Blockbuster New Historical Series From Acclaimed Author Tamera Alexander
To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.
All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.
Set at Nashville's historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera's stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers' hearts and leave them eager for more.
About the Author
Tamera Alexander is a bestselling, award-winning novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thoughtprovoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers worldwide. She and her husband live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy life with their two adult children and Tammy's father. Learn more at www.tameraalexander.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Lasting Impression
By Tamera Alexander
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2011 Tamera Alexander
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFrench Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana September 7, 1866
Claire Laurent studied the finished canvas on the easel before her, and though masterpiece hardly described it, she knew the painting was her best yet. So why the disappointment inside her? The fiendish fraudulence trickling its way through her like tiny beads of sweat beneath layers of crinoline and lace. She ran a hand through her curls and dropped the soiled paintbrush into a cup of turpentine, full well knowing why. And knowing only deepened her guilt.
Her gaze fell to the lower right-hand corner of the canvas, the one reserved for the artist's signature. She hadn't yet been able to bring herself to sign this one. Not with that name. Because of all the landscapes and still lifes and portraits shed painted, none had truly felt like hers ...
Until this one.
A breeze, moist and swollen, heavy with the certainty of rain, wafted in through the open second-story window, and she peered from her bedroom over the town, breathing in the tang of salty air moving in from the gulf. She viewed the Vieux Carré below, the Old Square shed painted so many times she could close her eyes and still see every detail—the rows of pastel-colored buildings clustered together and edging the narrow streets, their balconies of decorative black cast iron boasting hanging baskets that cascaded with late summer blooms. The combination lent a charm and beauty unique to this part of the city.
No wonder shed fallen in love with New Orleans so quickly, despite the hardship of recent months.
The steady tick-tick-tick of the clock on the mantel marked the seconds, and she released her breath with practiced ease. She rose from her stool and stretched, paying the toll for retiring so late in recent evenings and for rising so early, but there was no avoiding it. This painting had taken longer to complete than she'd estimated.
Much longer, as her father kept reminding her.
Almost half past two, and she needed to "take leave of the gallery no later than three" as her father had insisted. She knew she shouldn't allow his request to bother her. It wasn't the first time he'd demanded she leave while he "conferred" with gallery patrons. And it wasn't as if she didn't know what he was doing during that time. What they did as a family business.
His increasing agitation in recent weeks wasn't helping her attitude toward him, however. Though not a gentle man, by any means, he wasn't customarily given to a sharp tongue. But in recent days a single look from him could have sliced bread hot from the oven.
"Claire Elise? Où es-tu?"
She stiffened at his voice. "Oui, Papa. I'm up here."
She glanced back at the canvas, fighting the ridiculous urge to hide it. Something within her didn't want him to see the painting. Not yet. And—if it had been within her control—not ever. Maybe she could tell him it wasn't finished yet. But one look at her, and Papa would know. Pretense was a skill she'd never mastered—not like he had.
Hurried steps coming up the stairwell told her there wasn't enough time to stash the painting in the empty space behind the wardrobe, and throwing a drape over it was out of the question with the final brushstrokes only moments old. Maybe if she told him how much this particular painting meant to her, he would let her keep it.
But she had a feeling that conversation would go much like the one six months ago, following her mother's passing—when she'd told him, as forcefully as she dared, that she didn't want to paint "like this" anymore. Her father had never struck her, but she'd sensed he'd wanted to in that moment, and she hadn't considered broaching the subject again.
"Ah ..." His footsteps halted in the doorway behind her. "Finally, you have finished, non?"
His tone, less strident than earlier that morning, tempted her to hope for an improvement in his mood. "Yes ... I've finished." Readying herself for his reaction—and critical critique—she stepped to one side, a tangle of nerves tightening her insides.
He stared. Then blinked. Once, twice. "Jardins de Versailles ... again." A muscle tightened in his jaw. "This is not the painting upon which we agreed." He looked at her, then back at the canvas. Keen appraisal sharpened his expression. "But ... it does show some improvement."
Claire felt her nerves easing at the merest hint of praise. Until she saw it....
