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on 14 April 2014
I absolutely loved this book and read it in one sitting. I was literally unable to sleep until I reached the end.
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on 28 September 2012
A friend of mine once said that the light at the end of the tunnel is the next train about to hit you - I mention this here because I think it describes perfectly Dearest Rose in that just as you thought something positive (dare I say it .... something nice) was about to happen to Rose another 'train' seemed to come trundling along knocking her back down again.

Sounds depressing?

I won't lie to you, there were aspects to the story that were harrowing but I wouldn't describe the story as depressing as there were so many elements that, though they had me reaching for the tissues, were what I can only describe as life affirming.

Beautifully penned, Dearest Rose takes you on an emotional roller-coaster of a ride with some truly heart-stopping moments but what most impressed me was the depth of the characters.

Concerned at first that this was going to be one of those novels in which all the female characters were written as paragons of virtue, the male characters as, well, less than desirable I was greatly pleased to discover a wonderful array of characters who, whether you loved them or hated them, brought something to the book as their part in Rose's life unfolded bit by bit.

DISCLAIMER: Read and reviewed on behalf of the Arrow (A member of the Random House Group) I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.

Dearest Rose
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on 26 June 2017
Poignant story of an abused wife after years of misery decides to take her 7 year old daughter Maddie in search of a better life in the village of Millthwaite. Spurred on by a letter written to her some years ago she goes in search of its author Frasier in the hope that his kind words will be enough for her to start a new life. Once she gets to her destination its not as easy as she hoped it would be and faced with many obstacles she starts to wonder if she has made a terrible mistake.

I did look at this novel in a realist way, I wondered if I would have chased across country looking for someone who I hardly knew and risk everything taking my 7 year old daughter into an unknown future. I think if you were driven to do this it would be a last desperate act and maybe Rose was at this point but I'm not sure it was realistic enough. During her 'search' she meets her lost father and they build a relationship between them and Rose also meets Rowan her fathers' agent with whom she embarks on a romance.

This is a tale of self-discovery, romance, love, fear and friendship and how Rose and Maddie finally find themselves. It's not a fast paced novel, in parts I found it very dull and it did drag a little but it was gently and sensitively written and for that it deserves 3 stars.
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on 19 November 2012
For fear of ruining key elements of the story I don't want to go into anymore than the synopsis does.

Rose has such a heartbreaking past and there really is no doubt in my mind that she is a brave woman, yes she is vulnerable and it seems at times as though she is empty inside but with everything life has thrown at her she is still standing.

There are two things that keep Rose going when life gets tough and that's a postcard and her daughter Maddie.
When focused on these things its as though she can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

'Dearest Rose' has such a great mix of characters

The character that I felt lightened the story was Shona (Rose's friend), she is everything that Rose isn't and its these qualities that help Rose.

I had two favourite characters one of whom was Jenny (The owner of the B&B), Jenny comes across at first as stand-offish but once she's got to know someone she is loyal no end and family is extremely important to her.

And the other was Maddie, she's had such a tough young life but still we see some lighter moments through this character and the things she says.

It took me a while to get into the story but once It pulled me in, I couldn't put it down.

This is an emotional read that covers some very hard issues, its written beautifully and handles tough topics with such sensitivity that you can feel the emotion in every page.

I recommend 'Dearest Rose' with tissues and a cup of tea.
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on 16 October 2012
After Rose and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie turn up at a B&B in the Cumbrian town of Millthwaite at 3am, we learn about their back story and of the horrors they have endured.

Rose, a product of a dysfunctional parentage, hadn't seen her Dad, John, since she was nine. Her mother Marian couldn't cope with John's abandonment and neglected her daughter, then committed suicide by drowning. Rose, alone at seventeen, drifts into a marriage with Richard, who is controlling and abusive. The only person who has shown love to Rose is Frasier, who met her once, for a short time, whilst he was trying to find her artist father.

