A Lasting Impression is Tamera Alexander's newest historical fiction novel.
This story begins in 1866 in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is where we meet Claire Laurent. Claire is not yet twenty but already mourning her mother, whom she was close with. She's also desperately trying to match Francois-Narcisse Brissaud's style of painting - her father wants the forgery to be good enough to sell.
Claire hates it. She knows what her father insists she do is wrong - and she'd rather explore her own talents anyway. She wants to sign her own name on her own painting - to make an impression on the art world she loves with such a passion.
She wants to get out from under her father's thumb.
When tragedy hits suddenly, Claire finds herself being shipped off to Nashville, Tennessee where she is to wait for her father and his business partner Antoine DePaul, the two who actually fake the "authenticity" documents and sell her copies, to join her. To start again. To continue with their "business".
But she doesn't want to wait. She doesn't want to do this anymore.
So, she takes the first opportunity she has to get out of the lodging Mr. DePaul arranged and seeks shelter in a church - which is where she meets the handsome attorney Sutton Monroe, who kindly doesn't tell anyone she was sleeping on a pew. It's also where she hears about the job opening at Belmont Mansion for a personal liaison to the wealthy and demanding Adelicia Acklen.
Before she knows it, Claire is thrown into Nashville society - and for the first time in her life she feels free. Yet as her loyalty to Mrs. Acklen grows and her feelings for Sutton Monroe grow stronger, her secrets become harder and harder to bear...
After reading Rekindled and Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander, I'm a huge fan! I loved those two books so much that I literally didn't even care what the synopsis of A Lasting Impression was - I just knew I wanted to read it! I know all of you bibliophiles out there know exactly what I'm talking about.
And, my oh my, I was not disappointed!!!
The very first chapter immediately gives us a chance to be introduced to Claire and empathize with her - as well as be wowed at the turn of events! I was in the story's grips, right out of the gate! I'm leaving out big chunks of plot for you to experience it like I did - in the moment, in the story, like you're meant to.
A Lasting Impression is elegant, softly presented, and quietly persistent in showing us a gorgeous manor and a lovely cast of characters. Tamera Alexander excels at creating three-dimensional characters and continues to do so with every character in this novel - from Claire, to Sutton, to Mrs. Acklen, to all of the servants and secondary characters. They feel alive, like if only you could travel back to 1866 you could meet them all. They each have flaws, pain, joy and a human need for redemption and forgiveness - of both themselves and for others. Each time I read a book by Alexander I'm floored by how utterly invested I become in these people she pens, how I want to laugh when they laugh, cry when they cry - it makes for a heartrending experience, but also a joyful one! Amazing!!!
Richly detailed with period history, decor, customs, and ways of speech I felt completely transported to Belmont Mansion. So much so that I am ecstatic that there will be more novels involving Belmont Mansion - because I really want to return!!!
As I've mentioned before, there aren't too many historical fiction writers that can make the romance half of it authentic to me. Especially in inspirational fiction, where sometimes the chasteness (which I like) can become phony and almost devoid of attraction and chemistry completely. Tamera Alexander doesn't fall into that trap. Sutton Monroe is, in our modern language, hot. You feel an undeniable pull between him and Claire, an attraction that is both physical and soulful. It may be appropriate for all ages (and I think a lot of you YA fans would love this book), but it's steamy. Alexander's characters are human - they're real. They do feel attraction, hurt, love, failures, etc. That's what is so great about her novels!
I was extremely satisfied as this suspenseful, beautiful, encompassing, inspiring story came to a close, as well as ready for more from this fantastic author. And the way she subtly but powerfully shows the grace and love of God - well, lets just say I got goosebumps more than once. She's not heavy-handed in the way she portrays the Christian element of the story, but it's absolutely perfect.
If you haven't read Tamera Alexander yet, pick up A Lasting Impression to find out why you should. If you have, then what are you waiting for? :)
*I received a copy of A Lasting Impression from the Bethany House Book Reviewers program, which you can check out here. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.