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book cover Limecello’s review of One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney
Historical romance reprint by Zebra 1 Apr 10 (originally released Jul 97)

I’m not sure what prompted me to buy and read this book. I’m pretty sure it was very reasonably priced and people on twitter told me they loved it, so I listened to the hive mind and made a purchase. That, and I’d been wanting to read a historical romance, and was feeling nostalgic and sentimental, so reading a novel by Mary Jo Putney just fit. Ms. Putney seems to have a fixation with heroes that are dying, presumed dead, or generally missing. Or, it seems a number of her books that I’ve read have that theme.

All in all, this was an average read. Parts of it reminded me why I started out reading historical romances, and actually read historical romances exclusively. At the same time, I found myself flipping through parts and giving bits the old grad school read. Suffice it to say I have mixed feelings about this story.

The premise of the book was quite interesting, as were the characters. For some reason it didn’t all come together completely for me… but the plot and the characters are cute. The premise of the book promises so much. I think I was a bit thrown by the fact that the hero believes he’s dying throughout the novel. It adds some immediacy and humanity to his character, but I didn’t feel quite as sympathetic as I thought I should be.

The heroine, Rosalind Jordan is quite likable, and extremely competent. She easily could have become a Cinderella type character, but Ms. Putney gives her a warm and loving family. Rosalind is almost interesting because of her family, not in and of herself. There’s a slight plot twist which elevates Rosalind, and almost feels too pat, but could make perfect sense with a slight stretch of imagination. Rosalind definitely isn’t your typical heroine, and I enjoyed that aspect about her. She could have fallen into a number of stereotypes, but doesn’t. I wish I had connected with her character better.

Stephen Kenyon, Duke of Ashburton, after learns that he is dying leaves home and all responsibilities. Stephen ends up meeting Rosalind’s family, and stays with them for a bit, in this idyllic jaunt of sorts. I hesitate to use the word “selfish,” because he isn’t truly, but Stephen decides to pursue Rosalind because he wants her and cannot give her up. I liked the depth of emotion and the fact that Stephen is finally acting for himself in the first time of his life. The fact that Stephen is so warm towards Rosalind, and a kind person makes this much more acceptable than with your typical hero.

NB* the ebook I got was deeply flawed. About 50% of the time the word “the” was replaced by “die” which is quite disconcerting. There were also numerous typos, where a word was made of consonants. Generally I could figure out what the word was by shape (definitely not by number of letters) – or luckily a character would repeat the jumbled word in subsequent dialogue. [This may or may not have affected how I felt about the book.]

In the end, I am glad I read this book, and miss these types of historicals. It reminded me that romances were (and some still are) books of substance, with complexities, and plot twists that were unpredictable and clever. (A lot happens in this novel.) I definitely hope to read another book like this soon. This book is a reprint, and I know it was well received when first published I believe in 1997 – New York Time best seller, etc.

LimecelloGrade: C+

Stephen Kenyon, Duke of Ashburton, has always taken the duties of his rank seriously — until shocking news sends him running from his isolating world of wealth and privilege to roam the countryside as an ordinary man. When he meets the lovely Rosalind Jordan, a foundling who has grown into an enchanting, compassionate woman, she stirs the deepest desires of his heart. Yet how can Stephen declare his love when he is haunted by the knowledge that made him flee his old life? And how can Rosalind risk loving a man who fulfills her secret dreams but can never be hers?

Read an excerpt.