To Wager Her Heart

Written by Tamera Alexander
Review by Cindy Vallar

Unable to move past the train wreck that killed her fiancé, Alexandra Jamison faces the untenable choice of accepting her father’s choice for a husband, a much older man, or remaining a spinster—until voices raised in song offer her a new path one evening in 1871. Fisk University, a school dedicated to educating former slaves, needs teachers. When she joins their staff, Alexandra is turned out of her house with only the clothes on her back.

Sylas Rutledge of Colorado is in Nashville to bid on the Belle Meade Railroad Station contract. His problem is twofold: he’s still looking for investors and he’s an uncouth outsider. He’s also come to clear his father, a dedicated engineer who would never have caused the accident that killed so many people.

In need of money, Alexandra agrees to teach Sylas about southern gentility, even though she thinks him more an outlaw than a gentleman. In turn, he agrees to share whatever he learns about the accident and when she is offered a chance to arrange a tour for the Jubilee Singers, he’s the one who must help her conquer her fears.

This final installment in the Belle Meade Novels is a heartwarming tale of following dreams, standing up for what’s right, facing fears, and learning to trust where the heart leads. Rich in details of time and place, Alexander transports her readers back to a United States attempting to recover from the wounds of civil war, where bigotry and prejudices exist in both the North and the South. Her three-dimensional characters bring to life an era fraught with danger in the struggle to change attitudes—a struggle that’s still relevant—while the story provides a poignant recreation of technology’s impact on their lives, which also rings true today.