Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Unusual Historical Spotlight: China, Old School, Highlanders, Civil War, Western, Yachts, And Vikings

I'm going to do my darnedest to do one of these posts every month, highlighting "unusual" historicals that catch my eye.  I try to spread the wealth around among publishers, but dang - it's a venerable Harlequin-Palooza this month!  Have your shopping list handy.....

The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin - Harlequin Historical - May 21, 2013

Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law--a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She "will" discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all....

Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life--and love--as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he's faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion....
What Makes It Unusual?:  WooHoo!  More Tang Dynasty China from Lin!

Forever Wild by Louisa Rawlings - Samhain - Digital Only - May 21, 2013

Part of Samhain's Retro Romance Line, this was first published in 1986 by Popular Library (Warner Books)

From the corruption of Boss Tweed’s New York to the Paris of the Impressionists, two couples fight to fulfill their greatest dreams and desires.

Willough, a well-bred child of wealth, yearns to take her place at the head of her father’s iron empire in the wilderness of the Adirondacks. Accustomed to polished city men, she finds herself drawn to the raw masculinity of Nat, her father’s foreman. Can she leave behind the trappings of city life and learn to embrace the rough country and rough man she is destined to love?

Marcy was born in the mountains, attached to the High Peaks, and yet she yearns to leave and see the world. Drew, Willough’s artist brother, has rejected his father’s business and thrown himself into painting. Together they travel the world, but is love enough to see them through the hard times?
 What Makes It Unusual?  I swooned when I read "Boss Tweed's New York."  Seriously.  1986?  This one could be chock full of Old School Shenanigans!

Highlanders by Brenda Joyce, Terri Brisbin & Michelle Willingham - HQN - Digital Only - June 1, 2013

The Warrior and the Rose by Brenda Joyce
Lady Juliana MacDougall prays for her loved ones to survive battle against Robert Bruce...but the battle comes to her when her lands are attacked by a band of Highlanders, including a man wearing the colors of her clan's worst enemy. Taken hostage by Alasdair Og, Juliana quickly learns he's as exceptional a lover as he is a ruthless warrior. But how can she ever love Alasdair when he's her blood enemy?
The Forbidden Highlander by Terri Brisbin
Honor-bound by an arranged betrothal, James Murray never anticipated falling in love with his intended bride's dearest friend instead. The passion between James and Elizabeth MacLerie is undeniable, but they are torn between love and loyalty to their clans....
Rescued by the Highland Warrior by Michelle Willingham
Celeste de Laurent is determined to never again live in poverty. After sacrificing love for a secure marriage, she now stands to lose everything as a widow. Her only hope is to bear an heir--and what better man to father her child, and save her from a terrible fate, than Dougal MacKinloch, the only man she ever loved?
 What Makes It Unusual?  Och!  Lassies lurve their Highlanders!  (Please note all three of these stories are connected to series by the authors).

An Outlaw In Wonderland by Lori Austin - Signet - June 4, 2013

In a time of war, love has its own rewards...
Saving soldiers' lives at the Confederate army hospital Chimborazo, Annabeth Phelan is no ordinary Southern belle. She's never known work more exhausting or rewarding. And she's never known a man like Dr. Ethan Walsh, with his disarming gray eyes and peculiar ways. But now the Confederacy is charging her with another service: find the Union spy at Chimborazo.
Ethan's one passion is saving lives, and if he can do that by helping to end the war, he will--even if it means spying for the North. He's gotten used to fooling Confederates, but he can't bear lying to Annabeth. And together, they are about to discover a new passion--one that could even transcend the chaos of war.  
What Makes It Unusual?  OK, so yeah.  The title makes my brain hurt a wee bit.  And OK, so Chimborazo Hospital was in VIRGINIA and I'm not sure why the cover model is dressed like a cowgirl in Utah.  Whatever.  It's an American Historical!  Yippee!

Heart of the West by Penelope Williamson - Pocket - June 25, 2013 - Reprint (first published 1995)

She was torn between two brothers...
All her life proper Bostonian Clementine Kennicutt yearned to escape the pious tyranny of her father's rule. So when Gus McQueen rode into town and swept her off her feet, she was ready for him. Eloping with the carefree cowboy was the answer to her prayers... until she met his brother.
The One She Married...
In the Big Sky country of Montana, Clementine yearned to feel the simple love of a wife for her husband. She'd pledged her troth to Gus, and she swore she would die honoring her promise, but each day her heart betrayed her.
And The One She Was Born To Love...
Zach Rafferty's love was not like the soft affection of her husband -- it was the wanton need of a dangerous man. And, despite her promise, Clementine knew he was the one meant for her all along...
 What Makes It Unusual?: A western!  I would appreciate comments on this one - because I know Williamson has many fans out in Romancelandia.  I'm intrigued by this one, but the love triangle aspect makes me a little squeamish.....