That familiar flicker in his eyes. Her father appreciated art, in his own way, but he was a businessman at heart. His pride in her artistic talent ran a losing footrace with the profit he hoped to make through selling her paintings.
Her paintings ...
The irony of that thought settled like a stone in her chest, which sent an unexpected—and dangerous—ripple of courage through her. "Papa, I ..." The words fisted tight in her throat, and he wasn't even looking at her yet. "I need to speak with you about something. Something very important to me. I know you're not—"
His hand went up, and she flinched.
But he seemed not to notice. "This isn't the landscape we agreed for you to paint this time, nor is it what I described to the patron, but—" He studied her rendering of Louis the XIV's palace and the surrounding gardens, then gave an exaggerated sigh. "Given we are out of time, and that the patron very much desires to own a François-Narcisse Brissaud ... it will have to do." He nodded succinctly, as though deciding within himself at that very moment.
"Yes. I'm certain I can convince him of its worth. After all"—he smiled to himself—"the larger galleries in Paris often ship the wrong painting. But next time, Claire ..." He looked down at her, his gaze stern. "You must render, to the smallest detail, the painting upon which we have agreed."
Claire searched his face. His words stung, on so many levels. But the most disturbing ... "You've secured a buyer for this painting? Before they've even seen it?"
A satisfied smile tipped his mouth as his focus moved back to her work. "I told you this would happen. Word is spreading. After two years of tireless effort, our humble little gallery is finally earning the recognition it deserves in this city. As well as our patrons' trust, as I knew it would, given time. And my negotiating skills." His head tilted to one side. "Though I must admit, your mixture of lighter and darker shades, the hues in the garden, the way you blended them this time ... I see you took my advice to heart."
Claire said nothing, having learned that was best when it came to comments about taking his counsel.
His expression turned placating. "If I were to stand closer"—he did just—that "I am almost certain I could catch a whiff of lilac warmed by the noonday sun."
He stilled, and she followed his gaze to the lower left corner of the painting. The added detail was subtle, so subtle one might miss it if not looking. So she wasn't surprised it had taken him so long to notice.
"Abella ..." His voice barely audible, her mother's name on his lips sounded more like a prayer than any Claire had ever heard. Not that she'd heard many, and never from him. "Y- you ... painted her," he whispered.
Emotion stung Claire's eyes, prompted as much by the halting break in his voice as from missing the woman in the portrait. She'd painted her maman barefoot on the cobbled pathway, half hidden behind a lilac bush, a basket of flowers dangling from one arm. Her chin was raised ever so slightly as though she were looking for someone, waiting for them. And her cascade of auburn curls, mirrored in Claire's own, lifted in the imagined breeze.
Claire stared at the image of her mother until the delicate brushstrokes blurred into a pool of color. Ten years had passed since that afternoon at Versailles, their last visit to the palace before leaving Paris, and France, forever. She'd been nine at the time, but the memory of afternoons spent there with her parents—wandering the gardens, nurturing childish dreams of what it would be like to live in such a place—had nestled deep, and were still so vivid to her senses. The air fragrant with blossoms, nature's symphony in the rustle of the trees, the thriving sea of color—every detail locked away, secure.
Memories of those days were the happiest of her life. And those of the past six months ... the loneliest.
She thought shed been prepared for her mother's death. For over a year, she'd watched the sickness devour her from the inside out. And while she felt relief knowing her mother wasn't hurting anymore, there were days when a void, murky and dark, yawned so wide and fathomless inside her that she feared it would swallow her whole.
"She was so beautiful." Her father's voice was fragile, weary beyond his forty-two years. He reached out as if to touch the painting, then stopped. His hand trembled.
Claire looked at him more closely. The shadows beneath his eyes ... How long had those been there? And the furrows in his brow. Etched by regret, perhaps? And worry, most certainly. But worry about what? Rent being late again? Selling the expensive pieces of art he'd purchased on credit, and against her better judgment?
She looked back at the painting. "I didn't plan on including her in the painting, Papa. She just ... appeared ... from the tip of my brush."
For the longest moment, he said nothing. Then his breath left him in a long, slow sigh. "The truth of a painting must first be birthed in the artist's heart before it can be given life on the canvas."
