I really did want to like this book, because I normally like historical fiction situated in the Victorian era.
The Tea Rose, altough well-written and extremely descriptive, didn't completely do it for me. For one thing, many of the things that occur in the story forced me to suspend my disbelief. Many of the events situations, and even people seemed contrived. It seemed unrealistic for working-class people to rise so fast in society, and for women to behave the way that Fiona did in this novel. It felt as though Donnely wrote about twenty first-century characters and then just placed them into a nineteenth century setting. Also, the villain in this piece seemed to be a caricature. I'm of the school that believes that historical fiction can deviate from events that actually took place, but that you have to make it seem realistic.
Another thing I didn't like were the jumps back and forth between two places--New York and London. I also didn't like how several people's stories never really ended--what happened to Seamie, for example? (we do find out in the next book, but it won't be published until next year; I only know because I've been reading an ARC of The Winter Rose).
I also recommend The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber.
Also reviewed by: Tiny Little Reading Room, Jackets and Covers