Tamera Alexander is an incredible author and I love reading her books since the first one I found of hers. Her books are intriguing, engaging, and compelling.
Maybe it's because I've read so much, or maybe it's because I know Tamera's writing style, but I found To Win Her Favor to be rather predictable. I liked it, the plot moves at a great pace, and the characters had depth and breadth, but it takes something out of me to be able to tell the ending from the very beginning of the book. This is the worst thing I will say about the book.
The premise is an arranged marriage in order to save the family farm. For Maggie and Cullen both, the marriage is a means to an end--in the beginning, but it doesn't end up that way. Cullen is Irish and not welcome around Nashville, but this is where he's decided he wants to settle. He approaches Gilbert Linden about buying his farm which is about to go up for auction for non-payment of taxes. Gilbert tells Cullen he will sell to him if he will marry his daughter and redeem the farm. Maggie is the owner of Bourbon Belle, a thoroughbred known for her racing speed, and Maggie is known for soaring on the back of Belle--which scares anyone who watches her.
In town, the Tax and Title Officer is known as Steven Drake. (Rabbit Trail here) Years ago, my children and I used to listen quite a bit to Mark Lowry's albums--they loved his humor and I loved his singing. On one album, he was describing seeing the movie "The Greatest Story Ever Told," and in describing the trials of Jesus, he talked about the "serpent, Satan, slimed" his way to encourage the crowd to yell, "Crucify Him!" (Back on the main trail now) Steven Drake hits me as an evil serpent sliming his way around town trying to make things work his way, expecially using his equally slimey henchmen to do the dirty work.
Cullen's brother, Ethan, plays a fairly big part in the book even though he doesn't become part of the group of characters until fairly late in the book. He is a secret that Cullen is keeping from Maggie because of his actions in London--and why Cullen doesn't want Maggie to race Bourbon Belle.
This book takes place soon after the Civil War when racism is high and vigilantism is rampant, where underhanded dealings line the pockets of the unscrupulous, and the innocent get taken for a ride they never signed up for. This is a solid four star book leaning to 4.5 stars. There are factual elements in the book, including Bourbon Belle, Belle Mead Plantation, and some of the characters--all go to show that the book is well-researched and quite enjoyably read.
My thanks to Zondervan for allowing me to read and review this book.