Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: To Be a Mother (Story reviewed; Mountain Rose)
Author: Cheryl St.John & Ruth Axtell Morren
Publisher: Steeple Hill/Love Inspired
Release Date: April 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Inspirational Historical Romance
Year/Setting: Corbinís Bend, Montana, 1866
Overall Rating: 5.0
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: None
Cheryl's Website: www.cherylstjohn.net
Olivia Rose is an extraordinary teacher working at the academy where she was raised. When the academy falls on hard times and is forced to close, she doesnít know where she will go or what she will do. She only knows how to teach young ladies and cook and clean. No teaching jobs have opened up for her. The harder ache is to leave the only home she has ever known and make her way in the world. She was left at the academy as a baby and has never seen or heard from her family again. An anonymous benefactor paid for her until she was 12. At that point, she began working to earn her tuition and continued to remain at the academy.
With the last few days drawing to a close, all of the students and staff have moved on. All except Emily Sadler. Her mother visited the first few years she was at the academy, but after that nobody has heard from her or seen her. Emilyís tuition is regularly paid, but nobody has stepped forward to take her home. Olivia feels a deep connection to this young girl whose circumstances mirror her own and decides to take Emily to her uncle in Oregon City, Montana. Once they arrive, they find Emilyís uncle has moved to a parcel of land in Corbinís Bend. When they finally make the rest of the trip to meet him, Jules Parrish has no idea who Emily is. Then he sees the resemblance to her mother and offers them temporary shelter in his cabin while he figures out what to do with Emily.
Over the days and weeks that they work to find a solution for Emily, the ranch hands come to accept Emily and Olivia being around. They especially love having Oliviaís fresh baked bread every day. She wins everyone over with some pies. As Jules watches her adjust to life on a ranch, something more begins to grow between the two of them. Jules and Olivia both are hampered by their past and donít want to think of anything Ďmoreí in their life. They both resemble skittish horses as their feelings become more and more involved. And when Jules watches Miss Olivia head out on a date, he sees red. When a surprise visitor shows up at the ranch, everything is turned upside down. Thereís talk of finishing school for Emily and paid position for Olivia. Jules gets more and more angry at each proposed change but wonít say a word.
Will he ever put his own feelings of inadequacy aside and make a move for Olivia or will he let her slip from his grasp? Will Olivia ever move past her childhood hurts and be willing to risk love? And most importantly, what will become of Emily?
Cheryl St.John has written another heart-warming story of regular people stuck in a unique situation. This story is written with an impressive amount of attention to the details of humans. Iím sure her historical notes are accurate, thatís just plain old-fashioned research. But, Ms. St.John has found a way to write the humanity of a person onto a page. Each character is so true to life that I feel like they are my friends. Their thoughts and feelings mirror real life so accurately, that itís hard to remember Iím reading fiction.
Jules, Olivia and Emily are such wonderful people. I appreciated how this story developed throughout and the characters continued to grow in their thoughts and feelings. Jules starts out a bit dense with women and children, but works hard to adjust and become more approachable. Olivia matures into the full bloom of womanhood before our eyes. No longer a shy young-adult, she becomes a woman in charge. One who knows her own mind and she becomes willing to speak her mind. Emily is a precious gem of a child and she also begins to shine as the story unfolds.
I know these stories form a Motherís Day anthology, but they can be read at anytime to give your day a little lift. Mountain Rose is a romance in the truest and purest sense and a story I intend to read again and again.
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