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My name is Chelsey and I am the creator of Charming Chelsey's! I read and review anything and everything that I find to be "charming." I accept ARCs or already released books for review, and I'm also available to participate in any blog tours or book reveals too. If anything, please don't hesitate to email me any time for any reason at: charmingchelseys(at)gmail(dot)com

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Book Review: To Whisper Her Name

To Whisper Her Name (A Belle Meade Plantation Novel)Author: Tamara Alexander
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Zondervan
Series: Belle Meade Plantation # 1

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a murdered carpetbagger, gratefully accepts an invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation and the dearest friend of Olivia’s late mother. Expecting to be the Harding’s housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned once again when she learns the real reason why Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Caring for an ill Aunt Elizabeth, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a southern-born son who—unbeknownst to her and everyone else—fought for the Union. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him while harboring secrets that threaten his life. As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again…

Set within the remarkable history of Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, comes a story about enslavement and freedom, arrogance and humility, and the power of love to heal even the deepest of wounds.
 
“She knew it was wrong what she was feeling. Because a widow of only a week shouldn’t wish to dance a jig. But God help her, that’s precisely what part of her wanted to do. Not on the grave of her recently dead husband, of course – that would be considered rude. Just off to the side would suffice.” – Paperback Copy pg. 24
 
“The South was a part of her, and – for better or worse – she would always be a part of it.” – Paperback Copy pg. 29
 
“But her father had been wrong. She had treated that horse right, and it had thrown her. She’d treated Charles as best she could too. And he’d hurt her. Over and over and over again. And no amount of bandages or salve was going to heal the wounds he’d left behind.” – Paperback Copy pg. 41
 
“They rounded a bend in the road, and a long, shrub-lined drive came into view. At the very end sat a mansion reigning queen-like over a meadow that sprawled out in all directions, the land rising and falling around it like incoming tide. Six square columns stood tall and proud, framing the front of the two-story estate and at the peak of its roof sat a cornice that looked remarkably like a crown from this distance.” – Paperback Copy pg. 51
 
 
 

From the cover of this book to the setting in which it took place I could not be more pleased with all that it holds. The pages are so full of history, romance, passion, pain, and healing. Olivia Aberdeen has just lost her husband and she doesn’t seem to mind too much. He wasn’t exactly a man worth shedding tears over. When we are first introduced to Olivia in the beginning of this book she is on her way to live with her Aunt Elizabeth’s family who have offered her a place until she can get on her feet again. She has no idea what her new life will hold for her. All she knows is that anything is better than suffering under the ill abuse of her late husband.

 
This book was absolutely wonderful. I mean every single part of it. I would not change a thing from the characters to the romance. Olivia Aberdeen was an enchanting heroine who deserved a happy ending. Olivia actually inspired me because of how much she inspired others and how much she let others inspire her. After the passing of her late husband she couldn’t help but rejoice because of the awful wrath she suffered under him. I felt so sorry for her character at the beginning of the novel, and Tamara Alexander really made me hate her husband. I am glad that I didn’t have to meet him because he sounded like an awful person. I loved reading about the transition Olivia underwent by moving in with her Aunt Elizabeth’s family and it was great to see her come alive in a new world away from abuse and anger.

 
This book takes place in Civil War times and on a Southern plantation. I, of course, am Southern and we tend to hold our heritage close to our hearts. Olivia was proud of her Southern heritage and I loved reading about the plantation on which she lived. Alexander described it as such a beautiful and bountiful place. I couldn’t help but wish I were there. Ridley Cooper was a challenge to Olivia and her Southern ideals and this was interesting to read. Olivia makes it known pretty early on how dedicated she is to her Southern roots, and then comes along a Southern man who fights for and supports the Union soldiers. For someone growing up in the South this was nail biting to read because a war was obviously started over the differences between the North and the South, so I wanted to know how things would turn out for this Union soldier who dared step on a Southern man’s front step. This was a heated time for America and this book definitely captures some of those feelings.

 
My favorite part of this book was the fact that the place that Alexander writes about is real and tourists can go and see it. She talks about it some in the back of the book and on her website. She invested a lot of time in her research and studies in preparation for writing this book. I love it when I know just to what length an author went to complete a novel. Hard work does pay off! This novel is for fans of historical fiction and of course a great love story!

 
***A big thank you to the publishers at Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***






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