Thursday, November 21, 2013

January Historical Fiction Preview



Cross of Vengeance by Cora Harrison (Jan 1st)
September, 1517: when fire destroys the famous relic of the Holy Cross in Kilnaboy church and then a pilgrim is found murdered, it is up to Mara, as Brehon of the Burren, and her law students, to find out who did such a thing - and why.
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell (in PB Jan 2nd)
In 1002, fifteen­-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.  Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

 

The Great King by Christian Cameron (Jan 2nd)
Close your eyes and you could be in fifth-century Egypt. With his trademark ability to step into the shoes of his fifth-century protagonists, once again Christian Cameron plunges us headlong into the thick of the action. This time, the indomitable Arimnestos of Plataea finds himself caught up in the ill-fated Spartan expedition to the land of the Sphinx, while on the horizon, forces gather for the colossal naval battle of Artemesium. Whether it's in the unforgiving furnace of the Egyptian desert or the blood-frothed seas off the coast of Greece, Christian Cameron brings these momentous events to thrilling life as we watch the epic story unfold.






The Royal Succession by Maurice Druon (Jan 2nd) 
'No woman shall succeed in Salique land' Louis X is dead, poisoned, murdered, by the hand of Mahaut d'Artois. Her plan is simple - to clear the path to the throne for her son-in-law Philippe. However, there is the small matter of Queen Clemence and her unborn child. As the country is thrown into turmoil, Philippe of Poitiers must use any means necessary to save his country from anarchy. However, how far is he willing to go to clear his path to the throne and become King in his own right?




The Kept by James Scott (Jan 7th) 
In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.




She Shall be Praised: A Women of Hope novel by Ginny Aiken (Jan 7th)
When socialite Emma Crowell stops the carriage on the way to Portland to 'exercise' her fussy poodle, she does not expect to become stranded in the woods in decidedly unsuitable attire. The pair of men who find her decide to take her back to their cave, where they've hidden sheep they rustled from a nearby rancher. The rancher turns out to be Peter Lowery, and he arrives, furious, to retrieve his property. But when he discovers Emma, he does the Christian thing and brings her, her dog, and the thieves back to his cabin. Peter may have to shelter the motley group, but he expects them to earn their keep until he can take them to Bountiful, the nearest town. Emma suddenly finds herself in charge of the house and the care of Peter's imaginative young son Robby. She's surprised to find that she enjoys the challenges of life at the cabin, and feels drawn to Peter. But though willing to learn, no matter how she tries, she can never seem to live up to expectations. As she seeks God's guidance, she faces the picture of womanhood shown by the lady in the 31st chapter of Proverbs. Between that picture and the one of Peter's late wife, Emma must decide who she has been, who she is, and who she really wants to be. What is to be her worth as a woman? What is to be her legacy?




The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon (in PB Jan 7th)
Mary, the spirited youngest daughter of an angry, violent man, is sent to work for the local vicar and his invalid wife. Her strange new surroundings offer unsettling challenges, including the vicar’s lecherous son and a manipulative fellow servant. But life in the vicarage also offers unexpected joys, as the curious young girl learns to read and write—knowledge that will come at a tragic price.



Life after Life by Kate Atkinson (in PB Jan 7th)
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she?

Belle Cora by Philip Margulies (Jan 7th)
Some people remember her as Arabella Godwin, others as Harriet Knowles, and still more as Frances Andersen or other names too numerous to list. But let there be no confusion, this is the legendary story of Belle Cora (1828-1919), who survived by her wits and made a fortune off the greed and lust of men. Orphaned at age nine, Belle and her brother, Lewis, are sent to live with their devoutly religious aunt and uncle in rural upstate New York. Nothing can prepare her for the cruelty of her watchful, jealous cousin Agnes, who would become a lifelong rival and enemy. Yet there, Belle also meets the love of her life, Jeptha Talbot. As she blossoms into a true beauty, however, two horrendous events separate her from Jeptha and Lewis. Heartbroken, Belle flees the countryside and finds work in a mill, where she is exposed to the looser morals of hard luck women and begins to harden into the powerful, cunning woman she will become. Soon Belle finds herself in New York, where life takes a dark but alluring turn as she succumbs to the indulgent lifestyle of a highly sought-after prostitute to the city's wealthiest men. But beneath the silk and taffeta layers, she harbors a deep longing to be reunited with Jeptha, now a respected preacher. The road back to him will take her on a treacherous journey from the town houses of Manhattan to the dusty streets of San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush. It's a road of good intentions, but paved with secrets and lies on which the conniving, sometimes ruthless Belle must transform herself again and again to get what she wants.
 


