by Alice Duncan

February 2002
ISBN: 0-8217-7276-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Coming Up Roses started off fantastically and I hate to say it, but by the middle of the book, the bloom wore off. Having started with sympathetic and solid characters that were then reduced to annoying madcap-ish attention grabbers really had me feeling all around disappointed and let down.

Rose Ellen Gilhooley is our heroine and she has taken herself from a meager Kansas upbringing to being a star in Buffalo Billís Wild West Show as the daring and energetic bareback horse rider, Wind Dancer. While Rose may be extremely confident on a horse, she is ashamed and self conscious about her lack of book learning. So when reporter, H. L. May wants to do an in depth series of articles about her, Rose is unwilling to be thrust into the limelight. Taking her cue from her hero, Buffalo Bill, Rose agrees for the publicity that the articles will bring for the show.

H. L. May, reporter and confirmed bachelor, takes one look at Wind Dancer and in awe, decides that he must write about the trick rider. After meeting the minute and athletic beauty, H. L. decides that he has to make Wind Dancer a household name. Reassuring himself, time and again, that while heís attracted to Rose, itís just the articles that heís interested in, H. L. canít understand why the woman is so important to him! Can this big city reporter make little Rose Gilhooley believe that he wants her to be the star attraction in his life, forever?

Coming Up Roses starts off with believable and sympathetic characters that you feel compelled to read about. The story starts with Rose leaving home determined to help her family and you want to see her succeed. H. L. is a tad arrogant about the reputation that heís acquired for himself, and you canít wait for the time to come for him to be put down a peg. . . that never happens. H. L.ís humor which was so endearing in the beginning became forced and quite tiresome. I began to wonder if he would ever grow up and stop his tittering. Roseís vacillating belief on her schooling goes from shame to courageous defiance back to shame again and again, and the worst part is when she unbelievably masters the English language in the space of a week! Plot devices, such as the kidnapping of a little boy produced absolutely nothing but informing the reader that Rose is a spectacular tracker where her unexplained skills were able to track the villain through the Chicago roads and back alleys.

I honestly believe that the story would have been so much better had it been shorter. I felt as if the author was forced to stretch things out by adding additional plots and dialogue, producing filler that didnít serve to further the story along. Despite the little drawbacks, Coming Up Roses managed to keep me interested and looking forward to the second installment in the Meet Me At The Fair trilogy, Just North of Bliss.

Reviewed in April 2002 by Thea.

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