A Lady Dares by Bronwyn Scott - Harlequin Historical - July 23, 2013

According to society, I, Elise Sutton, haven't been a lady for quite some time-a lady couldn't possibly run the family company and spend her days on London's crowded, tar-stained docks. And she most certainly wouldn't associate herself with the infamous Dorian Rowland-privateer, smuggler and the Scourge of Gibraltar himself.
But I need Rowland and his specialized expertise-especially with the wolves circling, waiting for me to fail. I yearn to feel alive, and Rowland, who can kiss like the devil, inflames my senses and makes me dare to break free....

What Makes It Unusual?  While set in 1839 England, the author puts a different spin on things by including yacht racing into her story.  Also, we should all buy this book if only for the cover art.  That hat rocks my world.

To Sin With A Viking by Michelle Willingham - Harlequin Historical - July 23, 2013


Caragh O Brannon defended herself bravely when the enemy landed-only, now she finds herself alone with one very angry Viking....

Styr Hardrata sailed to Ireland intending to trade, never expecting to find himself held captive in chains by a beautiful Irish maiden.

The fiercely handsome warrior both terrifies and allures Caragh, but he is forbidden territory. He is the enemy...and he is married. Yet Styr harbors a secret that just might set them both free....
What Makes It Unusual?  Vikings!

Whew!  I have several of these on tap already, waiting to be read and reviewed (the Lin, the Highlanders anthology and the Willingham).  Any of these catch your eye?  Read any good "unusual historicals" lately?


Phyl said...

I definitely want to read The Sword Dancer. Meanwhile, I *think* I read Heart of the West, but I don't remember it--if I did read it, it was years ago. However, to me the real significance of this news is that maybe it's a signal that Williamson's The Outsider will be re-published and available digitally. Oh, I hope, I hope.

A Library Girl said...

I picked up The Sword Dancer, so now I'll finally let myself read Lin's My Fair Concubine.

Jennifer Lohmann said...

Here's what I said on Goodreads about Heart of the West:

" Wow--this book is a doozy of a read. I wouldn't call it a romance, really, because the heart of the story is not the developing relationship between two characters. There are about 15 different subplots and 3 romances to be settled by the end of the book.

Heart of the West is VERY descriptive and feels very real with violence and dirt. I was wary of the love triangle, but I think Williamson handled that part very well without diminishing the feelings of any of the characters."

Williamson's books are all over the place with old school epic plots that cover YEARS! Prepare yourself for craziness. I LOVE The Outsider, but it divided my bookclub. People either LOVED it or HATED it; there was no middle ground.

azteclady said...

So the Williamson is a reprint? huh.

Curious about the Austin, I've read very different takes on it.

willaful said...

Oh, Heart of the West is wonderful! It's very epic, but not in a squicky way.

I've started Forever Wild and don't really have a sense of it yet, except it's definitely got a different vibe than I'm used to.

Wendy said...

Phyl: Yeah, I find the Williamson reprint (with the VERY romance-y hunky stud on the cover) intriguing. I'm wondering if there is some significance to it other than just a random reprint? Wouldn't it be great if she was working on new material?

Library Girl: I really enjoyed My Fair Concubine. Lin excels at writing that ONE gut-wrenching scene in every book that just rips your heart out. There's a good one in that story. Sooooo angsty!

Jennifer: Sold! I'm a sucker for an epic, saga-y, western romance.

AL: Austin is also Lori Handeland - and while I've read westerns by her under that name, I have yet to try the new Austin books. Must. Do. That.

Willaful: Well, it was first published in 1986 - so I would suspect there's plenty of room for some Old School WTF'ery in it. I tend to like that sort of thing - but really only with American historicals and westerns, and even then? I couldn't read a steady diet of it. Probably a good thing I wasn't a voracious romance reader back in those days :)

novelnelle said...

I'm seconding the recommendation for heart of the west. It's one of my top 5 romances and i thought the love triangle was handled really well.

little alys said...

Read The Sword Dancer - review coming soon. Just as good as My Fair Concubine. :D