Rebellion: A Thriller in Napoleon's Paris by James McGee (Jan 7th)
October 1812: Britain and France are still at war. France is engaged on two battle fronts—Spain and Russia—and her civilians are growing weary of the fight. Rebellion is brewing. Since Napoleon Bonaparte appointed himself as First Consul, there have been several attempts to either kill or overthrow him. All have failed, so far! Meanwhile in London, Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood has been seconded to the foreign arm of the Secret Service. There, he meets the urbane Henry Brooke, who tells him he's to join a colleague in Paris on a special mission. Brooke's agent has come up with a daring plan and he needs Hawkwood's help to put it into action. If the plan is successful it could lead to a negotiated peace treaty between France and the allies. Failure would mean prison, torture and a meeting with the guillotine.



Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer (in PB Jan 7th)
In the summer of 1957, Frances and Bernard meet at an artists' colony. She finds him faintly ridiculous, but talented. He sees her as aloof, but intriguing. Afterward, he writes her a letter. Soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can take over-and change the course of-our lives. From points afar, they find their way to New York and, for a few whirling years, each other. The city is a wonderland for young people with dreams: cramped West Village kitchens, rowdy cocktail parties stocked with the sharp-witted and glamorous, taxis that can take you anywhere at all, long talks along the Hudson River as the lights of the Empire State Building blink on above. Inspired by the lives of Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell, Frances and Bernard imagines, through new characters with charms entirely their own, what else might have happened. It explores the limits of faith, passion, sanity, what it means to be a true friend, and the nature of acceptable sacrifice. In the grandness of the fall, can we love another person so completely that we lose ourselves? How much should we give up for those we love? How do we honor the gifts our loved ones bring and still keep true to our dreams?


The Descent: Book Three of the Taker Trilogy by Alma Katsu (in PB Jan 7th)
Lanore McIlvrae has been on the run from Adair for hundreds of years, dismayed by his mysterious powers and afraid of his temper. She betrayed Adair’s trust and imprisoned him behind a stone wall to save Jonathan, the love of her life. When Adair was freed 200 years later, she was sure that he would find her and make her existence a living hell. But things turned out far different than she’d imagined. Four years later, Lanore has tracked Adair to his mystical island home, where he has been living in self-imposed exile, to ask for a favor. She wants Adair to send her to the hereafter so she may beg the Queen of the Underworld to release Jonathan, whom she has been keeping as her consort. Will Lanore honor her promise to Adair to return? Or is her intention to reunite with Jonathan at any cost?



The King Arthur Trilogy Book 2: Warrior of the West by M.K. Hume (Jan 7th)
Twelve long, blood-soaked years, have passed since Artor fulfilled his destiny and was crowned the High King of the Britons. Against all odds, Artor has united Celtic Britain and with a last great campaign, has banished the Saxon scourge. The legend of Camlann has begun. But even as Artor's kingdom is at its zenith, even as he has succeeded in conquering all external threats to his rule, his kingdom is being undermined from within. Not only is Artor betrayed by the one person he should be able to trust, he has also learned of appalling perversion at the heart of his kingdom. He must make a terrible choice. Does he commit a deed that leaves him open to comparison with the despotic Uther Pendragon, or does he let evil go unchecked? The burden of leadership, of power, now rests solely - and heavily - on Artor's shoulders for Myrddion Merlinus, master tactician, guiding light for so many years, has left Artor to his fate. Could all that Artor has fought for, the destiny of Britain, be lost? Will Britain be torn apart?



