Friday, July 4, 2014
A Beauty So Rare- Tamera Alexander
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: Having recently read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (a steampunk novel), where the hero is the Archduke of Austria, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the hero of this novel was an Archduke of Austria as well. I think that the culture allows for a far greater exploration of choice in ones destiny than can be found in English cultures.
Beyond that, I found the idea of a plain woman (one who actually is plain and does not just believe she is) attracting a prince with her mind to be enjoyable. The conversations between Marcus and Eleanor were such that I could actually see the two actually liking to be around each other for years to come, because they actually had real conversations rather than flirtation.
I found the chemistry between the characters to be refreshing and the conflicts realistic. And that Tamera wrote the story back at Belmont with Adelicia (who is a very interesting character), added another layer to the history of the novel.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.