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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 endeavorArchduke 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

10 thoughts on “A Beauty So Rare

  1. says:

    This book is amazing Boom DoneOh so you were looking for little with this review? That’s fair so how about This book is really really reallllllly amazing so read it Like nowAlrightalrightI’ll try and share my love for this novel in a only a few wordsMy first thought after finishing A Beauty So Rare was that I didn’t give it permission to end I was not prepared nor willing for this story to end But it did anywaysSo rudeBut y’all I cried I sighed And then cried againI love stories where you connect so deeply with characters you feel like they’re friends Not only is that the case with both Eleanor and Marcus but Tamera also creates incredible secondary characters as well I wanted to be friends with the good ones and slap the other ones A couple of side snaps of “oh no you didn’t” would have worked too Clearly I would have fit right in post Civil War NashvilleAnother thing I loved about this book? The discussion of beauty What makes a person truly beautiful and how do we live that out? This book as well as her other ones also have a way of making the character’s faith natural There’s some books I encounter that make me cringe because it’s so blatant or over the top aka NOT REAL LIFE So while faith is in the book it’s beautifully done You see the character’s development you see why it’s important to them and how it impacts their lifeIt also reminded me that Tamera Alexander’s books are absolutely worth waiting for I’ve read every single one and want to read every single one again If you haven’t encountered her books my dear sweet friend you need to fix that right uickSo readers have you read any of Tamera’s books? What’s one of your favorite time periods to read?Thank you Bethany House for the copy in exchange for my honest review Originally posted at

  2. says:

    This was a pretty great read The main characters and side characters were absolutely lovable and this is one of the few novels where I actually really liked the female lead Writing was solid and the plot flowed although I felt like the book could have been just a bit shorter Overall really entertaining and a great addition to the series

  3. says:

    An excellent Reconstruction era tale about a young woman impoverished in war attempting to take care of her father who is losing his reason to dementia Her very rich cousin by marriage takes her in and means well by her but doesn't understand Eleanor's passion for cookingI loved the rich historical detail the colorful characters and also that the romantic parts were subdued rather than soapy I also loved that Eleanor isn't beautiful and is a tall heroine And the cover matching the story so perfectly was a pleasant plus conservatory pink dress etcPart of a series but not a heavily connected one; the books may be read out of order without confusion

  4. says:

    Library copy This is my first read by this author though I've been aware of her for some years Though it is classified as historical fiction I would call it historical romance which is not my favorite genre That being said for a good portion of the book I had a love hate relationship with the story Obviously from my rating the book wonI love the cover The characters are well developed and intricate and diverse and than a few but not confusing The action started on page 1 and continued to page 471 The story mostly takes place in Nashville Tennessee but in several defined settings which are clearly defined Since I am unfamiliar with the history of the period and of the Belmont Mansion I am not in a position to comment on the author's coverage of historical events which are intricately woven into the plot and characters most of which I believe are fictitiousMy favorite character is Caleb I love his place in the story and would love to read a book devoted to his development and adulthood This book has much potential for spinoffs I could relate well to Eleanor on several levels I love how the underlying themes work into the overarching theme and faith in God is foundational and developed on a personal level There is conflict throughout much of the book but the story is not dark nor is hope ever lost It's a lovely story from which I learned about myself and hopefully acted on that which convicted me in the parts to which I originally objected It has given me pause to consider my attitude toward the romance genreI highly recommend this book to mature readers older teens and adults It's definitely an adult story

  5. says:

    Originally posted on Reveries ReviewsWhen I began this book it’d been a while since I’d read anything by Tamera Alexander I really love her writing style and this was no exceptionHistoric Nashville is such an intriguing place and the characters in it – some based on real life other fabricated – are eually as fascinating I really adored this book The historical details were amazing I liked both Eleanor and Marcus and of course I still love ‘Aunt Adelicia’ She’s really the most amazing character ever I wish I could have known her though I doubt we would see eye to eye in real life; we’re both too independentI did chop off half a star because it did seem to drag just a little here and there A few too many botany details I think455 starsKellyn Roth Reveries Reviews

  6. says:

