Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Tamera Alexander is an author that I trust to pull me into the past. Her stories are rich, thick, and filled with history. When I was given the chance to review A Beauty So Rare, the second in the Belmont Mansion series, I rushed to accept.
Set in 1868 Nashville, this story involves beautiful gardens, an insane asylum, Austrian royalty, and the admirable Adelicia Acklen. The heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is Adelicia's niece. I wanted to love Eleanor, but she did strike me as...plain--and I don't simply mean her appearance.
While I've always loved Alexander's writing style, A Beauty So Rare did not keep my attention as well as her other novels. The plot progressed too slowly. I longed for more action.
Of course, your reading experience might be completely different from mine. Alexander possesses extreme talent, and she handles historical detail with excellence. This particular novel simply wasn't my favorite.
I encourage you to read this one, especially if you are a fan of Nashville.

Backcover Blurb:
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.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tattered Innocence by Ann Lee Miller

Tattered Innocence is not the type of book I normally read, but the story instantly grabbed my attention. This novel is from the New Adult genre, and I'm aware that there are differing opinions on that genre.
As the title suggests, this is a gritty novel. The author deals with issues such as adultery and fornication. I wouldn't describe this story as cozy, but it does grab the reader's attention. The themes are ones that I'm sure many people confront at some point in their lives.
I loved Ann Lee Miller's writing style--sharp, tight, and descriptive. She stays away from clichés and makes you feel as if you are sailing along with the characters. I would've rather not had those detailed descriptions in certain scenes, however. Especially ones that contained flashbacks to Rachel's affair. Those scenes made me uncomfortable. The book's content, in my opinion, is only for mature readers. I have to caution you that there are a few curse words and vulgar terms sprinkled in.

However, the life lessons in Tattered Innocence are definitely important. The world makes sin look pleasurable and, in fact, innocent, but that pleasure never lasts. God's plans are always best. His Word is full of commandments meant to protect us, not keep us from fun. I loved that Rachel and Jake both suffered the realistic consequences of their sins while also learning that God's grace and mercy are sufficient. The Lord can turn a terrible, hopeless situation into one full of blessings.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9   



Description from Amazon.com

A tale of passions indulged, denied, and ultimately forgiven: On the verge of bagging the two things he wants most—a sailing charter business and marrying old money—Jake Murray’s fiancée/sole crew member dumps him. Salvation comes in the form of dyslexic, basketball-toting Rachel Martin, the only one to apply for the first mate position he slapped on cragslist. On a dead run from an affair with a married man, Rachel’s salvation is shoving ocean between her and temptation. Rapid fire dialogue and romantic tension sail Jake’s biker-chick of a boat through hurricanes, real and figurative. A cast of wannabe sailor’s, Rachel’s ex, Jake’s, a baby—go along for the ride. The many-layered story weaves together disparate strands into a seamless cord. Mother and daughter look eerily alike—down to their lusts. Their symbiotic bond, forged in the blood of childbirth on the kitchen floor and cemented by their secrets, must be cracked open. A son must go home. Sin must be expunged. Tattered innocence is for anyone who’s ever woken up sealed in a fifty-gallon drum of their guilt.

*I received this book free from the author in exchange for my honest review.