NEVER THE ROSES de Jennifer K. Lambert

With atmospheric and lyrical stylings akin to This Is How You Lose the Time War and Genevieve Gorniches’s The Witch’s Heart, NEVER THE ROSES is a debut star-crossed loversfantasy romance that is perfect for fans of Madeline Miller, Stephanie Garber, Elodie Harper, and Erin Morgenstern.

by Jennifer K. Lambert
Tor, 2025
(via Nancy Yost Literary)

Oneira’s tale begins at the end, or so she thought. Exiling herself from the warring courts of men, she seeks peace in a remote forest where the mountains meet the beach. She’s long acceptedthat her death is near, as it and destruction have been her constant companions since she was a child when her family sold her to the Academy of Sorcerers.

Her seclusion is first interrupted by three otherworldly companions—a near-mythical wolf, a goddess’s avatar in the form of a kestrel, and a feline that embodies magic itself. Then on a whim,or perhaps at the behest of fate, Oneira invites a second interruption when she makes an unlikely and otherworldly trip to the most extensive library in existence. Which is the home of hermost powerful rival, the sorcerer Stearanos.

There, she finds herself stealing a book from him, and this act of reckless thievery inadvertently initiates an unlikely correspondence. Taunting notes and clever retorts reveal a connectionneither has—nor could ever find—in any other. But a relationship is far too dangerous to pursue despite their mutual desire.

When Stearanos is called to war, he pleads with Oneira to help, jeopardizing the vows Oneira made to herself on her darkest day and to the Queen she once served. Faced with the impossible,to save her love or herself, Oneira must once again choose between life and death.

NEVER THE ROSES gives fantasy readers everything they could want: expansive world-building, an intriguing magic system, a timeless story of star-crossed lovers, and beyond all else—a yearning forsomething more.

Jennifer K. Lambert is a member of SFWA.

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