cover image Time for Roses

Time for Roses

Elaine Coffman / Author Ivy Books $5.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-449-14

Flora, foliage and gardening lore don't make up for patchy plotting in this romance form the author of Heavan Knows. Anthony Hamilton inherits the title of Earl of Marsham, along with his uncle's ramshackle country seat, prize greenhouse botanicals and his three Russian wards: Natasha Simonov and her brothers, the twin rapscallions Luka and Pavel. When Trevor Hamilton, Marquess of Haverleigh, learns of his younger brother's blossoming romance with his young ward, he hastens to Marsham to put a stop to it, since Anthony's marriage to a wealthy heiress is all that can save their botany-and butterfly-mad parents from total ruin. Known to London society as ``Hellfire Haverleigh'' for his penchant for wenching, privateering and tweaking Napoleon on the high seas, Trevor's machinations on behalf of Anthony and Lady Cecilia Stanhope are paralleled by his own ripening, contentious passion for Natasha. Roughened by ruffians, brutality and betrayal, Natasha retreats to the orderly world of gardening, becoming a horticulturist of note, until a dashing countryman offering her and the twins hope of a new life draws her into international intrigue. Coffman's writing is fleet and dexterous, and the narrative fabric is embroidered with a wonderful Englishness (with nary a nod to Russification), but the story line strains at the seams and zagged edges of the patchwork. (Jan.)