The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar (Jan 7th)
Though only thirty-eight, Lena finds herself in the grips of a midlife crisis. She feels lost in her adoptive country, her career is at a dead end, and her marriage has tumbled into a spiral of apathy and distrust—it seems impossible she will ever find happiness again. But then she strikes up a precarious friendship with Ben, a failed artist turned reluctant academic, who is just as lost as she is. They soon surprise themselves by embarking on an impulsive weekend adventure, uncharacteristically leaving their middle-aged responsibilities behind. On the way to Ben’s remote cabin in Maine, Lena begins to talk, for the first time in her life, about the tumultuous summer she spent as a counselor in a Soviet children’s camp twenty years earlier, when she was just discovering romance and her own sexuality. At a time when Russia itself was in turmoil, the once-placid world of the camp was equally unsettled, with unexplained disappearances and mysterious goings-on among the staff; Lena and her friend Inka were haunted by what they witnessed, or failed to witness, and by the fallout from those youthful relationships. As Lena opens up to Ben about secrets she has long kept hidden, they begin to discover together not only the striking truths buried in her puzzling past, but also more immediate, passionate truths about the urgency of this short, stolen time they have together.



House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty (Jan 7th)

In the early 1600s, Elizabeth Báthory, the infamous Blood Countess, ruled Čachtice Castle in the hinterlands of Slovakia. During bizarre nightly rites, she tortured and killed the young women she had taken on as servants. A devil, a demon, the terror of Royal Hungary—she bathed in their blood to preserve her own youth. 400 years later, echoes of the Countess’s legendary brutality reach Aspen, Colorado. Betsy Path, a psychoanalyst of uncommon intuition, has a breakthrough with sullen teenager Daisy Hart. Together, they are haunted by the past, as they struggle to understand its imprint upon the present. Betsy and her troubled but perceptive patient learn the truth: the curse of the House of Bathory lives still and has the power to do evil even now. The story, brimming with palace intrigue, memorable characters intimately realized, and a wealth of evocative detail, travels back and forth between the familiar, modern world and a seventeenth-century Eastern Europe brought startlingly to life.



The Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson (Jan 7th)

The third book in D.E. Stevenson's beloved Miss Buncle series, The Two Mrs. Abbotts takes us back to the delightful English town of Wandlebury, where Barbara Abbott (formerly Buncle) has her hands full raising two children in the midst of World War II along with keeping an eye on her niece, Jerry Abbott. Of course, Barbara isn't too busy to observe her neighbors' lives, and her curiosity and tendency toward matchmaking leads her into some sticky situations. Readers will enjoy the new characters and hilarious social situations in the latest Buncle adventure.



The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn (Jan 7th)

As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina. Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . .



Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen (Jan 7th)

Soraya flies to America from Iran to plot revenge against her husband and her best friend who have betrayed her in the cruelest possible way. Against the backdrop of momentous historical events in Iran, we follow Soraya to Bel Air where she creates a haven for her butterfly obsession. When Soraya lures her friend to town, she arrives with Soraya's husband in tow. The unexpected secret they reveal to Soraya is far more devastating than anything she had imagined, threatening to further unhinge her. 


The Wind is not a River by Brian Payton (Jan 7th)

Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss, to document some part of the growing war that claimed his own flesh and blood. Leaving his wife, Helen, behind in Seattle, he heads to the Territory of Alaska to investigate the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government. While accompanying a crew on a bombing run, John’s plane is shot down over the island of Attu. But surviving the crash is only the beginning of his ordeal in this harsh and unforgiving fury of a wilderness known as “the Birthplace of Winds.” In the days ahead, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own regrets while evading discovery by the Japanese. Alone in their home 3,000 miles to the south, Helen struggles with her husband’s absence—a silence that exposes the truth of her sheltered, untested life. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is—and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she will find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows.



The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Jan 7th)

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.



