Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Storiesby Tamera Alexander
During the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history, four Southern women—their destinies forged by birth and heritage—face nearly impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.
To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home.
So when the new/b>/b>/b>
During the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history, four Southern women—their destinies forged by birth and heritage—face nearly impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.
To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home.
So when the new owner Aidan Bedford seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front—this time, a battle of the heart.
An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray
Seven years ago Russell Champion was betrayed by the two most important women in his life. Now Russell returns home, but is it too late to make amends with his mother and find closure with his true love?
A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail Clayton hopes to reconcile with Dr. Wade Bennett and become his wife. But her father insists she marry her distant cousin Charles Kittridge so the plantations of the two families will be joined. With her wedding looming, Abby must choose between duty to her family and the yearnings of her own heart.
Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily Derracott loves her childhood friend Thomas McGinnis, but she cannot marry a man who doesn’t share her strong convictions about the freedmen. Besides, she harbors a secret love for someone else. But the prospect of becoming his wife is not only improbable—it is completely impossible.
Includes Recipes and Discussion Questions
The Civil War era is the inspiration for these four romantic, Texas-set novellas. In Dorothy Love's "A Heart So True," Abigail Clayton is expected to marry her distant cousin Charles. To go against her father's wishes may put the family in financial jeopardy, but Abby's heart is not listening. Shelley Gray's "An Outlaw's Heart" tells of Russell Champion, who returns home to mend fences with his dying mother and discovers that her housekeeper is his former love. Emily Derracott adores her childhood friend Thomas McGinness, but their contrasting opinions about the newly freed slaves is a stumbling block to their romance in Elizabeth Musser's "Love Beyond Limits." Finally, Alexander's "To Mend a Dream" revolves around Savannah Darby's efforts to revisit her old family home, now owned by a handsome attorney and former Union soldier. Secretly seeking a box that her father hid within the house, Savannah uncovers romance and an unexpected surprise. VERDICT Four touching, well-crafted stories about following one's heart will find favor with the authors' fans and serve as a great introduction to these writers for new readers.
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Among The Fair Magnolias
Four Southern Love Stories
By Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, Elizabeth Musser
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser
All rights reserved.
Pawleys Island, South Carolina May 1860
Had Wade Bennett truly forgiven her?
Skirts tucked up, shoes dangling from one hand, Abigail Clayton stepped over the pungent remains of a horseshoe crab and studied the tumbling surf as if the answer to her question might be written there. A storm had blown ashore after midnight, leaving in its wake piles of broken shells, burrowing whelks, and clumps of rust-colored seaweed. Under the warm spring light the deserted beach took on a particular radiance that illuminated a pair of orange-beaked skimmers searching for sand crabs and a flock of brown pelicans gliding above the breakers.
Despite her worry, Abby released a grateful sigh. How perfect was God's creation, how delightful the rhythm of life on Pawleys Island.
Last week, with the last of the rice fields planted, Papa had closed Mulberry Hall and moved the household—furnishings, livestock, house servants, and all—here. To Osprey Cottage. The twelve-mile journey—nine by water down the Waccamaw River and three by land—had been accomplished by nightfall. The days following passed in a blur of activity. After a thorough cleaning and airing of the cottage, Mama had supervised the unpacking of dishes and lamps, silver and crystal, and set about preparing for the Claytons' annual spring barbecue. On Friday the beach would ring with the sound of dozens of their guests gathering for a three-day visit before leaving for summer homes in Saratoga or Europe.
Abby dropped her shoes onto the sand and stooped to examine a tiny fan-shaped shell. Mama was counting on her to help with the preparations, but all she could think about was Dr. Wade Bennett. Would he attend the party or stay away? Was he still holding on to his anger in the wake of their quarrel?
She heaved another sigh. If only she could take back her hurtful words. If only she could tell him that—
"Miss Abigail!" Rapid footsteps sounded behind her, and Abby turned to see her mother's favorite house servant, Sophronia, hurrying along the beach. Sturdy and compact, Sophronia reminded Abby of the steamers that plied the Lowcountry rivers. All she lacked was a smokestack and a whistle. And despite her small stature, she could move like wildfire through kindling when on a mission from Mama.
