A review by meezcarrie
Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love


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: https://readingismysuperpower.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/review-and-giveaway-among-the-fair-magnolias/