About the book~
Eleanor Braddock–plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty–knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier’s last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America–and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path–building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.
Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows’ and children’s home run contrary to Eleanor’s wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground–and a love neither of them expects.
But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.
Sharing My Review~
Archduke Marcus Gottfried escaped the pressures of his royal heritage by moving to America. In Nashville, he finds anonymity in restoring old buildings and grafting plants, but he knows it’s only a temporary reprieve. Next year, he must return to Austria and resume his…commitments. Eleanor Braddock, intelligent, but not pretty, is pushing thirty, and her dream of marriage and family has long since wilted.
There was wisdom in knowing when to let go of a dream, and even more, in knowing when it had let go of you.
With her finances dwindling and her father requiring special care, Eleanor moves in with her philanthropic aunt, who intends to honor a promise to Eleanor’s father by arranging a marriage that will secure her niece’s future.
Both Marcus and Eleanor have shameful family secrets, and both are being pushed into destinies not of their choosing. It surprised me to see who pushed back first, and up until 85% into the book, I still wasn’t sure how the story would end. As an avid reader who can usually anticipate endings, this kept me turning pages and more than made up for the beginning, which slowed from too much introspection and not enough dialogue.
In my opinion, the spiritual thread could have been beefier. That said, a resounding theme permeated the book, that beauty is more than surface level and means something different to each person. I also appreciate that the author didn’t wrap the broken family relationships in a neat, easy bow at the end. Family dynamics are tenuous and some relationships are not easily fixed, which the author portrayed well and true to life’s sometimes harsh realities. While A Beauty So Rare packs more pages than I typically read, I thoroughly enjoyed the complex plot and three dimensional characters, and highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing A Beauty So Rare and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.