I was thrilled when I started seeing Among the Fair Magnolias popping up around online. From the stunning cover to the fascinating synopsis (not to mention Tamera Alexander), I knew this was a must-read.
**I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**
I was ecstatic about getting the chance to review this collection. I’ve loved Tamera Alexander’s novels for some time and was intrigued to read a novella by her. Shelley Gray wrote a wonderful novel that I read last year. The other two authors, I wasn’t as familiar with, but I enjoy discovering new ones.
However, I found this collection of four novellas to be a bit of a mixed bag. There was one story I loved and the other three I felt pretty indifferent towards.
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.
This was certainly my favorite story form this collection. It contained everything that I enjoyed from Tamera Alexander’s novel–rich detail, sweet romance, historical accuracy, and an interesting storyline. Not to mention, that the main character, Savannah Darby, is from a character from To Win Her Favor. This story is not dependent on that one, but if you’ve read it, Savannah has an interesting story that this novella only brings more interest to.
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.
This story had elements that I really enjoyed and others that I wish were a bit different. First of all, Russell was a terrific character. He had a dark past to deal with and a lot of things that left him unsettled. But he was also an honorable man. He was the flawed character that makes a great novel. I also felt like the possibility for a wonderful story was in the pages. But perhaps the short length of the novella left the plot feeling a bit wanting. There was a lot of internal dialogue and when something did happen, it felt like it was over quite quickly.
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.
Sadly, this was a novella I probably could have done without. Most of the story I felt was just quite slow and the relationship elements were non-existent. There was an intriguing plot idea to begin with, but again, perhaps the shortness of the story didn’t allow for the characters or story to be developed further.
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.
Elizabeth Musser’s story touches on an aspect of history that isn’t often written about in Christian fiction—the KKK. I can appreciate the unique setting of this story. However, I felt that I had to suspend belief a bit too much for this story for some of the relationships to feel real. Also, at times, this story read more like a commentary on what life was like shortly after the Civil War and the freedmen were trying to gain their rights. But, the story did offer a couple of interesting twists to keep it a bit more on the interesting side.