Claire felt a quickening inside her. Her mother's first lesson in painting ... but from long ago. She couldn't believe he remembered. She, on the other hand, remembered everything her mother had taught her. If only she'd inherited Abella Laurent's giftedness. Her mother had insisted she had, and more so. But Papa had made it clear she hadn't.
He'd never said it outright, of course—that nothing she did was ever quite good enough. Yet she knew he thought it, just the same. She knew it by what he didn't say.
Her father's hand moved at his side, and in a briefly lived dream, Claire imagined he was going to cradle the side of her face, as she'd always wanted him to do, as her mother had told her he used to do, but Claire couldn't remember back that far. She waited, breath trapped in her throat, feeling less like a woman and more like a child.
He turned away. "I miss her too" he whispered. "Never think that I don't."
Feeling foolish, telling herself she should have known better, Claire bowed her head to hide the hurt. "I don't think that, Papa."
There had been times in earlier years when shed questioned the love between her parents. But mainly her father's love for her mother. In the final days, especially. When it became apparent that the medicine wasn't working and the doctors had given up hope, and when Claire had pleaded with him to send her mother to a sanitarium. "People like Maman go there and some of them get better," she'd told him. But his anger had erupted. "Those places cost money, Claire Elise! Money we don't have. Unless you can paint in her stead. Faster and better than you're doing now."
So she'd worked, night and day, for months on end. Caring for her mother as her mother continued to instruct her—just as she had since Claire was a little girl—sometimes from bed, when her mother was too tired to sit or stand. But in the end, no matter how much Claire pleaded or how much she painted, Papa had held his ground, and her mother had died in this very room.
Her father cleared his throat. "Fortunately for you, of the seventeen times Brissaud painted Jardins de Versailles, he included a different detail in each."
Claire nodded, aware of that fact, as he well knew. And also aware that everyone of the seventeen original Jardins de Versailles—plus the four shed painted before this one-were in circulation. If anyone ever devised a way for those four, soon to be five, proud owners of a François-Narcisse Brissaud "original" purchased from the European Masters Art Gallery in New Orleans to know details about the other seventeen ...
Her father gestured to the clock on the mantel, then looked pointedly back at her before descending the staircase.
Claire retrieved her reticule and turned to follow him, then glanced back at the painting. Not giving herself time to think about the consequences, she grabbed a brush, dipped it in paint, and signed the portrait—with her name—hand shaking as she did. She'd have to change it later, she knew.
But for now, seeing her name on something she was so proud of—and knowing Papa wouldn't like it—felt good, if not a bit rebellious.
As she passed through the kitchen, she saw that the door leading into the art gallery had been left open—something Papa never permitted. Stepping through that door was like stepping into another world. Plush rugs and bronze chandeliers, oil paintings and sculptures, burgundy silk paper lining the gallery walls that matched the velvet cloths draping the tables. Every item purchased on credit when they moved into this building two years earlier, and purchased with the intent of creating an air of affluence and wealth, however flimsy and paper-thin that veneer.
Confronted again by the stark differences between the gallery and the living quarters, Claire paused at the back door. Hand on the latch, she summoned courage. "Papa ... about the painting I finished today. I'd very much like to discuss with you about keep—"
"No. It's out of the question."
Unexpected heat shot up through her chest. "But this one is special. To me, at least. I'll paint another one, faster, exactly as you detail. Whatever you—"
"The answer is no!" Anger darkened his features. "The painting is already sold."
"But it has Maman—"
"We need the money, Claire Elise! Creditors are waiting to be paid, and your dawdling has cost me dearly. Yet again."
Knowing she was already treading dangerous ground, she pushed a little further. "I have another painting, Papa. One of my own, which I haven't shown you yet. Perhaps the patron might—"
"He wants a Brissaud! Have I not made that clear enough for you?" Fury mottled his throat a deep red. "Our patrons are not interested in the trite, inconsequential renderings of a—" As though hearing the harsh bite of his own voice, he exhaled and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Claire. But it's done. There's nothing left to discuss. In time, perhaps we can sell your own paintings. But for now, your talent simply lacks any ... unique quality. Nurturing talent takes time. You're best served to stay with copying for now. You do that quite well."
