Friday Favorites: A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander


Friday Favorites is a weekly meme hosted here, that spotlights a favorite author, book, series, publisher, cover, blog, etc. Basically whatever bookish thing that you love, recommend, and want to tell others about. Just pick one and link up to my post each Friday to share. You can use the graphic I used above, the other one here, or your own.

Have you been reading all the special content posts for Tamera Alexander's new release, A Beauty So Rare? I hope you've enjoyed them! If you missed them, you can go check them out here, here, here, here, and here. It was so much fun to get to participate in Tamera's group! I need to send out a special THANK YOU to Amy at Bethany House Publishers and Tamera Alexander for my review copy!!! Now, I'm finally going to post my review of this fabulous book! I loved it so much that it's my Friday Favorites pick for this week!!!

A Beauty So Rare (a Belmont Mansion novel, #2)A Beauty So Rare 
(Belmont Mansion #2)
by Tamera Alexander
Christian Historical Romance
March 23rd 2014 by Bethany House Publishers


Summary

From the USA Today bestselling author of To Whisper Her Name and A Lasting Impression 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.

Eleanor Braddock, a spinster--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--has long since dismissed any hope of marriage. But when a dying soldier whispers his final words, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. But this compassionate deed takes a harsh turn, and Eleanor finds herself dependent upon the richest woman in America and the most despised woman in Nashville--her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, mistress of Belmont Mansion. A clandestine act of kindness leads Eleanor to an unlikely path for her life--building a home for destitute widows and children from the Civil War. And while Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve.

Gerhard Marcus Gottfried, Archduke of the House of Habsburg and fourth in line to the Austrian throne, arrives in Nashville in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Collaborating with botanist Luther Burbank, Marcus seeks to combine his own passion for nature with his expertise in architecture. But his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widow's and children's home run contrary to the wishes of practical, frugal Eleanor, who sees his ideas as costly nonsense.

Yet as the construction project continues, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expected. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor to marry, and even if he were, someone who knows Marcus's secrets is about to reveal them all.
   

My Review

I had very high expectations when I began reading A Beauty So Rare after absolutely loving To Whisper Her Name (her last release). Needless to say Tamera is one of the authors I pre-order books for. I have to say that this book did not disappoint me, in fact it even surprised me in some ways.

The setting was amazingly done. The descriptions, dress, dialogue, mish-mash of the residents, societal expectations, and just the overall feel of the novel felt realistic. The author definitely did her research and it shows. I really loved the setting! I loved seeing how the different classes and nationalities mingled, or didn't, as the case may have been. I loved the opulent Belmont estate, the lower side of the city, the asylum, and discovering more about the area and this time period as I read. I really felt immersed in Eleanor and Marcus' world.

Speaking of Eleanor and Marcus... They were such great characters! You would think that Eleanor is such a sweet thing, until you realize what a backbone she has. She's feisty and full of determination, but also full of heart. She is also very intelligent and wasn't afraid to use her mind. It allowed her to keep up with Marcus as he explained his work. She was also insecure and heartbroken from the hardships of the war and her life. Marcus was quite a dashing man. He really struggled with finding who he wanted to be and what choices he would make. He's in a peculiar circumstance because of being Austrian royalty and the expectations put upon him. He is such a great man, full of integrity, loyalty, and strength. I was really hoping that in the end he would make the right choice, at least the choice I felt he should make. :) Then there are a slue of other great characters, such as Eleanor's Aunt Adelicia, Naomi and her son, Eleanor's father, as well as others who make appearances here and there (including some characters from the first book in this series). The characters were all full and consistent and I loved them all!

There is so much heartache in parts of this story. The beginning of the novel starts with a sad glimpse into Eleanor's past from when she served as a nurse during the Civil War. The story refers to her experience at different points as the story progresses. Then there is the situation with Eleanor's father. Between that and the plight of Naomi and those who live around her I definitely felt sad. At the same time, I also felt hope. Hope for what might come and for how things might turn out. There are some inspirational moments that are so beautifully woven through the story. They were perfect and not preachy at all.

