn was really not my cup of tea, as it was a tense, long simmering, slow-burn, second chance romance. The first half of the book felt like a repetitive tease with the characters circling the same issues in an increasingly tedious manner. But that may just be my personal weariness of high angst. The storyline was occasionally erotic and often without any actual sex occurring - which takes impressive skill. The last half of the story squeezed my heart, although there was an uptick in steam and brief respites of happiness before the characters argued again. But I hung tight and finished the ride, but Ms. McLaughlin certainly made me work for it.
Rose has always loved Thorn but she knows they can never be together because he has chosen the priesthood as the way out of the slums and rough life they grew up in. Thorn has reached the final step in his journey towards the priesthood. All that remains is to take his vows so he can atone for the past, but when he spends time caring for Rose after she is injured, the feelings for her that he has tried to bury, all come rushing back to the front. This is an emotional story and the love between these two characters is sweet and heart-wrenching because they feel they can't be together. The love scenes are passionate yet contain a hint of sadness. I liked this book a lot and was very moved by it. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Lust is the Thorn is the story of two childhood friends that are torn apart by a tragedy and are reunited by the heroine life is at risk. Thorne was best friends with Rose's brother. He dies and Thorne decides to get his life together and become a priest. He continues with this goal until he learn that Rose's life is at risk. He takes a sabbatical from the church to help Rose and begins to realize his attraction to her isn't passing. Will Thorne follow the path of the church or will he find love with Rose? This book wasn't my cup of tea.. I tried to follow the plot and was very confused. I couldn't relate to either main character, and would have stopped reading the book if I hadn't agreed to review it.
2.5 Stars Reviewed by Angela and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog Both Rose and Thorn grew up in an unfortunate environment which consist of abuse and poverty. Thorn luckily got out and now a seminarian ready to be sworn in to priesthood. Meanwhile, Rose is a stripper struggling to make ends meet. As we have it, Rose is in trouble and Thorn comes to the rescue. Thorn had sworn to his best friend, Rose’s brother to protect her. Now that Rose is in the slumps, he’s determined to help. This obviously will give them a chance to pretty much connect in more ways than one. I picked up this book after reading Dare to Run which is also written by this author. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one as much the other. I just couldn’t get over the stripper and the priest trope. Such an unlikely pair. I also found it funny that the movie Thornbirds kept coming to mind as I read this book because the hero’s name is Thorn and because of the similarities of the storyline. Just Like the movie, the heroine falls for the priest(to be) and both are plagued with guilt over their feelings. The forbidden love didn’t bother me so much as the hero and heroine’s struggle with their guilt and morality. I just wanted to say get over it already. In the lighter side of things, McLaughlin writes well and the book flowed from one chapter to the next. And as many forbidden love stories go, it was pretty hot. I do recommend Dare to Run which is a start of a new series, a much more enjoyable read.
Jen McLaughlin wrote a compelling novel on a plot I haven't seen in my years of reading romance. I love when authors have something different to tell the reader. Thorn grew up in a rough neighborhood and mad some bad choices, resulting in the death of his best friend. Thorn took the time to revamp his life and strive to become a priest. Rose grew up following Thorn and her older brother (his BFF) around. With the lost of her brother, they bonded and remained friends. On the eve of Thorn taking his holy vows, Rose is the only thing holding him back. Read the emotional journey of two people finding out what really matters before it is to late.
Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept via NetGalley for a copy of this book. 3.5 stars from me on this one. It was my first "priesthood" book and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing. The names (Rose and Thorn) kinda made me lose interest. Some would say it was cute and creative, but, for me ......I mostly shook my head at the names. Thorn is a bad boy trying to better himself by studying to be a priest. Rose is the girl that tempts him. She wants him....bad! Can she have her way and have Thorn? Or will Thorn go through with his priesthood? This was just an ok book for me. It was well written and I did enjoy parts overall, but it just fell short and that's okay. Everyone has different taste.
A DEFINITE MUST READ!! Thorn McKinney has never forgiven himself for taking the life of his best friend Mikey, Leaving his bad boy ways behind to become a better person he joins the seminary while training to become a priest after reuniting with Rose he realizes that he can not truly commit because the one thing he craves more is the forbidden fruit and also the love of his life Rose Gallagher his best friends sister. Once he tells Rose the truth about what really happened the night of the accident Thorn hopes that their love will be strong enough to survive and Rose will be able to forgive him.
Lust is the Thorn - This is a romance where the issue to overcome is guilt of an accident that happened eight years ago. Thorn, to reconcile himself with the death of his friend Mikey Gallagher, studies to join the priesthood. Mikey and his sister Rose grew up in a household filled with physical abuse. Thorn's own childhood was one of sadness. The story travels with Thorn and Rose both having adult issues. Rose and Thorn have to fight to forgive and find love in each other. The narrative was slow at first; but as the characters grew more clear and the emotions more heart wrenching this prose was redeemed.
WOW! Thorn is the kind of bad boy that all us ladies want. Thorn goes from bad boy to almost priest, to becoming a beautiful, good man, and it doesn't hurt that he's sexy. I have always loved the bother's best friend falling in love with the little sister romance and Jen Mclaughlin has just written a heart-rending one that’s going to touch you deeply. Thorn, Mikey and Mikey's little sister, Rose, all grew up together. All three had grown up on the rough streets of Chicago. Mikey and Thorn were living the hard, fast life, drinking and womanizing. Rose has had a crush on Thorn forever, even though she knew he was a ladies man. But that all changes for Thorn one tragic night. A night that he couldn't take back, a decision he couldn't change, and now Rose's life will never be the same because of that decision. So the only way for Thorn to redeem him himself is to make a promise to change his bad boy lifestyle and to watch over and protect Rose. Thorn and Rose have both been hiding a secret form each other. They both have feelings for each other, but have never acted on those feelings. For Thorn, he could never be worthy of Rose's love, not after his part in that tragic night, and Rose couldn't take Thorn's dream of becoming a priest away from him—a dream of helping others. Oh, but little do Thorn and Rose know that they’re both missing the bigger picture and their love is the answer. Thorn and Rose’s life changed in two very different ways because of that one night, but out of that horribleness, they will find the good that comes from the bad. Rose's love will give Thorn the redeeming forgiveness he longs for, and for Rose, the love she thought she’d never have. I recommend Lust is the Thorn as a beautiful love story of redemption.
I started reading this one with quite a bit of trepidation. Religion is one of those subjects that evokes deep emotions so a romance about a priest gave me pause. I'm glad though that I gave this a chance! It turned out to be a very interesting and thought provoking story. The fact that Thorn already had something holding him back from taking his vows eased my mind on the religious front and the fact that he did turn his life around as he had promised his friend made the outcome of the story wonderful. There is definitely a lot of push and pull in the relationship between Rose and Thorn, both having to make some very difficult decisions. The author gave us enough about both their backgrounds to understand them without being too much. Overall it was a very enjoyable read and one I would definitely recommend.