Wednesday, May 6, 2015

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander (Belle Meade Plantation #2)

To Win Her Favor is an aptly named amazing read that needs far more than 5 stars can give it. I need a 10 star rating for this book! Appearances or mentions of persons from prior books in this series were skillfully placed and delightful, though this book stands alone exceedingly well. 

Maggie is an strong woman who heart is breaking. She has lost all her family members except her Father. She's even lost the man she might have married. All that's left is their land, some freed servants who are more like family, and Bourbon Belle. Bourbon Belle is an outstanding thoroughbred racing filly. Financial pressures are closing in that could cause Maggie to loose what little she has left, forcing them to have their generational ties that have been poured into Linden Downs,  their land and livestock sold at auction. Their fallen social status lends few options for Maggie Linden and her Father. 

Enter the unexpected. Cullen McGrath, Irish and despised because of his heritage, he is struggling to find land and settle into 1869's Nashville, Tennessee area. He has some past secrets, grief and a broken heart, and he's a bit on the outs with The Almighty. When he meets Mr. Linden all their lives change. Maggie's beloved Dad makes a deal with Cullen, and it involves things no one considered. Maggie needs to wed a man she doesn't know. Now marriage is one thing, but a happy marriage is quite another thing. 

Cullen has secret reasons, big ones, and he wants nothing at all to do with racing horses. He has lost a wife and child and now he faces all this as well. How far must he go and what must he give up in this situation? What will be gained or lost during all this. Lives? Land? Love? Burbon Belle? Maggie and Cullen's relationship sizzles, but it also can be a frozen tundra. Cullen would like to win Maggie's heart, but first he must manage to win her favor. 

I'm ecstatic that this book worked to show a real marriage. Cullen is a husband working to be Christ like, without failing to address parts of married life too often left ignored in Christian books and real life. This book portrays a real, intimate, living, alive marriage relationship that was beautiful to read and made me want to go hug my own sweet husband for all of his similar Christ like ways!  I sure could have used books like this in my teen-aged years as this is an important example of how our lives should be!

In short, this book is a masterpiece among its genera. Although set long ago, it is timeless and current as well. It covers horses (which I love!) and horse racing, being socially outcast, poverty, gambling and other vices, wealth, racism, life, death, love, passion, freedom, loss, judgment, hurt, healing, forgiveness, growth, victory and defeat! The only unanswered questions are just enough for us to be sure to look forward to the next book in this series. 

My copy of this book came through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review, and nothing more. 

An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He's come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he'd wagered, especially when Maggie Linden's father makes him an offer he shouldn't accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville's racetrack--the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie's father--aging, yet wily as ever--makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail--Maggie must marry a man she's never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts--and the escalating violence from a "secret society" responsible for lynchings and midnight raids--may prove too much for even two determined souls.

The Author's Web site is here:
I'll leave you to go to her site to read more about her, and her books, but I pray you don't miss out on reading this one! 

Carol :) 

In celebration of the release . . .

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