Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Unusual Historical Spotlight: America, Medievals, France, Restoration England, And China

Before the Dawn by Denise A. Agnew

What You Need To Know: Publication date June 28, 2011, digital only

A fallen woman must decide to stay down, or rise and fight…
Elijah McKinnon has been found innocent of a heinous murder, but it doesn’t erase the hellish years in prison he endured. He boards the train to Pittsburgh a changed man, certain he will never feel free until he’s wreaked revenge on the brother who ruined his life.

The passenger who catches his eye is intriguing, but he’s seen her kind before. The kind who puts on airs—and looks down on Irishmen. Still, he can’t seem to stop himself from stepping between her and a pack of ruthless cads.

Mary Jane Lawson is grateful for the handsome stranger’s help, but her journey has a higher purpose: to rise above her shattered reputation and declare her independence, come flood or famine. Propriety says she should refuse Elijah’s suggestion they pose as husband and wife—for her own protection, of course. Her practical side says it won’t hurt to pretend, just this once.

Come nightfall, though, their little charade must be carried all the way to shared sleeping quarters, where their vulnerabilities become painfully clear. And when danger past and present threatens, trusting each other becomes a matter of life and death.
What Makes It Unusual: American-set!  An Irish hero!  A "fallen" heroine!  ::swoon::

To Touch the Knight by Lindsay Townsend

What You Need To Know: Publication date July 1, 2011

As a pestilence sweeps medieval England, a low-born woman has only the sharpness of her wits—and the courage of her heart…
Edith of Warren Hemlet plays a dangerous game. At the knights’ tourneys across the land, among the lords and ladies, she is a strange foreign princess. But in the privacy of her tent with the other survivors of her village, she is but a smith’s widow with a silver tongue. They are well-fed, but if discovered, the punishment is death. And one knight—fierce, arrogant, and perilously appealing—is becoming far too attentive…

Sir Ranulf of Fredenwyke cares little for tourneys: playing for ladies’ favors, when his own lady is dead; feasting, while commoners starve; “friendly” combat, when he has seen real war. Still, one lady captivates him—mysterious in her veils and silks, intoxicating with her exotic scents and bold glances. Yet something in her eyes reminds him of home…and draws him irresistibly to learn her secrets…

What Makes It Unusual: Medieval England, and OMG - The Black Death!

Silence in the Mist by Leah Marie Brown

What You Need To Know: Publication date July 7, 2011, mostly digital, but it looks like print-on-demand paperback is an option.

After bloodthirsty revolutionaries murder her family, Françoise Despres vows to avenge their deaths and fight the violent mob destroying her beloved France by becoming a spy for the counter-revolutionary cause. She knows great success, silently slipping between the shadows to carry secret messages that thwart her foes. But she never expected to come up against Sebastien de Bréze, a daring, clever cavalry officer in the revolutionary army and master spy hunter. Who will win this dangerous game of cat and mouse?
When Sebastien discovers the spy he has captured is actually a wily, elusive young woman cloaked in men’s garb and shrouded in secrets, he finds himself intrigued and titillated. But the crafty woman slips through his grasp and soon he finds himself chasing her through France. Undaunted, he makes it his mission to recapture Françoise Despres, body and soul.
What Makes It Unusual: The French Revolution.

The King's Mistress by Sandy Blair

What You Need To Know: Publication date July 26, 2011, digital only

The long way home could be the shortest road to ruin.
The king of Scotland is in a snit. Which means Britt MacKinnon, proud captain of the king’s guard, has an onerous task: fetch Alexander’s favorite paramour back to the royal bed—now. Never mind that the crown should be about the business of getting a legitimate heir. Especially since England’s Edward I would love nothing more than to seize an empty Scottish throne.

When the handsome soldier appears on her doorstep, Geneen Armstrong has to think quickly. Her twin lies abed in her cottage, pregnant with the king’s bastard. If the barren queen learns the truth, the foolish girl’s life won’t be worth a farthing.

She must somehow transform her graceless, plain-spoken self into her vivacious, talented sister. Then, after the court is convinced she carries no child, use her herbal knowledge to sour the king’s taste for her sister’s company—for good.

By the time Britt realizes this unusually articulate, ungodly stubborn woman is the wrong woman, tendrils of attraction have already tightened into a bond. A bond that will be tested when the king’s unexpected death puts Scotland’s very destiny at stake—and unleashes an ever-tangling web of court intrigues, secrets...and lies.
What Makes It Unusual:  13th century Scotland.

The King's Courtesan by Judith James

What You Need To Know: Publication date August 23, 2011, not sure if this is part of a series.  Anyone know? I've been informed that this is loosely connected to Libertine's Kiss.

Her body is the battleground
Sensuous, beautiful and determined, Hope Matthews is a favored mistress of the king. Her many charms have helped her rise from the gutter to the king's bed. But with the new queen's impending arrival, her nights in the royal chamber— and her hopes for security—will swiftly come to an end.

His honor a distant memory

Haunted by his past, hardened by the recent civil war, Captain Robert Nichols lives only for revenge. When told he must marry the king's courtesan to provide a cover for their affair, he's faced with a new low. Both are pawns of a great man, but married to their dreams of independence, their clash is inevitable. Can these two wounded souls realize the answer to all their dreams might lie in each other's arms?
What Makes It Unusual: Restoration England.

