I don’t know how Tamera Alexander managed to pack so much into one book, but she did it beautifully! I thoroughly enjoyed her newest book, A Beauty So Rare. Set in Nashville just after the Civil War, this is the story of a single woman nearing age thirty, caring for her father who suffers from dementia, and trying to fulfill a personal dream. Eleanor Braddock wants to open her own cafe, so she can do what she loves best–cook–while supporting herself and her father independently. Unfortunately, her Aunt Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America, has different plans for her–plans Eleanor finds too unpleasant to consider.
Also struggling against the wishes of relatives is Archduke Marcus Gottfried of Austria who has come to America to chase his own dreams. He longs to combine his interests in architecture and botany, bringing the beauty of nature into his building designs. His time is limited, though, as he’s expected back in Austria to fulfill a role he is to inherit and to marry a woman he doesn’t love.
Eleanor and Marcus’s story alone was fascinating, but the historical and scientific elements woven into it made it even more so. In this book, readers will learn about the struggle of many Civil War widows and orphans, the development of the science of genetics, mental health issues, botany (grafting in particular), Nashville’s developing culture and changing society, architecture, Civil War nursing, cooking, Dorothea Dix, Austria’s House of Habsburg, the Belmont Mansion, and Adelicia Acklen. Readers also get brief glimpses of and updates about fictional characters, Claire and Sutton Monroe from A Lasting Impression, the first book in this series.
Bethany House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I am happy to recommend it as a must-read book for fans of Christian historical fiction romance.