A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

I have always been a huge fan of historical fiction, and this book caught my attention based on the first sentence on the back of it:

“PINK is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war – and still had one to fight.”

The book starts with Eleanor in a hospital, serving as a nurse in a confederate field hospital, and with a dying man as he believes that she is his sweetheart.  He utters a few words, and she can’t forget them… thinking that if she had a husband who died in a hospital, she’d like to hear what his last words to her would have been.  Through the book, you see the different times when she gets close to finding the woman, then you see her sadness when it isn’t her… and at the end, you see that the woman she was looking for all along was actually a friend of hers.  It’s beautifully written, and while not the main story line, it makes me think of how different life would have been back then, when you didn’t have the evening news or articles online to read whenever you wanted.  No pictures could be passed around on facebook, there was no possible way for the nurse to know who the wife of her patient was or be able to get in contact with her.  The personal connection (that Eleanor was eventually able to provide the widow) was probably worth more to her than anything else would have been.  What a precious gift!

Soon after the war, Eleanor returns home and has to make some very hard decisions that make it necessary to move in with her Aunt Adelicia – the “richest woman in America”.  After moving in, she meets Marcus, a man who works in her Aunt’s gardens, and who she assumes is an under gardener, but he’s actually an Archduke!  Eleanor and Marcus don’t see eye to eye very often, and it takes over half the book before they’re able to be around each other and be happy about it.  Each one has their own idea of how things “should” be, and neither one wants to budge.  They start out being on different sides, but in the end (as in most stories like this one!), they wind up falling in love with each other.  It’s not without challenges, tears, angst, and frustration, but it’s beautifully written!  Each one starts out with secrets, and the longer they know each other, the more they share with each other… filled with lots of unexpected twists, especially at the end (and no, I’m not going to say what happened!), this book held my attention the whole way through.  As someone who reads a whole lot of books on a regular basis, that says something.  The only thing I didn’t like was the font size – it was smaller than what’s usually used, and made it a little bit harder to read.  Apart from that, I loved the book!  I would absolutely recommend it to others, and would encourage you to read it slowly and absorb the lessons that are in it.  There are some beautiful quotes from this book, and great things to think about!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all of the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

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