Title: To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander
Belle Meade Plantation Series Book Three
Genre: Historical, Christian, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first.
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.
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 stirring love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in American history when both were tenuous and hard-won.
Featuring real life people, events and places, To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander is an absolutely delightful Christian romance that is rich in historical details. Although this latest release is the third installment in the Belle Meade Plantation series, it can easily be read as a standalone.
One year following the tragic death of her fiancé David Thompson, twenty-five year old Alexandra Jamison’s father is attempting to force her into an arranged marriage to a much older man of his choosing. After declining the marriage proposal, she leaves the family home to pursue her vocation as a teacher of freemen and women at Fisk University. Penniless, Alexandra agrees to help Colorado railroad owner Sylas “Sy” Rutledge navigate the sometimes tricky rules of Southern business negotiations. Her relationship with Sy is somewhat complicated due to his unexpected ties to the train accident that took her fiancé’s life. Needless to say, Alexandra is a little taken aback when her opinion and feelings for Sy begin to evolve as they become better acquainted. As she becomes more emotionally entangled with Sy, will Alexandra allow the past ruin her chance at happiness?
Alexandra is a little ahead of her time as she finds herself in the midst of attempting to right the social injustices of the time period. Her sympathies lie with the freedmen and women who finally have the opportunity to receive the education they have been long been denied. On occasion, Alexandra comes face to face with her judgments and perceptions of the people she is trying to help. She is quick to admit to her failings with grace and humility when necessary.
Sy is no stranger to hard work since he is a self-made man from extremely humble beginnings. He truly believes in equality for all and he is more than willing to fight for his principals no matter the personal cost to himself. Sy is immediately smitten with Alexandra but he very wisely consents to the stipulations she puts forth when she agrees to help him with his business dealings. Sy is also incredibly loyal to the people in his life and his quest to clear his father’s name is quite admirable.
The historical elements of the storyline are quite enlightening and these details greatly enrich the unfolding story. Race relations are still quite tense and workers greatly resent the influx of freedmen into the work force. Alexendra is stunned by the backlash she and her family endure in the aftermath of her noble decision to work at Fisk University. Her experiences traveling with the Jubilee Singers are quite enlightening as she witnesses firsthand the difficulties the freedmen and women must endure in both the North and the South.
With a gentle undercurrent of faith, To Wager Her Heart is an endearing historical romance that old and new fans of the Belle Meade Plantation series are going to love. Tamera Alexander’s incorporation of true life events, people and locations greatly enhance an already substantial storyline. The relationship between Sy and Alexandra gradually transitions from slightly adversarial to genuine friendship and eventually, love. A truly engaging novel with lovable characters, a realistic plot and a sweet romance that readers of historical fiction do not want to miss.