Clearly that was the case now. Sophronia hove to a stop in front of Abby, hands on hips, a frown creasing her smooth brown face.
"Where you been? Your mama sent me to fetch you half an hour ago."
"I went down to the boathouse." Abby jumped as the cold surf rushed over her bare toes. "I wanted to be sure my rowboat survived the winter. I must have lost track of time."
"Humph. You know Miss Alicia don't like you taking that boat out by yourself. It sure ain't ladylike, and 'sides that, it ain't safe."
"I've had a boat since I was ten years old. And I don't take it into open water. I stick to the marshes."
"Where the alligators just waitin' to gobble you up for breakfast." Sophronia glanced at Abby's feet. "Better not let Miss Alicia catch you running 'round with no shoes on."
"I know it. Mama can be such a stickler for propriety." Abby plopped down on a patch of dry sand to pull on her stockings and shoes. "Honestly, I don't see why she must stand on formality even here at the beach."
Sophronia's brows went up. "Maybe 'cause your daddy got his sights on running for office, and the governor hisself is on the way here for the barbecue."
Sophronia held out a hand and hauled Abigail to her feet. "Come on home now 'fore your breakfast gets cold as stone."
Abby followed Sophronia up the path to the cottage that had been her summer home for her entire life. Constructed of plain clapboards, it was not quite as large as the summer homes of their neighbors, the Westons, the Frasers, and the Allstons, but it boasted a prime location on the four-mile-long spit of land that was Pawleys. A wraparound porch provided a shady spot to while away a summer afternoon, watching the seabirds and the occasional pod of dolphins. The rear of the house faced the golden marshes and the endless serpentine creeks that fed into the broad, blue Waccamaw River. A sight that never failed to soothe her spirit.
"There you are." Mama stood on the porch, leaning on her walking cane, watching Abby's approach. Her voice was stern, but her brown eyes held a hint of merriment. "I might have known you'd come home damp and sandy. Don't track that dirt into the parlor, please, Abigail. Your father is expecting Governor Gist this afternoon, and Molly has already cleaned it. And for heaven's sake, do something with your hair. It looks like a rat's nest."
"Yes, Mama." Abby ran lightly up the steps and planted a kiss on her mother's cheek. "I'm sorry you had to send out a search party. I didn't intend to be gone for so long."
"You're here now, and no harm done. Your breakfast is waiting in the dining room. Please tidy up and meet me there. We have a million things to do before Saturday."
Ten minutes later Abby was seated in the dining room, a plate of eggs, sausage, and Molly's delicious spoon bread in front of her. Molly bustled in and poured coffee into Abby's paper-thin china cup. She set down a cut-glass pitcher of warm syrup. "Here you are, missy. Molly knows you partial to havin' syrup with spoon bread."
Abby drizzled syrup over the bread and took a bite. "Delicious, Molly. Don't I always say you make the best spoon bread in the Carolinas?"
With a gentle nod Mama dismissed Molly. She opened a leather-bound book and picked up her pencil. "Our dresses have arrived. You must try yours on at once in case it needs any last-minute alterations."
"All right." Abby took another bite of spoon bread, letting the warm sweetness linger on her tongue. She peered at the stack of mail on the table. "More replies for the barbecue?"
"Yes. These came yesterday, but I was too busy to open them." Mama withdrew a sheet of paper from a thick envelope. "The Frasers are coming. Poor Francis. I feel so sorry for him, trying to raise Charlotte all alone. You must remember to make time for her, Abigail. She's much younger than you, but desperately in need of female friendships."
Abby dug into her eggs. Fairhaven, the Frasers' plantation, was their neighbor on the Waccamaw. On her visits home from boarding school, she'd caught occasional glimpses of a small, sturdy girl traipsing after her father in the rice fields, her dark hair flying, her too-large boots sinking into the marshy ground. Abby couldn't help envying the younger girl's relationship with her father. Mr. Fraser seemed to dote on his only child, whereas Abby's own father believed girls were meant to be seen and not heard.
"The Averys are coming up from Georgetown tomorrow," Mama continued. "Theodosia will room with you."
