Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from "Aunt" Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Hardings' head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth's husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.
Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn "the gift" that Belle Meade's head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.
As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for "betraying" the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.
Set at Nashville's historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America's history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.
Why you should read it: Already a USA TODAY best seller, this novel draws a fresh thread in this author's historical fiction tapestry. Tamera Alexander's painstaking research into the people, places and times of which she writes is evident on every page and she depicts the famous residents of post-bellum Nashville with great detail and even greater affection.
Flitting among famous Southerners, Alexander's fictional protagonists are endearing and their romance sweet — with just the right amount of heat in their attraction. Both Ridley and Olivia grow in character over the course of the novel and readers will delight in seeing this Southern-bred Yankee and his Nashville belle reach their Happy Ever After.
Tidbit: Both Belle Meade Plantation (the setting for To Whisper Her Name) and Belmont Mansion (featured in last year's A Lasting Impression (see my HEA review) are open for tours. As a former Nashvillian (and graduate of Belmont University, where Belmont Mansion is located) I promise those tours are well worth the admission price if your travels should take you to Tennessee.
(This review first appeared at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog)