Friday, May 15, 2015

Lorna Seilstad's "As Love Blooms"

As Love BloomsIn the final book of the Gregory Sisters trilogy, Tessa, the youngest, finally comes into her own. While she has chased many dreams over the years, her love of gardening has stuck with her through them all. When she is prevented from returning to college, she decides to prove herself as a horticulturist by working at Como Park, but they refuse to hire a woman. However, a handsome gardener named Reese offers to use her designs in his plot and let her help create the garden. In the meantime, Tessa is also wooing high society to vote in favor of a new conservatory, hoping that her efforts will win her a position in the end. But will she ever see a dream come to fruition?

It was fun to read a story set in a place I'd been to several times as a child (and now want to visit again to see with the eyes of an adult). Como Park is one of the big landmarks of St. Paul, and the conservatory one of its highlights. I really enjoyed learning more of the history behind the park. Impressively, it is still meeting it's original goal to be an educational facility that everyone can enjoy, rich or poor, young or old. And this book is coming out just in time for the conservatory's centennial celebration! Nice timing.

I'm a lot more like peace-loving, middle sister Charlotte than Tessa, so I spent the whole book in mortal fear of what scrape she'd get into next. Or rather, at each less than wise decision, I could see a whole host of consequences waiting to happen, and a ducking in the waterlily pond was the least of my concerns. However, she does make for a fun, spirited heroine. Reese provides a nice balance--his stability, her creativity.

At what point does acting become manipulation? Or simple persuasion become manipulation? And when does privacy become secrets? Or not speaking become a lie? There are a lot of moments when the characters' behavior rests on the tipping point between acceptable and unethical, and it's hard to draw the line. However, the characters prove just how easy it is to hurt the ones you love when you tip over the edge.
http://www.botany.wisc.edu/orchids/flava.html

I liked the inclusion of Aunt Sam's romance--it was fun to have that touch of a more mature (as in, 65-years-old-mature) love story, especially in contrast to Tessa, who is by far the least mature of the three sisters. Tessa definitely fits the part of a youngest child (complete with stereotypical attitude and show-me actions), especially in her frustration with forever being treated like a child by her older sisters. Over all, the story was cute and fun--a nice conclusion to the series.

Thank you Revell for providing a free book for review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

PS. I am utterly scandalized that Tessa picks a blossom off a tubercled rein-orchid. Very, very rare! As in, they only grow a few places in the state! Granted, picking the wildflower was a calculated and clever move on her part, and she didn't pick the whole plant. But still, it's the principle of the thing.

The Gregory Sisters
1. When Love Calls
2. While Love Stirs
3. As Love Blooms 

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