Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: To Win Her Favor (A Belle Meade Plantation Novel) by Tamera Alexander

The USA has been the place of new beginnings for a lot of people and it is now different for Cullen McGrath - at least that's what this young man from England is hoping for. After being involved in a horse racing scandal that nearly destroyed his life he set out for Nashville, Ky to seek a new start.  But the plan that sounded so good in theory is harder than thought to achieve in practice and the old demons come visiting. Despite Cullen's best efforts to make an honest living and stay away from horse racing, being in Kentucky horse racing is never far away and eventually his past catches up with him.

At the same time, Maggie Linden wants to make a name for herself as well in Nashville. She has a mare called Bourbon Belle and she is convinced that she is a winner. A winner in the Drayton Stakes that is, the horse race in the USA with the biggest winner's purse. She wants to enter Bourbon Belle, but her father has his own plans. Afraid of losing his estate Linden Downs to creditors, he makes a deal with Cullen that Cullen really should refuse, but is drawn to because it promises success and money.

This story plays in the middle of the 19th century in Kentucky, so slavery will be mentioned and it is throughout the book. Especially since the author chose to include a secret society that is responsible for heinous acts, including lynchings and raids. The author does not shy away from showing the dark side of the South during that timeframe and some readers may object to the detailed description of that time period.

But those passages are balanced by the love story that is developing right at the beginning of the book. There is plenty of behind closed door action taking place and this book is therefore definitely for the adult reader. Cullen and Maggie are bound to each by their desire to improve their lives, but coming together for these two is not easy. There is a lot of distrust and hesitation on both sides. The South is still in turmoil and Cullen is from a very background than Maggie, who needs to overcome her background and upbringing, which was very much focused on class and family history, to start appreciating what Cullen can do for her.

available for pre-order at

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post has not been influenced by any third parties.

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