Bethany House (November 1, 2011)
Whether you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for all things French, an artistic streak, a romantic bent, or simply enjoy escaping to previous eras or the lure of adventure nearly any reader will find something to draw them in Alexander’s recent series opener introducing the Belmont Mansion. Though set just after the close of the Civil War we find two very strong independent female figures at the helm of this plot. Claire and Mrs. Acklen both take the reins of their lives with little hesitation over the propriety of doing and saying what they see fit regardless of the standards others might place upon them provided it doesn’t offend their own moral sensibilities. However sometimes we are trapped into betraying even our own sense of morality for the sake of someone we love if we see no other options. Even though I haven’t betrayed my convictions I have often been in circumstances out of my control to the point that I felt trapped by them. I think those particular experiences in my own life made Claire’s situation that much easier for me to relate to and her feeling of being trapped something I could identify with. Alexander’s plot keeps moving at a rapid clip while the pages are rife with artful renderings of personae, locales, and era that whisked me off to another reality. With the art forgery ring the author masterfully weaves a thread of suspense throughout this plot which kept me wanting to know more and despite my early suspicions she still threw in a very unexpected but effective twist to this particular piece of the story near the end. Though it will be over a year in coming I look forward to the next Belmont novel from Alexander’s pen. (ISBN#9780764206221, 432pp, $14.99)
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