theavidreaderandbibliophile's review

Go to review page


Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories is a sweet Christian romance. It contains four short stories written by four Christian fiction authors (Tamara Alexander, Shelley Gray, Elizabeth Musser, Dorothy Love). All of the stories are set in the South from 1860 to 1878.

The first story is A Heart So True by Dorothy Love. Abigail Clayton (Abby) and her family are going to Osprey Cottage on Pawley’s Island (in South Carolina) for the summer (to escape the heat). Abby is looking forward to seeing Dr. Wade Bennett. Abby is hoping he will propose this summer. Abby’s father has different ideas. He wants his daughter to marry Charles Kittridge. Kittridge’s plantation is next to the Clayton’s and it would merge their lands. Mr. Clayton feels he would provide a better life for his daughter (even though she does not care for him at all). Will Abby get to marry for love?

To Mend a Dream by Tamara Alexander is set in Nashville, Tennessee during 1870. Savannah Darby is raising her younger sister and brother since the death of her parents and older brothers. Savannah lost the family farm, Darby Farm a year ago. Savannah earns a living working at Miss Hattie’s Dress and Drapery Shop. Their newest commission is from Priscilla Sinclair, the fiancé to Aidan Bedford. Aidan is a lawyer and the newest owner of Darby Farm. Savannah needs money for new braces for her brother, Andrew (who has a club foot) and this job will provide her with a good commission as well as a chance to search. She recently found a letter from her father (to her mother) about a treasure stored in a box in a safe place. This will be her chance to snoop around. Aidan and Savannah are pulled to each other from their first meeting, but they must ignore their feelings for each other (since Aidan is engaged). Aidan is not so sure about his engagement to Priscilla. They have nothing in common any longer and are growing further apart. Will duty or true love triumph?

Emily Derracott has always had republican leanings and is anti-slavery in Elizabeth Musser’s Love Beyond Limits. It is 1868 in Wilkes County, Georgia. The war is over and slavery has ended. Most of the men in the area are democrats (they liked slavery) and do not like that freedman are getting the vote. Emily is vocal in her support of the freeman and women’s rights and teaches at the local school teaching them reading, writing, and arithmetic. Unfortunately for Emily, she has fallen for the pastor, Leroy. There is no way that they can ever be together. Her parents wish her to marry Thomas McGinnis (they grew up together and he loves her very much) who is a staunch democrat and against the freedman’s rights. The Klu Klux Klan has been active in the area and one day they came to the Derracott plantation (which has been converted to sharecropping). They set fire to many buildings and hang one man. It is rumored that Thomas is a part of the Klan. Emily sets out to find out the truth. Maybe she feels more for Thomas than she thinks?

Russell Andrew Champion is returning to Texas in 1878 in An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray. His mother threw him out of the house when he was fifteen years old (of course, he had just killed his stepfather). Emmitt Johnson, Russell’s stepfather, was a nasty and abusive man. He abused his wife and stepson. Russell has returned home to check on his former love, Nora Hudson. Russell wants to make sure that she is happy (or maybe he wants to see if she is still free). Nora is free but is seeing the traveling pastor from San Antonio. Russell does not get a good feeling about this gentleman and sets out to get information on him. This is Russell’s chance to make peace with his mother (she is very ill) as well as get a second chance with the love of his life.

All four stories are pleasant and sincere. Among the Fair Magnolias was a pleasant diversion on a stormy afternoon. I give Among the Fair Magnolias 4 out of 5 stars. All of the stories are well-written. My favorite was the one from Tamara Alexander. It had great detail as well as the mystery.

I received a complimentary copy of Among the Fair Magnolias from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.

rgyger's review

Go to review page


3.5 stars

A Heart so True~ This novella is set in the same area as some of Dorothy's other novels, with main characters making an appearance as tertiary characters here. It is a short story about one woman's speed-bump to love. While the story was sweet, I did not see much in the way of a theme or message. I would have said that the theme was to marry only for love, yet Abigail states that she will marry whomever makes her mother happy. In the end, I believe she made the only decision which I could respect her from.

To Mend a Dream~ I have previously read To Win Her Favor, the novel precluding this in which Savannah was a secondary character. Thus I was well acquainted with her background and was interested in what Savannah would be able to discover in the box left by her father. While I'm not much of a fan of insta-love, the idea worked well for the length of this story and gave Savannah a perfect happy ending.

