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    I love these historical novels based partially on real history. Fisk University, the first freedman university in the United States, was a real school that still exists today. The Jubilee Singers were a real singing group from this university. Philip Bliss, a character in the story, was a real person from this time period that had written several hymns that we still sing today. Even though Sylas and Alexandra were fictional characters, they were portrayed as real through their thoughts, feelings and emotions. Alexandra stood up for where she believed God wanted her despite her parents wishes. It took Sylas a little longer but he too stood up for what was right even at a financial loss. But he too felt led by God in what he was doing. Sylas was trying to expand his railroad, Alexandra was attempting to get her college degree to order to continue teaching. Both had hurts and losses from their pasts that they were trying to work through. The prejudices of the day were sad to realize but are still evident today, though we think we've come a long way. This was a very thought provoking novel that caused me to stop, think and pray about my own personal prejudices that have followed me most of my life. I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise.
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    To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

    To Wager Her Heart #3 Belle Meade Plantation by Tamera Alexander 1871, Nashville, Tennessee… one thing Alexandra Jamison will not do is agree to an arranged marriage by her father, especially to that man! Instead she bravely pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first university for freedmen in the United States. But family, and Nashville society, do not approve and she soon finds herself cast out from both her home and society. The new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, Sylas Rutledge, has invested everything he has and hopes to clear his father's name. Sy is newly arrived from the Colorado Territory and needs some pointers in the way of Nashville’s society and once he meets Alexandra he decides she would be the perfect one to help “tutor” him. However, he soon learns that Alexandra’s fiancee was killed in the train accident his father was blamed for causing. Will she help him once she learns who his father was? Alexander and Sy captured my heart as their story unfolded and the secondary characters are just as captivating. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters—fictional and actual people/events—and get a glimpse of the hardships of the time, including prejudices...not only between races but what society deems is proper or acceptable, overcoming fear, learning to trust others and God...allowing Him to guide and direct your path each day, stepping out in faith, joys and love. The historical detail of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation is well done as is the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble. One of the spirituals the group sang, “In the Morning When I Rise, Give Me Jesus” I especially enjoyed. I enjoyed the references to Phillip Bliss and his hymns included in the story-line. To Wager Her Heart is a remarkable story, filled with hope, faith and love, a heartwarming story. ~I received an ARC of this book from the author (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~
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    Final novel in A Belle Meade Plantation series!

    To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander is the latest A Belle Meade Plantation Novel. It is August of 1871 in Nashville, Tennessee. Alexandra Jamison is still grieving the loss of her fiancé, David Thompson who died one year prior in a train accident at Dutchman’s curve. Alexandra blames the train engineer, Harrison Kennedy for the incident. Barrett Jamison, Alexandra’s father, is pushing her to marry Horace Buford. Alexandra, though, wishes to do something meaningful with her life. After a disagreement with her father, Alexandra is out walking when she hears singing. It is the Fisk University Jubilee singers giving a concert and after the program there is an appeal for teachers. Alexandra has found what she wants to do, but is she ready for what it will cost her. Sylas Rutledge has arrived in Nashville to bid on the Belle Meade railroad project and to clear his stepfather, Harrison Kennedy’s name. Sylas is unprepared for Southern society after living in Colorado. He needs someone to help him navigate Nashville society. Sylas feels that Alexandra will be the perfect tutor, but Alexandra is less than willing to pair up with him. But after her father casts her out of his house when she refuses to marry Mr. Buford, Sylas’ offer to pay for her tutoring is answer to her prayers. Over time, Alexandrea grows to respect and start to care for Sylas. Their bond will be tested and Sylas could lose everything. To Wager Her Heart is nicely written and has a beautiful setting. The romance portion is light and subtle which I appreciated (it was predictable though). The main focus of the book is on Fisk University and the Jubilee singers (the hardship they endured on their journey). Ms. Alexander did a superb job with her research and incorporating it into her story. I like how she incorporated historical figures and events into her narrative. It was interesting to learn about the college as well as the struggles faced by the university, the faculty, and the students. It is a shame this historical tidbit was never included in school curriculum. The author did a remarkable job at capturing the time-period and locale. I did find the pace of the novel to be a little slower than I would have liked, but I have discovered that it is normal in novels rich in historical detail. The Christian element was just heavier than I would have liked (I prefer a lighter touch), but I liked the themes which included the power of prayer and trusting in God. My rating for To Wager Her Heart is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). While To Wager Her Heart is part of a series, it can be a stand-alone novel. It is nice, though, to catch up on the characters from the other books in the series especially Uncle Bob. I am glad that I read To Wager Her Heart. It encouraged me to find out more about the Jubilee singers and Belle Meade.
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    To Wager Her Heart

    I loved this book, the story of overcoming for people who had endured the agony of slavery is both heart wrenching and heart warming. The historical reseach that has gone into this story makes for great reading. Thankyou Tamera.

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