The Memory of Lost Sense by Judith Kinghorn (in PB Jan 7th)
Cecily Chadwick is idling away the long, hot summer of 1911 when a mysterious countess moves into the large, deserted country house on the edge of her sleepy English village. Rumors abound about the countess’s many husbands and lovers, her opulent wealth, and the tragedies that have marked her life. As Cecily gets to know her, she becomes fascinated by the remarkable woman—riveted by her tales of life on the Continent, and of the famous people she once knew. But the countess is clearly troubled by her memories, and by ruinous secrets that haunt her… Staying with the countess is a successful novelist and dear friend who has been summoned to write the countess’s memoirs. For aspiring writer Cecily, the novelist’s presence only adds to the intrigue of the house. But it is the countess’s grandson, Jack, who draws Cecily further into the tangled web of the countess's past, and sweeps her into an uncertain future…


The Harlot’s Tale by Samuel Thomas (Jan 7th)
It is August, 1645, one year since York fell into Puritan hands. As the city suffers through a brutal summer heat, Bridget Hodgson and Martha Hawkins are drawn into a murder investigation more frightening than their last. In order to appease God’s wrath—and end the heat-wave —the city’s overlords have launched a brutal campaign to whip the city’s sinners into godliness. But for someone in York, this is not enough. First a prostitute and her client are found stabbed to death, then a pair of adulterers are beaten and strangled. York’s sinners have been targeted for execution. Bridget and Martha—assisted once again by Will, Bridget’s good-hearted nephew—race to find the killer even as he adds more bodies to his tally. The list of suspects is long: Hezekiah Ward, a fire and brimstone preacher new to York; Ward’s son, Praise-God, whose intensity mirrors his father’s; John Stubb, one of Ward’s fanatic followers, whose taste for blood may not have been sated by his time in Parliament’s armies. Or could the killer be closer to home? Will’s brother Joseph is no stranger to death, and he shares the Wards’ dreams of driving sin from the city. To find the killer, Bridget, Martha, and Will must uncover the city’s most secret sins, and hope against hope that the killer does not turn his attention in their direction.



Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler (in PB Jan 7th)
Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow. Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives. Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son's irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her. Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family's housekeeper--in a town where blacks weren't allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle's first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.


 

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein (in PB Jan 13th)
In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.



The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley (Jan 14th)

Bishop's Lacey is never short of two things: mysteries to solve and pre-adolescent detectives to solve them. In this New York Timesbestselling series of cozy mysteries, young chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce once again brings her knowledge of poisons and her indefatigable spirit to solve the most dastardly crimes the English countryside has to offer, and in the process, she comes closer than ever to solving her life's greatest mystery--her mother's disappearance. .


The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart (Jan 14th)

In this exquisite, transporting debut, 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father. She and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called The City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of "Visionist" and bringing renown to their settlements. The City of Hope has not yet been blessed with a Visionist, but that changes when Polly arrives and is unexpectedly exalted. As she struggles to keep her dark secrets concealed in the face of increasing scrutiny, Polly finds herself in a life-changing friendship with a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who will stake everything--including her faith--on Polly's honesty and purity.



The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepard (Jan 14th)
LONDON 1812: For forty years Britain has dreamed of the Pacific island of Tahiti, a dark paradise of bloody cults and beautiful natives. Now, decades after the first voyage of Captain Cook, a new ship returns to London, crammed with botanical specimens and, it seems, the mysteries of Tahiti. When, days after the Solander's arrival, some of its crew are found dead and their sea-chests ransacked - their throats slashed, faces frozen into terrible smiles - John Harriott, magistrate of the Thames river police, puts constable Charles Horton in charge of the investigation. But what connects the crewmen's dying dreams with the ambitions of the ship's principal backer, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society? And how can Britain's new science possibly explain the strangeness of Tahiti's floral riches now growing at Kew? Horton must employ his singular methods to uncover a chain of conspiracy stretching all the way back to the foot of the great dead volcano Tahiti Nui, beneath the hungry eyes of ancient gods.



Revolutionary by Alex Myers (Jan 14th)
Set during the American Revolution, Revolutionarytells the story of Deborah Samson Gannett, a young woman who runs away from her home in Middleborough Massachusetts, disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Continental Army, serving as a soldier for over a year and a half. Hewing closely to the historical truth, the novel chronicles Deborah’s departure from her hometown in 1782, her service at West Point, the action she faced in skirmishes throughout Westchester, and her travel with General Paterson to quell the mutiny in Philadelphia in 1783. Amid this historical narrative, Deborah also struggles with her own transformation and her ability to live as a man, wrestling with the question of what this means for her future and how she should live once the war is done. Before she can face that future, though, she must survive not only the physical battles but also the emotional strains brought on by warfare, treason, friendship and, ultimately, love.
 

