At first the Prologue of this novel sucked me right in!
"Polly Nichols a Whitechapel whore, was profoundly grateful to gin. Gin helped her. It cured her. It took away her hunger and chased the chill from her joints. It stilled the aching in her rotting teeth and numbed the slicing pains she got every time she took a piss. It made her feel better than any man ever had..."
My first thought was, "WOW. That was powerful. The author really knows how to paint the darker side of humanity."
Unfortunately the promising start quickly fizzled for me.
The Tea Rose is a story of young lovers who dream of together working their way out of the slums. They pinch and save, and pledge their eternal devotion, but hardship and penury have a way of weakening even the most ardent of vows when temptation presents.
Without "spoiling" with details, this is precisely what happens, but our heartbroken heroine is tough and determined to make her way on her own in a cruel world. I couldn't help feeling at this point that her portrayal was a bit cliched. Actually at times, the story reminded me a bit of an 80's TV melodrama.
As for the male protagonist, Joe, I had a hard time warming to him. Although they definitely had their "moments," I began to have difficulty seeing what it was about him that made her continue to cling so tightly.
The beginning of the novel introduces a serial kiler. For a good while, I couldn't make much sense of this as the thread was picked up and dropped several times. Eventually it made sense and did add suspense when the story finally came together.
Although at times I had a hard time liking the protagonists, by the end, I did want to see them reunited for HEA.
I'm not sure what I expected from the Tea Rose. Not a bad read, by any means, but it wasn't precisely my cup of tea.
"Lady Grey, anyone?"