"Oh. I was hoping to see more of Penny Ravensdale. It's been ages since we last spoke."
Mama scribbled in her notebook and spoke without looking up. "You'll see plenty of Penelope. The Ravensdales will be staying here for the weekend. Besides, Theodosia is perfectly lovely. And so ladylike."
"And I'm not?"
"I didn't say that, darling. Only you must try to comport yourself with great care this weekend. For your father's sake." Mama's brown eyes bore into Abby's. "You know how strong his political aspirations are. We owe it to him to do all we can to make a favorable impression on Governor Gist. The governor's opinion will carry a great deal of weight when the state legislature meets to choose his successor." Mama reached across the table and cupped Abby's chin in her hand. "Whatever your opinions, please try not to voice them."
"After all the money Papa has spent filling my head with knowledge, I don't see why now I'm obliged to conceal it, but all right." Abby raised one hand, palm out, as if taking an oath. "I will be the walking definition of 'seen and not heard.'"
Mama tried and failed to suppress a smile. "Thank you. Will you please see that Sophronia makes room in your clothespress for Theodosia's things?"
"Fine. But my room is so small we'll be tripping over each other all weekend."
"I know it. Osprey Cottage will be full to the rafters when everyone gets here. But it's only for a few days. The Averys are sailing for New York a week from Thursday, and after this weekend the Ravensdales will be staying at the Wards' cottage. Emily and John have already left for the Continent." Mama flipped a page and consulted her list. "Seventy-five people coming, so far."
"Heavens. They'll overrun this poor little island." Abby tried to lighten her tone, but she was desperate for news of one certain invitation Mama hadn't yet mentioned. "Any word from the Bennetts?"
"Nothing so far, but I'm sure Dr. Bennett and his parents will attend, just as they always have. Judge Bennett is not one to miss a chance to go fishing with your father."
Memories of her last evening with Wade Bennett set Abby's insides to churning. Three months apart had made her realize just how deeply she cared for him. How fervently she hoped he felt the same way about her. Last Christmas she'd thought he was ready to propose, but the holidays had come and gone without any declaration on his part. Then in February had come the unsettling quarrel that still brought tears to her eyes if she thought too long about it. What if they could never recapture the mutual delight and perfect harmony they'd once enjoyed? What if she couldn't convince him of her change of heart?
Mama smiled and patted Abby's hand. "You mustn't fret, darling. Whatever your disagreement, it can't be all that serious."
But it was. They had discovered a deep and fundamental difference in what they expected from life. As dearly as she loved him, as ready as she was to admit to her faults and seek a compromise, she had wondered and worried all spring about whether things between them could ever be put to rights.
Mama opened another envelope and drew out a single sheet of ivory vellum covered in small script. "Here's a note from Celia Mackay in Savannah. She says that she and Sutton can't join us this time. She's going to become a mother this autumn."
Abby noted the tears in her mother's eyes. "But that's happy news, isn't it?"
"I'm delighted for Celia and Sutton, but terribly sad that her father won't ever know his grandchild. David Browning was the most devoted father I've ever known. Apart from your own father, of course."
Abby took another bite of spoon bread. She didn't doubt her father's affection, even if he didn't often show it. She loved him too. Respected him. But a part of her feared him. Not so with her mother, who was the very soul of parental tenderness. For all of her life, Mama had been the one to indulge her only daughter's passions, to encourage her in her various pursuits.
Seeing her mother's sadness, Abby felt an overwhelming rush of love. A riding accident at age twelve had left Mama with a severe limp that required the use of a walking cane. But she hadn't allowed her infirmity to sour her disposition, to weaken her faith in a merciful God, or to dampen her enthusiasm for life. Even though Abby was a grown woman now, it was still her greatest joy and pride to win her mother's approval, and her praise meant more than that of anyone else.
On a long breath, Mama set aside Mrs. Mackay's letter and opened the next one. "Ophelia Kittridge is coming. And Charles is attending as well."
