Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"A Beauty So Rare" Review

Eleanor Braddick arrives in Nashville, Tennessee, under less than ideal circumstances. After serving as a nurse in the Civil War and losing her brother to the conflict, Eleanor must now place her father in an institution in Nashville due to his dementia. Even though she is welcomed at the Belmont Estate by her charitable but demanding Aunt Adelicia, Eleanor is determined to make her own way in the world. Eleanor has always known that she is no Southern beauty, and she is content to live a life without a husband, no matter what Aunt Adelicia says.

Marcus Geoffrey is in Nashville where he, too, is determined to make his own way in the world. Marcus is actually Archduke Marcus Gottfried from Austria, and he is hiding his true identity in order to work on his two passions in life: botany and architecture.

Eleanor and Marcus are from two completely different worlds, but when Eleanor and Marcus begin to work together on building a home for widows and orphans, they realize that they might have more in common than they initially thought.

Aunt Adelicia is not a woman who is easily crossed, and Marcus is not who she has in mind for her niece. But if family secrets come to light, it might be more than just Aunt Adelicia keeping them apart.

A Beauty So Rare returns to the lavish Belmont Mansion with a sweeping story of love, compassion, and the definition of true beauty.

The Belmont Mansion immediately after the Civil War is an interesting setting for this novel. There was so much going on in American history at that time, and that’s exactly what this book portrays – so much going on.

The main story between Eleanor and Marcus is interesting, and their friendship/romance has a lot of twists and turns. Some of the circumstances that surround their relationship – misunderstandings about the other person, people trying to keep them apart – are not my favorite plot points in a romance novel, but, overall, their rapport was good and was written well. The best part of the novel for me was the building of the home for orphans and widows, so it was interesting to see how Marcus and Eleanor related to each other during that process.

As I said earlier, there is a lot going on in this novel. Marcus is in the process of working on new varieties of flowers and even disease-resistant potato plants. Eleanor is working on the home for orphans and widows, trying to dodge the match-making Aunt Adelicia, and worrying about her father who is suffering from dementia. The brutal effects of the Civil War are lingering, including financial issues and racial tensions. Even though there is a lot going on, the plots are not extremely complex, and the flow of the novel is easy to follow. I especially enjoyed the overall theme of beauty and what makes a person truly beautiful is not what is on the outside.

The main thing about this novel that kept me from enjoying it completely was that it was just too long. It was very repetitious at times and even seemed to need some editing. The descriptions of the surroundings and the inner monologues of the main characters really distracted from the flow of the story, especially during the first half of the book. In the second half of the novel, the story picked up quite a bit, but the length overall was still too much.

I also wish that the spiritual parts of the story had more depth. The characters talked and thought about God sometimes, and they had compassion for those around them, but I feel as if their faith could have been better developed.

At 480 pages, A Beauty So Rare is a long one, but the setting and characters help to make up for the excessive length.

I will give A Beauty So Rare … 3.5 BookWorms.

A Beauty So Rare
by Tamara Alexander
Belmont Mansion #2
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: March 24, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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