I am not a fan of fiction involving abuse but this story unfolds very gently and offers little bits of information as the reader goes on. As Rose slowly recovers, the story of her marriage gets worse, to the point of reason for her swift departure.

High points of characterisation is of Maddie, who lives in her own world where she can't be hurt, and lacks social niceties. She tells people exactly the truth which can be uncomfortable to listen to, and she lacks friends. At first I thought Maddie had autistic tendencies, but as the story progresses I found out how Rose's marriage has affected her. The other great character is Shona, Rose's best friend, who is bolshy and tarty and also a victim of domestic abuse, so there are parallels. I sensed a point being made about social class, as Shona is depicted to be more working class than Rose, the point being a bad relationship can happen to anyone. Shona was looking for a happy ending, and believed her partner could provide it.

Rose re-starts a relationship with her father and it ends up being a saviour. Frasier, John's agent, seems unattainable to Rose, but of course, we all know this will change. The story is about love, and mending oneself, and redemption.

The Kindle edition had some proofreading problems such as spelling errors and missing punctuation, and this detracted slightly from the finished product. Can't fault the story though.
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I finished this book in the early hours last night, thoroughly enjoyed every moment although I felt like I'd been through a wringer, and it's most definitely one of my books of the year. Rowan Coleman has always been more at the "thinking woman" end of the chick lit spectrum, but this one moved her writing into a whole new league for me. All the chick lit staples are there - the sexy young barman, the scatty friend, the near misses and misunderstandings - but this is a book with a really dark underside, and some of the strongest female characters you'll find anywhere. Maddie, Rose's unusual seven year old daughter, is a wonderful creation and an absolute joy - with some of the best conversational gambits and one-liners ever, but with a soft underside that melts your heart. Equally strong are Jenny the landlady - an excellent character - and Shona, Rose's brash but troubled friend. The book builds slowly, bringing in elements of the back story to reveal the full picture, and the last third is exciting, emotional, draining and satisfying in turn. The writing is effortless, which makes the reading that way too, and I can't recommend it too highly.
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on 23 November 2012
Rowan has always written about difficult, even taboo subjects - death, divorce, single parenthood, loss, child abuse - always with some degree of humour as well as seriousness but with Dearest Rose she encompasses domestic abuse and manages to dispel the myths that domestic abuse is a predominantly working class problem that goes hand in hand with inner city sink estates and drug and alcohol problems. She is never judgemental in her writing, instead the thought and empathy that she has obviously put into this are there in her depiction of Rose and Shona and indeed Maddie - all victims, all SURVIVORS of domestic abuse.

Rose, abandoned by her father and then by her mother, is misled and overtaken by her need for love when she meets older and successful Richard, mistaking control and jealousy for love and care. But everyone has a line and when Rose's 'line' is crossed she disappears into the night with seven year old Maddie, the most precocious and delightful child you will ever come across in a book! And what propels lost and lonely Rose to the 'middle of nowhere'? A chance encounter over seven years previously, a tattered postcard with a few hope inspiring words; they, and a crossed line, are all the impetus Rose needs to look for a new life.

Indeed, new life she does find in the wonderfully described Middlethwaite with its cast of warm and eccentric characters including the no nonsense B&B owner Jenny, stern and stony on the outside and soft as butter inside, who can't resist a bit of good natured interfering in Rose's life and her son, young, sexy and smitten with Rose; but will Rose find what she has come all this way to look for or has she just been following a pipe dream?

Rowan unfolds Rose's story one layer at a time, slowly uncovering the reasons for her hasty getaway and what hurt has been in her passed whilst also delving into her present anxieties and experiences and hopes for her future. It's a tender and thoughtful piece of writing that makes the reader think about Rose and Maddie as we get to know them properly and by the end we really are cheering them on, hopeful.

