RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: “Mountain Rose” by Cheryl St. John


Title: Mountain Rose
Author: Cheryl St. John
Publication Info: Harlequin 2010
ISBN: 978-0373828333
Genre: Historical: American

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.This RITA® Reader Challenge review was written by Courtney, and this story finaled in the Best Novella category.

Book CoverPlot Summary: Teacher Olivia Rose knows what it’s like to grow up alone and unwanted. But convincing reserved rancher Jules Parrish he can give his orphaned niece a real home won’t be easy—unless Olivia seizes the chance of love and motherhood she never expected….

And here is Courtney’s review:

The backcover copy for a novella does a crap job of explaining what’s going on, so here’s a slightly better summary:

Olivia was abandoned at birth to a school. Her bills were paid monthly by unknown benefactor. She stays there and becomes a teacher. But then the school is disbanded and she realizes that another little girl, Emily, has been similarly abandoned. Emily has one next of kin listed: an uncle 1700 miles away in Montana. Naturally, Olivia must cart Emily across all those miles and convince said uncle to give the girl a home.

Sparks fly when she meets the uncle. But not too many of them, because this is an inspirational.

So often in novellas, one of the following gets sacrificed to meet word count: character, romance, or a compelling story line. It’s kind of unfortunate when all three are abandoned in favor of descriptions of cooking and hair pins.

The heroine, Olivia Rose, is composed of two character traits: self-sacrifice and cooking. She faints when she first meets the hero because she’s been giving Emily all her food for the last two days. The hero has been eating squirrel stew. Not because he’s poor; no, it’s because the guy cooking for them “needed variety to keep the job and the food interesting.” Or, more like, because the author needed Olivia to prove that she was a master of the Feminine Arts. She proceeds to bake bread, apple pie, chicken with noodles….

Everyone agrees that she would make someone an awesome wife. Eventually, the hero agrees. This is realistic—a good-looking woman who can keep a household would have her choice out in the old West. But “you’re the only one for me because you’re the only one around” is not romantic.

This isn’t even a strong inspirational; the characters pray, but their relationship with God is essentially unevolving.

This is a mother’s day anthology, and it does make me appreciate my mother. I really appreciate that my mother not only took care of me, but had her own life and ambitions and taught me to respect that.

The details of Montana life are interesting; I’ll give it a C- because I kept hoping the wolves would eat them.

This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | eHarlequin.com

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    CarrieS says:

    Now I don’t want to rad the book, but I sure am hungry!

  2. 2
    CarrieS says:

    Make that “read” not “rad”

  3. 3
    JoAnn says:

    Glad to know that it wasn’t just me who was not impressed with the first story in this book, though not so much that I hoped the characters would be eaten by wolves.
    I will say that I bought the book because of the Ruth Axtell Morren story A Family of Her Own and was not disappointed there.

  4. 4
    Sherri says:

    I loved the story! Most authors fill up a novella with toooooo much story. It’s rare to find such a restrained author. I particularly enjoyed a story without a contrived villain. What a pleasant change :) Often the greatest ‘villain’ in a real-life love story is a person who is afraid of change. I truly enjoyed both stories in the book.

  5. 5
    Jenn says:

    I’ve read this story and most of Cheryl St.John’s work and have thoroughly enjoyed them. The tales are always well-written with great characters, tender romance and vivid settings.

    I don’t believe the author “needed” to prove Olivia was handy in the feminine arts, because cooking, cleaning and raising children aren’t ‘feminine’ arts, they are simply arts which need to be honed on a daily basis.

    Also, how many romance authors have hung their plot hopes on the “I don’t want to be here with you, but we’ve got no choice, so we’d best make the most of it, and oh look, you’re not as bad as I thought, we might have stuff in common, we do have stuff in common, wait, I think I love you” plot. The list would go on for days………

    It’s great the reviewer’s mother taught her to have her own life and dreams and to go for them. But, what if a woman’s dream is to be a mother and a wife? What if that is what fulfills her? Feminism is terrific, but somehow in demanding equality in everything under the sun, appreciating the people who stay home and master the arts got thrown under the bus.

    Plus, it was nominated for a RITA so the judges obviously thought this story had merit and was good enough to be included in such esteemed company.

    However, as the saying goes ‘to each their own’.
    As for the wolves – really?

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