The Rose of Winslow Street
I am a Bath and Body Works addict. I must own over twenty of their fragrances. I am especially drawn to their “clean” scents, but their floral scents intrigue me as well. One thing reading this book reminded me of was the fact that there is a huge gap in the B&B line of products – the scent of roses. I think the fragrance of these grand flowers is considered a bit old fashioned and cliched but I find it lovely and would rejoice to see a resurgence of this once familiar scent.
Michael Dobrescu is a desperate man. He has brought his small family to America to claim the home of a long lost Uncle, only to find that the house has been sold from under them and an American family now lives there. Since the family is on holiday, Michael boldly moves his own family in, determined to take possession of his inheritance. The townspeople are outraged that these “gypsies” are attempting to raise chickens and farm in the small backyard of a home that clearly belongs to more genteel people. Determined to see them gone and the other family back in their rightful place, merchants refuse to sell to them, neighbors refuse to speak to them and the local children beat on the young, odd newcomers who speak strange, accented English. But Michael will not yield. His family needs this home.
Libby Sawyer and her father are on vacation when they receive a telegraph advising them that someone has taken over their home. The squatters claim to be descendants of the original owner and claim the sale of the dilapidated home by the town to Professor Sawyer is against the law. The Sawyers have poured a small fortune into renovating their home and refuse to simply give it up because a foreign claimant shows up declaring he is the rightful heir. Libby and her father rush home, living with her brother Jasper while they fight a court battle for their house. But Libby, while unhappy with the situation, can not help but feel for the Dobresu family. Their welcome to the town has been anything but Christian. As she slowly sets about to right some of the wrongs done to them by her neighbors she finds herself in the odd position of being the only ally her enemy has.
Things heat up as precious blueprints of her father’s inventions go missing from the house. Libby finds herself with torn loyalties as she aids the enemy, earning her quick tempered father’s ire. She can’t believe that the gentle, proud, and downcast Dobrescus are behind the thefts. But if not them, then who? And how can Libby, with her affliction, ever prove Michael’s innocence?
I loved this gentle tale of two people falling in love against the odds. While Libby and Michael had every reason to be nasty and accusatory towards each other, they both maintained their dignity and inherent kindness in their encounters. Aside from some shaky moments at the beginning of their relationship, they form a friendship and a bond as they agree to disagree over the house. You can see that neither truly wishes the other ill; they just have differing opinions over some very expensive property. I found this very refreshing in the world of romance, where false accusations with flimsy evidence often lead to the most horrific treatment of each other between a hero and heroine.
Libby is a great heroine. She has learned her tempered, calm manner from dealing with her easily angered, elderly father. She has made a place for herself in the world in spite of having the town think her an idiot because of her illiteracy. It is clear she has a severe case of dyslexia, but at a time when it was not well known and no treatments existed it is put down to her having a feeble brain. Her professor father has been deeply disappointed by her affliction, but Libby compensates for it very well and has become a terrific nature artist. She loves the outdoors, has a natural green thumb, and has been able to save the unique and beautiful roses that her mother cultivated around their home. She is one of those people who makes the best out of life, not in a flamboyant martyr style – but quietly and sweetly. At the same time, she is no pushover and fights for what she believes to be right. She is easy to root for.
Great mysteries surround Michael and his motivations but it is clear his primary concern is always for his family. As he works to make things right for his young sons and his fragile sister Marie, we can see him slowly begin to yearn for something for himself. Libby is such a wonderful addition to his life. He struggles with the fact that she is daughter to the man with whom he is engaged in a nasty court battle. Adding to Libby’s appeal is her love of flowers. Michael, a renowned fragrance maker, appreciates very much the way she understands the plant life around her. He is terrific about her affliction, continuing to treat her as the bright, capable woman she is even after he learns about the problem. He knows he has finally found the perfect woman for him, but how to woo her in the midst of all this chaos? His first attempts go horribly awry but his persistence and kindness soon set things right.
Equally well handled was Libby’s relationship with her father. It is clear he is a cranky old man, a fact which has been a source of distress for Libby. Her sister in law Regina is another who is not the easiest to get along with. Watching Libby finally deal with them both was very rewarding.
Michael’s mysteries and the issue with the blueprints added a nice depth to the story. They did just what they were supposed to in the plot – add drama, show some character growth, and keep the reader intrigued by what was happening. The resolution with regard to the Professor’s drawings was interesting as well. Nothing was neatly sewn up, and we knew that it had caused some understandably serious problems within the family. I appreciated the skill with which the whole issue was handled.
The religion factor in this book is very light. I would place it at about a two or three on a scale of one to ten, with ten being deeply religious. Much of the faith discussions center around nuns, saints, and the church in Russia. I welcomed this look at a faith not often covered in the Inspirational market.
I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet love story. It’s a great read for someone who wants a historical tale that concentrates on the simple pleasure of falling quietly in love.