I discovered Tamera Alexander by complete accident a little over two years ago now. Truth is my mother in law was getting rid of one of her books and I liked the cover so I asked if I could have it. Boy was I glad I asked. Coming back to the present I have now read all of her books including her newest To Whisper Her Name. I have yet to be disappointed by anything she has written. Tamera Alexander has this amazing gift of blending history with her fiction. You can tell through her writing that she takes great care in her research. But I could go on and on, so lets just get to this book.
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.
Where to begin… Olivia was a remarkable character. She had struggles on many different levels. I enjoyed how Tamera Alexander didn’t play down some of Olivia’s troubles as well. As the book begins Olivia is being forced from her husband’s home and as she is leaving a women on the street spits at her. Even though it was her husband who committed the crimes it was Olivia that had to suffer the long term consequences. She was so determined not to be hurt again that she would have settled for being unhappy the rest of her life. It was impressive to see how Olivia grew through the story and how she overcame many of her fears.
Ridley Cooper was a character that always left me guessing. Just when I thought he would do something predictable it went the other way. Here is a man returning from war, a war that he helped win, yet because he was a Union soldier from the South he had nothing left to go home too. After a chance meeting with Bob Green or “Uncle Bob” Ridley searched Uncle Bob out, determined to learn the horse whispering trade before heading to Colorado. Does Ridley let down his guard enough to not only learn what he needs but also to grow where he needs to as well? You will just have to read to find out. There are no spoilers here.
The chemistry between Olivia and Ridley was apparent and even though they could have held this book on their own they didn’t have too. For me that is what made the book. I loved Tamera Alexander’s use of supporting characters. What amazed me even more is all the truth and history that was woven into this book. Uncle Bob really did hide out in the mountains of Tennessee with Captain Harding horses to save his plantation. On Tamera Alexander’s blog there are six vignettes
that are very well put together just to give you a better idea of the grounds and some of its “colorful” characters.
Overall this is a must read book. Not just because of the romance or the hope of a happy ending but the richness of what your reading as well. When you think back to the time just after the Civil War and what some had to do to rebuild, it is amazing we have come as far as we have. If you haven’t read Tamera Alexander before, please do, there is nothing more precious than a wonderful story.