    I’m very behind with this review due to enjoying a wonderful Christmas season and putting my eARC reviews high on the priority list My mother in law even asked me why I hadn’t reviewed it yet I loaned her book #1 a few months ago So here we go For those of you who regularly read my reviews you will note a bit of a “rerun” on the bottom of this review from my review for To Win Her Favor about the books in this series and those of Ms Alexander’s other recent series set in the Nashville area Let me just say briefly that if you are likely to read the entire series I’d recommend starting at the beginning It isn’t essential though as this is a standalone novel with no loose ends A Beauty So Rare 2014 Bethany House second in the Belmont Mansion series by Tamera Alexander is a historical Christian romance set in Nashville Tennessee in 1868 I read this book because I received it as a gift and because Ms Alexander is one of the few authors I try to keep up with Rating 5 starsThe heroine Eleanor Braddock 29 has served as her father’s caretaker for a few years but is now dropping her father off to live at a rest home with a heavy heart Her aunt Adelicia Acklen Cheatham the mistress of Belmont Mansion used her influence to secure a spot for Eleanor’s father at the rest home and has invited Eleanor to live at Belmont The hero Marcus Geoffrey 33 desires “to experience the life of the common man” So who is he what is he doing and why is he not a common man? He is “the Archduke Gerhard Marcus Gottfried von Habsburg” second in line to be the emperor of Austria He has to his frustration been much sought after by wealthy women in his country wanting a good match Marcus has come to America incognito with Mrs Cheatham as “his benefactress of sorts” Even though Marcus comes from a privileged background he is intelligent and has aspirations in two occupations simultaneously I found both to be very interestingWaiting in line at the post office Marcus sees Eleanor He recognizes her as the recently arrived niece of Mrs Cheatham “He had no intention of pursuing her acuaintance nor encouraging it in any way” When I went back to review my flagged uotes for writing this review I nearly laughed at this one because Marcus becomes very good friends with Eleanor later on Christian elementsFrom an early age I’ve been taught to tell the truth by my parents my church and the Bible I believe wholeheartedly in this and teach the same to my children On a purely practical level having a reputation for consistently telling the truth even to one’s own detriment is essential to being trustworthy I see this upheld again and again in my daily life as a mother In the prologue Eleanor deceives a patient three times in order to comfort him As this is a Christian novel I was taken aback by this because I felt the deception was presented in a positive way I have mixed feelings about this But I’ve never been in the presence of a dying person and it seems like it would be a catch 22 situation It’s tough situations like these that make me wonder what Jesus would have done In parenting I very occasionally take the “I do not want to answer your uestion” way out It gives me the opportunity to be honest without giving information I do not wish to share while simultaneously guarding against feeling tempted to lie However the deathbed scene was a very small portion of the story and Eleanor’s actions were obviously done with the best of intentionsWhat I likedI like the fact that this series is unified not only by Belmont Mansion but also by the fact that the heroines’ skills are front and center in the plot of each book The heroine in book one is a skilled painter book two’s heroine is a skilled cook and the heroine in book three is a skilled musician These kinds of parallels make me happy DI think it’s hilarious that the dress Eleanor wears on the cover is her hated pink but unfortunately best dress Too funnyAlzheimer’s disease or something very similar is an issue in this book and Ms Alexander does a remarkable job depicting the effects of it My mind was in shock at some aspects of the disease which I had never considered before What I didn’t like I can only point to the deception issue as outlined above which isn’t enough to bring it down from five stars As I always find with Tamera Alexander this was a tightly woven story I will definitely continue to read of Ms Alexander’s stories I have put To Mend a Dream a novella in the Among the Fair Magnolias collection on my to read list I recommend this book to fans of Tamera Alexander and Christian historical romance I have no compunctions about recommending this book to teens and up The timeline of the Belle Meade Plantation and Belmont Mansion series are intertwined They’re very near each other in Nashville At the bottom of this review I’ve listed the six books and one novella of the two series in what I believe to be the chronologically correct order A Beauty So Rare actually ends up being third in the seuence of seven stories For your convenience see the list below A Lasting Impression Belmont Mansion #1 published 2011 To Whisper Her Name Belle Meade Plantation #1 published 2012 A Beauty So Rare Belmont Mansion #2 2014 set in 1868 To Win Her Favor Belle Meade Plantation #2 published 2015 set in 1869 1870 To Mend a Dream Belle Meade #25 published 2015 in Among the Fair Magnolias A Note Yet Unsung Belmont Mansion #3 2017 To Wager Her Heart Belle Meade Plantation #3 2017

