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TO WAGER HER HEART REVIEWED

To Wager Her Heart
By Tamera Alexander
Publisher by Zondervan
ISBN#978-0310-291084
372 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: Set against the real history of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a powerful love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in American history when both were tenuous and hard-won. 
    
Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father's name. One man holds the key to Sy's success--General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. 

REVEW: The author pens a rich historical tale that gives readers a peek into the complex in a post-Civil War America Southern society where they meet Alexandra Jamison, daughter of a wealthy attorney who is part of Nashville’s elite upper-class social order. Her father demands she gets married soon. It’s been a year since the death of her fiancĂ© David, it was time to move on. Her father’s demands shake her to the core and move her into action. Alexandra is ready to risk everything in order to make her dream a reality. She heads to Fisk University; which is the first Freedmen’s University. There was more to life than marrying for money’s sake; David has shown her that.

Sylas Rutledge leaves Colorado to end up near Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. He’s on a mission to clear his father’s name and boost his growing rail business by trying to win General Harding’s contract on a new train project. He notices they do things differently in the South. He needs someone to bring him up to speed on business etiquette if he is going to have any chance in talking to the General. He is introduced to Alexandra by her attorney father and thinks she might be the one to help him. Problem she doesn’t want anything to do with him especially after she learns his father was the engineer on the train accident that took her fiancĂ©’s life.

This author does an amazing job of introducing readers to several people who are willing to fight for their principles and also willing to pay the cost. It’s different for everyone. Ella says, “….none of us knows what we’re fully capable of doing until God leads us to a place where we realize our strength is nothing compared to His. He says to take a step, yet you look out and see nothing but thin air in your path. Yet, He calls you on. And only when you finally trust Him and take that step into nothingness do you discover you’re standing on solid ground.”

These are powerful words. I liked how the author brings history to life in this powerful story of love, loss, tragedy, and new beginnings. It’s a setting centered around characters trying to do the right thing and society not willing to change. It’s moving to see how these characters face monumental circumstances yet find the peace that passes all understanding when they walk the path they’ve been called to.

I like learning about history and situations through fiction. In author notes, she tells readers that the Belle Meade Plantation can be walked through today. The Jubilee Singers were real and went through far more than she discussed in the novel, and the crash on Dutchman’s curve was tragic. It occurred on July 9th, 1918. It was deemed the worst railroad accidents in American history. This makes for a heartfelt, intriguing read and a good book club pick. The author has a plethora of historical information, which includes fourteen discussion questions that will help give you a lively book club experience.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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