The Winter Rose was not nearly as addictive as The Tea Rose, at least not until the last third of the book. I loved Fiona and Joe from The Tea Rose and I was surprised that I loved Sid and India perhaps as much. However, while The Tea Rose stood on its own and was a sweeping story about survival and love, The Winter Rose reads more like a family saga with much political drama. India and Sid are not as prominent as I felt they should have been, not nearly as front and center as Fiona and Joe were in their book. Much too much politics and side stories distract from the story of India and Sid.
There were too many POVs and rather than adding to the story I felt they distracted. While there were numerous POVs in The Tea Rose as well, they never felt tiresome or unnecessary like many did in The Winter Rose. I found myself wanting to skip chapters to get to India's POV or Sid's rather than having to endure Freddie's or even Joe's. Freddie is a despicable character and having to sit through his POV was difficult. Joe and Fiona did not feel quite the same to me as they did in The Tea Rose, perhaps because they were busy creating a horde of children and were comfortable in their relationship. But regardless, the spirit of them both was a little lackluster. Joe felt "too" good compared to The Tea Rose, although he does one thing in the book which felt rather out of character and I still scratch my head over.
The first half of the book was 2.5 to 3 stars for me. Had there been more focus on India and Sid it would have been higher as they were the strongest aspect of the book. The later half was a solid 4, hence my somewhat reluctant 3.5 rounded to 4 star rating. The last third is fast-paced and before you know it, you've come to the somewhat unsatisfying end. The additional storyline of Seamus and Willa was enjoyable but distracting to the story at hand and I felt it simply was there for the too-good-to-be-true timing of it all. Overall, The Winter Rose follows the same formula as The Tea Rose, which is also disappointing as I was never surprised by the turn of events. That is not to say that the book is not enjoyable, it was, especially the last third. But I'm not terribly eager to jump on the formulaic ride for book three just yet.