The Clayborne brothers were a rough gang of street urchins – until they found an abandoned baby girl in a New York City alley, named her Mary Rose, and headed to Blue Belle, Montana, to raise her to be a lady. They became a family – held together by loyalty and love if not blood – when suddenly a stranger threatened to tear them apart…Lord Harrison Stanford MacDonald brandished a six-shooter and a swagger, but he soon proved to be a gentleman to the core. The brothers taught him frontier survival, while Mary Rose touched his heart with a deep and desperate passion. But soon, a shattering secret would challenge everything Mary Rose believed about herself, her life, and her newfound love.
For the Roses was the very first romance I read. Ever. I had the urge to re-read it recently, something I haven’t done in forever, and I was pleased that I still enjoyed it. I re-read Garwood’s medieval romances quite often so I know her early books usually hold up even though they were published in the 1990s.
So our story begins in New York City in 1860. Four young street urchins discover a baby girl thrown away in the garbage. Through various experiences of their own, they don’t trust leaving the baby with an orphanage and decide to head West to raise her themselves. They have no experience but they’re quite the resourceful bunch. So Adam, Cole, Travis and Douglas wind up in Blue Belle, Montana and raise Mary Rose. Nineteen years go by and Mary Rose has returned to Blue Belle after being sent to boarding school in St. Louis for a couple of years. Not too long after her return, a stranger comes to Blue Belle. Harrison MacDonald. He’s on a mission and he sets it up so that he meets Mary Rose in town. Although he can take care of himself, he’s heard that Mary Rose has a soft spot for those who can’t fend for themselves so he swallows his pride and pretends to not know as much as he does. He’s invited back to the Claybourne ranch where Mary Rose’s four older brothers will teach him how to survive in the west and become a rancher. It isn’t long before Harrison and Mary Rose begin to fall for each other but when Mary Rose discovers the truth of why Harrison has come to Blue Belle, it could destroy her and her family.
I pretty much remembered the whole plot from all those many years ago but a few things surprised me. But one thing that always stuck out was the humor. Harrison comes from England and there’s a particular way things are done there. The Claybournes turn everything he thinks he knows on its head. They speak French at the dinner table on alternating days, they claim to be siblings but there’s no resemblance between any of them, they try on different religions for three months at a time. Those are just a few examples of things that want to make Harrison bang his head on a hard surface. LOL I especially enjoyed his friendship with Cole. Those two were very similar.
I felt that of the brothers, Adam and Cole were the most developed. Travis and Douglas were a bit more in the background. Which was fine. I also liked the townsfolk. Especially at the end when one of the brothers’ pasts catches up with him.
And Mary Rose was a quirky heroine. She grew up quite capable under the watchful eyes of her brothers so she can take care of herself. Something that surprises Harrison. He’s used to English women. And Mary Rose is like a breath of fresh air to him. She’s honest and wears her emotions on her sleeve. I like how when Harrison acts of character (but not really) Mary Rose refers to it as a “spell.” And when Harrison does what he does…well it still broke my heart. And I didn’t think he groveled enough. I got freaking annoyed when Mary Rose apologizes! But I was happy with how everything turned out. And Harrison was such a yummy hero. I forgot how much I enjoyed him.
For a book that I read over 15 years ago, I thought it held up very well. 4 out of 5. I recommend this one if you’re in the mood for a historical western.