My review of A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander.

About the book:

A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she’ll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

Claire Laurent’s greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she’s forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she’s sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville’s society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach–but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton’s home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family’s honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined–as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville’s historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves–and each other–for who they really are.

My review:

A Lasting Impression was an emotionally complex historical novel complete with post Civil War Southern charm and all of the nuances that make novels set in the south so appealing. I loved how the story began with tragedy setting the tone, and how such complex issues regarding the gallery’s artwork and forgery emerged to become a weight that was too much for Claire to bear. I could see the “writing on the wall” regarding how the scam was doomed to fail at some point. I loved how the author used the tragedy to make a way for the heroine to move to Nashville and begin a new life for herself. The delightful interview she had with the lady of Belmont, Mrs. Acklen, was only the beginning of the heartfelt humility that Claire displayed. I loved how her heart bonded with Mrs. Acklen’s over time. Claire was a truly lovable heroine in that she was humble and gracious, which only increased as the book progressed.

The hero, Sutton, was quite the gentleman, but still very much a man. And of course, I love his name since it matches mine. I think I fell in love with Sutton along with Claire. He was so considerate and had such integrity despite the hard times he’d experienced. He was also very human and I loved the protectiveness he felt toward Claire, yet he still gave her room to make her own choices. The romance between Sutton and Claire was delectable. I must say, the passion they had for each other and those tender kisses were enough to make me a bit breathless at times. Wow. The author knows how to build the romantic tension in an almost reverent fashion. Their love was evident and powerful. I loved that about this story. I also loved how the author showed that telling the truth not only clears a person’s conscience, but it also earns the respect of others. I was proud of Claire for facing the truth about her past and dealing with it in a responsible manner.

Bottom line… this was a wonderful historical romance! The plot and romantic thread in the story was as beautiful as the book cover, which is one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever seen. Bethany House outdid themselves with the cover design. I have also learned so much about art, painting, horseback riding, and putting on a gala event from reading this book. I even learned a bit more about the post Civil War south. I adore books that teach me something new and make me think about my life and the way I live it. This book delivers that reward and more. The heroine’s tender spirit was beautiful to experience, and I loved how the author showed that it not only drew Sutton to her, but it won his heart in the end. What a great example of how Christ’s love draws us to Him as well. I highly recommend this book!

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