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu (Jan 14th)
Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivantgrow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father. At birth, Peter had been given the Chinese name juan chaun, powerful king. The exalted only son in the middle of three daughters, Peter was the one who would finally embody his immigrant father's ideal of power and masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he is certain he is a girl.




Trieste by Dasda Drdic (Jan 14th)
Haya Tedeschi sits alone in Gorizia, in northeastern Italy, surrounded by a basket of photographs and newspaper clippings. Now an old woman, she waits to be reunited after sixty-two years with her son, fathered by an SS officer and stolen from her by the German authorities as part of Himmler’s clandestine Lebensbornproject. Haya reflects on her Catholicized Jewish family’s experiences, dealing unsparingly with the massacre of Italian Jews in the concentration camps of Trieste. Her obsessive search for her son leads her to photographs, maps, and fragments of verse, to testimonies from the Nuremberg trials and interviews with second-generation Jews, and to eyewitness accounts of atrocities that took place on her doorstep. From this broad collage of material and memory arises the staggering chronicle of Nazi occupation in northern Italy.



Palmerino by Melissa Pritchard (Jan 14th)
Welcome to Villa il Palmerino, the British enclave in rural Italy where Violet Paget, known to the world by her pen name and male persona, Vernon Lee, held court. In imagining the real life of this brilliant, gender bending, lesbian polymath known for her chilling supernatural stories, Melissa Pritchard creates a multilayered tale in which the dead writer inhabits the heart and mind of her lonely, modern-day biographer. Positing the art of biography as an act of resurrection and possession, this novel brings to life a vividly detailed, subtly erotic tale about secret loves and the fascinating artists and intellectuals—Oscar Wilde, John Singer Sargent, Henry James, Robert Browning, Bernard Berenson—who challenged and inspired each other during an age of repression.

 
Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini (Jan 14th)
Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, while aspiring to even greater heights. Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into the role of establishing her thrice-widowed father in Washington society and as a future presidential candidate. Her efforts were successful enough that The Washington Star declared her “the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her.” None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Mrs. Lincoln and her young rival held much in common—political acumen, love of country, and a resolute determination to help the men they loved achieve greatness—they could never be friends, for the success of one could come only at the expense of the other. When Kate Chase married William Sprague, the wealthy young governor of Rhode Island, it was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Washington society weddings. President Lincoln was in attendance. The First Lady was not.



A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith (Jan 14th)
The women meet for the first time just before their journey begins: Katie, an Irish maid from Dorchester, Massachusetts; Minnie, wife of an immigrant Russian Jewish chicken farmer; Bobbie, a wealthy Boston socialite ; Wilhelmina, a former tennis star in precarious mental health; and Cora Blake, a single mother and librarian from coastal Maine. In Paris, Cora meets a journalist whose drug habit helps him hide from his own war-time fate-facial wounds so grievous he's forced to wear a metal mask. This man will change Cora's life in wholly unexpected ways. And when the women finally travel to Verdun to visit the battlegrounds where their sons fought as well as the cemeteries where they are buried, shocking events-a death, a scandal, a secret revealed-will guarantee that Cora's life and those of her traveling companions will become inextricably intertwined, and only now will they be able to emerge from their grief and return home to their loved ones.



The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley (Jan 16th)
Spanning four generations and two very different cultures, it sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajahs of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a girl, Anahita Chaval, from 1911 to the present day...In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impoverished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of rich Indian royalty. Becoming the princess' official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of the Great War. There, she meets the young Donald Astbury, reluctant heir to the magnificent, remote Astbury Estate, and his scheming mother. Eighty years later, Rebecca Bradley - a young American film star - has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she's relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to the wilds of Dartmoor in England. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita's great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family's past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty...

 

Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen (Jan 21st)
India, 1947. As daughter to the personal physican of an Indian Maharaja, Sophie Schofield has spent her teenage years with a palace as her playground. But everyone has to grow up sometime, and for Sophie, growing up means losing her heart - to the one person she shouldn't fall in love with. On the night of Indian independence, something happens that sends Sophie away from everything she knows, and ultimately back to postwar England. Years later, Sophie has put the past behind her. But when her diplomat husband is posted to Delhi, suddenly her secret won't stay buried. As India struggles with its new identity, Sophie realizes her own story is about to fall apart. Facing the truth will mean a journey back into her past and to the memory of a young boy with tourmaline eyes.




