Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review: To Win Her Favor

Ah dear fellow readers! Another year has past and spring is here again- which must mean that it's
time for another Tamera Alexander book! As you all should remember by now I am an avid and devoted fan of Tamera's work and I have been delighted to be included again on her blogging team for the release of this book!

"To Win Her Favor" is the next fresh installment of the Belle Meade Plantation Series and focuses on the lives and goings on at the next farm over, Linden Downs. Our heroine is Maggie Linden who, at a mere 20 years, is a gifted horsewoman and the sole companion to her ageing, ailing, father (all the rest of their family being lost to the war). The effects of the war on the once booming farm have had its toll as well and now, drowning in tax debt Linden Downs races their only remaining thoroughbred, Maggie's prize possession, Bourbon Belle in the hopes of clearing the debt and changing their future. Her father it seems, has other plans. Before she knows it she has entered a marriage of convenience with an Irishman (of all things!) in order to save the farm- an Irishman that is adamantly against going anywhere near a horse race! As Maggie and Cullen McGrath come to grasp with being in each other's lives and restoring the farm, the biggest racing stakes ever offered- the one that was the answer to all of Maggie's prayers- draws closer. But does God have bigger plans for Maggie and Cullen than either of them ever dreamed of? And has He already been answering Maggie's prayers for her future?

Tamera Alexander writes the realest characters ever put to paper in Christian fiction. Her style and execution is flawless with writing that expresses the keenest observations about both man, beast, and God's fine creation. I am always amazed and delighted to be transported into one of her novels through her beautiful engaging descriptions and I often find myself stopping short and rereading a sentence or paragraph because I've realized what a lovely turn of phrase something is! With this kind of effortless styling the reader is whisked along through through Maggie and Cullen's story and I found myself quickly attached to the both of them.

Something that is done so well in this book, like her others, is the portrayal of real people making real choices about real life. Maggie is young and inexperienced with the harsher realities of men judging against a persons skin tone or nationality- until life as Cullen's wife makes her a wiser woman and forces her to evaluate the way she herself treats people. Cullen too experiences great growth as he moves from his more colorful past behavior and actions in his native Ireland and England to desiring to be the kind of man that Maggie's father assessed him to be, a man of honor and loyalty who will care for his daughter and his land. It is so easy to assign a certain perfection to the characters in a Christian novel, a certain aura of saintliness that proclaims the hero or heroine to be all together despite their flaws. But I never find that to be the case with the Tamera's characters. There is no guile, or pretense, or pomp in the way that these characters find themselves changing. These characters are as living and breathing as you or I. They have differing opinions and are hurt by words and misunderstandings, they fight and makeup; and in the end they reach a place of trust, and even love, despite their rough beginning.

In light of reading others review's on this book I feel the need to address a reoccurring theme in the lower rated reviews, the objection to Ms. Alexander's supposed indecency in writing 'sex scenes'. I assure my readers that there are no 'sex scenes' in this book. Period. What this book does contain is brief, discrete glimpses into a married couple's intimate relationship. There are detailed kissing scenes which do often lead to 'married people activities' ;) but that never extends into anything graphic or objectionable in my view, every scene is always a 'fade to black'. In a day and age when persons of any age have so few positive Godly role models in a healthy marriage relationship I find it endearing that we would get to see a little bit into the ups and downs and imperfections of what a real married couple looks like. Couples often seem manufactured to live relationships that are always roses or wanton pleasure and even Christian books fall guilty in portraying that type of relationship. Maggie and Cullen's move from strangers to loving couple, however, is gradual and tender, showing both restraint and passion. And I wholly approve of how it was showcased.

Now lest you get the idea that this book is full of nothing but fluff and cuddles I should let you know that is certainly not the case! In setting her writing in the post- Civil War South Alexander gives herself a rough hewn canvas to work from. Gentry, freedman, and immigrant all have challenging and heartbreaking stories to tell in the period of Reconstruction, and I always walk away from one of Tamera's stories having learned something or gained an angle of perspective that I didn't have before!

The minor nit pick that I have with this book is that there is a single curse word near the very beginning, and if you are sensitive you will want to be aware that there is usage (by wicked men) of strong ethnic slurs that are in keeping with the era. But overall I really loved everything about this book! When I went back over my marked pages it was so evident the Spiritual lesson contained herein was that all our life is a gift from our maker and you can never go back and erase the past, but by God's grace you can go forward. It was a lovely theme and one that is sure to stick with the reader for a long time! I enthusiastically recommend that you pick this book up and enjoy it for your summer reading!

Final Rating: 5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.