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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764208959
Published Jan 1, 2012
Trade paperback, 342 pages

Liberty (Libby) Sawyer lives with her father in Massachusetts in a stately house on Winslow Street. On an evening when she and her father are not home, their house gets broken into and taken into possession by Michael Dobrescu, newly arrived from Romania with his two young sons, Luca and Andrei and a young woman called Lady Mirela. Michael claims the house is rightfully his, inherited through his uncle, who used to live there almost 30 years ago.

In the weeks to come, as Libby and her father wait for the trial that will determine who the house truly belongs to, she visits her house to retrieve some of her things and gets to know the Dobrescu family. She develops a relationship with and keeps visiting the family, despite her father's repeated warnings not to have anything to do with the people who kicked them out of their own house.

This was an interesting premise and I did enjoy reading the story. There were a lot of things going on and I enjoyed the multi-level plot and well-developed characters. But there were also a few things that didn't make sense to me. First and foremost, how could the American court allow an immigrant family to break into an American citizen's home and stay there, while the owners (respectable people) had to find another place to live (in this case, Libby and her father stayed with her brother and his family)? Wouldn't it have made more sense for the courts to remove the interfering family (who broke the law by breaking and entering) until the court hearing could determine whose house it really was? Is it okay then for anyone to walk into any house and claim it's theirs and be allowed to live there until proven otherwise? Seriously!

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let's move on. I liked Libby because she was kind, courageous and certainly not attached to material possessions because it didn't seem to bother her that strangers took over her house, were sleeping in her bed, wearing her clothes, etc. Having said that, I think she was also naive and fell for Michael's strapping shoulders and tall physique before she knew too much about him. However, although she was pretty, Libby had no suitors. As a child she failed to learn how to read (I'm assuming dyslexia) much to the chagrin of her professor father. She was ashamed because of this and I think sold herself short. She also had no friends her age she could confide in. She was a loner and I could see why she was instantly attracted to the buoyant Dobrescu clan.

But she was also a gifted artist, producing many stunning paintings. She also sketched the designs of all of her father's inventions. She understood the mechanics of it. Wow! She also knew a lot about botany which she shared with Michael who cultivated perfume. This aspect of the story fascinated me, and because it was important to the story, kept my interest in it high.

The court proceedings were interesting and revealed further information about Michael and his family. Lady Mirela's story was sad and the way she comes to find happiness in the end was heartwarming. Michael was a perplexing character for me throughout the book. There were times when he annoyed and frustrated me and other times when I liked him and the way he was devoted to his family above all else. He was different, that's for sure.

The novel comes to a satisfying conclusion, and I was happy for the part that Lady Mirela plays in it. The romance was okay, and the author's humour was an additional bonus that helped this part along. I also liked how Libby handled her father, even though he mistreated her at times. I certainly gleaned positive messages throughout the novel which, for me, were gems (messages about the qualities of humility, patience, fairness, forgiveness) that redeemed the novel from its rocky unrealistic start.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read. 

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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