A Beauty So Rare(A Belmont Mansion Novel) by Tamera Alexander
Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2014) 480 pages
Eleanor Braddock--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--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 Rating: 5/5 stars(and then some!)
Hug-worthy! Gush-worthy! I adored(ADORED!!!)this book, from beginning to end!
Eleanor won a place in my heart as one of my favorite leading ladies to ever pass through my reading imagination. She's considered "plain" as far as her outward appearance goes. She's exceedingly tall for a lady, taking her looks from her father, and well past the "marrying" age. With so many men lost to the war, combined with her "plainness", she's given up hope of a husband. Inward, though, she's as beautiful as they come! Her father suffers from Alzheimer's and barely remembers her. When he does, it's with anger. Despite missing him terribly, and knowing she has to make a way for herself, she doesn't roll around in self pity. She rolls her sleeves up and tackles the world with her humble stubbornness, and I loved that about her.
Marcus! He won himself a place in my reading heart, too! I'm not typically a fan of the whole "bad boy" thing. Marcus is Austrian, and has a bit of an arrogant attitude about him. He was also once a "bad boy". Within this story, he's anything but, though. I enjoyed all the "plant talk" and creative architect imaginings that he brings into the story.
A Beauty So Rare is seriously one of the sweetest romances I've ever read! It's not all romance, though. There's an abundance of layers added within this book. There's a little mystery that I almost forgot about through part of the story. There's encouragement to pull ourselves out of our own little world and help those in need. I was left with many things to ponder as I closed the last page with a happy sigh. And, again, there's the sweet(so very sweet) romance. It's not a quick read by any means. I encourage you to read it slowly and simply enjoy your time in it. It's what I consider a "chunkster", but well worth the time investment. I'd also encourage you to read A Lasting Impression first, just so you can have a better appreciation for Adelicia. You probably won't like her at all without reading A Lasting Impression first. Otherwise, it's perfectly fine as a standalone.
I loved this book so much, I'm determined to convince you to put all other reading aside, and read the two books in this series! I smiled, laughed, cried, and ended the book with a little hug. What more could you ask for from a book?! ;)
*Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!