Abby's cup banged into the saucer with more force than she intended. Her appetite fled at the recollection of her unpleasant encounter with Charles Kittridge last summer. She hadn't told anybody what happened—not even Penny, who was her closest friend this side of heaven. It had been too upsetting. Even now the memory of it made her feel ashamed. As though the entire disgusting episode had been her fault. She pushed her plate away. "Oh mercy. What an insufferable pest Charles is, and his mother is the worst gossip in the entire Lowcountry. I don't see why—"
"They're your father's cousins."
"Yes, but such distant cousins they hardly count as kin at all."
"Nevertheless, we can't very well exclude them. Your father still has hopes that you and Charles might one day—"
"I know what he wants, but I wouldn't marry Charles Kittridge if he were the last man breathing."
Through the window Abby watched the brown pelicans diving into the surf. She would have to at least greet the odious Charles. She might even be forced to dance with him. But the only guest she was interested in seeing was Dr. Wade Bennett. And so far, he was silent.
* * *
Standing in the middle of her bedroom, clad in her chemise and petticoats, Abby lifted her arms as Sophronia slid the ocean-blue silk dress over her head. The voluminous skirt settled over her crinoline hoops, rustling as the maid did up the dozen tiny buttons in the back. Abby tugged at the scooped neckline to show off a bit more of her shoulders.
Sophronia frowned and rearranged it to her own satisfaction. "Now. That looks more like the lady you s'posed to be."
"Oh, for goodness' sake." Abby scowled. "This is 1860. And I'm twenty-three, not forty."
"Don't make no difference. Ladylike is ladylike." Sophronia opened a box and drew out a pair of kid pumps. "Try these slippers on your feet. I hope the heel is high enough so's I don't have to take up the hem of that gown. I got plenty more to do 'fore Saturday gets here."
Abby slid her feet into the shoes, not bothering to do up the buttons, and clumped over to the big cheval glass in the corner. She twirled around, the skirt belling about her ankles. This was not the gown she'd wanted. She had hoped for something more sophisticated. But Mama had enlisted the modiste, Mrs. Finley, in her cause, and Abby had finally given in. Now she had to admit her mother was right. The cut of the bodice flattered her small waist. The shimmering blue silk showed off her glossy brown hair and brought out the faint blush in her cheeks.
Even Sophronia, who rarely smiled, beamed when Abby turned to study the back of the gown in the glass. "You sure is a vision, Miss Abigail, and that's the truth. Won't be no empty spaces on your dance card."
Abby kicked off the shoes, which were already beginning to pinch her feet. "We won't have dance cards. Despite the fancy clothes, the dance is informal—though you wouldn't know it, the way Papa is carrying on."
"He wants to be gov'nor real bad, I reckon. Got to impress the muckety-mucks so's they'll vote him in come wintertime." Sophronia retrieved the kid shoes and returned them to the box. "He sure is excited that the governor hisself accepted his invitation."
"He was on pins and needles for an entire week, waiting for Governor Gist to reply." Abby's face clouded. "I've hardly seen anything of Papa all spring."
Turning her back to Sophronia, she motioned for the maid to begin undoing the buttons. "Though these days Papa's no fun at all anyway. It's as if he's forgotten how to talk about anything except politics. Secession this and secession that. It gives me a headache."
Sophronia chuckled. "I don't understand politics neither."
"Oh, I understand it. But since the men are the only ones who can vote and will do as they wish regardless of what the women think, any discussion of it seems entirely pointless." Abby stepped out of the blue gown and reached for her simple green day dress. She slipped it on and adjusted the matching satin sash. "I do miss taking the boat out with Papa."
"The summer just beginnin' though. You and your daddy'll have plenty o' time once this weekend is over." Sophronia carefully folded the dress and returned it to its muslin nest.
Outside, a horse and rig clopped along the beach road. Abby parted the curtain and looked out. A tall, broad-shouldered man with dark curly hair got out and brushed the dust from his gray jacket and trousers. He glanced up at her window as if he expected to find her waiting there.
Abby's breath caught, and her heart expanded with sudden joy. After three long months, Wade Bennett had come home.CHAPTER 2
"Quick!" Abby flapped a hand at Sophronia. "Help me with my shoes. I want to catch Dr. Bennett before he—"
"No, ma'am. You ain't gonna go chasin' after no man. Not even Mr. Wade. You just go wait in the parlor like the lady you was raised to be." Sophronia picked up Abby's hairbrush and began dragging it through Abby's tangles. "'Sides, you ain't even done up your hair this mornin'. Looks like the rats done slept in it." Sophronia clucked her tongue and shook her head. "No, ma'am. You ain't ready to receive no gentleman callers."
