About Ridley Cooper's novel To Whisper Her Name (released October 23, 2012):
Olivia Abderdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from "Aunt" Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Harding's head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth's husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.
Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn "the gift" that Belle Meade's head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.
As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for "betraying" the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.
Set at Nashville's historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America's history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.
From To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander:
The flush of Mrs. Aberdeen's cheeks told him she was upset. But for the life of him, Ridley didn't know why. He wasn't about to take the advertisement back though. Not without her telling him the truth, which he sensed simmered just below that prim and proper exterior.
"You're mistaken, Mr. Cooper." Her voice teetered on the edge of calm. "I am grateful to you, sir. But for reasons I'd rather not discuss, I simply cannot apply for this position."
She gave him a polite smile that made him want to climb over the fence. "Why can't we at least discuss your reasons?"
"Because I told you just now that I'd prefer not to. It's my prerogative, as a lady, to--"
"Is it because I spoke with Uncle Bob about the position first? Is that what has you all riled up?"
"I'm not riled up, Mr. Cooper."
"Surely it's not the comment about teaching boys to climb through a window."
Her jaw clenched tight. "As I said, I'd prefer not to discuss my reasons, Mr. Cooper."
"Fine, Mrs. Aberdeen. But would you be kind enough to at least tell me what I said that upset you?"
"I'm not upset." Her mouth formed a tight curve.
"Please." He held up a hand. "Don't smile at me like that. It doesn't have the desired effect, I assure you."
Her politeness flattened. "And just what, may I ask, do you think is the effect I desire?"
Finally, something he knew the answer to. Only, she wasn't going to like it. "Your desire, Olivia Aberdeen, is that everything appear the way it should be, ma'am, instead of how it actually is."
Her mouth slipped open. "You have no right to--"
"For instance," he continued before she could protest, knowing she wouldn't like being interrupted. Maybe if he got this woman angry enough, she'd let down that blasted guard of hers and he'd get a glimpse of who she really was. "When you're asked a question, you respond in the way you think a 'lady' should, instead of honestly speaking your mind, which I believe you're quite capable of doing, by the way. And," he added, when she opened her mouth again, "you refuse to accept my assistance when climbing through a window, yet you'll willingly climb through that same window yourself, as long as you think no one is watching."
Her eyes flashed, and he saw the sharp tip of truth hit its mark. He also knew if looks were fire, he'd be burned to a crisp right now.
"As I was saying, Mr. Cooper--"
"I'm not done yet, Olivia."
Her eyes widened.
"I don't know why you didn't get the position of head housekeeper here, but from what I've seen in you, ma'am, you're smart and you've got spunk, which counts for a lot these days. And if I were over there right now..." He glanced at the fence separating them, hoping she'd hear the 'olive branch' in his tone. "I'd help you close that polite little mouth of yours." He smiled when she clamped her pretty mouth shut. "That is, if I wasn't afraid of losing a finger."
The hurt that slipped into her eyes told him the peace offering had floated right past her, and he felt bad now for trying to egg her on.
She moistened her lips. "I'm pleased you find my predicament so amusing."
"No, ma'am." Ridley looked at her straight on. "I never said that. All I said was--"
"Let me be clear on a few things, Mr. Cooper."
Ridley felt his own eyes widen and closed his mouth with pleasure.
"You have no right to speak to me in so casual a manner, sir." Her voice, barely higher than a whisper, was tight with anger. "Our lack of acquaintanceship does not afford you the liberty to tell me what you think I should or should not do. To even suggest that you think you know what is best for me is beyond the definition of absurdity. And arrogance." Her chest rose and fell in quick succession. "I am more than capable of determining the course of my life, and I do not require your assistance in that regard." She lifted her chin. "Nor do I desire it."
Proud of her in ways he couldn't begin to describe and intrigued by her all the more, Ridley took a step back from the fence to give her room. He had some idea about the kind of man her late husband had been from what Green had told him, and he'd pretty much drawn his own sketch from there. So even though it was only him and Olivia Aberdeen standing here, he couldn't shake the feeling she was fighting with someone else.
To Whisper Her Name
Copyright 2012 by Tamera Alexander
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
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There's just so many reasons he deserves all these. I'm going to balance informing you with spoiling the reader experience, but Ridley always does the right thing. Unfortunately sometimes the right thing isn't an obvious choice and I have never, ever read a hero who was put between a rock and a hard place as often as Ridley. His manners with Olivia were always impeccable, even when he was "breaking the rules" of convention for her own good. The secrets he harbors are both born of pain but also to protect others. Late in the novel there is a moment Ridley's integrity shines like runway lights where his honesty will cost him dearly. Because of the man he is, with nothing to be gained and much to lose, his honor demands he tell the truth. Historical hero or not, the world needs more men like Ridley Cooper.
There's this wonderful moment where Ridley is attempting to help Olivia overcome her self-consciousness and playfully asks her "If I show you my scar, will you show me yours?" She actually had no idea at that point he'd been shot during the war, or any of the horrible things he experienced afterward. That's one orange head and the other is the reason he comes to Belle Meade after the war. It's more than what the summary above tells you, and is heart-breaking on its own. Every time he talks about home or his seashell, my heart hurt right there with him.
There's a way some men have about them when they're around young people that screams "I will be a great father one day" and Ridley has it in spades. The fact the young man that becomes Ridley's shadow the way kids will was a former slave didn't bother Ridley in the least, though it certainly bothered others. He also has so many moments of tenderness and compassion with not only Olivia, but a very special horse named Seabird. When I think about it I want to hit my knees again and ask God to fill the world with more men like Ridley Cooper.
Not a chance. He's not that kind of hero. He does do some things that aren't exactly well-thought out sometimes, but they aren't poor choices in themselves. The closest he gets to a stupid strike is in the excerpt above when he's calling Olivia on the carpet and that wasn't enough for a strike.
That wasn't a mistake. And I've got a hunch most of you are already here too and you haven't even read the book yet! Let me be clear in that Ridley gets these on personality and actions alone. I don't mind telling you however when he decides to "throw the switch" and pursue Olivia, he gets a long overdue shave and well... there's a whole lot of handsome under there.
About Ridley Cooper's author Tamera Alexander:
Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South and live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children, and a ten pound silky terrier named Jack.
The FHF exclusive directly from the author:
During the final draft, we ended up cutting a paragraph of Ridley's internal thoughts that had to do with the men he'd killed in the war. After all was said and done, as they say, we decided that Ridley had enough to deal with without introducing "possible links" to men he'd killed in the war in relation to the people in his current life. Here's the paragraph of him reflecting back on a dinner where he'd sat by a woman whose son (a Confederate soldier) had been killed in a battle where Ridley had fought:
But even more sobering was remembering the woman seated beside him at dinner, and imagining how he could have been the one to have fired the shot that killed her son. He'd heard people say before that Heaven would hold the answers to all the questions they had here. But Ridley prayed that if he had fired that fatal shot, God would never let him know.
1 copy of To Whisper Her Name, just tell me somewhere in your comment specifically why you want to read this book and that you would like to be in the book drawing.
For readers who have already read To Whisper Her Name, please throw your praise in and give me a name of a character (and it can be a horse!) that wasn't used anywhere in the excerpt or the feature. That will get you in the drawing for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard--winner's choice. Once that character is used, you need to select another one.
Best wishes to all and we'll randomly draw winners on January 31st.
And while you'll want to go watch all of these videos on Tamera's official website, here's my favorite.
Now let's play!