By Kelly Bridgewater
Seeking justice . . .
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.
Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville's society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he's found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison's fiancé--and has shattered her world.
Struggling to restore honor . . .
Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But family--and Nashville society--do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both.
Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy's roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?
Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.
Tamera Alexander is a new-to-me author. I have read First Impressions and A Note Yet Unsung and enjoy them. I haven't read the first two books in the Belle Meade Plantation Novel, but this seemed like a good book to read. Being a historical novel, I expected the story to have something to do with history. I knew it would have bold characters and a romance to round out the plot. I wasn't disappointed.
The writing was clear and concise. Alexander does a wonderful job at bringing the historical south to life for me. I could see the community, the houses, the wide open spaces, and the train cars. In this novel, I could see the injustice and the justice done with Frisk University. I enjoyed hanging out in the south for a certain amount of time.
As for the plot, I viewed it as different. While the novel focuses on Alexandra and her quest to find meaning and move on from the tragic train wreck that derailed her life. The novel really had no conflict expect internal. Alexandra had to deal with her personal demons while allowing her past life with her parents to move to the wayside. The story moved at a nice pace, but I wanted a little more dilemma to affect the characters. The historical element was deeply admired. I enjoyed watching the Jubilee Singers as they tried to make something more for their lives.
The romance is there between Alexandra and Sy, but it is not the focus of the story. Alexander allows the story to slowly develop. The romance blossomed with longing for each other and gifts to make Alexandra's life better. It wasn't a hasty romance by any means.
The characters of Alexandra and Sy are brave people who want to make a better world around them. They want to see justice served with the Frisk University and with the train wreck that changed Sy and Alexandra's life. I enjoyed how both characters didn't care if they were seen with the underbelly of the city. They stood by their convictions and didn't allow public opinion to change their perspective. Neither character really change. The same characters I met in the beginning of the novel are the same characters at the end.
Overall, Tamera Alexander's To Wager Her Heart is an enjoyable read with barely any conflict. The romance moves along steadily, developing as the story goes along. The plot is different with characters who stand by their beliefs. A good novel to spend a couple of hours with.
I received a complimentary copy of To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander from Zondervan Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars