About the book:
The future stretches out in front of Sarah Dobbs like the pure blue Texas sky. Leaving the past behind in Philadelphia, mail-order bride Sarah arrives in San Antonio ready to greet her groom, Austin Canfield, a man she has never met but whose letters have won her heart from afar. But there is one problem--he has died. And Sarah cannot go back East. As Sarah tries to reconcile herself to a future that is drastically changed, Austin's brother, Clay, struggles with his own muddled plans.
Though he dislikes working on the family ranch and longs for a different life, Clay is driven to avenge his brother's death. But something between them is growing and neither Clay nor Sarah is ready to admit it. Book 1 of the Texas Dreams series, Paper Roses will sweep readers into the Hill Country with a tale of love and loss, closed doors and beautiful possibilities that will leave them wanting more.
Oh, how I loved this book! Initially, I expected it to be a rather long, drawn-out tale just because of its page length (378 pages), but how very wrong I was. This story was simple, but complex, and probably the best mail-order bride story to date that I have ever read.
Sarah was such a strong lead character in the story, in spite of the first impression one would get based on her physical ailments. At first, I thought it strange that she did not really mourn Austin's death, nor did she ever visit his grave (strangely, one was never mentioned), but as I kept reading it began to make a little more sense to me. She only knew him on paper, and never had the chance to form any type of physical bond with him. Also, her mind was more on making a life for herself and her young sister in this new place since going back to her home in Philedelphia was out of the question.
It took a little while for Clay to grow on me, though. His part of the story seemed to be more gradual and more hesitant than Sarah's. I think most of that is due to the fact that Clay thought of Sarah as a little bit of an inconvenience, plus he's got his mind thoroughly on finding Austin's killer. And then, ever so slowly, does he start to care for Sarah in the most beautiful way. His feelings for her (and hers for him) were paced just right--not rushed, but almost like it snuck up on them from behind. I truly loved every second of their realization of their feelings for each other.
This isn't just a mail-order bride romance. It's got the romance, plus a nice dose of suspense, some ornery town folk, and a dash of history. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Scattered Petals, the next book in this series! Paper Roses gets a 5 star rating from me--what an exceptional story!
**This book was provided to me to judge for the 2010 Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest.
**Click here to purchase a copy of Paper Roses.