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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Satisfying Christian Romance Big on History, Light on Preaching

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Romance is the last thing on the mind of 25-year-old Alexandra Jamison.  Still reeling from the train accident that killed her fiancé one year ago, she's searching for a way to honor her intended's dream of making a difference in the world.  That certainly won't happen if she's wed to a stuffy Southern gentleman with old-fashioned notions about a woman's place.  Which is the exact situation her father is trying to broker for her.  Now that Alexandra's unsuitable intended is out of the way, he'll unite her with a mature aristocrat, the wealthier the better.  Love has no place in his ambitious plans.

Alexandra refuses to accept a future so dismal, a decision that leads to her expulsion from the family home.  Her new job as a teacher at Fisk University, a local school for freedmen, only infuriates her father more.  Unless she kowtows to his wishes, she'll be cut off from everything she's ever known—money, privilege, comfort, and her elevated place in Nashville society.  Is making a difference really worth the risk?

Sylas Rutledge is a man well acquainted with risk, but unaccustomed to the rules of Southern society.  As the owner of the Northeast Rail Line, the 31-year-old has traveled to Nashville from his home in Colorado Territory to arrange a lucrative business deal.  He's also determined to clear his father's name.  The engineer who's been accused of causing the accident that killed Alexandra's fiancé and numerous others, Sy's dad's reputation has been unduly soiled.  At least that's what Sy believes.

When Alexandra and Sy meet, sparks instantly start to fly.  As they help each other work toward impossible goals, they become closer and closer.  But what will happen when Sy finally tells Alexandra who he is and what he's really doing in Nashville?  Will their budding romance end before it gets a chance to really begin?

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander tells an engaging story set against a rich historical backdrop.  I knew nothing about certain places and events—like Fisk University; Belle Meade Plantation; the Jubilee Singers; and the real train accident that occurred near Dutchman's Curve in 1918, killing more than 100 people—until I read this novel.  These kinds of details made the setting of To Wager Her Heart come alive for me.  Alexandra and Sy are both sympathetic characters, which makes it easy to root for their success.  They're not the most complex or well-developed story people in the world, but they felt real enough to keep me interested.  Although the novel is predictable, with not enough tension standing in the way of the couple's Happily Ever After (despite its lengthy 351 pages), To Wager Her Heart feels satisfying.  It's not super original, but it is a clean, enjoyable, setting-rich Christian romance that never feels too preachy.  Overall, I enjoyed it and am definitely planning to read the rest of the books in the Belle Meade Plantation series (which consists of interconnected stories, not sequels per se). 

(Readalikes:  other novels in the Belle Meade Plantation series by Tamera Alexander, including To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of To Wager Her Heart from the generous folks at Zondervan via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!
Want more opinions on To Wager Her Heart?  Follow along on the book's blog tour:

Monday, August 28th: Reviews from the Heart
Wednesday, August 30th: Splashes of Joy
Friday, September 1st: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Monday, September 4th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, September 5th: Empowermoms
Friday, September 8th: For Him and My Family
Monday, September 11th: Books and Spoons – excerpt
Tuesday, September 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, September 14th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, September 15th: Art @ Home
Monday, September 18th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, September 19th: A Holland Reads
Wednesday, September 20th: Reading is My SuperPower
Friday, September 22nd: Just One More Chapter – excerpt
Tuesday, September 26th: Write Read Life
Wednesday, September 27th: Laura’s Reviews

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