Sunday, April 15, 2012

Healing the Hurts of Abuse: "Coming Up Roses" by Catherine Anderson

Widow Kate Blakely knew nothing of love - but she knew plenty about unhappiness. She'd married young, hoping to put down roots in a safe haven, but her husband had shattered her naiveté, and made her fear for her beloved daughter's safety until the day he died.

When she first met her new neighbor, Zachariah McGovern, all she saw was danger. But Zach saw much more. He saw beauty, he saw tenderness. He knew he could rescue Kate Blakely from her past - if only she would let him.

What Zach couldn't know, however, was the price that had to be paid to save the woman he loved.

I'm not sure there is any way to really empathize with women and children who are brutalized unless one has had a similar experience. There is just no way I can even imagine how I would feel if my husband were to beat me, terrorize me with religious psycho-babble as in this story, or brutalize my children as did this father when he held his daughter's hand in the fire as punishment and plunged her entire head in the mild bucket for sneaking a sip of the cream. I can understand it mentally and know that it happens. As one who was an active ER nurse at one time I have seen the horrific effects of physical abuse, but again I am not sure any of us who have not experienced these horrors can fully appreciate the inner conditioning that such living can fashion. Suffice it to say that this is a story that chronicles the terror and conditioning to a young mother and her child who suffered five years of physical and psychological abuse from a husband and father who was certifiable and who used a psychotic and extremist interpretation of the Bible to support his sick understanding of family and spousal relationships.

Ms Anderson has written a sensitive and insightful book that brings the reader into the misery and needy lives of Kate Blakely and her daughter Miranda, both of whom are still so very young. Kate was high school age when her uncle literally "gave" her into the sick and warped care of Joseph Blakely, a man who had no more right to a wife and child than one's favorite mental patient. Now Kate and Miranda live in constant fear from Joseph's brother who believes, in the same kind of sick and warped way, that Joseph "gave" them to him, that he has the right to rape Kate and continue to terrorize Miranda. If their neighbor has anything to say about it--a man who has fallen deeply and authentically in love with Kate--she will be free from this terrible ordeal once and for all as well as receive the loving care and respect she is due.

Anyone who reads this book will be deeply touched by the kindness and patience of Zachariah McGovern, a man who braved a nest of rattlesnakes to save Miranda when she fell down a dry well, a man who Kate nearly killed herself with exhaustion to save, and a man who has determined that she will be his wife one day. This is a love story of gigantic proportions, one that will touch those deep wells of empathy we all have inside us when we feel the pain of another, even a fictional character. Yet there is wonder in this novel, the wonder of a child who discovers that a man can be one's forever friend, a man who can keep faith and his promise, one who will not hurt or injure while teaching and caring for a child. The talks between Zachariah and Miranda are really wonderful--full of understanding, patience, wit, and deep affection. It is Miranda's growing love for Zachariah that ultimately drags Kate into marriage with him--kicking and screaming, to be sure, but which now gives this delightful man the opportunity he needs to change Kate's view of the world and most importantly, her view of herself. The down side to their story: dealing with Joseph's body in the Rose Garden. And as Zachariah observed: Joseph is not pushing up daisies, he is pushing up roses.

This novel was first released in 1993 and is now being re-released after over a decade of being out of print. But I am here to say that it is as timely now as it was then, a book that begs to be read and one that will be deeply appreciated by readers of historical romance and romance fiction that deals with very real social problems. This is a book that just shouldn't be missed and I hope all of you will check it out. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

This novel will be released 01 May by Signet Books.

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