cover image Coming Up Roses

Coming Up Roses

Catherine Anderson. HarperTorch, $5.5 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-06-108060-9

Kate Blakely is trying to hold together a farm in Oregon near the turn of the century after her husband's reported drowning. Kate wishes she could erase the memory of his abusive behavior towards both herself and her traumatized four-year-old daughter, Miranda. His equally rough brother, Ryan, insists that Kate marry him, and threatens to take Miranda away. Meanwhile, Kate's handsome new neighbor, Zachariah McGovern, withstands rattlesnake bites to rescue Miranda from a well, and Kate takes him into her home to nurse him back to health. After Zachariah accidentally discovers why Kate's rose garden flourishes while the rest of her land produces little, the two make a marriage of convenience so that Zachariah can adopt Miranda and keep her from Ryan's clutches. Anderson ( Comanche Heart ) has a talent for drawing characters. Kate is portrayed sympathetically as a self-protective woman who has suffered, but the historical setting is less convincing. It seems unlikely, for instance, that a late 19th-century farmer could intuit modern psychiatric techniques, as Zachariah appears to do when he employs doll play to get Miranda to tell him about past abuse. (Aug.)