I was pleasantly surprised by the first book I've read by Amanda Cabot. It was soothingly predictable, but full of interesting and surprising twists and turns. Like a long journey - you know where you are going when you start out, and you look forward to getting there, but that doesn't stop you from very much enjoying the trip. As well as the romance, there was the mystery and suspense, and just a touch of humor. Sarah was a delightful heroine - wounded but strong, fearful but brave. Clay is a true Texan hero - very hurt by the past, having suffered so many losses, but always the generous gentleman. there is a strong emphasis on God's plan in their lives, and the need to trust Him with our lives and our futures. Most enjoyable!
Sarah Dobbs leaves Philadelphia with her little sister Thea in tow, searching for a new life where her past in unknown. She hopes that life as Austin Canfield's mail-order bride in Ladreville, Texas, will give her the chance to give Thea a place to grow up free from the judgmental attitudes she left in Pennsylvania. However, when she arrives, she finds that Austin has been murdered.
Clay, Austin's brother, is struggling with the pain of losing his wife and his brother and with the invalid state of his father. He is a doctor at heart and not a rancher, but someone must keep the spread running. Not only that, he is desperate to catch the person responsible for Austin's death. The problem of his brother's bride-to-be is the last thing he wants to deal with.
This story of love, forgiveness, and faith set in post-Mexican War Texas is written very poignantly. The plot is intriguing and the end is relatively satisfying. Although I did begin to suspect who was responsible for Austin's death, I was still surprised by the revelation of the killer. However, I did feel that the end results were wrapped up too quickly and that the outcome could have been explained further. Maybe Ms. Cabot concludes the story more fully in the next sequel in the series (I haven't read it, but I would like to). But, no matter, this novel is an enjoyable read that does not go overboard into the romantic. More importantly, the Gospel is clearly presented, which is very important to the story.
I have always had an avid interest in mail order brides of yesteryear, so reading books on the subject have been an enjoyable pastime of mine.
"Paper Roses" was a beautiful story that showed the bringing together of two lives as it should be--through friendship and gradually developing selfless love. Too often, Christian fiction conjures romance through self-centered passion and lust, which is sadly in grave contrast to what Scripture teaches and which only advocates a worldly, carnal mindset. Not so with "Paper Roses".
In this book you will find a realistic journey of people through the valleys of their lives, adventure, mystery (a true whodunit), friendship, courage, and, yes, romance. A romance that is sweet and enjoyable.
Rarely do characters come to feel real to me, but these did. Probably because Amanda Cabot wrote from her own experiences. They react as real people would react, and thus this book avoids that all-too-often feeling of ridiculousness that dwells within the pages of many fictions. It was strange, but I had the odd sensation that I could actually meet these people, and it was disappointing to have to recall that this was merely a book.
If you choose to read this book, you will not only be entertained, but you will also be blessed. You will close the book after the final page with a smile on your lips and a happy, refreshed heart.