Rating: ****– 4 Stars
GENRE: Historical Christian Romance
BOOK SUMMARY: Claire Laurent is a gifted artist who is forced to paint forgeries by her scheming father. Eventually, she flees New Orleans for Nashville, where she accepts a position working for Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in post-Civil War America. Hiding from her past, Claire is thrust into Nashville’s upper echelon, where she meets Sutton Monroe, a lawyer bent on avenging his father’s murder (Library Journal).
REVIEWER COMMENTS: This is the first installment of a new series set in the beautiful Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN, now a touristic site. The story of Claire, a forger artist, takes you into the detailed described historical settings after the Civil War, and develops into a story based on some real events and characters, and fictional ones. Even though this is the 1st book out of 3 (#2 and 3 are not yet released), it is a stand alone novel (no cliffhanger ending).
What impressed me:
1. The writing. Alexander is a wonderful descriptive writer, creating a clear mental picture of the scenery and the characters’ looks and expressions that never goes over the top.
2. The historical and artistic element. Alexander brings a lot of real and historical information about the places and happenings of the time, as well as a wonderfully described artistic element.
3. The Christian emphasis. This is one of the few Christian romance novels that has touched me, personally, and through which I felt God speaking to me. I have learned a lot of lessons that have helped me with my own spiritual walk.
4. The romance. It is described masterfully: the looks, the chaste touches, and the dialogues, develop in a way that is realistically and impeccably timed.
5. The characters. I loved them all! From the two main ones (Claire and Sutton), to the minor ones, and even the villains.
1. Alexander’s style of writing of some of the dialogues which, more often than necessary, are cut off. The characters keep interrupting each other’s sentences, overwhelmingly at times, sounding a bit soap opera-ish.
2. The plot: a bit predictable, and filled with too many coincidences. For example (*SPOILER ALERT), Claire sees Sutton at the train station, at the church she hides in, and at Belmont Mansion, all on the same day. In Nashville, Sutton, Claire’s love interest, ends up being one of the lawyers in the lawsuit involving Claire’s family illegal business in New Orleans, and Adelicia, Claire’s employer, subscribes to the New Orleans’ newspaper, which contains an article on Claire’s dad death. Also in Nashville, Claire comes across one of her forged paintings, which was painted and stolen in New Orleans. And so on. C’mon: how small is Claire’s world? I understand this is a fictional story, and that God’s plan is at work here, but I found it a tad unrealistic.
SEXUAL CONTENT: A few kisses, some more passionate than others.
ADULT LANGUAGE: None
*Conclusion: From my star rating, it is evident that I still absolutely loved this novel. This is a wonderful, clean, historical romance fiction story with a Christian undertone, and a great beginning to a series I am looking forward to keep reading. The romance between Claire and Sutton, and their spiritual development throughout the book, will melt your heart. A must read!!