Rarely is a book so entrancing and beautiful as A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander


A Beauty So RareSet at Belmont Mansion in  Nashville, A Beauty So Rare follows the adventures of an impoverished young woman, Eleanor Braddock, who wants more than anything to start her own restaurant. However, she is going to live with her father’s sister, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, who is viewed as Southern “royalty,” and owning a restaurant is severely frowned upon by that lady.

Eleanor had come to the point where she had to live with her aunt because her father, a prominent attorney, had mentally begun to decline and Eleanor had had to sell off their assets in order to care for her father. Eleanor’s struggle to come to grips with her father’s illness really struck home for me. My beloved dad had Alzheimer’s Disease – it was so painful to watch him lose himself. My mom visited him every day once he had to be hospitalized. The last Christmas before he died, we visited him and had lunch at the nursing home. Mom had him all dressed up in his sports coat and red tie – he almost seemed like the Daddy I remembered. That was the last time he was “good.” He died two months later.

Eleanor had previously signed a lease for 3-months on a building she’d hoped would be that business. When the Chetham family goes on an extended vacation, Eleanor decides to cook for the owner of the building and a young woman from the neighborhood she’d enlisted to help her. Enter two men interested in Eleanor who had felt she’d never marry as she was so old (29) and so tall and plain.

You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest, but I guarantee you’ll love it! Another five-star romance from Tamera.

Tamera told me she writes about “where she is planted.” When she lived in Colorado, she wrote seven books centered on Colorado history.

She says she’s really an Atlanta girl, though, and loves the old antebellum mansions. When she was growing up, there was an old, boarded-up mansion that she and her friends used to sneak into – and that the seed for her new series was probably planted there.

When younger, Tamera never dreamed she’d be writing novels. In fact, when she was about 12 years old, someone she greatly admired read something she’d written (“probably a silly poem about a boy,” Tamera shares) and they told her, “You’ll be making an a** of yourself if you ever let anyone read what you’ve written.” She took that to heart at the time and––due to lingering issues stemming from sexual abuse much earlier in her life––she turned away from writing, not wanting to knowingly make a “fool” of herself. Words so hurtful can really wound us, can’t they?

But as Alexander shared with me, “God is so gracious. Even though what happened to me when I was younger was a painful experience and memory, He used it for good. I never could have written Revealed, the story about a woman trapped in prostitution and how she came to be there, and how God redeemed her, without having lived that experience. And without Him healing my own wounds. God never wastes a hurt, does he?”

She read a lot of fiction growing up and loved Stephen King and Dean Koontz (authors I cannot read!). While in college, she was a business marketing major and believes that while writing is certainly a ministry (and one she’s very grateful for), it’s also a business, and it must be approached with discipline and determination. “Especially in today’s market,” she adds. She appreciates the way her publishers allow her to partner with them in the marketing opportunities for her novels, and she sometimes shakes her head when she hears fellow author’s refer to their books as their “babies.”

Alexander shares, “I have two “babies”––ages 27 and 25.” She smiles as she continues, “My books are written from the heart, most certainly, but they are ultimately a product to a publisher. And I think it’s wise to remember that distinction when you approach a writing career and when you partner with a publisher. They’re going to work very hard to make your book the very best it can be, and it’s easier to view your own work more objectively if you don’t see it as your “baby” but as a “work of your heart.” ”

A Lasting Impression was the first book in her antebellum series and has a setting at the Belmont Mansion in Nashville. She has a three-book contract with Bethany House Publishers for that one. However, in February 2009, her mother was diagnosed with metastatic gall bladder cancer so Tamera basically moved to Atlanta to be close to her mom, and to care for her mom and dad during that time. Tamera shares, “Mom went Home to be with Christ in August 2009, but I treasure every day that I had with her during those last, precious months.”

Tamera wrote the next book, To Whisper Her Name, with a setting at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville (only 6 miles from the Belmont Mansion), and she has a three-book contract with Zondervan for that series.

The consummate businesswoman, she wanted to honor both contracts so she went to both publishers with a proposed solution (remember, she writes where she’s planted). She would alternate books by location. She’d write Belmont 1, then Belle Meade 1, and would continue in that fashion.  Tamera says her publishers have been wonderful to work with each other in coordinating her schedule and in listing each other’s books in the forward of each of Tamera’s novels, for which she’s very grateful.

Both series are set in the same time period (Nashville, 1860s and 1870s). Tamera says she’s been “greatly blessed” in how the curators of both mansions, along with the descendants of the original owners, have let her use their documents to research the books – quite a coup!

Tamara has been a member of a brain-storming group of fellow authors that recently celebrated their 11th anniversary. Some of the others in the group include Brandilyn Collins, Francine Rivers, and Robin Lee Hatcher. The woman keeps excellent company!

In her spare time, Tamera loves to cook and bake – “I REALLY love to bake.” A little known fact about Tamera is that she loves to sing and used to lead worship on occasion at her church. She says writing “is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. But also one of the most rewarding! Especially the connections I’ve made with readers. That’s one of the greatest blessings of this entire writing journey, for sure.” We’re so glad you persevered, Tamera!

I love Tamera’s books – you’ll want the entire Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation series! In fact, I’m so entranced by her writing and her characters that I recently turned out the lights at 5:18 AM because I couldn’t put her book down until I’d finished it.

 

 

I was given a copy of A Beauty So Rare by Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest appraisal.


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