A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander ~ A Historical Romance Review

A Belmont Mansion Novel, Book 2
Tamera Alexander
Historical Romance

About the book:

Pink is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war--and still had one to fight.

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:
Have you ever been caught between a rock and a hard place? Or better yet, a rock and several hard places? That is exactly where Eleanor finds herself. She is thirty, which is quite old to be still single and in her mind she's quite plain which just about assures her status as spinster. To add to her woes her beloved father has begun the long process of slipping away with dementia. 
With the tragedies piling up Eleanor has little choice but to turn to her very affluent aunt, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham. Once Eleanor takes up residence in Adelicia's house her life becomes anything but her own. Her aunt begins to maneuver things for Eleanor's own good. The problem is that a woman of thirty has had time to develop dreams and hopes for her own life. Unfortunately for Eleanor those dreams don't match up with those of her aunt. 
One of the first people that Eleanor meets at the Belmont Mansion is the handsome and talented Marcus Geoffrey. Eleanor assumes he is the under gardener. He's not, but he's also not giving up the secrets to his life in Austria. Marcus has come to America to escape the family obligations that have been thrust upon him. While in Nashville he has pursued his love of botany and architecture. But there are forces at work that seem to make his dreams unattainable.
Marcus and Eleanor have instant chemistry, but their relationship just can't go beyond friendship. Too much is at stake for both of them. There are so many lives to consider that each must put their own desires aside in order to fulfill what they perceive as their destiny. The problem is that the heart loves whom it loves.
I so enjoyed reading the beautiful story of Eleanor and Marcus. Not only was it a great historical fiction story it was also a wonderful read about Nashville and the area around it following the Civil War. My heart broke for so many of the widows and children, but I also rejoiced that many people came together in their unique ways to make their lives better. I didn't like Adelicia Acklen in A Lasting Impression and my thoughts on her haven't changed, but I think that all the other characters will make up for Adelicia's meddling ways! If you enjoy this genre you are sure to delight in this second book of the series.

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