Monday, February 20, 2012

"The Rose of Winslow Street" Review

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden was sent to me by Bethany House Publishers as a review copy. This is the second novel by this author. You can read my review of her first novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill here.
It is 1879, and the house on Winslow Street in Colden, Massachusetts, is the only home Libby Sawyer has ever known. While visiting her brother at his summer home, Libby and her father are informed that a wild man from Romania, Michael Dobrescu, has seized their house and is claiming it as his own.
Awaiting the court’s decision, Libby and Michael form an odd friendship. The mystery surrounding Michael and his family intrigues Libby, as does the man himself. But is she willing to trust someone who is so different, especially when she has her own secret as well?
As more and more information comes to light, tensions get higher and loyalties are questioned. Deciding which side to choose will put Libby to the test more than she ever thought possible.
As I first started to read this novel, I wondered if there was any way this complicated story could possibly come to any sort of a satisfying conclusion. It seemed to be the strangest plot for a historical romance that I had ever read. After reading so many novels from the historical fiction genre, you kind of get used to the ‘pattern,’ and this book almost made me feel uncomfortable or at the very least, confused. The character Michael was so atypical of a romance that I couldn’t really tell if he was going to be the main male character or not!
Now, this may sound as if I didn’t like the book, and that is far from the truth. I do like to read the typical romantic novel – it is easy and entertaining. But The Rose of Winslow Street was so different and engaging that it turned into an excellent story and an engaging read.
If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be “real.” The characters are what made the entire book have an overall feeling of realness. They wanted to do the right thing, but being flawed, they didn’t always do so. All of the characters were far from perfect, which gave an authenticity to their stories. The character of Michael was such a fun paradox. He was a man who raised flowers to make perfume, but he was big and burly and at times such a dunce about women! In some novels, the main male character rides in like the hero and seems to be the perfect counterpart for the main female character. This book shakes things up a bit. Michael’s first action is to storm into Libby’s house and claim it as his own. Hence my confusion over who was actually the romantic interest in this book at first.
I appreciate when a book, especially a historical romance, has an in-depth storyline for another character. In this novel, Mirela was that character. Her story was tragic and yet ultimately hopeful.
This story also felt real because some of the events that happened and the choices that were made were not necessarily easy or exactly what the characters wanted. There wasn’t an illusion of ‘all their dreams coming true.’ Choices had to be made, and the characters, especially Libby and Mirela, had to decide what was best even though it was hard.
My one annoyance with this book was Libby’s back and forth feelings for Michael. It tended to get old. She knew she loved him, and then she would feel insecure and think that there was no way for them to have a future. This sometimes seemed to happen two or three times on the same page. But, then again, maybe this is keeping to the realistic theme, especially since Libby was someone who was told her entire life that she would never marry.
The Rose of Winslow Street was well-written, had interesting historical aspects, and was very engaging. The realistic characters contributed to a great second offering by Elizabeth Camden.

I will give  The Rose of Winslow Street … 4 Bookworms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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