Bitterness tinged her mouth, and Claire felt an unexplained severing deep inside her. She wanted to respond, but she wanted not to cry even more, and if she opened her mouth now—
"You must understand ..." He squeezed his eyes tight. "This is what we've been working toward all these years. Having our own gallery, making a name for ourselves."
"Yes, Papa. A name. But our name. Our work Not someone else's, where we—"
"Think of your mother and how hard she worked. For us as a family. For you."
His expression took on a tenderness Claire barely recognized, and one she didn't fully trust.
"Your maman sacrificed so much to give you this gift, Claire. And a better life in America. Why do you think we came here? Why do you think we both worked so hard all those years? It was all for you...."
She'd heard all of this before, and while she was grateful for everything her mother—and father—had given her, she also knew their efforts hadn't been only for her benefit. They were for his. Her mother had said as much. Her mother had said a great many things in those last days. Whether it was the laudanum speaking or the truth finally breaking free, Claire couldn't be sure.
But she wanted to believe that her father had her best interests at heart. After all, he was her papa.
Staring up at him, seeing the hard set of his shoulders, his iron resolve, she felt the fight within her drain away. She opened the door, then remembered and held out her hand, feeling like a beggar and resenting him all the more for it.
Excerpted from A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander Copyright © 2011 by Tamera Alexander . Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tamera Alexander writes excellent stories. They are all full of humbling experiences with timeless threads of history,discovery, romance, and faith. I have enjoyed all her stories so far and look forward towards more!
My review from inkwellreview.com (Christian book review site) This book was one of the few that has made a “Lasting Impression” on me. Pun intended. It is one of my favorite books of all time, which is saying something because as you know, I have read a lot of books in my day. Tamera Alexander’s writing is out of this world. Other authors don’t even compare. This book seemed so realistic. From her writing style to her characters, it just seemed so real. This is not a small book. I mean, it’s four-hundred and twenty-six pages so, it is a pretty big book. And you know what? I didn’t want to stop reading about Claire’s Laurent’s life. You can guess that her character development is also extraordinary. It felt like I personally knew them and they could step out of the book and be real people (another reason to LOVE this book). Finding these quality’s in an author is somewhat rare. Plus, it is based off of Belmont Mansion which is located in Nashville Tennessee. This is a beautiful place to imagine while you’re reading this book. With a little touch a humor this book was everything you want in a historical novel. This is a very big and thorough book so if you are looking for something lighthearted and fast to read then I might recommend something else. I would encourage you to read this book.
Tamera Alexander has once again written an entertaining, solidly researched historical novel, this time focusing on late 19th century Nashville. The main characters and the supporting characters are well developed, and the writing is solid. The plot is well thought out and interesting; nothing feels contrived. Claire Laurent, Sutton Monroe, and Adelicia Acklen, the main characters, have the same doubts, fears, heartaches, and joys that many of us experience, and by the end of the book they feel like friends with whom I’d like to spend more time. The setting at Belmont Mansion provides an interesting historical backdrop, and it was fun to learn more about the social mores and societal expectations of that era. Kudos also to Bethany House for the cover design – the dress and pose described on pages 332-3 are wonderfully depicted on the front cover. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series!
Wow. This book written by a new-to-me-author truly left a lasting impression. Page turning tension kept me reading mostly straight through. Great story, set during Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War, and unforgettable characters. What I liked best was that while history formed a critical backdrop for the book, the story focused on people; not just romance but the very real struggles the characters faced. Truly award-winning writing. I’ll definitely plan to read other books by this author.
This is the first book that I've read by Tamera Alexander, and I really enjoyed it! The story draws you in and transports you back to mid-1800 Tennessee. It was a great book and I look forward to more Belmont Mansion novels in the future.
A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander is a thoroughly enjoyable historical romance. The novel is full of lovely description which compliments the setting nicely, and coupled with meaningful character development, it makes for a rich and authentic tale. Readers who enjoy being submersed in the culture and fineries of 19th century America will be very pleased.Claire has grown up surrounded by art and her greatest dream is to become an artist of her own merit. Unfortunate circumstances throughout her childhood require her to garner the strength necessary to overcome and rise above her less than puritan beginnings. Rising to the challenge, Claire is able to secure honest employment, circulate with societies elite, and experience opportunities she never imagined. And through it all, discover the forgiveness of a loving God.
