An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.
Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville’s racetrack–the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie’s father–aging, yet wily as ever–makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail–Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.
Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts–and the escalating violence from a “secret society” responsible for lynchings and midnight raids–may prove too much for even two determined souls.
I shudder at the thought of a marriage of convenience. I can’t even imagine being in a situation like Maggie. That is why I have the worst time understanding how Tamera Alexander made me love her new book To Win Her Favor so much.
There was just this edge to Cullen that made him so likeable. You never knew what to expect from him. From Tamera’s writing I could just hear Cullen’s Irish accent. Cullen is probably one of my most favorite leading men in Tamera’s books. Which is saying something because when the book first began I was having trouble getting over the fact that he married so quickly after his wife died. (Don’t worry not a spoiler)
I loved Maggie’s character development. She was headstrong, but willing to learn. She was guarded, but loyal. But of course no Belle Meade Plantation book is complete without Uncle Bob. I loved Tamera’s supporting cast. They are always so rich and full of life. Savannah, Uncle Bob, Kizzy, Ennis, and Odessia. They all added such a layered depth to Maggie and Cullen’s story.
There was only one thing that caught me off guard with this book. The love scenes between Cullen and Maggie. While they were not overly graphic, they were much more descriptive than Tamera has written before. They were very intimate and at times I almost felt like an intruder. While Chief (who is almost 13) can read previous novels by Tamera, I will definitely hold off letting her read this one. But this is an adult book and not meant for teens.
Even with that being said, Tamera’s way of telling how history really unfolded is a gift. I knew about how slaves were treated before, during, and even after the Civil War but I had completely forgotten how the Irish were treated. Tamera didn’t hold back in one particular part with Ennis, and despite is being scary, I was grateful for it because it reminds us how important love really is. That it doesn’t matter where we come from or the color of our skin, we are all equal and deserving of love.
Overall this is a book that should not be missed. It is a stand alone novel in the series and while there are references to Tamera’s other books in them, if you haven’t read them, one may not even notice. Tamera’s love for historical details and her obvious love for Belle Meade Plantation shines through and adds richness to the story. I can’t wait to buy the hard copy!!
Publication Date: 2015
I received this advance copy from Net Galley and Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.