Where the Last Rose Blooms (Heirloom Secrets)

Written by Ashley Clark
Review by Gail M. Murray

This fluidly written dual-timeline historical Christian romance is set in the South: 1861 Charleston and modern-day New Orleans. Alice owns The Prickly Rose flower boutique in New Orleans and still feels the loss of her depressed jazz vocalist mother who ‘disappeared’ after Hurricane Katrina. Sixteen-year-old Clara, heiress to a cotton empire and daughter of a Confederate general, is sympathetic to abolition and collaborates with her cousin’s husband and his friend, spies for the Union. Both Alice and Clara, strong and endearing protagonists, experience sweet romances. Clara’s story I found most charming. Clara’s main goal is to find her slave Rose’s daughter Ashley, who was sold to another plantation. What’s unique is that Clara and Rose sew samplers embedded with a hidden code using florigraphy: the language of flowers. The theme of mothers and daughters permeates the novel, with Alice searching for her mother and Rose working with Clara to free her daughter Ashley. The evils of slavery go beyond whipping and brutality to destroying families. For the most part, it unfolds as two separate novels; the ancestral connections are identified in the later chapters. The rose in the title is the rosebush which carries the heritage from the Civil War to the present, the cultivar that endures and blooms offering a message of hope.