I really enjoyed this first book of a new series. It was full of great characters looking for a new start for a variety of reasons. The setting is so richly described that I felt I was right there with the characters, and the historical detail was wonderful. Claire and Sutton have great chemistry and there are many sweet moments between them as their relationship progresses. I look forward to the second books of the series.
It's so difficult to find a starting point in describing how positively beautiful this book was. It was rich, lush, majestic, breathtaking--so many things that, if I were to actually see everything from it in person, it would all leave me speechless. And if that wasn't enough, just to know that part of the story was based on an actual historical figure and place, not to mention set in my home state...well, I couldn't get enough quick enough! I soaked in every single thing--the magnificent Belmont mansion, the overwhelming collection of artwork, the gradual friendship, then romance, between Claire and Sutton--that when I read the last page, I literally felt full, like I had just enjoyed the most delicious meal in a 5-star restaurant.I can't imagine what Tamera has in store for book 2, but you better believe that I will make a return trip to Belmont Mansion! In fact, the next time I'm in the Nashville area, I hope-hope-hope that an actual trip to the mansion can work it's way into the travel plans...how much fun would that be?! :o)
A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander was an enjoyable historical Christian Fiction book. The story is set in Nashville a few years after the Civil War, when both poverty and great wealth are found. It is on the wealthy side of things that Claire Laurent finds herself after leaving her home in New Orleans. Claire meets Sutton Monroe and Adelicia Acklen, both of whom are skeptical of Claire and her background but grow to become fond of her.The descriptions of the Belmont Mansion are very detailed, allowing the reader to imagine they are there seeing it for themselves. Many pieces of art are mentioned throughout the book and these too are described in loving detail. I found the tone of this book to be less focused on faith and praying unlike most other historical Christian fiction books I have read. Not that you don¿t find those thoughts and discussions running through the book but there was no real strong struggle on Claire¿s part, it was a quiet transformation that seems like it could peak if she returns in any future Belmont Mansion books.I enjoy Tamera Alexander¿s writing and look forward to reading more of her books.
Claire had been trained to paint like a famous painter and her father exploits this talent by making her paint forgeries. Because of this they do not stay in one place long enough for her to feel at home. She wants to paint for herself, but her father will not let her. Eventually she has to leave New Orleans for Nashville and taken on other jobs. While at this job she comes to terms with what she needs to do.
Overall, I thought this was an interesting and fun book. I enjoyed reading it. Alexander's writing is better than most Christian fiction authors, to be honest. I thought her characters were well drawn and the plot moved along well. She developed chemistry between the two main characters - although I thought there could have been a little more buildup. My only problem was the historical background. She seemed to be trying to write historical fiction, but there were few historical details and I thought the story seemed removed from the post Civil War/Reconstruction setting.I don't think this is Alexander's best work - and I still prefer Deanne Gist for this genre - but I certainly thought A Lasting Impression was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Being a native of Nashville, Tennessee I really did enjoy the book. I have visited just about all the historical places in Nashville, Travelers Rest, the Hermitage, and Belle Meade Mansion but have never visited Belmont Mansion. Reading this book created in me a desire to visit. I enjoyed the historical spin and enjoyed reading about Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen. I think Tamera Alexander did her research well and liked the way she portrayed Mrs. Acklen. I loved the way Tamera Alexander incorporated Christian principles in the novel without being too preachy.The only criticism I have is at times the story dragged but it was still interesting and I sincerely hope that she intends to wrote more Belmont mansion novels.
I found the novel, A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander a fun book to read. It is well written with romance, drama, stunning imagery, some godly truths, and a small amount of humor. Tamera Alexander vividly portays Belmont Mansion as breathtaking to say the least. A Lasting Impression is a feel good book that should please anyone who enjoys reading a good historical romance.