Abby sighed and submitted to the maid's attention, her ears straining for the sound of Wade Bennett's voice in the downstairs hall. But it was the creaking of wagon wheels and the sound of female laughter that drew her attention back to the window.
"Looks like more guests arrivin' from the ferry." Sophronia reached for Abby's jet hair combs. "I reckon Miss Avery and Miss Ravensdale be glad to see you."
Sophronia anchored Abby's hair combs and handed her a small round container. "Put some rice powder on your nose. Then go make our comp'ny feel welcome."
Abby dabbed her nose with the powder, then fastened her shoes and made for the door. Sophronia was right of course. As eager as she was to see Dr. Bennett, it was better to wait for him to seek her out. With her luck Papa would be watching, and he seemed always to be looking for some reason why the handsome young doctor was unsuitable company for her.
Excerpted from Among The Fair Magnolias by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, Elizabeth Musser. Copyright © 2015 Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, including the Christy Award (two-time winner, seven-time finalist), the RITA Award (two-time winner, four-time finalist), the Carol Award, the Maggie Award, the Booksellers Best Award, and Library Journal's top distinction, among others. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband now reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation, the setting of Tamera’s two USA Today bestselling Southern series.
A native of west Tennessee, Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels. Facebook: dorothylovebooks Twitter: @WriterDorothy
Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio. Visit her website at www.shelleyshepardgray.com Facebook: ShelleyShepardGray Twitter: @ShelleySGray
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Really enjoyed this book.
Among the Fair Magnolias includes four novellas from South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas during the post Civil War era. The young ladies in these stories find love even in trying times. Anything by Tamera Alexander is at the top of my list and this story is about one of the characters from To Win Her Favor. Each of these historical stories will keep you turning pages! If you want something quick to read, you will definitely enjoy this book. I won this book from The Engrafted Word giveaway.
I bought this book because I enjoyed Tamera Alexander's "To Win Her Favor" so much that I simply HAD to find out what happened to Maggie Linden's friend, Savannah Darby. Having lost her parents and their estate in the Civil War, she is raising her younger siblings on her slim earnings as a seamstress. Distressed to hear that their family home was bought at auction by a YANKEE, of all people, it seems that her dreams couldn't shatter into any smaller pieces. But through some unexpected events, Savannah is reminded that the Lord is able to "do more than we can ask or think" with the broken bits of our lives. As usual, Ms. Alexander weaves together historical research and delicate romance for a satisfying read. I loved the resolution to Savannah's loneliness and poverty! But with any collection of stories, there is always a weak link. I hadn't read any of the other authors before - would they disappoint? I am happy to say that although Tamera Alexander's "To Mend a Dream" is definitely my favorite, I was delighted with each of the other stories. They all take place in the South (hence the title, Under the Fair Magnolias). Each is related to the Civil War, though Shelley Gray's "An Outlaw's Heart" least of all. But each novella is so different! I enjoyed the distinctive voice of each of these new-to-me authors, especially Dorothy Love in "A Heart So True." I learned some upsetting history in Elizabeth Musser's "Love Beyond Limits." The volume wraps up with a few delicious recipes from desserts mentioned in these four stories, and discussion questions to make you think more deeply while they bake. I savored this book, giving myself time between tales to enjoy each personality, to get over my indignation at each injustice. This is a great read for anyone who likes historical fiction but doesn't have time at the moment for a long volume. It introduced me to three quality authors I will enjoy following in the future.
This is a wonderful collection of four novellas taking place in the South around the time of the Civil War. The first is A Heart so True by Dorothy Love. I loved this novella. It is the first that I have read from this author and it definitely won't be the last. It was well written. I fell in love with the characters as well as the story. This is one I will want to read again. Second is To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander. A delightful short story. This is the first I have read of this author and it was great. I will be reading more of her books. It was well written and now I want to read the book where Savannah was introduced. Third is Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser. A picture of the South after the Civil War. Not a pretty picture at times. I loved how the romance developed even in the darkness of the history. Last but in my opinion the best was An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray. This was a delightful quick read. I fell in love with Russell and Nora. I loved the message of forgiveness and emotional healing. It is well written and one I know I will want to read again.
Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love and Elizabeth Musser team up in their new book, “Among The Fair Magnolias” published by Thomas Nelson give us Four Southern Love Stories. From the back cover: In the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history, four Southern women–destinies forged by birth, hearts steeled by war–face near impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love. To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home. So when new owner, Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney and former Union soldier, seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But the clock is ticking. Can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front. This time, one of the heart. An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he’s determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother’s homestead, he discovers she’s very ill, and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past. A Heart So True by Dorothy Love Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty. Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser Emily has a secret: She’s in love with one of the freedmen on her family’s plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe. Each novella includes a scrumptious Southern recipe that’s inherent to each author’s story and that will suit your book club meeting to a T! Historical fiction, The Civil War and Romance what more can you ask for? Well Thomas Nelson managed to get these four great authors to come up with a wonderful ninety page story. And each one of these fine authors succeeded. Each story is different and great fun all by itself and each one takes place in The South and has something to do with The Civil War.”Among The Fair Magnolias” is great fun to read. This is a book where you wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, make yourself comfortable in your favorite chair and have warm cider to drink as you savor each story. All the stories are so well written and the romance is perfect, tender not overboard or forced. And each one gives you something to think about. I hope Thomas Nelson keeps producing more in this series. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I've discovered a new love and yet I find it frustrating too! What you ask? Novellas. Short Stories. I recently had the chance to read a free review copy of Among the Fair Magnolias, a collection of four period fiction novellas. Three of the stories were captivating and I quickly joined into the lives of the main characters (it says Southern Women, but I feel that An Outlaw's heart is as much, if not more, about Russell than Nora). It was satisfying to pick up the book and read the story in one sitting. The novellas were each around 90 pages, perfect for a quick read. However, when I got to the end, I was so bummed that it was over already...as I had already become invested in the story and wanted to know more. I want to clarify, as I say three of the stories were captivating and the book contains four novellas. For whatever reason, the one story just was difficult for me to quickly engage in - I read it, but the experience was not the same for me as it was with the other stories. I will not dwell on this, because the overall book is great. I think my favorite story was To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander. There was just something about Savannah that I found hard to resist. I haven't read any other stories by Tamera Alexander, but based on this short, I would love to check out some of her other books. An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray was the first, non-Amish work that I have read by her. She is one of my favorite current authors and I find all of her works to have great character development and a story the reader can easily engage in; this story was no different. If you enjoy period fiction and if you enjoy a quick read, like this busy mom, then I recommend checking out Among the Fair Magnolias.
Each novella is rich in history and details of Southern life, something someone, like me, who hasn't traveled South much would enjoy. I felt like I learned several things about life in the South with each turn of the page. The history lessons taught are done so with enough detail to keep you informed without feeling like you've just sat through a History class. Details within each novella gives you a clear picture of what life was like during some of the scariest times of our nation's history. Each story has a different setting- a Georgia plantation, a small-town Texas homestead, Nashville slums, and an island for wealthy vacationers - I was given a taste of Southern life through the eyes of women an men who would have to overcome hardships and pressures of society, allowing God to light their way.
I really enjoyed this collection of four historical novellas. Three of the novellas are set in the post-Civil War south and one is set just prior to the war. I found each story to be interesting and felt immersed in another time period. My favorite novella of the four was To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander. It was my favorite for two reasons. First, this story follows a character that I met in To Win Her Favor, the first book in the Belle Meade Plantation series. It isn’t necessary to have read that first book, but for me, it was like coming home. I loved reading Savannah’s story. The second reason that To Mend a Dream was my favorite is probably because it was the longest of the novellas and I felt that I had more time to connect with these characters. The other three novellas are all very nice, as well. A Heart So True by Dorothy Love made me feel sadness and anxiety for Abigail and definitely anger toward her overbearing and selfish father. Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser was packed with interesting historical information from a very scary time in Georgia’s history. I felt scared for the freedmen and women, however, I did not feel very connected to the two main characters in this novella. An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray was a good story. I have read the first book from the series that this novella is connected to and enjoyed reading another book set in Texas by Shelley Gray. I really liked Russell and Nora from this story. This is a good set of novellas and even though three of them are connected to full-length novel storylines, they can be read as stand-alone books. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through Litfuse Publicity, in exchange for an honest review.
