Sarah Dobbs agreed to be a mail order bride–anything to leave Philadelphia after the deaths of her parents. Austin Canfield wooed her from afar with beautiful letters Sarah called her paper roses. Finally Sarah arrives in Ladreville, Texas, only to discover that Austin has been killed. His brother, Clay, offers her the fare back to Philadelphia, but Sarah won’t go. Instead, she’s determined to make a new start in Ladreville, a small town divided in half with French and German immigrants from the Alsace region.
Clay Canfield is a Boston-trained doctor who feels trapped at his father’s ranch after the death of his wife, but he’s determined to find his brother’s killer and enact vengeance before he leaves. But no one will talk. Meanwhile, someone is stirring up trouble between the immigrants, pitting them against each other. Sarah starts a school for the local children, but the ethnic groups alternate weeks of attendance, the parents refusing to let the children learn together. Sarah, being an outsider to the local problems, is courted by men from both groups. She’s not interested. As time goes on, Sarah and Clay begin to fall in love, but their romance is complicated by Clay’s quest for vengeance and the trouble in the town.
While Paper Roses starts out in the trope of mail order brides, it quickly deviates with Sarah’s discovery, upon arrival in Texas, of the death of her intended. The dual cultures of the small town and the intrigue Sarah and Clay become involved in add layers to this historical novel. I found that the author tied up all of the various threads quite tidily by the end. The weakest thread, in my personal opinion, was the one that titled the book. I have trouble understanding a woman as practical as Sarah (or any other woman) thinking of love letters as paper roses.
With both parents avid readers, it’s no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction, which included a play for her fifth grade class entitled “All About Thermometers,” were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than twenty five novels under a variety of pseudonyms. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading.