|Post Civil War South has a lot to learn from sexy Ridley Cooper|
To Whisper Her Name (Belle Meade Plantation) by Tamera Alexander
Zondervan October 23, 2012
Paperback 480 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:
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.
I loved Tamera Alexander’s last novel, A Lasting Impression, and was all set to pre-order this on Kindle when I was offered a review hard copy. Definitely jumped on that one, as I now have all of Tamera’s books. Her writing is smooth and subtle.. never pretentious or overly dramatic, it’s just like a perfectly relaxing read. This one is about Olivia and Ridley as they each are struggling to imagine their futures, when their lives are beginning to rebound after the American Civil War. They meet each other at the Belle Meade Plantation, the stud farm owned by the Confederate General Harding, and circumstances draw these two together that make the reader tingle with anticipation.
Ridley Cooper’s dream is to head west.. and yet he finds himself with a job at the prestigious stud farm at the same time that Olivia does. Olivia has nowhere else to go, and even as she is supposed to be a grieving widow she finds herself drawn to Ridley. Neither one of these two have any idea that cupid is at work here, as they have their own harsh reality to deal with. Olivia’s dead husband was a scoundrel, and no one wants to have anything to do with her now. Elizabeth Harding opens her home to Olivia, but she still faces many obstacles in society.
Ridley was a Union soldier, not someone to be welcomed in a Confederate General’s business, so he is forced to hide that fact. As a reader, we know that secrets of such importance will rear their head in a bad way, bringing heartache and threatening the potential romance. Meanwhile, we get to know both Ridley and Olivia’s characters and we watch them grow and become closer as they adapt to their new surroundings. Ridley and Olivia are both likable, and they seem to bring a new life to the plantation with their presence. I loved how the author based her novel on such an inspiring setting, and I really loved the overall tone and the romance angle. The relationships between the two protagonists with the servants (freed slaves) was commendable and heartwarming. I recommend this newest Tamera Alexander to anyone who appreciates a realistic historical romance, and especially to horse lovers!