_A Lasting Impression_ relates the story of a talented young artist ¿ Claire - whom her father exploits by selling her paintings as if done by Old Masters. She¿s a forger at a very young age. Though the story begins in New Orleans, most of the book takes place in Nashville, TN. The backdrop explores the bitter emotions of a society split by the trauma of the civil war that had ended just prior to the time of the story. The romance between Claire and Sutton develops slowly with issues of telling the truth and learning to trust raising barriers along the way.Ms. Alexander did a fine job of weaving a thread of Christian faith into the story without preaching. Claire earnestly tries to escape the life of a forger in Nashville and turns to God for help. Sutton Monroe, the young lawyer looking for the forgers, struggles with forgiving the Union soldiers for murdering his father and stealing his property. He also feels guilty over his part in his father¿s death and in surviving the war when his friends did not. He seeks God¿s help in recovering from these experiences. They both learn to trust God and find hope of redeeming the past by supporting each other in the present.The plot and character development enhance each other as the story unfolds. The richness of the detail and the twists and turns along the way make for an attention-holding book. Only the author¿s description of New Orleans rang a false note for me. (I live in New Orleans.) New Orleans never smells like the ocean. We live in the middle of a swamp with the Mississippi River meandering through the middle of it and Lake Pontchartrain sloshing on the north side of the city. The French Quarter may have smelled like rank river mud or like the perfumed blossoms of sweet olive trees, but never like the ocean. Neither do beignets taste ¿yeasty.¿ They have a small amount of yeast in the recipe, but the overwhelming taste is sugar with an under tone of the hot lard in which the beignets were fried. The danger in eating them has always been that you breathe in some of the thick powdered sugar covering the top and immediately sneeze it off the beignet and all over your companion!Since I do not know Nashville as well, I can only hope that the author was more authentic with the ambience of that city. I suggest that, when you read _A Lasting Impression_, you do as I did, suspend your belief on the level of accuracy in the book and enjoy a fascinating story.
Tamara Alexander leaves a lasting impression in this somber story of redemption and grace. Claire Laurent begins her journey full of heartbreak and deception, using her gift of painting as a forger only to save her Mother. When the circumstances turn, she makes a bold statement of independence to start a new life and leave her heartbreak behind. She grows in her independence, in her womanhood, as a painter, friend and with in her relationship with her God in this beauitful story.
Tamera Alexander's Fountain Creek Chronicles books are some of my favorite and I felt truly privileged to get to read an advance copy of her new book, A Lasting Impression. This story takes place in the year following the end of the Civil War in Nashville, Tennessee. Claire, who emigrated from France with her parents when she was little has been living in New Orleans, copying other people's paintings at her father's direction, at time's without letting the buyer think her creation was an original. From there the story takes off, and from their I became completely invested in the outcome. This story has humor as well as the pain of overcoming one's losses and the weight of one's past mistakes. It is also the making of friends and finding your own place in this world. I can't quite explain it, not yet anyways, but this book struck a chord of familiarity with me that has really pushed me to not be so inhibited by my own perceived insecurities.
Where I got the book: my local library.Claire longs to be recognized for her artistic talent, but her father and his business partner force her to forge paintings. A move to Nashville gives Claire the chance for a new start, and she begins to fall for Sutton. But her past is still unresolved.My pointer was hovering between three and four stars for this review. Let's start with the 4-star side: I did get caught up in the story by the time I got to the last hundred pages of the book. The plot was nicely constructed, and I found myself wanting to like the characters.On the 3-star side, having read a few inspirational romances I am beginning to long for a different character arc. Enough with the feisty yet submissive heroine with a secret, who longs for God to be real but has Doubts. My other gripe was that I like my historical reading to ring true; this was the Hallmark TV show version of post-war America, with a picture-perfect setting, handsome men and beautiful women, and Gone With the Wind-style former slaves who are fiercely loyal to ex-Massah.I found Alexander's prose style a little heavy on the adjectives and the whole breathless-admiration-of-anything-European never sits well with me, probably because I'm European myself and not easily impressed by a bit of French. And this is a good illustration of how reviews are subjective; to some people this kind of glossy detail is food for the imagination. So I will end by recommending this book to readers who love to be transported to a movie-set world, and the four stars stay.
