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.
Riveting. All encompassingly magnificent. And dare I say, my favourite Tamera Alexander novel to date? Yes, yes I do dare say! A Beauty So Rare is so much more than a historical romance–it speaks right to the innermost insecurities and fears of a woman’s heart through a heroine whose characterization exemplifies the Proverbs 31 journey in a wholly relatable and authentic manner. Eleanor’s practicality is at times at odds with her sentimentality, as evidenced by her warring emotions over committing her ailing father and locating a war widow, contrasted with her quest for independence and financial autonomy. Convinced that her height and plain features have relegated her to perpetual singleness, she relies on her wit and intelligence to navigate through a minefield of obstacles in a time where a woman’s worth was irrevocably tied to her marriageability and wealth.
Marcus is a reformed philandered searching for purpose and distinction apart from his royal title and familial obligations in Austria. A man accustomed to being surrounded by beauty in all its forms, his friendship with Eleanor reveals a true and lasting beauty that is not tangible but more captivating than any he has encountered. His past is mired by a hidden shame and this added an intriguing suspense component to the plot.
A Beauty So Rare’s self-fulfilling title classifies the complex and layered plot and mosaic of brilliant characters. With her signature artful descriptions and introspective writing style, Tamera Alexander has penned a novel that is as timeless as the themes she explores. Set a the opulent Belmont Mansion in Tennessee, the nuanced storyline takes characters through various realities of the Reconstruction Era, from the plight of immigrants and widows to the financial ambition of entrepreneurs and landed gentry. If nothing you have read in this review compels you to read this book then I must speak out of desperation: I. DARE. YOU. I dare you not to read it and fall hopelessly in love with each phrase and the range of emotions they illicit.
**Disclosure: review copy provided by publisher via TLC Book Tours**