  7. says:

    If you enjoy reading stories about the Postbellum era then yes I recommend this book The characters are real with faults and with strengths There are portions that will stir a sympathetic chord in your heart but there are also portions that will have you spouting at the characters It is a very well balanced story You will find some characters insufferable but the main characters you will love and root for as they reach for their dreams and face challenges that were a basic truth of the era It is a different sort of story from this particular time in history I am finding Tamera Alexander to be a delightful author She touches on things that are not often spoken of in other books written about this era They will in turn cause you to pause and think a little about what many faced as they rebuilt their beloved homeland

  8. says:

    My CommentsWhat a DE LIGHT FUL book Goodness this is my first time reading Alexander’s work but I sensed something SOOOOOO special about this story I couldn’t pass it upindeed EVERY part of this book was wonderfully written and tangibly enjoyed from the FIRST page I am NOT a fan of pink but I couldn’t stop looking at that BEAUTIFUL cover while reading and the story never failed to keep my attention through almost 500 pages It was such an amazing read that I even forgot to take notes Yes this book is FILLED with excellent food and dishes but mostly it appeals to the reader’s heart through Eleanor and the amazing character she isThe book begins with Eleanor being a volunteer for the wounded during war in 1864 and this entire scene resonates with her in such a way that she remembers it throughout the story She even makes a promise to one dying soldier and she doesn’t give up the unlikelihood of fulfilling this promise no matter how many years it takes to do so Most people would’ve given up after a few attempts there was no one to keep her accountable and no one would’ve been the wiser about such a failed attempt However I believe this promise is one of many instances that strengthens Eleanor’s faith and even brings her much needed healing about loveEleanor must move in with her aunt later in the story after leaving her father and his ailing mind in an asylum; the scene is powerfully written and my heart ached EXACTLY as Eleanor did in leaving her precious Papa to the hands of the capable medical staff My heart broke even as I read that part I do have to say regarding Aunt Adelicia that I was surprised at how welcoming her aunt is when Eleanor moves in I really thought the aunt would be cordial cold and distant but she is uite the opposite Even with her own agenda to guide Eleanor with this aunt really felt like a surrogate mom in so many ways I didn’t always agree with her methodsintentions but I respected their relationship and believed that Adelicia was truly determined to see Eleanor entrusted in a solid arrangement Though she was not my favorite character in the story she did keep the plot interestingI have no interest in Botany or plant life but I was taken in with Marcus’s passion towards flowers and his brilliant ways of creating the perfect specimens I didn’t agree with keeping his secrets so tightly hidden but I did understand his reasons More than once he had my sympathies and I had no trouble falling for his character as the man for Eleanor He really was Mr Darcy to Eleanor’s Elizabeth I found Eleanor very similar to Elizabeth Bennett especially in how she enjoyed walking so much He understood everything about her heart and endeavored to give her whatever her heart desired it became his mission throughout to make her smile SighMy heart melted over and over again at Eleanor’s cooking for the widows and the children Oh my this book is so utterly touching and honoring to fallen soldiers With the incredible descriptions the reader feels like you’re THERE with these beautiful souls that Eleanor comes to love as her own family Mr Stover Naomi and Caleb Mr Fitch wow to those donuts and even Nurse Smith who takes care of TheodoreI was amazed by the resilience of this community as they blessed Eleanor and made her dreams come true in a TOTALLY different way than she expectedWithout a doubt Eleanor was my hero through and through She is compassionate diligent fiercely independent giving has an amazing heart that would rival ANY royal faithful trustworthy has an adorable sense of humor utterly intelligent hardworking passionate for people and cooking and always determined to do the right thing I never ONCE saw her as plain or unappealing she is so very tall and completely unconventional as a Southern woman but that only made her MORE appealing and special Seeing the world through her eyes in this novel moved me than once and touched me than I would’ve thought possible for a fictional character This is my first read by Alexander but I’m convinced it won’t be my last I highly recommend this book even if historical fiction is not your typical genre it will definitely win you over and leave you smiling Every single part of the plot was addressed each character got their individual conclusions and the ending to this story leaves you feeling warm all over I’m thrilled I got the chance to review this and I’m grateful for the love found in these pages also included are discussion uestions and a note from the author describing historical facts in the bookI want to thank the author and Bethany House Publishers for the review copy provided I was not reuired to write a positive review The opinions expressed are my own

