03 May 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

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Pink 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.

Eleanor Braddock – plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty – 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.

After finishing A Lasting Impression, I knew I had to read Tamera Alexander’s A Beauty So Rare, the second book in her “Belmont Mansion” series. Alexander fills her storylines with enticing history, enchanting characters and intriguing scenarios, making the opportunity to read this novel too irresistible to pass. From the get-go, I fell in love with the characters of Eleanor and Marcus, especially enjoying the playful banter the two constantly exchange, and they brought many smiles to my face. I could not help but root for them as they struggled and dealt with a whole slew of difficult issues – many social, including post-war aftermath, poverty and asylums, and others thematic, including love, loss, purpose and beauty. These characters’ story is simply captivating. A Beauty So Rare is a must-read (and can be read on its own, though A Lasting Impression introduces many of the secondary characters). I cannot wait to see what Tamera Alexander has in store next for Belmont Mansion. I most definitely thank Bethany House and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel, along with the opportunity to read and review it honestly.

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