Aleta S. (Bainbridge Island, WA)
A Tender Story of Strong Characters
Anna Michaels succeeds in weaving a basket of colorful, distinctive voices in her first novel, The Tender Mercy of Roses. Hardscrabble country, rodeo and law enforcement life in Alabama set the stage for prejudice, envy and tangled relationships that twist this murder mystery-love story-spiritual journey to its conclusion. Native American magic and thought mingles with the sudden splendor, fragrance and abundance of Cherokee Roses as the author sends flashes of bittersweet loveliness into unfolding events, but be ready to walk away from this tale feeling some well-targeted thorn pricks to the heart.
Carol P. (Kaysville, UT)
The Tender Mercy of Roses
I enjoyed the book. I finally had to start writing down who belonged to who to keep the characters straight. It was an interesting trip from beginning to end. I like that she was not repetitive like many longer novels. It was engaging from the beginning. Thank you for sharing this novel with me. I wish Anna the best. She does have talent.
Joyce W. (Rochester, MN)
Unbelievable mix of styles
I think the author needs to find her own style. This book seems like it came from six different authors; we have the drunken detective with haunting memories, the Lovely Bones premise, the cowgirls with rodeos, the southern lifestyle and language, and the mystical animal images. Every so often she throws in some flowery adjectives and phrases. I found the book bizarre.
The mystery of who killed the girl gets lost in between piecing together the detective's relationships and her demons. There is way too much going on in one book.
Elinor S. (Naples, FL)
Tender Mercy of Roses
I loved this book. The writing was poetic and spiritual. The theme of turning desperation into hope was uplifting. I'm going to plant some Cherokee roses in my garden and think of the wonderful characters in this book when I look at them. Kudos to Anna Michaels.
Lynette P. (San Antonio, TX)
No Tender Mercy Here
I am not the intended audience for this book.
In its favor, I have to say that it is a fairly quick read and the plot moves forward without too much effort on the reader’s part, except for keeping the generations clear in one’s mind. The story is interesting enough as a mystery. There will be those who find its prose poetic and its wisdom folksy and clever. Readers who liked One Thousand White Women and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will probably be fans of this novel as well.
To me it reads like a parody of the western romance/mystery genre, with quite a bit of the supernatural thrown in. The writing is over the top with flowery metaphors and on each page there are several sentences of this sort: “As she approached the city limits, she made sure all her windows were up, her locks on. But the shadows crawled in the pickup with her anyway, took a seat and sat there staring at her with accusing eyes.” “But she was counting on the Sam Donovan she’d once served with and admired, the man tough enough to shoot you if he had to, but wise enough to understand that the best men didn’t have to use force and guns. The best men had other weapons--honor and true courage and decency.”
The author tries too hard to be clever and comes off sounding like a collection of bumper sticker quotations, or a list of the kinds of sayings Paul Harvey used to end his shows. (“Sometimes the past could press so hard you might never be able to rise.” “Death inspired easy confessions. Life-changing events brought out hasty resolutions.”) People who like Paul Harvey might enjoy reading this book.
Catharine L. (walloon lake, michigan)
Great first novel
Reading the first page, I was thinking The Lovely Bones with Native American and cowboy characters. Pony Jones, a fiesty 26 year old rodeo bull rider is dead and she doesn't know her murderer. Titus, her father and Jo Beth Dawson, an alcoholic former detective, wanting answers, form an uneasy truce. The reader will laugh and cry; there are miracles, totems, and lost of Cherokee roses, The book was enjoyable. I did have to look back several times to understand the family history, but I never lost interest. Pony Jones is a character the reader will remember long after the book is done. Waiting for the next novel!
Jane H. (Owensboro, KY)
The Tender Mercy of Roses
It is rare I meet a book I don't like, but this is one of those books. I thought it was a poorly executed attempt to piggyback on the success of THE LOVELY BONES. The characters were so stereotypical, the writing so elemental, the plot so predictable. Maybe it would do well as a Young Adult selection, but I can't imagine it appealing to discerning adult readers. I don't think I've ever given below a three rating to any author as I so appreciate the hard work that goes into writing and getting a novel published. However, if this had been a movie, I would have walked out.