In the past, I’ve not been the biggest fan of novella collections. I’ve not read many, honestly. Sometimes they just seem too short – for lack of a better word. I’m often left wanting a bit more – more story, depth, and time with the characters. I was first introduced to Among The Fair Magnolias and its sweeping cover after reading Tamera Alexander’s To Win Her Favor. I discovered a secondary character from that novel was going to have her own story in this novella collection. I went in search of a copy to read and I’m so glad I did. These four Southern love stories delivered enjoyable hours of easy reading. It’s no mystery to those who know me that I love the Southern setting and history. There’s a lot of beauty in the details and these stories covered them well. Each one focuses on different perspectives, issues, and people surrounding the Civil War. Some are set before the war and others after it, giving readers a broader experience. The romances were unique, sweet and easy-to-read. Predictable and yet not so predictable, if you know what I mean. I had to keep reading to find out just how these couples were going to find true love. ;) And that’s always fun! I was only familiar with the heroine from Tamera’s novella, but I believe each author incorporated characters and/or settings drawn from their other works. I think that’s something reading fans will enjoy. The stories really did draw me into their world and that southern soil of theirs. It was nice to read more from familiar favorite authors and discover a few new-to-me authors as well. Maybe novellas aren’t so bad after all. ;) Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Overall, Among the Fair Magnolias is an enchanting collection of novellas that sweeps the reader into the beauty and heartbreak of the "Old South." I was immersed into a world of change along with the heroines of each story. With a strong message about God's orchestration and heavenly interference in our life, this collection on novellas will immerse you into a world of faith, love, turmoil, and uncertainty. I highly recommend this sweet, southern collection. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Litfuse blogging program in exchange for my honest review.*
These four novellas are rich in history and details of Southern life. I felt like I learned several new things with each story. I was especially surprised to learn that during Reconstruction it was the Republican party that advocated for equal rights for black people and the Democrats were murdering, terrorizing, and seeking to prevent the blacks from exercising their freedoms and voting rights, as well as the Republicans that supported them. What a scary time in history. The bravery and courage of those men and women who acted on their beliefs during such violence and danger is inspiring. Each story has a different setting- a Georgia plantation, a small-town Texas homestead, Nashville slums, and an island for wealthy vacationers. I have a personal preference for characters who experience hardship rather than reading about society's elite, since there is less entitlement and more refining of character. However, the men and women in all the stories seek to overcome hardships and pressures of society to find the path that God would have them follow. (Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
Amazing collection of stories! Among The Fair Magnolias, By; Tamera Alexander, Dorothy Love, Shelley Gray, Elizabeth Musser This is such an amazing collection of tantalizing stories that are sure to hook you from the start. I so enjoyed the traveling back in time to live in each of these stores. Each story was so special and unique in it’s own way. There will be characters that you absolutely love and ones that you hate. You will laugh, cry while you read this delightful book. Be sure to get your copy of Among The Fair Magnolias today! 5 stars! It also makes a perfect gift!
Between the pages of the stunning cover are four heartwarming novellas by four talented, bestselling authors. The four stories swept me to the historical American south and each tale was a wonderful escape. The most enjoyable part was the recipes in each story. So much to love here. If you're looking for rich romance in a brief read, then this book is for you! And if you've never read any of these authors before, it's a wonderful way to get to know them and their work, and follow up with other books they have written.
