By Kelly Bridgewater
Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas - and of sacrificial love.
Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women's Relief Society auction and applies for a position - only to discover it's been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity - and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?
Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women's Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of "crinolines" isn't his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies - one, in particular - is far more than he bargained for.
I'm not a big fan of Civil War stories. I have a hard time enjoying those type of stories, but . . . Tamera Alexander does such a great job at recreating this time period and bringing me into the story that I have a hard time not enjoying her writings. I have enjoyed her Belle Meade and her Belmont Mansion series, so I'm excited that she has decided to do another series in Tennessee around another popular plantation. With any historical novel, I want to be transported to that time period without feeling like I'm reading a history book and have characters that have something unique.
Alexander's writing is wonderful. Like I mentioned earlier, she does a wonderful job at bringing the home of Carnton come to life and the time period. She pays attention to the tiniest details like remembering what the women would be doing to raise money or knit items that could be used for the soldiers who are still in action during the Civil War. Alexander is sympathic toward the cause and shows the hurts and cares of the individual women who are left at home, trying to survive while worrying about their men who are off fighting.
The plot is unique because it shows the affect that the Civil War had on the women who were home still trying to hold it together. I enjoy how in each of the novels that I have read by Alexander she shows that the slaves were humans too with feelings and family. They were just as important as the whites and still were the backbone of our country alongside the whites. The story moves along at a rapid pace and kept my attention.
The romance was a little hasty in my taste. Aletta and Jake have only known each other for a month, and they fall in love so quickly. I know that this was a novella to wet the appetite of the reader. In her much longer novels, Alexander does take more time to develop her romances, so I let it slide for this novella.
Overall, I enjoyed the pre-novella for her Carnton series. I enjoyed the fast pace of the setting and the wonderful characters. I highly recommend this story, and eagerly await the series to begin next year.
I received a complimentary copy of Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars