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.
Seeking justice . . .
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 fiancé–and has shattered her world.
Struggling to restore honor . . .
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.
I’ve read so many books from this author and she’s never failed to tell a story that is genuine, moving, and makes the reader (I, at least) feel instantly connected to the characters. This story really spoke to me mainly because of the challenges that the main character, Alexandra, went through. She struggled to pursue a vocation that was important to her, despite the lack of support her social circle and family had for it: teaching at a Freedmen’s school. She essentially lost everything, her family especially, by accepting a position at Fisk University.
Not only was she dealing with that challenge and the sort of isolation it created for her, but she was still trying to overcome the loss of her fiancé due to a tragic train accident that happened the year before, which she luckily survived. But it was the introduction of Sylas, who helped alleviate her challenges and slowly turned things around for her.
Sylas was sort of an antagonist to Alexandra at first, in that, she blamed him for the death of her fiancé, since it was his father who drove the train which later crashed, killing nearly everyone, including the father. Sylas had his own struggle in accepting that his father would deliberately crash the train, so he set out to investigate the truth on his own—what really happened. Through this, he wanted to clear his father’s name, but deep down, he wanted Alexandra to see him in a better light and hopefully win her heart, since the more time he spent with her, the more he realized he loved her.
In all, I enjoyed how Sylas and Alexandra’s relationship grew more and more meaningful. I especially enjoyed seeing the transformation in Alexandra’s heart and mind. Sylas helped her overcome her fear of trains and Alexandra learned to accept things as they are and understand people for who they are. Though, as in reality, everything didn’t end the way Alexandra and Sylas would have hoped, the author, as always, was able to weave a meaningful message in the story, which left me, once again, smiling and believing a little more about the dream I wish to pursue.
Yes, I would recommend this story, not only to those who like historical fiction, but those who are looking for stories that will make them think and consider how they want to live life. In short, stories that have to power to change.
5 out of 5 stars. I couldn’t find a real flaw to the story. The plot moved at an even paced and the characters, especially Alexandra and Sylas, were endearing. There were hints of suspense in the story that made me anxious to get to the end, which was unpredictable.