Among the Fair Magnolias is a lovely novella collection! The authors deftly convey the history and essence of the South, and each of their stories boasts wonderful characterization and vivid imagery. I can easily name To Mend a Dream as my favorite story in this collection. Tamera Alexander is a fantastic storyteller, and Savannah Darby’s story has been begging to be told! This was my first time to read Dorothy Love and Elizabeth Musser, and I enjoyed their writing voices very much. Shelley Gray always delights readers with her stories and An Outlaw’s Heart is no exception. I enjoyed the drama and romance of each of these stories and recommend this collection for fans of historical romance and Southern fiction! Speaking of Southern fiction, it just wouldn’t be complete without the mention of good ‘ole Southern cooking! In addition to the novellas, each of these talented authors has shared a delectable Southern recipe. The mouth-watering fare includes: Molly’s Southern Spoon Bread from A Heart So True Savannah’s Truly Southern Peach Cobbler from To Mend a Dream Mrs. Derracott’s Lemon-Filled Coconut Cake from Love Beyond Limits Texas Sheet Cake from An Outlaw’s Heart Among the Fair Magnolias is a lovely collection that sweeps the reader into the history and romance of the South! I received a complimentary copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an unbiased review. I appreciate the opportunity to read these stories and share my thoughts.
Deb’s Dozen: Four Southern Love Stories, four strong Southern women, four handsome beaus. Perfect! Among the Fair Magnolias is a collection of four stories written by four different authors: Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser. They are all written about the time of the War Between the States and reflect the beliefs and opinions of that time. Difficult as we may find believing people ever could think that way, we find similar beliefs extant today. Besides being love stories, each author makes a strong statement about mores and belief systems. To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander reintroduces us to Savannah Darby, who was a minor character in To Win Her Favor (a Belle Meade Plantation novel). Savannah is an impoverished seamstress eking out a living sewing to care for her brother and sister. Victims of the Reconstruction Era, they’ve lost their family home and now reside in the Nashville Widows’ and Children’s Home. Savannah is tasked to substitute for another seamstress, Miss Anderson, to fulfill a commission to decorate a gentleman’s home. To her horror and great anguish, Savannah finds that the home is her former home, Darby Farm. When she arrives at the home, she is mistaken for Miss Anderson and decides to continue the charade to avoid any unpleasantness. The story of the redecorating and Savannah’s journey are well worth the read. My takeaway: Honor and steadfastness bring their own rewards. Five Stars. An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray takes us to Texas where Russell Champion has returned home after seven long years. Thrown out of his house by his mother at age fifteen, he has ridden with an outlaw gang and then gone straight. His stepfather had regularly beaten Russell and his mother. When he lays hands on Russell’s friend, Nora, Russell grabs a hunting knife and kills him. Returned home, Russell finds his mother very ill and very sorry that she sent him away. He decides to stay for a while after the woman who comes to care for his mom every day turns out to be Nora. Still in love with Nora, Russell is chagrined to find her being courted by another man. The story of Russell and Nora is one of forgiveness and redemption. Three stars. A Heart So True by Dorothy Love made me angry until the very end. I was angry at the customs that gave a father the right to marry off a daughter without her consent. I was angry at the belief of some men that striking a woman was acceptable behavior. I wanted to tell Abigail Clayton to run away from her situation and find happiness elsewhere. I was rooting for her to be able to be with the man she loved, not the man her father chose. You will love Abigail’s story and how she surmounts the obstacles in her path to true love. My takeaways: father is not always right, but obedience and honoring your parents is. Four stars. Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser was very disturbing. Set in Reconstruction Era Georgia, the plantation owners and the freedmen working for them face many dangers and privations. Emily Derracott loves her childhood friend, Thomas McGinnis, but cannot marry someone who doesn’t share her belief in the equality and the rights of the freedmen—the former slaves who work on the plantations. For more of the review: http://bit.ly/1HOwLpp
Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories is a sweet Christian romance. It contains four short stories written by four Christian fiction authors (Tamara Alexander, Shelley Gray, Elizabeth Musser, Dorothy Love). All of the stories are set in the South from 1860 to 1878. All four stories are pleasant and sincere. Among the Fair Magnolias was a pleasant diversion on a stormy afternoon. I give Among the Fair Magnolias 4 out of 5 stars. All of the stories are well-written. My favorite was the one from Tamara Alexander. It had great detail as well as the mystery. I received a complimentary copy of Among the Fair Magnolias from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.