There is so much about this book to love! Richly drawn characters, growing relationships, and fascinating history are in full swing as you spend time at Belmont Mansion with Claire and Sutton. Really love the emphasis on Claire's personal courage, how she grows when given the opportunity to use her God-given gifts, how she is drawn to the One who really loves her and gives her the strength to be honest in all her ways. The villains have their place in the story, but do not overwhelm the reader. I was grateful for that balance and the way the author compares Claire's painfully dysfunctional family with the loving family as led by Adelicia. The timing in the story line is just so perfect. The descriptions of Belmont and Adelicia Acklyn are riveting and inspired me to look for images. So fun to see what was inspiring to Tamera as she wrote this lovely story. Strength, courage, forgiveness, loyalty, compassion, hope, and love of all things beautiful - great or small. Highly recommend this one. Just ordered #2 in the series and cannot wait to read it! You will want to go to Nashville and see Belmont after you read this - a terrific story!
The cover is what caught my attention to read this book. Claire's dress is absolutely gorgeous then I read it was set at Belmont in Nashville, TN, I knew I had to read this. The description of Belmont and all it statues and art was right on. I could feel myself standing right there at Belmont looking at it. The story got long in the middle but toward the end quickly moved on. A very good read.
Claire Laurent has a great talent and a great secret.
Sutton Monroe has a goal and a grudge.
After Claire's father is murdered in an apparent robbery gone wrong at his prestige's art gallery, Claire is forced to flee the city of New Orleans. Finding refuge in the Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Claire realizes she can stop looking over her shoulder, until she meets Sutton Monroe a lawyer who is working to recover his family estate from the Northern Yankees that he believed stole it after the war. He is also looking for the person who sold several prominent Nashville families find that they have purchased fraudulent works of French art.
Ok I have to say it, this book was a masterpiece. I applaud the author for the spectacular descriptions of the Belmont Mansion and its grounds. The reader could easily envision standing the marble steps about to enter the home, or coming down the grand staircase. I was simply swept away with all the details.
The story is set in the year following the end of the civil war and both Claire and Sutton were wonderful characters. Each had their strength and weaknesses and the author did a fantastic job of making them work both separately and together. Sutton was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, yet he was absolute in what he believed and how he made his decisions. Claire, while not always making the best choices, did make her decisions with a good heart.
I felt that the relationship between Claire and Sutton was very real and likable which can make or break a book. There was a bit of suspense mixed in as well as a huge amount of history on French art. The author did a great job of integrating God, Jesus and salvation into the story. It's always a pleasure to read a Christian book that actually speaks about God.
Overall this was a delightful book, and I am excited to read the second book in this series.
"To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.
All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined."
Series: "Belmont Mansion" book #1. Can be a stand-alone novel. (book #2, "A Beauty So Rare"'s review will be posted next Wednesday.)
Spiritual Content- Ephesians 2:10 in the front; Claire pray and reads the Bible; Scriptures are quoted and Blessings over food are said.
Negative Content- One or Two bloody parts, not-detailed.
Sexual Content- Quite a few (not-detailed) kisses.
(Because the size can be intimidating, Pre & New Teens may (or may not- like me. ;) ) freak out the size of the book. That's why the first two ratings are lower.)
I absolutely adore the fact that in the Preface, the Author, Miss Tamera Alexander, thanks the reader for "entrusting her with your time". How sweet and amazing is that?! I didn't know if I wanted to read "A Lasting Impression" or another book first, so I read the beginning of each and when I read that- I didn't even pick up the other one!
*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
In this post-Civil War novel, Tamera Alexander invites the reader into Belmont Mansion, the home of the famous, wealthy Adelicia Acklen. Claire Laurante, a gifted artist who has helped her family by painting forgeries, finds herself on the run from mysterious thieves who attacked her father. Determined to begin an honest life away from the family trade, Claire applies for the position of Adelicia Acklen's liason - an event coordinator, secretary, and confidante. Sutton Monroe, Mrs. Acklen's personal attorney, is battling to reclaim his family's land and clear his father's name, both results of belonging to the losing side of the war, while attempting to make a name for himself in a forgery case. The two of them have to work together to see that Mrs. Acklen's reentry into society is a success - a task that pushes the two of them much closer together than they ever would have dreamed. However, can an upstanding attorney (and his influential employer) handle the secrets Claire is loathe to share?
Alexander's attention to detail is stunning. Based on her writing, it is clear that she has walked the grounds of Belmont, that she has studied its inhabitants, and that she has a passion for this place. In addition to a glorious location, her depiction of the time period - the reconstruction following the Civil War - is a moving blend of hardened, embittered attitudes by those who lost and prayerful hope by those rebuilding their lives. Understandably, as a person - a woman - who profited during the war and then gallivanted off to Europe while everyone else was picking up the pieces of their lives, Adelicia Acklen is in a tenuous position. It is fascinating to hear about the struggles this strong woman faced.
In this novel and her others set in the post-war South (especially To Whisper Her Name), the author has masterfully portrayed the spirit of the Reconstruction, if not the reality. It is not about mending the heart of a nation, but about mending the hearts of people - the people who make up the nation. Until the hearts of the people are healed, the nation cannot be whole. Two or three people finding healing - it isn't much, yet every one of those hearts is crucial to eliminating the bitterness and moving on to a future of prosperity.
Alexander's passion for the setting, the characters, and the theme is palpable, even without her heart-felt author's note in the end. Her poignant statement, "Would you paint if you knew you were painting only for Me [God]?" struck a chord within me. I love the curl-up-in-front-of-the-fireplace feel to this novel; at 426 pages, it is a thick, rich, decadent read - the kind of novel I love to savor. And when an author has as much passion about their story as Alexander demonstrates, it must be worthwhile. 5 out of 5 stars!