Since I currently live in Nashville, I was excited to read A Lasting Impression for the historical details about the Belmont Mansion, and I was not disappointed. Alexander paints a world that you can just immerse yourself in. However, the plot does drag a bit in A Lasting Impression and, sadly, despite the fact that this book is a romance, you never really feel a sense of passion or excitement from the characters. The romance aspect is tepid and--like in many Christian romances--extremely chaste and gender normative. In fact, the main character Claire was a little more traditionally feminine (quiet, gentle) than heroines in other Christian romances I've read who have a bit more spunk in them.A Lasting Impression is a good book, and, again, the historical details were excellent. But ultimately, it's forgettable.
This was an amazing book!!! The author's descriptions made you feel you were there and part of the story. Thank you for writing this book and I look forward to more of this author's work.
Claire Laurent loves to paint but she doesn't like doing what her father and uncle insist she do. Paint forgeries of famous paintings. When a robbery occurs at her father's gallery her uncle sends her to Nashville. Then fleeing some unwelcome advances from the man her uncle sent her to, she finds herself sleeping in a church. Claire overhears a couple of women talking about a job opportunity. When the women leave she thinks she's alone until Sutton Monroe makes himself known. A very handsome and intimidating attorney. She interviews at Belmont Mansion for the job as Mrs. Acklen's personal liaison but soon realizes that Sutton Monroe is her personal attorney and close friend. Sutton has his own problems going on with his family's land and his father's reputation. Claire is both challenged and inspired by Sutton as well as Mrs. Acklen. Sutton is intrigued by Claire's sweet yet feisty personality. Claire knows that at some point she must be honest about her past but when she does it may cost her everything she holds dear!A Lasting Impression was a charming tale loaded with lots of great characters that were well drawn and had lots of depth to them. You hit the ground running in the beginning of the story but I must admit that toward the middle it seemed a little slow. The last half of the book however was WONDERFUL! I have to say that Sutton and Claire will remain some of my favorite characters. There was a chemistry between them that was tangible. Mrs. Acklen was a wise woman. One thing she said to Claire was so good. She said, "Oftentimes, through the years, Miss Laurent...I've pondered how much is provided for us by God's goodness. So many sources of enjoyment, and how thankful we should be. We should not expect to have all the blessings of life and none of it's trials. It would make this world too delightful a dwelling place, and I fear we would nerve care to leave it." That's good advice for each of us. The story had a nice blend of humorous moments, serious moments, touching moments and tense moments. I was pretty sure that I knew how it would end but the journey in getting there was very rewarding. Tamera Alexander is known for her wonderful rugged western stories but I must say I'm confident she'll make A Lasting Impression with her Belmont Mansion Novel. I'm looking forward to the next installment!!! A thank you goes to Bethany House and LibraryThing for providing this complimentary copy for my review!Paperback: 432 pagesPublisher: Bethany House (November 1, 2011)ISBN-10: 0764206222ISBN-13: 978-0764206221
A Lasting Impression was an emotionally complex historical novel complete with post Civil War Southern charm and all of the nuances that make novels set in the south so appealing. I loved how the story began with tragedy setting the tone, and how such complex issues regarding the gallery's artwork and forgery emerged to become a weight that was too much for Claire to bear. I could see the "writing on the wall" regarding how the scam was doomed to fail at some point. I loved how the author used the tragedy to make a way for the heroine to move to Nashville and begin a new life for herself. The delightful interview she had with the lady of Belmont, Mrs. Acklen, was only the beginning of the heartfelt humility that Claire displayed. I loved how her heart bonded with Mrs. Acklen's over time. Claire was a truly lovable heroine in that she was humble and gracious, which only increased as the book progressed. The hero, Sutton, was quite the gentleman, but still very much a man. And of course, I love his name since it matches mine. I think I fell in love with Sutton along with Claire. He was so considerate and had such integrity despite the hard times he'd experienced. He was also very human and I loved the protectiveness he felt toward Claire, yet he still gave her room to make her own choices. The romance between Sutton and Claire was delectable. I must say, the passion they had for each other and those tender kisses were enough to make me a bit breathless at times. Wow. The author knows how to build the romantic tension in an almost reverent fashion. Their love was evident and powerful. I loved that about this story. I also loved how the author showed that telling the truth not only clears a person's conscience, but it also earns the respect of others. I was proud of Claire for facing the truth about her past and dealing with it in a responsible manner. Bottom line... this was a wonderful historical romance! The plot and romantic thread in the story was as beautiful as the book cover, which is one of the most stunning covers I've ever seen. Bethany House outdid themselves with the cover design. I have also learned so much about art, painting, horseback riding, and putting on a gala event from reading this book. I even learned a bit more about the post Civil War south. I adore books that teach me something new and make me think about my life and the way I live it. This book delivers that reward and more. The heroine's tender spirit was beautiful to experience, and I loved how the author showed that it not only drew Sutton to her, but it won his heart in the end. What a great example of how Christ's love draws us to Him as well. I highly recommend this book!
