To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

My Review

Tamera Alexander’s To Wager Her Heart’s historical novel is replete with real characters and events. With slight literary license, she brings to life the stories of Belle Meade Plantation, Fisk University, Jubilee Singers, Philip Paul Bliss (composer and author of hymns), the Ashtabula River rail disaster and the Dutchman’s Curve train wreck.

The tapestry of the tale is woven so well, the lines between your real life and fiction become indistinct and blurred, causing you to wonder if you have stepped into the narrative or the characters have stepped out of it.

To Wager Her Heart is the third and final installment of the Belle Meade Plantation Novels. However, you will not miss anything as it can very easily be read as a stand-alone.

I received To Wager Her Heart from Zondervan Publishers and the author, Tamera Alexander. (Update: I also received a copy from The Fiction Guild) However, I was not obligated to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Set against the real history of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a powerful love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in American history when both were tenuous and hard-won.  

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father’s name. One man holds the key to Sy’s success–General William Giles Harding of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks.

Seeking justice . . .

Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville’s society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he’s found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison’s fiancé–and has shattered her world.

Struggling to restore honor . . .    

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But family–and Nashville society–do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both.

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy’s roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn’t count on is having to wager her heart to do it.

With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first.

 

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The Cowboy’s Bride Collection

Cowboy's Bride

About the Book

Ride onto the open range alongside cowboys and cowgirls who embrace the adventures of living in the Old West from Kansas to New Mexico, Colorado to Texas. Whether rounding up cattle or mustangs, training horses, fending off outlaws, weathering storms, competing in rodeos, or surviving drought these cowboys work hard each day. But when hardheaded men have their weaknesses exposed by well-meaning women will they stampede away or will a lasting love develop? Find out in this exciting collection of nine historical romances.

My Review

The Cowboy Poet, by Susan Paige Davis, begins the stories in The Cowboy’s Bride Collection.

Rilla Lane has returned home to the family ranch due to her mother’s illness. She loves the ranch and her Ma and Pa, but the poetry that lives in her heart needs a release.

Bat Wilson, a cowboy, had come to work on the ranch while Rilla was away. They really didn’t know each other, but Bat was hoping to remedy that by writing his own poems.  What he didn’t expect was the ridicule he’d endure from the other ranch hands.

For A Song, by Susan Dietze, is a fun story full of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and lots of faith and humor.

Aunt Martha Phipps believes she has the perfect answer to sisters Lily and Delia Kimball’s dilemma when she receives a letter from her nephew, Jackson Bridge. However, she only opens up a can of worms, and there will be a lot of talking to get out of the mess!

Crazy About Cait, by Nancy J Farrier, introduces us to Cait Sullivan and Jonas Hall.

Cait is one of the best horse trainers in the area. However, her father hired Jonas to train his horses for the cavalry, and Cait feels betrayed. Not only did Jonas get her job, but he had stolen and then broken her sister’s heart, how could she ever forgive him?

 Love’s Sweet Storm, by Miralee Ferrell, puts us on the trail with Addie Patrick during a blizzard.

Addie is stranded when her wagon careens off the path, and the driver is gravely injured. Knowing she’ll never survive without shelter, she sets out to find somewhere warm.

Grant Hollis is caught out in the same blizzard, but he’s injured. When he arrives at the line shack Addie found, he passes out, leaving only Addie to assist him.

Darlene Franklin brings us the amusing story of Millie Cain and Wes Harper in The Reformed Cowboy.

Millie recently relocated to Wichita from Boston in order to meet her pen pal and possible boyfriend, Wes. However, she first decides she would like to teach the Kansas cowboys lessons in etiquette and how to be true gentlemen. Mayhem and confusion ensue, leaving Millie to wonder if cowboys can learn!

Trey Carpenter, a rancher by trade, is supposed to meet his mother at the train station in A Texan’s Surprise, by Vickie McDonough. However, his Mom has a surprise for him-she brought along a widow, Sadie Hunter, and her two daughters, Abby and Martha.

Trey isn’t very happy about his Mother’s unannounced surprise; however, he’s even more unhappy when the local men begin to court Sadie.

The Wrangler’s Woman, by Davalynn Spencer, captures the story of Corra Jameson, widower Josiah Hanacker and his two children, Joe and Jess, and Josiah’s meddling sister in law.

Josiah needs help with turning his daughter Jess from wrangling and tomboy ways to a refined and genteel young woman, and if Corra agrees, she’s the perfect answer to his dilemma. If Corra’s unable to help with his daughter, his sister in law plans to spirit her away and train her properly.

Toby Lane needs to hire on as a foreman at the Double L Ranch in Cowboy Competition, by Becca Whitham, but he fears his family’s “curse” will keep him from doing his job.

Nia (Petunia) Lindley is trying everything she can to convince her Father she can “run” the ranch and still be a lady. However, her Father is doubtful and determined to sell the ranch. Toby may just be the answer to her problems if he can overcome the family “curse.”

The Cowgirl’s Lasso, by Jaime Jo Wright, is about Jonah Sparks and his search for a new foreman on his ranch. He is thrilled when his mentor, Charlie, recommends CJ Matheson. That is until he learns CJ is a woman named Celia Jo.

Jonah doesn’t believe CJ can do the job and constantly challenges and undercuts her authority. CJ knows she can work wonders for the ranch if only Jonah would leave her alone to work.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.