Rose is the only Martin sister who has no desire to leave the family homestead--even if it was her father's deathbed wish that each of his girls would find a husband and a life far away from Kansas. Although the farm has been sold to Alexander, the Duke of Moreland, Rose figures he'll need her when he arrives and realizes he hasn't acquired a country estate complete with servants and field hands. She bets correctly; the Duke is speechless when he learns his rural playground will require more hard work and manual labor than he could ever have imagined. Not only does he enlist Rose's advice and aid, but he quickly comes to admire and then love her determined, unspoiled nature, despite the fact that her manner is at times as prickly as her namesake! Rose is unprepared for the passion the Duke brings into her life. Sometimes she'd like nothing more than for him to pack his bags and return to his aristocratic place in England. Only when his past arrives in Kansas in the form of his jilted fiancée does she realize how desperately she wants him to remain in Kansas with her forever.
Criswell's Flowers of the West historical romance trilogy ends with this far-fetched, sometimes amusing finale. Only Criswell's most devoted fans will buy the plot, in which the Martin family wheat farm is sold to Alexander Warrick, Duke of Moreland, right from under the considerably out-of-joint nose of Rose Elizabeth, who refuses to leave her soddy. Nonetheless, romance blossoms, complicated by the arrival of Warrick's pregnant fiance and Rose's fierce independence. (She mocks Warrick's title by addressing him as "your dukeness," "your ineptness," "your majesticness," etc. Mildly entertaining at first, it wears thin.) The tale will satisfy romance junkies, but other readers should steer clear. (Dec.)