Roses & Thorns by Sage Marlowe

When bestselling author Chester Banning requires inside information on the life of a forensic pathologist, he comes across an enticing, yet unwilling study subject in the shape of sinfully attractive Dr Nicolas Sheridan. 
After a hot and slightly unsettling one-night stand, Sheridan turns out to be as inapproachable as he is intriguing and clearly not interested in intensifying their liaison. Chester, however, is already falling head over heels in love and doesn’t rest until he’s succeeded in cracking Sheridan’s icy shell. What he discovers underneath is a man well capable of love and affection but caught up in a web of lies and domestic abuse that makes him seek punishment in self-harm. 
Refusing to watch Sheridan go farther down the road to self-destruction, Chester gives him all the love and support he is capable of—but then he discovers the horrifying truth about Sheridan’s past. 

Reader advisory: Suitable for adult readers only. Contains scenes of and references to domestic violence / abuse, self-harm and dubious consent in a non-erotic context. 
This book was previously published with the title Knives & Feathers. This edition has been re-edited and extended.

My Review:
Roses & Thorns by Sage Marlowe is another example of this author's amazing writing style and talent when it comes to storytelling. He takes real life problems and issues that have a tendency to be overlooked, at times, and brings them to life and to the forefront of this story. Domestic abuse can be found in many homes. It doesn't matter if you are female or male, it does not discriminate. Sage has put a light on this topic, brought it out in the open to be seen by those not afraid to look and shows that there is help, there is a way out. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes it just takes the caring and compassion from another human being to show you that love is good, love is kind, and love is patient. Chester has those qualities and he wants desperately for Sheridan to see his worth. To know and realize he is deserving of love that does not hurt, that does not have pain.

After a one night stand, and I'm not sure it can be classified as a one night since he bolted as soon as sex was over, Chester feels a little gutted. He found this incredibly sexy and handsome man at the bar who followed him back to his motel room, had amazing sex and now he is left staring at the back of the door. Stranger gone, no name, no phone number, just memories of the encounter. He tells himself to enjoy the moment for what it was, good sex, done and over.
Chester is an author working on a book and will be working with a doctor in the morgue for research purposes. As he enters the morgue, he is quite surprised and taken back to discover his one night stand looking back at him. And the look is not promising, at all, quite the contrary.

Dr. Nicolas Sheridan, a forensic pathologist, also known to Chester as his one night stand, is irate and furious. Why is the man from the bar now standing in his morgue? Things are explained and he understands why Chester is there, but he doesn't have to like it nor make it easy for him. Chester is surprised of Sheridan's attitude and gruff demeanor. Wondering if he made a mistake in coming here for research he decides to make the best out of the situation. He won't be here long, thankfully, as his trip seems to be turning into a nightmare.

Chester is very observant and he watches Sheridan closely. He is picking up a lot of distress signals from him and that bothers him. He, for the most part, is an upbeat guy, funny, always making a joke, and it concerns him that Sheridan is so closed off. Hanging around the hospital, Chester starts to learn some disturbing information. He witnesses Sheridan with his partner Jake, in what he would classify as abuse, but Sheridan just shakes it off as nothing. There isn't much Chester can do if Sheridan won't talk about it or ask for help. He lets him know that he is there for him, a safe place, if and when he ever needs it. Chester wants to help, he knows they have good chemistry, so when Sheridan takes him up on his offer, he couldn't be more pleased. It will take time and patience, two things he is willing to give if it will get Sheridan back to his old self.

Domestic abuse is painful. Not only physically, but emotionally and mentally it can and will reduce you to someone you or no one else recognizes. This is a subject that a lot of people face on a daily basis. Most of the time when you are the one in that relationship, you can't see the toll it has taken or the truth behind what is going on. You are brainwashed into thinking you deserve this horrific treatment. The more control the abuser wields over you, the more of yourself you lose.  Sage Marlowe does not hide the torment, the brutal and sometimes deadly consequences that happen when you are in this situation. He shows us with Chester and Sheridan how love and patience, communication, and hard work can help you overcome the abuse and mind altering events that had you spiraling down a one-way mountain. It's not a quick fix, or easy one, and the author doesn't make it one. He doesn't wrap it nicely with a big bow in order to close out the story. It takes time, counselling, and learning to believe in yourself. You don't forget but you learn to forgive yourself and strive to be the best you can be. Chester shows Sheridan how to focus, how to get pleasure instead of pain. Cutting is a scary and deadly masquerade. It's using pain to overcome another pain. As Chester so carefully lays out items for a bondage scene, Sheridan shows discomfort. Chester has a plan, one that he hopes will give Sheridan something to focus on and receive pleasure over pain. Again, Sage takes time with the characters never rushing for an ending. Weakness and insecurities are not faults to be manipulated but cherished and handled properly to gain strength.

Sage Marlowe has written a beautiful, heartfelt story that touches on abuse and self-harming. These are real life problems that can't be fixed with a few words. Love comes in many ways and the author has shown us a true love story. This story focuses on self worth and commitment. You will laugh with them and you will cry with them. You will feel elated when good overcomes bad. And there is so much good in this story. Don't let the words abuse or bondage keep you from reading this. While some of the story is hard to read you will be glad you stayed to the end. Good overcomes evil, pleasure overcomes pain, strength overcomes weakness and laughter will overcome tears. Be brave like Sheridan, strong like Chester and read this incredible story.

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