4.0 out of 5 stars A few flaws, but still an entertaining read

Three families migrated west to eastern Texas and founded the small town of Howbutker (“how about here” they said) – the Tolivers (descended from the Lancasters), the Warwicks (descended from the House of York) as well as the DuMonts of French descent. Friends for generations, most disagreements were settled by the offering of a red rose to offer apology and a white to acknowledge forgiveness. As the story begins, Mary Toliver Dumont has only weeks to live and reflects back on her life and how it was irrevocably changed when her father left their cotton farm, Somerset, to a very young Mary instead of her mother and brother. Mary loves the farm with the same passion her father had – but is there room in her life for both Somerset and the devilishly handsome Percy Warwick.

 Treachery, tradgedy and misunderstandings are front and center and eventually leave Mary stuck between a rock and a hard place forcing her to a decision that will have ramifications on all three families for several generations to come. The secrets continue after Mary’s death (no spoilers here, we know this will happen in the first few chapters) as an unexpected codicil to Mary’s will sends her great-niece Rachel spiraling in shock and anger that only increases when she finds the secret that Mary has kept all these years. Now hell-bent for revenge against the Warwicks, Rachel is willing to risk it all even though it could cost her the only man she will ever love and her last chance at happiness.

I liked this book a lot and had a hard time putting it down, and blew through it in two days. Yes it’s big, it’s sprawling (sometimes it sprawls too much) and very soap opera-ish, but I love those kind of books. I didn’t connect as much with Rachel’s story as I did with Mary and Percy (sigh…..what a man) and I felt the last third of the book suffered a bit because of that. My only other quibble and it’s probably just me, but when I heard the “Wars of the Roses” connections of the families I was hoping for a good parallel between the two as Susan Howatch has done with the Plantagenets in Cashelmara and Penmarric. That book would have rocked my socks off. As it is, it’s a very enjoyable and very readable novel.