Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review of A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Book #2 in Tamera Alexander's Belmont Mansion Series is well written, exquisitely described and thoroughly enjoyable.

Publisher's Blurb:
Cover ArtPink is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war--and still had one to fight.

Plain, practical Eleanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

I love Tamera's stories. Her beautiful writing draws me in as a reader and entices my heart and my mind. This book was no exception. The beauty of the book comes out in the theme of
gardening, recovering from the Civil War and the inner beauty of people that captures our hearts and binds us to them. Alexander's story of Eleanor and Marcus story is powerful ... and beautiful.

The historical backdrop takes the reader back to Post-Civil War Nashville. The theme portrays the struggle both inward and out of the role beauty plays in our lives. The contrast between the stunning and magnificent Belmont Mansion and the high society around it versus the inner streets of Nashville littered with poverty and despair is quite exquisite. Alexander also introduces the often skipped over theme of mental illness and how it was handled back in those days. A fascinating and riveting read.

There were a lot of complimentary characters in A Beauty So Rare. It enhanced the story and widened the spiritual arc of the characters. However I did find it a little distracting from the main plot. Personally I prefer stories with a more focused main plot. The story lines with the other characters were interesting and did not detract from the main story - only a little distracting from the romance thread. Yet, I would definitely agree that the extra characters and story lines added immense depth to the time period of the story.

Again, Tamera Alexander has done a marvelously, beautiful work of historical fiction bringing vividly to life Nashville in 1868. The Belmont Mansion, first introduced to readers in A Lasting Impression was again written with such precise imagery.

This is not my most favorite book of Tamera's but I did enjoy it and wholeheartedly recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, with a healthy dose of romance and a moving spiritual plot.

A book trailer can be found at YouTube.  An excerpt from the book can be found at Baker Publishing.

Thanks to Bethany House and Baker Publishing for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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