This was one of the few books I've read that has left me with a feeling of wow. The characters, the setting, the storyline...everything seemed to line up perfectly to create a fantastic novel. Claire was brilliant. The perfect mix of repentant with enough of a real person to really make her come alive. Her life was extreme but still believable, if a bit lucky at times. Her relationships, not just with Sutton, but with the entire cast of the book, come slowly at first and the develope into something very rich and meaningful. I truly enjoyed watching Claire and Sutton get to know one another and discover their lives together.Now many of you may remember me saying that I wasn't a big fan of Christian novels. Well, this book is one of the reasons I keep giving them a try. Religion was not written in every line, but rather between the lines, with characters trying to live their lives in the way they know they should be. They just picked right back up and tried again.
I am a big fan of art and I really enjoyed reading about someone who is an art forger. I love Tamara Alexander's books and this book did not disappoint. The love story was written well, the characters were excellent, and the plot was enjoyable.I was surprised, however, about how long the book was- I felt like a good 50-75 pages of the book could have been cut out and I would have been fine with it. There were parts in the middle that lagged a bit (most of the real action happened in the beginning and the end of the book). It seemed to take a bit away from the drama of the book and I found myself skimming a bit through those parts.All in all, this was another enjoyable book by Tamara Alexander. If you are a fan of historical fiction, or of the author- I am sure you will be pleased.
The book is set in 1866 and follows a young girl named Claire who is an aspiring painter. As she seeks to distance herself from her family's past misconduct and make a new start, she encounters a life changing decision she must make....coming clean about her past life or trying to hide it.I really enjoyed this book! Tamera Alexander did a great job pulling me into her story line and keeping me interested throughout the entire book. The characters learn so much through their journey, and many of their life lessons are difficult ones. I would highly recommend this book! **I received this book free from Library Thing's Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review.
Claire Laurent is a criminal -- a forger of fine art for her father, a cold and critical gallery owner. When her father is injured in a robbery, he and his partner sent Claire to Nashville. Claire is determined to make a new start in her new town, but finds it difficult to break away from her past. A series of fortunate encounters leads her to Belmont Mansion, home of Adelicia Acklen. Mrs. Acklen, the wealthiest woman in the state, takes Claire on as her personal liaison. Claire is haunted by her past misdeeds, because if they become known, she could lose not only her new position and reputation, but also her budding romance with lawyer and estate manager Sutton Monroe. However, how can their romance truly flourish as long as Claire is hiding such dark secrets?Skeptical readers may wonder why a wealthy and powerful woman like Mrs. Acklen would hire an unprepared applicant, lacking both resume and references, when more qualified candidates had presented themselves -- the explanation given in the story seems flimsy at best. Claire's encounters with God and religion also seem superimposed over the story, and feel a bit like afterthoughts. Moreover, the pacing of the book drags for most of the middle of the story, then speeds up over the last few pages, as if the author was eager to be done with the book, skimming over some events that could be dealt with in detail for added dramatic tension.These criticisms are not enough to spoil the overall effect of the book, though. The author has carefully incorporated historical details about Belmont Mansion and its owner, and the romance between Claire and Sutton has enough heat to appeal to a modern audience without stepping too far out of the bounds of historical accuracy. Readers who enjoy inspirational romance in an historical setting should certainly pick up this book.