Tamera Alexander continues her inspirational Belle Meade Plantation series with a tale of high-stakes romance, To Win Her Favor. Set in Nashville during the devastating fallout of the Civil War, the novel follows Maggie Linden, a brilliant horsewoman determined to make it in the lucrative world of horse racing, and the strong-willed Irishman who is roped into her plans.
Though determined to save her family’s home, Maggie is running out of options. Although she is an accomplished rider and trainer, her gender has kept her out of the horse races she knows she can win—races with prize money that she and her ailing father desperately need in order to keep their farm. Unable to race herself, Maggie has placed all of her hopes on the talented young jockey she’s trained and her beloved mare, Bourbon Belle. But her hopes are shattered when her jockey is forced to flee Nashville in the face of escalating attacks against freed slaves. However, her father has one last plan to save the farm—if only he can get Maggie to go along with it.
Leaving behind a painful past, Irishman Cullen McGrath immigrated to America with the dream of living a quiet life on his own piece of farmland. However, the famed Southern hospitality does not seem to extend to people of Cullen's lineage. Farms that are advertised as for sale mysteriously become unavailable as soon as Cullen opens his mouth—Nashvillians clearly have no interest in selling to an Irishman. The Linden’s farm is his last hope, and Mr. Linden has no qualms with selling to an Irishman. There is one stipulation though—Cullen must marry his daughter.
Could Cullen and Maggie’s marriage gradually become one filled with true love?
Maggie is far from pleased with her father’s scheme, but her desire to hold onto her family’s farm trumps her misgivings about the arranged marriage. They are hastily wed, and Maggie and Cullen struggle to get to know each other under these unusual circumstances. Although innately kind, Maggie has prejudices that she must work through, and she is used to getting what she wants. However, with patience and understanding, Cullen and Maggie’s affection for each other grows. Although their marriage came about through desperate circumstances, could Cullen and Maggie’s marriage gradually become one filled with true love?
Alexander does not glaze over the historical facts of the time—post-Civil War Nashville was not a pleasant place—nor does she breeze past the struggles that Cullen and Maggie face as married strangers. To Win Her Favor is a thoughtfully rendered love story filled with convincing historical details. It’s rewarding to watch Cullen and Maggie grow as people and find faith in love, God and each other, even when it feels like there’s no hope left.