A Love Beyond Limits~ A Love Beyond Limits is less of a romance and more of a snapshot of history told through the eyes of fictional characters. The story was heartbreaking and bittersweet, if not really romantic in anyway. I think this is a story I would have enjoyed far more if it had been a full length novel, as there was so much more I would have liked to have seen with these characters.

An Outlaw's Heart~ This final novel felt the most complete, if a little rushed toward the end. It was an emotional read with broken characters who learn forgiveness. Like A Love Beyond Limits, I think it would have done more for me as a full length novel, yet it was still a good read.

Overall this is a cute collection of stories, showing off the authors' skills and abilities. I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped or as I have other novella collections. Unfortunately, the stories did not feel like they were meant to be told in such a short page length, and instead felt like writing samples rather than full stories. But if you get the chance, they are still worth the read.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

thejumpingsheep's review

Go to review page


This was my first time getting a chance to enjoy some of these authors. I had heard a lot about them and was super excited to try them out. This book did not disappoint. The last story was a bit too fast paced for me and I feel needed to be a full size novel to make more sense but all the stories were still top notched. I loved how they were southern love stores as I love the whole culture that went with that. The first story was A Heart so True by Dorothy Love. This one was a lot of fun for me because I have read her book Carolina Gold and one of the characters from that book is in this novella. The second story was To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander. This story was by far my favorite in the book. I have a friend who loves Tamera Alexander and now I know why. This story follows a young lady who has lost everything and ends up taking care of her younger siblings. She ends being hired to decorate the family home that was sold at auction. There is a mystery involved as well. It was a beautiful story. The third story is Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser. This story follows the struggle of the freeman after the Civil War. It was a fabulous look at how they weren’t really truly free and the long road it has taken in the south for them to gain true freedom. The last story in this book is An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray. This was my least favorite. It just felt rushed and not as polished but I still really, really enjoyed it.

Overall I really recommend this book. It has four great novellas and is a fantastic introduction to four amazing Christian authors.

I received a free copy of this product from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

meezcarrie's review

Go to review page


As is often the case with novella collections, I liked a couple of the stories more than the other two. But all four novellas are shining examples of the tremendous talent belonging to these authors. In fact, each of these stories could easily have been the foundation for its own novel, and I found myself greedily wanting them to be.

“A Heart So True” felt to me like I was dropped in the middle of an ongoing story… which is fine, except that I wasn’t. At least not as far as the main characters were concerned. I needed more backstory to embrace the hero and heroine as a couple, and while we were told some of their history I didn’t really “feel” it. There were many scenes with her friends that I thought could have been used to focus on the couple instead. That said, the story was so well-written and the characters so engaging that I wanted to hop the nearest ferry and invite myself to the barbecue! And that day the main characters spent together in the city? Oh be still my heart – so bittersweet!

I had been waiting the most anxiously for “To Mend a Dream” after being so intrigued by the glimpse I received of Savannah’s story in To Win Her Favor. As usual, Tamera Alexander did not in any way disappoint. The pace, the characters, the romance, the plot – all elements were so solidly executed that I forgot I was reading a novella. My only clue was the fact that it ended far sooner than I liked!

When it came to “Love Beyond Limits”, I didn’t know which hero to root for, and maybe that was intentional. The antebellum South was a period of difficult choices, of polarizing decisions. The love in Emily’s heart raised those stakes a thousandfold. I found myself wondering how many people found themselves in similarly agonizing situations and were forced to calmly accept the fate that society had prescribed. While the romantic angle to the story may have been dissatisfying at times, I thought the historical portrait Musser painted – and the implications in today’s unsettled times – were eye-opening. This story, maybe more than any of the others, will stick with me for a long time.

“An Outlaw’s Heart” was one of those stories that played out like an old Western movie – with heart. Nora’s sweet spirit and Russell’s sincerity appealed to everything I adore about this time period. Add in the bad guy and the townsfolk and you have a formula that rings true every time! (The people of the town really made this story for me.) Shelley Gray always always writes with such heart that you can’t help but be drawn to her characters, and I think that’s why readers of her other western novels wanted Russell to have his own time in the spotlight.

Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with these four outstanding authors at the helm. I’m sure that like me you will have your own favorite (and least favorite) story of the bunch, but each novella is still in a class even above some full-length novels I’ve read. If you love antebellum settings and stories about women caught between two choices, this is a great anthology for you to grab!

(I received copies of the book from the publisher via Litfuse and Netgalley in exchange for only my honest review.)

Read my full review here:

indywrites's review

Go to review page


Among The Fair Magnolias

This book has 4 novellas by 4 very eloquent ladies. I had already read two of them and was glad I signed up to read and review this book for Litfuse. These four stories are all set in the turbulent times with a lot of changes happening all around. The love stories also mirror the tension, anxiety, conflicts and the reluctant acceptance of the changes.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander

Tamera has mentioned that Savannah had stayed in her thoughts after the novel To Win Her Favor and I agree! While reading it I wanted to read Savannah’s love story. Does she get her home back? Does she find what she is looking for? Who does she finally fall in love with? To Mend A Dream answers all these and some more. I found the story so engaging; in fact this is my favorite among all the four stories. The sad yet strong Savannah trying to keep her family together is so endearing. She works hard and fast, trying to keep a roof over her siblings and looking for the box left for her by her father.

Aidan is conflicted and his longing for peace, his association with the war leave him unsettled and that he is second guessing his proposal to Ms. Priscilla who turns out to be quite a task master. The poems that he remembers about Nashville bring a tear to the eye. Oh! Sweet Jesus, let me live to taste that again…..for the Peach Cobbler. The beauty of the place, the rolling greens and peace and quiet add to the charm of the book. Character with layers, plot with a questions that kept me turning the pages, I was glued to the book.

The scene when Savannah finally finds what she is looking for and finds much more than she thought possible is just the sweetest ever! Her coy, “I’m afraid we southerners don’t speak so openly of such matters……” was so sweet. A perfect ending to Savannah’s journey as she finally comes home.

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray

This story was fast, crisp and I enjoyed Russell as he was a man with hope, love and faith in his heart even though he had lost so much. He had been in the woods and a lesser man might embrace the dark side but not Russell. I think the best decision he made was to come back and see his mother that he found his long lost love made the return so special. Nora, the sweet, helpful young girl who had sent him away regretted her action for seven years and she got a chance to fix things. That she had a beau – Braedon only made it easy for her to realize the real thing.

An Outlaw's Heart is a story that celebrates ‘second chances’ and of course true love finds a way!

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love

Abigail is a woman who knows her mind and I feel it were women like her who help women come out and make progress alongside men. Dr Wade Bennet is the one who has her heart and she wants to work with him, help him. Her parents make no secret of their liking for Charles and she bows down to their demands.
That she agreed to her parents even though it broke her heart told of the sacrifices we make for those whom we love. Turbulent times and quickly changing political changes add to the confusion. Yet in the end even her father realized that knowingly one cannot thrust one’s own child into abuse.

Even I wanted to smack Charles along with Wade!! A simple, sweet and succulent love story.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser

This story about Emily had so much suspense that I was wondering about the truth right till the end!

Emily thought she was in love with Leroy, a freedman from her own plantation and she was being courted by her childhood friend Thomas McGinnis. That he seems forceful yet loving, calm yet haunted by memories makes him and intriguing character. Even Emily had trouble understanding him.

When the troubled times head over to Emily’s farm and things come to a head I realized the true actions of Thomas and Leroy. Love Beyond Limits was a book that brought strong passions to fore and highlighted the times when life was so easily lost. The Ku Klux Klan was indeed a dreaded plague that wreaked havoc in so many lives. The manner in which Thomas was entangled with them and the lengths he went to save his love was so heartwarming.

I always enjoy stories where the heroine is not a typical damsel in distress but tries to tackle the odds on her own. She is willing to take help but is not waiting for it. The women in the stories were just as strong, determined and proactive like the women of today.

A true representation of the Magnolias and so very apt. A must read for lovers for romance which scales impossible odds!

(I received a copy of the book from Litfuse for an honest review.)

melissasbookshelf's review against another edition

Go to review page


Great audiobook! I enjoyed all four stories. The narrator was really good.

emlickliter's review

Go to review page


Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories by Tamera Alexander – Civil War era fiction isn’t my favorite (though I like Western Migration/ Reconstruction a little better). But the cover was so pretty!! It’s a really interesting collection, and I’m sure you will enjoy it too! Happy Reading!

Ø To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander – Reconstruction in the South was a painful process, but I loved the themes of redemption and hope in this one. It’s a lovely reminder that God’s grace extends to us even out of our deepest hurts! Happy Reading!

Ø An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray – I really want the backstory on this one because I’m pretty sure this novella comes out of a novel! Lovely redemption themes in this one! Happy Reading!

Ø A Heart So True by Dorothy Love – This one has the sweetest ending!! Happy Reading!

Ø Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser – Oh it made my heart hurt! I would love to say that human beings have learned from their hatred, but we haven’t. This story is full of courage and hope, and I hope it inspires you too! Happy Reading!

cctblog's review

Go to review page


While I generally prefer full-length novels, sometimes I just want a quick read—something I can get through in about an hour. Novellas like those in Among the Fair Magnolias often fit the bill.

I picked up Among the Fair Magnolias after I'd finished reading a fairly intense novel, and the novellas inside were the perfect antidote to the heaviness I'd been dealing with. As is the case with most novella collections, I enjoyed some novellas more than others, but they all provided a nice diversion. 4 stars for the collection. Read on to see my thoughts on each of the novellas.

To Mend a Dream by Tamara Alexander is simply fantastic! I loved every second I spent reading it. Some novellas feel rushed, but this one didn't, yet neither did it drag. I do wish it had been longer, simply because I enjoyed the experience of reading it so much! Savannah and Aidan are so likeable, and Alexander did a fantastic job of building the chemistry between them in such a short period of time. The subplots of Savannah's search for hidden treasure and Aidan's desire to find his friend's home just add to the main "falling in love" plot. Wonderful story. 5 stars.

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray features a man searching for redemption and the woman who has loved him since childhood. While I did enjoy this novella, it felt a bit too condensed—the bad guy was revealed quickly and easily, and I felt like things with him ended a bit anticlimactically. But the romance between Russell and Nora was sweet, and I liked the way Russell gained back the trust of the town. While this wasn't the most memorable of stories, I did enjoy it while I read it. 3 stars.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love is the one novella in this collection that I just couldn't get into. The villain was so evil, and I couldn't understand why Abigail refused to tell her parents the truth about him. I also didn't really care about Abigail and Wade's romance, perhaps because all of the falling in love happened prior to the beginning of the novella. It simply did not keep my interest. I did, however, enjoy reading about Abigail's mother. She was an intriguing character, and I'd be interested in learning more of her story. 2 stars.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser is, well, not at all what I was expecting—in a good way! While there is some romance, the focus of the story is the danger and opposition the freedmen faced in Georgia during Reconstruction. Along with Emily, I wanted to shout from the rooftops that all men are created equal. (This may have to do with my recent viewing of Selma, but boy does racism get me fired up right now!) This is such a well written story that pulls on your heart! I did think Emily's affections shifted a bit suddenly, but overall, this novella was great. 4-1/2 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

longtimereader's review

Go to review page


First let's start with the story Tamera Alexander wrote. That was wonderful! Savannah is working for the new owner of her former house! That is complicated, and not easy. His finance wants all kinds of changes, which she can cope with. What she can't cope with is knowing that a treasure was left locked inside. Can she find it while keeping her job? This was a 5 star story!

A Heart So True just felt like it needed work. I liked it ok, but it felt rough to me. Three stars. This had major punctuation issues.

Love Beyond Limits - This was a nice premise, but the punctuation issues were unbearable. It really wrecked the reading of this story.

An Outlaws Heart - This story was pretty good. It wan't my favorite, but it had more emotion to it. I could give it 3.5 to 4 stars.

Note- I did try to find out, but wasn't able to, as to why my copy had stories that were full of lower case "i's" and un-capitalize names. It was so bad that it made reading super difficult. Tamera Alexander's story didn't have these issues. I really like the book title, and I greatly enjoyed Savannah's story.

My copy came from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review and nothing more.

allvellichor's review

Go to review page


great story about a southern family and their slaves after the civil war and how each copes differently