A gripping love story set against the backdrop of a stunning antebellum mansion
Pink was 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.
From the USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society–and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.
Can you believe we went a whole year without a book from Ms. Alexander? I can’t either. She was completely missed, and I was so excited to get my hands on this new book of hers. Here is the breakdown:
Things I like:
The romance. No one quite does romance like Ms. Alexander. She does my favorite kind: friendship romance. The novel has that slow build that you can just watch unfold on the pages. Eleanor learns every facet of who Marcus is and vice versa. By the time I finish the novel, I have the utmost faith that they love each other and that their relationship would last. Nothing is rushed, nothing is contrived and when you get to that moment in the end all you want to do is sigh (sidenote: if you love Jane Austen movies, you will love this book).
Eleanor is an amazing heroine, and I don’t say that lightly because I’m so hard on my heroines. I love her straightforwardness. I love her vulnerability. I love that when people (ahem, Marcus) make mistakes, she doesn’t make it all about her or make a mountain out of a molehill. I love that she acts like a friend and not a woman scorned when surprises arise. There is probably only one thing Eleanor does that didn’t fit her character (according to my kindle I was about 93% in), but otherwise, hats off to you my dear.
This novel is a history lovers dream. The historical facts are interwoven so beautifully, I kept wondering if some of these characters were real people. I learned so much and yet not once did I feel like the author went off on a tangent to teach me a history lesson. Let’s not forget that this is right after the Civil War which is one of my favorite eras to read about combined with Western European history (another favorite of mine). I couldn’t get enough (you would think those two things would clash, nope).
We are back at Belmont with Ms. Acklen and you get a completely different viewpoint of her. She was the same women in A Lasting Impression and yet not the same. I really liked the newness that was brought to her character.
Spiritually, I liked watching Marcus develop and grow in his faith, while watching Eleanor learn that God can answer our prayers in the most unique ways.
Things I didn’t like:
I will say, that as much as I love long novels and get excited about them, this novel did start to feel long by a certain point, most likely because all the “big things” seemed to be wrapped up fairly early on and I could only see success with the rest of the story. That said, for me this didn’t detract from the novel too much.
Okay, I’m going to say this: this novel, though it has different characters and different issues and concerns, does seem almost interchangeable with the previous novels that Ms. Alexander wrote. I don’t know how exactly, I can’t put my finger on it. But something about the feel of the story made me feel like I had read it before. Again, I love her books so this wasn’t a problem, but I did want to note it.
Overall, very good.
Romantic scale: 9.5
**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**