Rosalind Jordan’s earliest memories are of hunger and fear in the filthy back streets of London. She can also remember arriving on a ship with an elderly woman who died before reaching the harbor. The orphaned three year old ran away and hid among the poor. Until one day a couple spied her and rescued the child, naming her Rosalind. The Fitzgeralds owned a traveling show of which Rosalind soon became an integral part.
Stephen Kenyon, the Duke of Ashburton, has been told he is going to die. His physician’s diagnosis, after several months of sickness, has Stephen rethinking his life. Since birth Stephen was groomed to become Duke. His childhood nothing like those of the other children his age. Now is Stephen’s chance to throw off the mantle of Dukedom and live life the way he wishes. Without a word of his whereabouts, the Duke of Ashburton becomes merely Stephen. But real life looms and a week later Stephen knows he must return to his abbey to get his affairs in order. The night before he leaves, Stephen decides to watch the Fitzgerald Troupe perform a Shakespearean play. He finds the performance well done. There is one actress in particular who catches his eye.
The day after the play Stephen is leaving and he sees a boy drowning. Stephen rescues him and is injured in the process. It turns out the boy is a Fitzgerald and his family insist Stephen remain with them while he convalesces. Stephen sees the opportunity to get to know Rosalind a little better and agrees. When the troupe is in need of another actor Stephen agrees to fill the part. He performs well and becomes a semi-permanent member of the troupe.
Rosalind may be a widow, but she is not dead. She feels a strong connection to Stephen and knows he feels it, too. Both are aware of how temporary their situation is and try to quench their feelings. Try as they might, love will not be denied. Stephen confess his love to her but, he knows he must also tell Rosalind about his condition and confess that he is dying. Will she still love him after she knows he won’t be around for long? Also, both are unaware of the surprises waiting for them in London.
One Perfect Rose is a reissue of the last book in Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels series. Although Stephen may have moments of anger over his death sentence, he does not remain glum. He reaches out to life and embraces it. Rosalind is an intelligent woman both warm and kind. It is her quiet strength that keeps her together in the face of Stephen’s future. Stephen is a good man readers will root for and Rosalind is a brave woman readers will cry along with.
I liked all the characters in this book which is well-written and emotionally charged. It is both sweet and a bit spicy in parts. One Perfect Rose is a love story so the HEA is there as expected. But it is the journey of reaching that Happily-Ever-After that makes it well worth the read.