I loved the character of Jenny, she is someone you would want on your side, someone who will not let you down and as for Maddie...I adore Maddie, who couldn't love that eccentric and outspoken little girl, coping with her own pain in her own way.. she is amazing. There are wonderfully funny but tender moments with Rose and Ted that just bring home the innocence of and need in Rose. As for Shona, Rose's only friend, the strength and yet need in her are also brilliantly depicted. A character seemingly full of life but always hungering for something that she knows is wrong and dangerous - the story of a thousand more women. Rowan shows their ultimate strengths to a 't'.
Prepare to feel wrung out by the time you've read this. Rowan's unmimicable style might put you through the emotional mangle but, boy, is it worth it!
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VINE VOICEon 19 December 2012
This was my first Rowan Coleman book but certainly won't be my last. I'm not sure why but I had always perceived her books to be light and fluffy however this book couldn't be further from that. It's well written fiction which deals with some deeper issues such as abandonment and domestic abuse.

The book begins when Rose and her young daughter Maddie turn up in the middle of a rainy night at a B&B in the wilds of Cumbria. They are not made particularly welcome by the landlady, Jenny, however her husband takes pity on them and allows them to stay. Little by little we learn of the events that led them to Millthwaite and why Rose has chosen that particular place to escape to.

Fate, love and forgiveness play a huge part in this book. It's an emotional read at times but it's also uplifting and there are two lessons to be learnt - one, that you should never give up on your dreams and secondly that there are times when people do deserve a second chance.

There is a well written and believable cast of characters. The main one being Rose. When we first meet her, she is a shell of her real self. She is the product of a dysfunctional family and having spent many years having her spirit crushed has no self-worth. Will she find the strength she needs to protect herself and her daughter? Maddie was an absolute delight to get to know. She is an unusual child, only 7 years old but old beyond her years. She has no social graces and because of her direct manner finds herself friendless most of the time. At first I thought she was on the autistic spectrum but as the book unfolds, we understand more of the reason for her behaviour. Maddie was my favourite character and I thought she was adorable in spite of her unusual ways.

Some other characters who play a big part in Rose's new life include her best friend Shona, who has her own troubled life to cope with but nevertheless brings humour to the story, the B&B landlady Jenny, whose bark seems to be worse than her bite and Jenny's son Ted, a flirty young barman with an eye for the ladies who figures in much of the story.

My only one slight disappointment with the book was towards the end when I found the storyline somewhat rushed and to my mind, partly unexplained, but having said that it was a fabulous read and one that I would definitely recommend. I look forward to reading more by this author.
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This is the very first book I have read of Rowan Coleman and it won't be the last, I have several of her books now on my 'to be read' list. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it was a mixed bag of emotions for me. I won't tell of what the story is about as too many have done that already, so I won't want to spoil anymore for the reader.

Its well written, flows really well. I read it in 2 days which is unusual for me, I just took every chance I could get to open this book up and start reading from where I left off, yes, it was that compelling!

Well worth a read.
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on 4 December 2012
This is a really captivating story that, when finished, leaves with you with a sweet warm feeling - even though it begins with Rose doing something rather hasty that she quickly starts to question. I love this way of starting a new book as it instantly grabs your attention by intriguing you about the wheres and whys of what Rose has done. What was so terrible to make her uproot her daughter, Maddie, and drive off in the middle of the night? And all Rose has is a handwritten note from someone she spent less than an hour with seven years ago. This teasing style carries on throughout the book, with Coleman slipping out little details here and there to ensure you keep you turning the pages and devour the story.

Rose comes across as a weak person but really she's brave and very strong. As she tries to figure out her new life, she meets some interesting characters, some of which she wishes she didn't have to see! Maddie is a fab character and she gives the story a bit of sparkle, she's a little odd but she's ok with that. Coleman's portrayal of her is spot on, she makes Maddie seem grown up but still very child like and innocent. The story is beautifully written; it's emotional, exciting and charmingly romantic. And it's very easy to see how the book won Best Romantic Read at the recent Festival of Romance awards.

Review by Francesca Verbeeten on behalf of BestChickLit.com
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