Book Cover and Synopsis:
Leaving the past behind in Philadelphia, mail-order bride Sarah Dobbs arrives in San Antonio ready to greet her groom--a man she has never met but whose letters, her paper roses, have won her heart from afar. But there is a problem--Austin Canfield is dead, and Sarah cannot go back East.
As Sarah tries to reconcile herself to a future that is drastically changed, Austin's brother Clay wants nothing more than to shake the Texas dust from his boots, but first he must find his brother's killer. And then there's Sarah.
Something is blooming out in the vast Texas landscape that neither Clay nor Sarah is ready to admit, and the promise of redemption blows like a gentle breeze through the prairie grasses.
This is a comfy historical read with some unique plot ideas and creative situations. I was immediately intrigued by the story, watching as Sarah is thrown into an unimaginable situation. Being a mail order bride would be hard enough, but arriving at your destination and finding that your groom-to-be is dead...I can't even imagine being in Sarah's shoes!
Sarah is likeable enough, but I admit that I had a difficult time liking Clay, as his revengeful attitude simply isn't the type of thing that draws me to a character. Eventually he did start to grow on me, especially after he was able to let go of his anger... but I still felt he was just "okay"; I couldn't get overly excited about him. I did find his medical career interesting, but unfortunately there wasn't much time spent exploring that aspect of his character.
The writing overall is good, but there's one thing that struck me as slightly odd. Towards the end Clay reveals a secret to Sarah, a connection between them that existed even before they first met. It's difficult to discuss without spoilers, but suffice it to say that I expected Sarah to be excited about the news, yet instead she was very calm--almost indifferent--despite the fact that it should've been a surprising revelation. I had been anticipating this scene, but I ended up being disappointed as Sarah's reaction seemed slightly out of character and ultimately made the scene fall a bit flat.
Despite my nit-picking, the story did keep me entertained while reading. It has some unique plot lines that I found rather interesting... but looking back on the story as a whole, I don't feel that it really "stands out" in the crowded historical genre. That's not to say it's not good--the story is solid--but it just didn't "wow" me. (I do actually feel that it would be a great candidate for a Hallmark movie, though!) Paper Roses is an adequate beginning to the Texas Dreams trilogy, and having already read the latter books, I can positively say the trilogy gets even stronger as it continues.
My Rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.