There was a period of time when I was very into period romances, and Julie Garwood is undoubtedly the queen of the genre. A frequent New York Times bestselling author, she followed up her novel For the Roses with a set of three novellas (now packaged as The Clayborne Brides) which followed three of the Clayborne brothers introduced in For the Roses as they found wives. The first released was One Pink Rose, which followed the youngest brother, Travis Clayborne.
::: Always Listen to Your Mama :::
In For the Roses, Garwood's readers were introduced to the unconventional Clayborne family, living in Montana in the Frontier days. The brothers, Travis, Adam, Cole, and Douglas, all met on the streets of New York as boys, homeless and orphaned in one way or another. Adam was the only boy with any parent to speak of: his mother, who had sent him on the Underground Railroad to free him from slavery. The only parental guidance the boys had was from letters from Adam's mother, Mama Rose, and when they found an abandoned baby girl, they named her Rose after Mama Rose, and struck out for the West to give the baby a better life.
Travis, the youngest of the boys, started out his life on the streets as a con artist. One Pink Rose picks up the story after the men have been reunited with Mama Rose, and Rose has gotten married. Mama Rose meets a mail-order bride, Emily Finnegan, who is in need of an escort to take her to the man she is supposed to marry. Mama Rose volunteers Travis for this task, and he reluctantly agrees. As most of these type of stories go, Travis immediately regrets his assent (as does the reader) and determines that Emily is a bubblehead who hasn't through through her decision, but rather, jumped into the arranged marriage too hastily after an unfortunate jilting.
Predictably, Travis and Emily fall for each other as Travis escorts Emily to her fate, and I'm sure it's not spoiling any ending to tell the reader that they ride off into the sunset together after some setbacks.
::: And There Are Two More? :::
One Pink Rose offers nothing more than formulaic romance novel, and the novella length makes it even worse. Everything feels rushed with little to no character development. If you haven't read For the Roses, it's nearly impossible to get any sense of Travis' character, much less why he would take on this task for his mother.
Even worse, the character of Emily is every bit as bubble-headed as Travis believes her to be. She takes off on this journey to marry a man she's never even seen a picture of (which, admittedly, was probably typical for the time), but also takes his word that he lives in a large house and has money. Relating it to today's day and age, it's almost like someone believing anything someone tells them online, then running off to marry them without verifying any of the facts. Of COURSE Travis has to step in and be Emily's hero, because not only is she naive and impulsive, but she's also flighty.
I found it so hard to believe that Travis' character could fall in love with this ditz, that I found myself groaning and cringing repeatedly as I read it, not a good sign when a book is only 150 pages long. If you are able to completely check out when reading a book, and are looking for something that is short, sweet, and can be read while only paying attention halfway, this might be the book for you, but otherwise, it's a huge dud, and can be skipped, even for ardent fans of For the Roses.