One of the things I loved the most about A Beauty So Rare was how balanced the characters and emotions of the story were. There is the heartache I referred to above, but then there is also humor and love. The dialogue between Eleanor and Marcus was really great. That would probably be my favorite aspect of the story. The first time that Eleanor and Marcus talk to each other it immediately reminded me of Darcy and Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. They both have some preconceived notions of who the other is and their conversation is witty, snarky, and made me laugh! It reminded me of the debates, set-downs and conversations between Darcy and Bennett. That same sarcasm and attraction is evident between Marcus and Eleanor from the beginning. I loved how it mellows, but that they continue to challenge each other and that they become such good friends.

Here is one of several favorite quotes:


This is a story of faith, hardship, family, hope, friendship, love, and finding who you are and not who you've been told you are. It's also about taking risks and learning that some things just aren't as important as you thought they were, and that others are much more. I highly recommend A Beauty So Rare to Christian Romance and Historical Romance readers!!

Content: Clean
Source: From the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way.

About the Author

1TameraAlexander_Purple.jpgTamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including A Lasting Impression, A Beauty So Rare, To Whisper Her Name, and From a Distance. Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.

These awards include two Christy Awards for Excellence in Christian fiction, two RITA awards for Best Inspirational Romance, three Gayle Wilson Awards of Excellence, two Bookseller’s Best Awards, and being listed among Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction, among others.

After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville where they enjoy life with their two adult children who live nearby, and Jack, a precious—and precocious—silky terrier.



Do you have a favorite to share this week?


26 comments

  1. Love the cover and synopsis.

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  2. Glad you enjoy these so much - love the idea of the last words of the dying soldier...
    I don't think the girl on the cover looks plain at all, though.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  3. I think I will definitely have to pick this one up.

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  4. Heidi Robbins4/25/14, 10:32 AM

    Great review for such a wonderful book! I totally agree with your thoughtful insights as to what made this book so memorable for me.

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  5. No, I don't think that she looks plain either. She actually has been told that she is plain and she is rather tall so that is how she felt, but as Marcus states in the quote and in several parts of the books that she is actually quite beautiful, especially when she smiles. :) Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

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  6. It is really good! There were so many facets to the story and she handled them so well!

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  7. It really was so wonderful! I just really felt for both of the MC's and their situations. I couldn't fault Marcus for being honorable and at the same time I wanted him to break his engagement by the time I was a 1/4 of the way through the book. Life is never that easy though. I also was so proud of Eleanor in doing what she did. Obviously, I enjoyed it! ;)

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  8. so many reviews for this one, it does sound wonderful doesn't it! Emotional even

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  9. very interesting cover!

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  10. I really like the cover (good grief, the issues!). It is absolutely fitting for the synopsis of the book. And I am a Jack the Ripper fan, so I will definitely have to check this out. I need to see more about getting involved with the Month9Books tours. I love the books they are coming out with this year....

    Check out some great reviews at.... The Best Books Ever

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  11. It's definitely my kind of cover: gothic and reminiscent of Jack the Ripper in the London fog.

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  12. It was really good! It did take me a while to read because it is a longer book (471 pages), but there were so many things I loved about it!

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  13. It sounds like it fits the story really well.

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  14. I have had fairly decent experiences with their books and I am really loving getting to post new covers with them. These are done every Friday with Marianne from Chapter by Chapter. You can check on signing up, if you're interested, with her.

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  15. Yes! This is one I'm definitely planning on reading. I hope that it ends up being really good!

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  16. I love her books!!! There's needs to be more of them :)

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  17. I've heard so much about this book! Thank you for the review. I am so excited to read this one! I love it when characters are developed well :) It makes me happy, and it makes the book so much easier to love.

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  18. Wow. This cover is awesome and the synopsis definitely caught me.

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  19. Thank you Tressa! I will go see about it right now!

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  20. It does make it much easier. In fact I tend to only like books where I really liked or loved the characters. If I can't connect with them then it always falls flat for me.

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  21. It sounds REALLY good! I'm looking forward to it!

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  22. I love books set in this time period. It's funny how people who are beautiful and skilled can believe they aren't when told by people they trust or in power. Just goes to show how powerful words are even if they can see the opposite.

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  23. I do to. I so agree. Words have such power. I think books alone prove that. :)

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  24. They do! :)

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