I have read no shortage of Staci Hart books in the last year, as college days render my brain too numb to process anything beyond a good romcom (Red Lipstick Coalition, anyone?). And Staci Hart tends to deliver – light-hearted romance with strong heroines that don’t lack ambition or a life, with a healthy dose of drama – is her specialty. I have to say, I particularly enjoyed Coming Up Roses, if only for the Austen-related storyline.
Tess Monroe has been working in Longbourne Flower Shop since she was sixteen. After her losing her mom to cancer in high school, Mrs. Bennet, the owner of the shop, takes her under her wing and provides her with the stability of a place to call hers and a passion for flowers. But the shop is going under, after years of ignoring all the signs of failure, and every single Bennet child is back to save it – including Luke Bennet, the player who forgot he kissed Tess in the first place.
As Luke works to revive Longbourne, he discovers his mistake in ever letting Tess go (even if he doesn’t remember doing so) and they slowly test the waters of the feelings that have been stirring between them since.
I’m just a sucker for anything Pride & Prejudice related. Mr. Darcy is the dream. The whole dynamic is what led me to discover my favorite romance trope in enemies-to-lovers to begin with. I liked Hart’s play on it, in that the themes were all the same, and there were not so subtle nods in the way she named things, but she really took her own direction with it. It was just cute.
Longbourne Flower Shop really provided the perfect backdrop to Tess and Luke’s story. It was sweet and whimsical, and Hart delivered scene descriptions that just made my heart swell at the thought. She has a talent for that: some of my other favorites have been in libraries, in bookstores… it speaks to me. 🙂
Of course, I can’t offer Coming Up Roses that fourth or fifth star. That fifth star is reserved only for those who can deliver something fresh and original, a plot I haven’t read a thousand times before in an effort to drone out business lectures. Coming Up Roses didn’t cut it on that one. If you’re looking for a sweet and relaxing read in a beautiful setting, look no further. But I’ve read plenty of contemporary romance with a lot more wit, character, and originality… to which I am also happy to drop the names of.
In particular, my biggest complaint, and the reason I dropped my rating even further, was with Tess and Luke’s characters. They lacked depth, as they often do in these situations. I felt the same about Piece of Work, also by Hart. It’s like, yes, you can write the connection between two people beautifully, but why are they even connecting? Coming Up Roses provides no context or common ground for friendship between Luke and Tess, except that their temperaments fit together. They lack a sense of humor that scratches the surface (romcom was a complete lie here), and quite frankly, they’re polar opposites. It’s nothing I’d buy into beyond the pages of this story. Contemporary romance and romcoms authors like Jasmine Guillory and Sally Thorne and even Tessa Bailey have raised the bar far beyond this superficial stuff, and it’s like I’m left slightly disappointed after I read one that doesn’t measure up.
Just fair warning! I’m not going to steer you clear of this book, but I can definitely point you towards better. 🙂 Happy reading!