  9. says:

    About this book “Eleanor Braddock a spinster plain practical no stunning Southern beauty has long since dismissed any hope of marriage But when a dying soldier whispers his final words she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow But this compassionate deed takes a harsh turn and Eleanor finds herself dependent upon the richest woman in America and the most despised woman in Nashville her aunt Adelicia Acklen mistress of Belmont Mansion A clandestine act of kindness leads Eleanor to an unlikely path for her life building a home for destitute widows and children from the Civil War And while Eleanor knows her own heart she also knows her aunt will never approve Gerhard Marcus Gottfried Archduke of the House of Habsburg and fourth in line to the Austrian throne arrives in Nashville in search of a life he determines instead of one determined for him Collaborating with botanist Luther Burbank Marcus seeks to combine his own passion for nature with his expertise in architecture But his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widow's and children's home run contrary to the wishes of practical frugal Eleanor who sees his ideas as costly nonsense Yet as the construction project continues Marcus and Eleanor find common ground and a love neither of them expected But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor to marry and even if he were someone who knows Marcus's secrets is about to reveal them all” Series “Belmont Mansion” book #2 Can be a stand alone novel book #1 “A Lasting Impression” hereSpiritual Content Prayers are said; Eleanor Marcus have a Faith and trust the Lord in their livesNegative Content In the prologue Eleanor is a nurse and there’s a bit of blood but it’s not detailedSexual Content A couple kisses one lightly detailed Eleanor Braddock Marcus Gottfried POV switches between them 471 pages Set in 1868 Prologue in 1864Pre New Teens Four Starsonly because it’s a large book with a pretty deep story lineHigh School Teens Five StarsMy personal Rating Five StarsReading the first book in the “Belmont Mansion” series “A Lasting Impression” got me hooked me Miss Tamera Alexander’s writing as soon as I finished “A Lasting Impression” I was counting down the days till the next book in the series “A Beauty So Rare” When that day came and the mailman handed me the packagewell this was my reaction Excited? Who me? Maybe a LOT ;Miss Tamera Alexander has put “Visit Belmont Mansion” on my Bucket List and the way she makes you feel like you’re there I could almost check off that I’ve been there I cannot wait till 2015 when the next book in the “Belmont Mansion” series comes out And if you’re like me I love seeing behind the scenes of how the author wrote this bookBFCG may Read the review to see recommend this book by this author It does not mean I recommend all the books by this authorI received this book for free from the Publisher for this review But I was going to buy it with my own money I was that excited about this book

  10. says:

    I am so thankful that the author is not afraid to write a long book It is not long for the sake of being long but long to do justice to the plot and she certainly does that Besides working several plot threads that reuire time Alexander develops the characters the setting and the historic detail that bring the novel to life turning the length purely to her advantage There is no pointless puttering around but every passage is working towards the conclusion The author does a marvelous job setting the story in history It is not just a romance that takes place after the Civil War it is a meticulously researched tale firmly anchored in the Reconstruction era with real people and events The rise of women's shelters safe asylums for the insane troubled relations between Austria and Russia research with plant genetics and grafting the search for a potato not prone to rot all were issues being dealt with at the time Not only were Adelicia Acklen her immediate family and her servants all real set in the meticulously described Belmont estate but so also were numerous places described in Nashville such as the insane asylum Additionally historic figures such as Dorothea Dix activist for the insane Gregor Mendel geneticist and Luther Burbank developer of the Russet potato cameo in the story One of the strongest themes of the story hinted at by the title is that of beauty Eleanor knows that true beauty is dependent on what is inside a person not in their outward appearance; however as a plain woman she struggles with the fact that by worldly standards she isn't beautiful There are few women I've known who cannot relate with that feeling of deficiency no matter their outward appearance And the author makes a really good point something I have noticed myself that the better you know someone and the you love them the beautiful they become And conversely the uglier a person acts the less and less attractive they appear no matter how physically flawless In this world where so much weight is placed on physical appearance it is good to be reminded of what beauty truly is I suspect historical novels such as this by captivating my interest and prompting me to research further have led to as much if not of my knowledge of history than I learned in school Like all of Alexander's books this novel is rich with historic detail a well thought out plot faith and encouragement 5 out of 5 starsThank you First Reads and Bethany House for providing a free copy