Ivy Conley is our romantic lady. According to the author she is plain and hardworking. The description of Ivy is a downtrodden poor woman who is grateful for any caring. As the story starts she is attending the local community college to learn how to be an accountant. She's living in a boarding house because her beautiful sister has taken all the inheritance that their drunken father has left them upon his death. Their mother died years prior. We learn that the sister, Rachel, has been spreading lies about Ivy for years to cover up her own bad doing. Rachel lives in NY and is a drug addict but Ivy loves her and forgives her for everything.
Ivy's best friend is Merrie York, a rich girl who is attending a big university to become a nurse. She wants to take care of those who can't take care of themselves. Ivy is well aware that Merrie has the money to do what ever she likes and is careful not to take advantage of that. She also makes comparasons that the rich have space unlike the poor that must live in small houses with small rooms.
Our romantic hero is Merrie's older brother, Stuart. Stuart is 12 years older than the girls. He keeps reminding himself that Ivy is too young for him and tries to keep them apart.
I have to admit that the characters seem to lack something that would make them seem real. They seem to be a sterotype like the rich like classical music and opera. And to make Ivy seem helpless, it was pointed out that at almost 19 she wasn't old enough to make decisions about her father's will or funeral.
I also thought it was strange that Ivy continued to be poor and with no social life after graduating from college. She was handed a business by a local bookkeeper/accountant with a firm base of customers. With that degree and a performing business, one would think that she would have a livable income. In Winter Roses though, she is close to pennyless and working day and night.
On the plus side, several characters from Ms Palmer's previous books make an appearance which is always nice.
Another issue that I had with this book is it almost seemed to be spouting propaganda against drugs. While I am against drugs, Ms Palmer has no gray areas. All drug users are scum or are lead astray by scum. Our good people would never consider using or trying or being around anyone who uses drugs.
And you know that at the end, our poor Ivy marries Stuart in a big wedding in which she is entitled to wear white as she is still a virgin.