Book Review: To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander, Book 3 of Belle Meade Plantation Novels

Happy Release Day!

"At twenty-Five, she'd expected to be beyond all this. But life hadn't turned out at all as she'd expected." (2)

Title:  To Wager Her Heart
Series: Belle Meade Plantation Novels, Book 3
Author: Tamera Alexander
Publisher:  Zondervan 
Release Date:  August 8, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction

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 that the truth doesn't tear them apart first. 

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. 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 fiancee—and what has broken her heart. 

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. 

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 stirring love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in history when both were tenuous and hard-won.

As some of y'all know, Tamera Alexander was the very first author of Christian Fiction I've read, and it was all by chance I saw From a Distance at my local library. From then on, I've become a lover of this genre. As I dive into her latest release, To Wager Her Heart, I am once again reminded by the beauty of Tamera's writing, the visualization of her words of the setting, and a story with a message that leaves a mark. 

"None of us knows what we're fully capable of doing until God leads us to a place where we realize our strength is nothing compared to His.." (293)
It is a story of dreams, of our plans versus God's plans for us, the timing of it all and just giving it to our Lord Jesus. How perfect and how it applies a century ago as it does today, To Wager Her Heart is historical in genre, but the message of love and God's plans are timeless.

". . . that dream of yours will end up contributing to other people's dreams . . . which, frankly is the only kind worth pursuing." (99) 
"Is the Lord leading me to do this? Because if the answer to that question is yes, then you and I have no choice but to do His will. We are the clay, after all. And he is the potter." (252)

Yes, the message is worth remembering, but I also enjoyed learning something new. I was quite enamored with the historical background of Fisk University and the Jubilee Singers and how the author tied it into the story of Alexandra's dreams. Diversity is still a topic that creates tension at times, and one can imagine what it was like in the 1800s. Then we have the backdrop of the railroad set in the beautiful town of Nashville, and fans of historical fiction are in for a treat.  Not only, wonderful characters line To Wager Her Heart from page to page, adding in humor as well as a good dose of wisdom and reality. 

"I'm married . . . but I've still got the eyes the good Lord gave me." (165)
"Dogs love you even more than they love themselves . . . without their saying a word, you can read everything they're feeling just by looking in their eyes." (138)

Finally, lets talk about Sylas - Sy. "Tall, dark . . . and a little dangerous." (63) He is the perfect hero. Flawed and loaded with a bit of life and wit.  His romance with Alexandra was slow burning, and I just love it. Sometimes, the romance needs time to develop, even for us readers that love a good love story.  Then there are those we want a good fight, knowing that nothing else matters.

"He determined in that moment. . . he would find a way to win Alexandra's heart.  Even if he had to wager everything to do it." 

Either way, if you're like me that enjoys a story that not only give you romance, but a certain hope that warms your heart, and well-rounded, yet not necessarily perfect, To Wager Her Heart is it.  Like any good story, To Wager Her Heart is profound in its depth of life and message, rich in its details, both historical and in plot, and beautiful in its deliverance. And I hope you'll take the chance to wager your reading time on it.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
Please note, all quotes are taken from ARC (essentially an uncorrected proof). Please do not share quote or if do, please make note that it is taken from an ARC. 
For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.




Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South and live in Tennessee, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children.

CONNECT WITH TAMERA:  website,  facebook,  twitter,  pinterest


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  1. Thank you for a great review, and I loved the quotes. Truly, timeless messages!

  2. Iread the first two books in this series early this year and have been eagerly awaiting this last book!

  3. Sounds like a wonderful read! I love all her books!

    1. Thanks Kelly. I do too. Tamera doesn't disappoint at all!

  4. This was a great read! I learned a lot. Some books I read are messing with my life span, just like some movies, but this one was well worth my time.

    1. LOL. Gail. You are so funny! Yes, this one is well worth our time! *wink wink


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