Worthy Brown’s Daughter by Philip Margolin (Jan 21st)
One of a handful of lawyers in the new state of Oregon, recently widowed Matthew Penny agrees to help Worthy Brown, a newly freed slave, rescue his fifteen year old daughter, Roxanne, from their former master, a powerful Portland lawyer. Worthy’s lawsuit sets in motion events that lead to Worthy’s arrest for murder and create an agonizing moral dilemma that could send either Worthy or Matthew to the hangman. At the same time, hanging judge Jed Tyler, a powerful politician with a barren personal life, becomes infatuated with a beautiful gold-digger who is scheming to murder Benjamin Gillette, Oregon’s wealthiest businessman. When Gillette appears to die from natural causes, Sharon Hill produces a forged contract of marriage and Tyler must decide if he will sacrifice his reputation to defend that of the woman who inspired his irrational obsession. At Worthy’s trial, Matthew saves Worthy by producing a stunning courtroom surprise and his attempt to stop the deadly fortune hunter ends in a violent climax.



The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson (Jan 21st)
Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country. As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest. Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. The Secret of Magicbrilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.



Under the Wide Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (Jan 21st)
Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world.


The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (in PB Jan 21st)
On May 30, 1593, a celebrated young playwright was killed in a tavern brawl in London. That, at least, was the official version. Now Christopher Marlowe reveals the truth: that his "death" was an elaborate ruse to avoid a conviction of heresy; that he was spirited across the English Channel to live on in lonely exile; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colorless man from Stratford—one William Shakespeare. With the grip of a thriller and the emotional force of a sonnet, this remarkable novel in verse gives voice to a man who was brilliant, passionate, and mercurial. A cobbler's son who counted nobles among his friends, a spy in the Queen's service, a fickle lover and a declared religious skeptic, Christopher Marlowe always courted trouble.




The Queen’s Dwarf by Ella March Chase (Jan 21st)
It's 1629, and King Charles I and his French queen Henrietta-Maria have reigned in England for less than three years. Young dwarf Jeffrey Hudson is swept away from a village shambles and plunged into the Stuart court when his father sells him to the most hated man in England—the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham trains Jeffrey to be his spy in the household of Charles’ seventeen-year-old bride, hoping to gain intelligence that will help him undermine the vivacious queen’s influence with the king. Desperately homesick in a country that hates her for her nationality and Catholic faith, Henrietta-Maria surrounds herself with her "Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature"—a "collection" consisting of a giant, two other dwarves, a rope dancer, an acrobat/animal trainer and now Jeffrey, who is dubbed "Lord Minimus." Dropped into this family of misfits, Jeffrey must negotiate a labyrinth of court intrigue and his own increasingly divided loyalties. For not even the plotting of the Duke nor the dangers of a tumultuous kingdom can order the heart of a man. Though he is only eighteen inches tall, Jeffrey Hudson's love will reach far beyond his grasp—to the queen he has been sent to destroy.



The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon (Jan 28th)

They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden. On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he? After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.




The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin (Jan 28th)

In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found. This maritime mystery lies at the center of an intricate narrative branching through the highest levels of late- nineteenth-century literary society. While on a voyage to Africa, a rather hard-up and unproven young writer named Arthur Conan Doyle hears of the Mary Celeste and decides to write an outlandish short story about what took place. This story causes quite a sensation back in the United States, particularly between sought-after Philadelphia spiritualist medium Violet Petra and a rational-minded journalist named Phoebe Grant, who is seeking to expose Petra as a fraud. Then there is the family of the Mary Celeste's captain, a family linked to the sea for generations and marked repeatedly by tragedy. Each member of this ensemble cast holds a critical piece to the puzzle of the Mary Celeste. These three elements-a ship found sailing without a crew, a famous writer on the verge of enormous success, and the rise of an unorthodox and heretical religious fervor-converge in unexpected ways, in diaries, in letters, in safe harbors and rough seas. In a haunted, death-obsessed age, a ghost ship appearing in the mist is by turns a provocative mystery, an inspiration to creativity, and a tragic story of the disappearance of a family and of a bond between husband and wife that, for one moment, transcends the impenetrable barrier of death.


Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson (Jan 28th)

Yorkshire, 1904. On Netherwood Common, Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich shows her dear friend Eve Williams a house: a Victorian villa, solidly built from local stone. This is Ravenscliffe, and it’s the house Anna wants them to live in. It’s their house, she says. It was meant to be. As Anna transforms Ravenscliffe, an attraction grows between her and union man Amos. But when Eve’s long-lost brother Silas turns up in the closely-knit mining community of Netherwood, cracks begin to appear in even the strongest friendships. Meanwhile, at Netherwood Hall, cherished traditions are being undermined by the whims of the feckless heir to the title, Tobias Hoyland, and his American bride Thea Stirling. Below stairs, the loyal servants strive to preserve the noble family’s dignity and reputation. But both inside the great house and in the world beyond, values and loyalties are rapidly changing.




The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien (Jan 28th)
An innocent pawn, A kingdom without a king, A new dynasty will reign…
1415. The jewel in the French crown, Katherine de Valois, is waiting under lock and key for King Henry V. While he's been slaughtering her kinsmen in Agincourt, Katherine has been praying for marriage to save her from her misery. But the brutal king wants her crown, not her innocent love. For Katherine, England is a lion's den of greed, avarice and mistrust. And when she is widowed at twenty-one, she becomes a prize ripe for the taking—her young son the future monarch, her hand in marriage worth a kingdom. This is a deadly political game, one the dowager queen must learn fast. The players—the Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor—are circling. Who will have her? Who will ruin her? This is the story of Katherine de Valois.




Arcanum by Simon Morden (Jan 28th)
Rome was the center of the most powerful empire the world had ever seen, but that didn't stop it falling to Alaric the Goth, his horde of barbarian tribesmen and their wild spell-casting shamans. Having split the walls with their sorcery and slaughtered the inhabitants with their axes, the victors carved up the empire into a series of bickering states which were never more than an insult away from war. A thousand years later, and Europe has become an almost civilized place. The rulers of the old Roman palatinates confine their warfare to the short summer months, trade flourishes along the rivers and roads, and farming has become less back-breaking, all due to the magic, bestowed by gods, that infuses daily life. Even the barbarians' gods have been tamed: where once human sacrifices poured their blood onto the ground, there are parties and picnics, drinking and singing, fit for decent people and their children. But it looks like the gods are going to have the last laugh before they slip quietly into ill-remembered obscurity..




Hall of Secrets by Cate Campbell (Jan 28th)
For generations, the Benedicts have been one of Seattle's most distinguished families, residing in the splendid Queen Anne mansion known as Benedict Hall amid a host of loyal servants. But the dawn of the 1920s and the aftermath of the Great War have brought dramatic social conflict. Never has this been more apparent than when daughter Margot's thoroughly modern young cousin, Allison, comes to stay. But Margot is also shocking many of Seattle's genteel citizens, and her engineer beau, by advocating birth control in her medical practice. For amid a tangle of blackmail, manipulation, and old enmities, the Benedicts stand to lose more than money - they may forfeit the very position and reputation that is their only tether to a rapidly changing world.




I Shall be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe (Jan 28th) 
 Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier. Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war.




The Arnifour Affair by Gregory Harris (Jan 28th) 
When a carriage bearing the Arnifour family crest--a vulture devouring a slaughtered lamb--arrives at the Kensington home of Colin Pendragon, it is an ominous beginning to a perplexing new case. Lady Arnifour's husband has been beaten to death and her niece, Elsbeth, left in a coma. Is the motive passion, revenge, or something even more sinister? Police suspicions have fallen on the groundskeeper and his son, yet the Earl's widow is convinced of their innocence. Even as Colin and his partner Ethan Pruitt delve into the muddy history of the Arnifour family, a young street urchin begs their help in finding his missing sister. Ethan, regrettably familiar with London's underbelly, urges caution, yet Colin's interest is piqued. And in a search that wends from the squalid opium dens of the East End to the salons of Embassy Row, the truth about these seemingly disparate cases will prove disquieting, dangerous, and profoundly unexpected. . .

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