The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

What You Need To Know: Publication date September 20, 2011, book two in series

The Most Beautiful Courtesan of Them All…
Former Emperor’s consort Ling Suyin is renowned for her beauty; the ultimate seductress. Now she lives quietly alone–until the most ruthless warlord in the region comes and steals her away…

Li Tao lives life by the sword, and is trapped in the treacherous, lethal world of politics. The alluring Ling Suyin is at the center of the web. He must uncover her mystery without falling under her spell–yet her innocence calls out to him. How cruel if she, of all women, can entrance the man behind the legend…
What Makes It Unusual: 8th century China
  • This is just a small sampling of upcoming and recently released titles.  Have you read any promising unusual historicals of late?


Mollie said...

Ohh I like unusual historicals. I don't think The King's Courtesan is part of a series, unless it's the first book in a series.

Dr J said...

I used to read every historical I could get my hands on, and found that so many of them, at least for a few years, were mostly Regency period as that was the era of Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland. I started out with Ivanhoe which is a wonderful historical and then some from the Roman Empire and 14th century England. Now I try to find the unusual ones that are educational as well as entertaining. That's why I love historicals in the first place. Why keep to one era or timeframe? Thanks for a really nice blog post.

Theresa Romain said...

Why, yes! FLAWLESS, by Carrie Lofty, is set in South Africa in the 1880s. The heroine is required by the terms of a will to manage a diamond brokerage--but since no one takes women seriously, her estranged husband accompanies her. Lovely story, and the setting is absolutely essential to the plot. I got an ARC through sheer luck and a spell by the light of the full moon :) but it'll be out on Sept 27.

Zoe Archer said...

You've got Carrie Lofty's FLAWLESS on your radar, yes? Victorian-era, set in the diamond mines of South Africa. It's out September 27.

Wendy said...

Mollie: A helpful Twitter-er let me know that it's loosely connected to Libertine's Kiss. Which I still have languishing in my TBR because I suck like that.

Dr. J: Variety is the spice of life. Plus, I just can't read the same thing of anything over and over again. Even westerns. And I lurve me some westerns!

Theresa & Zoe: Yes! The new Carrie Lofty is WAY on my radar. I scored an ARC at RWA and really, really, really need to get through my reviewing backlog so I can read it soon. I'll probably do another of these Spotlight posts late August, early September - so I can feature it properly :)

A Library Girl said...

I saw Jeannie Lin's new book at the end of the list, and it wiped my brain clean. I want! I must mark September 20th on my calendar.

Kristie (J) said...

I'm whimpering with desire for The King's Courtesan. Also that Western looks good. And, um, ah, Wendy, the hero in Conor's Way is Irish. The others also look very good. I am SO glad I've joined the electronic age.

As for unusual historicals, I just finished one - Somewhere in Time by Merline Lovelace that was a time travel where the heroine traveled back to the time when Rome ruled the world and was set in Persia. I quite liked it and am working on the review

Lynnd said...

Thanks Wendy. I have had King's Courtesan and the Dragon and the Pearl on my "to buy" list (libertine's Kiss and Butterfly Swords were wonderful reads). I am also interested in Carrie Lofty's, Flawless - sounds intriguing. Pretty soon my TBR list is going to be as bad as yours :-) - keep up the good work!

Hannah said...

That's a very comprehensive list. I have eARCs of Flawless by Carrie Lofty and The King's Courtesan and hope to read them soon. A couple of the digital titles were not even on my radar. It's harder to find info about upcoming digital books, don't you think?

There's also a time-travel romance called Overseas by Beatriz Williams that's supposed to be coming out in 2012, featuring a hero who travels from WWI where he was an army officer to present-day Manhattan.

Wendy said...

Library Girl: I've still got to read the first one! Argh! I suck so bad!

Kristie: Oh, I'm well away the hero in Connor's Way is Irish. Which is yet another reason why it makes NO sense that I still have it languishing in my TBR.

LynnD: The idea for these posts was suggested to me, and I thought it was fantastic! So I'm running with it....

Hannah: Re: digital titles - yeah. Which is why I don't do digital titles on my Upcoming Historical Romance wiki. It's just too hard (and daunting!) to keep up. I got an e-mail about the France book. The other two I found thanks to Samhain's "Coming Soon" page. But to find ALL the digital historical romance releases? Yikes.

Leslie said...

Must get the Judith James. She writes such different romances.

Oh, a western too! Can never have enough westerns.

You know the new Kaki Warner western is out. It's really good!

Lynnd said...

Then thanks are also due to whoever suggested this idea to you :-). My wallet may not be happy, but I sure am :-).

Kate said...

"easting, while commoners starve" Um, presentism much? :) Whatever, sounds like a rollicking good time to me. (If you're interested in the black death, John Hatcher wrote a pretty good book about it a couple of years, unsurprisingly called The Black Death: A Personal History. Hatcher is a Cambridge professor so he takes the actual records of a village during that time and fictionalizes it. It's not precisely a rollicking good time, but a fine book anyway.)