Review

Christmas Roses

by Amanda Cabot

Celia Anderson is painfully aware of the struggles of being a widow and mother. Baby Emma needs a father, and two of the men in her Wyoming boarding house are eager to assume that role. Even her best friend, the parson’s wife, thinks she should remarry, since her official year of grieving is nearly up, and running a boarding house in 1882 is risky business for a young widow.

But Celia knows what marriage without love feels like. She had been paired with a good man in her arranged marriage and was sad when he died in an accident, but if she ever remarries, she wants more.  She wants someone who stirs her heart, makes her smile, and shares her dreams. When Mark Williams enters the picture, Celia knows he could be that special someone. But Mark is a wanderer with no intention of staying in Easton, and Celia can’t risk giving her heart to someone who isn’t planning to stick around.

"Amanda Cabot’s CHRISTMAS ROSES is a sweet story with likable characters and lovely imagery. Set in wintry Wyoming, it offers the perfect setting for an old-fashioned Christmas romance."

Mark is tired of riding from town to town. After two years of searching for the father who abandoned him and his mother 20 years earlier, he’s starting to think that settling down might be a good idea. Still, he wants to know the truth behind his father’s disappearance. Following sightings of his estranged father has led him to Easton, a nice town with a boarding house where he can temporarily stay. But when he arrives, the widowed owner is in a panic over her daughter’s bark-like cough, which is making it difficult for the baby to breathe.

As Mark helps Emma recover and arranges to stay at the boarding house, he quickly realizes his attraction for Celia. But Celia and Emma are a package deal, and Mark fears he couldn’t possibly be a good father when his only role model ran out on him when he was just a child. Since he doesn’t share Celia’s faith in God, and doesn’t believe he can be a good father to Emma, Mark limits his relationship with Celia to a friendship.

No one in town knows of anyone who might be Mark’s father, until Emma gets sick again and the doctor arrives at the boarding house. Noticing the similarity between Mark and one of his patients, the doctor tells Mark that his father might be the hermit who lives in the woods. Mark follows the lead, only to find out that the hermit is his uncle, and his father died several years earlier. His uncle explains why his father left, and surprises Mark by telling him that his father loved his mother very much and wanted her to come with him on his travels, but she refused. The two begin to develop an amicable uncle-nephew relationship, and Mark uses his carpentry skills to repair his uncle’s shack. Word of his carpentry skills soon travels, and he finds himself with plenty of jobs as Christmas approaches.

As Celia and Mark get to know each other, neither has any doubt of their love for the other, but both hide their feelings beneath their fears. However, the two would-be lovers aren’t the only ones with a secret; Mark’s uncle has one as well. Can the spirit of Christmas bring miracles to all three?

Amanda Cabot’s CHRISTMAS ROSES is a sweet story with likable characters and lovely imagery. Set in wintry Wyoming, it offers the perfect setting for an old-fashioned Christmas romance. This is a great read for the coming season, and a nice gift idea for the romance readers on your list.

Reviewed by Susan Miura on November 18, 2012

Christmas Roses
by Amanda Cabot