Coming Up Roses by Catherine Anderson
Published by Signet
Publication Date: May 1st 2012
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1890, Oregon. Recently widowed Kate Blakely is struggling to make ends meet on her small farm while trying to heal from the scars of her late husband’s cruelty. When her handsome, brawny neighbor, Zachariah McGovern, almost dies while saving her four-year-old daughter from a near fatal accident, Kate is deeply wary of the man she brings into her home to nurse back to health.
Gradually Kate realizes that underneath Zach’s rough exterior is a gentle, loving soul who is fiercely protective of her and her daughter. But as much as Zach longs for Kate’s love, she knows she can’t open her heart without revealing her darkest secret—a shocking truth that, if discovered, could destroy them both.
This novel was first released in 1993 but was re-issued with a new look and some re-editing in 2012. It was a book I read many years ago but having just been re-introduced to it I felt it was worth bringing it to the attention of romance readers and especially those who liked historical romance set in 19th century America.
Ms Anderson is very open about the fact that this novel was originally written because of her social concern regarding abused women and children and the historical reality that still exists in American society that women bring such abuse upon themselves. It is her continuing concern that those who have the training to counsel such women often have prejudice against the very victims they should be helping. The historical context of this story is such that help for abuse victims just simply didn’t exist and after being abused by parents and/or spouses these same women and children were held up to further abuse by society itself. Such was the case of the widow whose story unfolds in this novel. Given in marriage to what turned out to be an emotionally and mentally unbalanced man by her concerned uncle, Katherine Blakely lived in hell for five years until her husband’s accidental death. Because her husband had hidden his abuse behind words of defamation of Katherine as a “weak-minded, hysterical” female, her efforts to flee his abuse were thwarted time and again. She was dead set against ever marrying again when her neighbor Zachariah McGovern came into her life and saved her daughter’s life when the little girl fell down a dry well that was populated by an entire colony of rattle snakes. An extended time of nursing Mr. McGovern back to health literally from the brink of death meant that these two individuals had time to take each other’s measure and their lives slowly became involved. However, her brother-in-law, Ryan Blakely, a man who is just as unbalanced as his dead brother, continues to make Katherine’s life a fear-filled and difficult thing.
This is a truly wonderful read. There is no way a reader can be exposed to these characters without feeling their anxiety, fear, sense of hopelessness, even their glimmers of hope that possibly there was a new beginning for them. Yet it seems that life continually smacked them down and readers will be experiencing those disappointments right along with Kathering, Zach, and her daughter. There are unexpected developments and twists and turns in this story that keep the reader well involved in the story. There is never the sense that it is all unrealistic. A careful study of this time will support the happenings here and readers will catch a good look of what it was like to live in 19th century Oregon as a widow with a small child. Their sense of safety, their legal rights were almost non-existent. It is these realities that make this story so riveting along with Zach McGovern’s absolute determination to protect and be a part of Katherine and her daughter’s life.
If you haven’t read this story before, it is one all historical romance lovers need to read. It you read this novel previously, it needs to be re-read. It is a wonderful piece of writing, a story well told, and people worth meeting. It is, quite simply, a splendid read.
I give it a rating of 5 out of 5