Mary Rose Clayborne and Lord Harrison MacDonald's book
For the Roses (Rose book 1)
By Julie Garwood
Book Blurb:1879. In Blue Belle, Montana, everyone knew better than to mess with the Claybornes. The brothers had once been a mismatched gang of street urchins -- until they found an abandoned baby girl in a New York city alley, named her Mary Rose, and headed west to raise her to be a lady. They became a family -- held together by loyalty and love if not by blood -- when suddenly they faced a crisis that threatened to tear them apart....
Trouble came to town with one Lord Harrison Stanford MacDonald. Armed with a swagger and six-shooter, he cut a striking figure -- but it soon became apparent to Mary Rose that he was too much of a gentleman to make it in her rough-and-tumble town. She asked her brothers to teach him the basics of frontier survival, which he acquired with ease. And soon he possessed a deep and desperate love for Mary Rose. She returned his affection wholeheartedly... until MacDonald revealed a secret that challenged everything she believed about herself, her life, and her newfound love. Now her search for identity and meaning would begin, raising questions that could only be answered if she listened to the truth within her heart...
Originally Published 1995
Well it was bound to happen eventually I'm sure. There is actually a Julie Garwood book that I did not fall in love with. I guess there is a first time for everything.
The prologue starts the setting off in New York City, 1860 and it was a spectacular beginning. I immediately was absorbed into the story and thought for sure For the Roses was going to be a total winner. The story begins with a group of misfit throw-away street boys who form a tight bond and create their own family unit. They are huddled together in a back alley and their world is changed upside down with the discovery a bald baby girl in a basket. The oldest boy is thirteen and he is a runaway black slave named Adam. Adam is the only one of the boys that is not an orphan and he remains in contact through letters with his mama who is still a slave in the south. Throughout the years, Adam seems to become a father figure to the rest of the boys even though he is only a few years older. He is the glue that holds them all together.
The baby girl is named Mary Rose by the boys and the newly formed family unit of brothers decide to raise her and venture out west into the territories. For the Roses jumps ahead years forward to the present day Montana, 1879. I loved how Julie Garwood used handwritten letters by the kids to Adam's mama who officially becomes each of their adopted mother as well. These letters offer a perfect insight into how they grew to become the adults they were in their present day. It was a great way to view the past without having to write flashbacks or chapters of background.
Having said that, one of the issues I did have with For the Roses was how long the book was. I think the book should have been edited a bit more and about 100 pages or so should have been cut. Many times the story just dragged along and there were lots of scenes that just didn't need to be as long as they were. I felt the urge to do some major skimming along and for me that is unheard of in a Julie Garwood book.
The characters were all likable enough and the talkative Mary Rose put a smile on my face more than once. Even though Harrison was actually Lord Harrison, the "Lord" part really didn't have much play in the territory of Montana. It was enjoyable reading about Harrison getting his ranch hands dirty and his butt bruised.
Eventually Mary Rose's infant past is caught up to her and that is mostly what For the Roses is based on. It just really dragged on to finally get there.
There are other books in the series and I will gladly read on so that I can read about what becomes of the brothers.
Teasers: horse with an attitude, cave sleepover, blank canvas, Blue Belle