Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top 5 Unusual Historicals for December 2017

For those of you who pay attention to publishing cycles, December traditionally tends to be a dead month.  Thank heavens for self-publishing otherwise this month's Unusual Historicals column would have been a non-starter!  There's a nice bit of variety this month and hopefully a few gems just waiting to be discovered.  Here is what caught my eye for December:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B071RXYK47/themisaofsupe-20Besieged and Betrothed by Jenni Fletcher (medieval)
Bound to her enemy

Ruthless warrior Lothar the Frank has laid siege to Castle Haword, but there’s a fiery redhead in his way—and she’s not backing down!

More tomboy than trembling maiden, Lady Juliana Danville would rather die than lose the castle. When she’s caught on opposite sides of a war, a marriage bargain is brokered to bring peace. But is blissful married life possible when Juliana has a dangerous secret hidden within the castle walls?
Fletcher is a newer author to Harlequin Historical, and this is her third release with them (her second medieval).  Naturally I have her first two books lurking in the depths of my Kindle (because of course I do).  I love, love, love tomboy heroines and looks like our fiery redhead must choose marriage in order to save her home.  I'm all in on this one.

Miracle on Ladies' Mile by Joanna Shupe (novella, Gilded Age)

A holiday novella set in New York City's Gilded Age, where anything is possible...

After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter.

When he encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s holiday window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…
There's been a lot of chatter about Shupe's new series with Avon but I haven't seen much (OK any...) mention of this self-published novella.  I'll be frank.  I am, literally, the only reader on the planet who DNF'ed Shupe's celebrated debut novel with Kensington and the "DNF stink" has kept me from trying another one of her books.  WHICH KILLS ME BECAUSE OMG SHE WRITES IN THE GILDED AGE!  But this is a novella and frankly it sounds like Wendy catnip.  I LOVE historical department store settings and the whole single dad thing gets me every. single. time.  I'm going to try this.

The Swan by Piper Huguley (novella, Americana)
A beautiful woman with secrets comes to Noelle to confront a powerful person with the truth...and only six days left to save the town.

Avis Smith is willing to go to Noelle to marry a man she doesn’t know in order to avenge a fourteen year wrong--her abandonment to a life of misery and abuse when she was just six years old. In order to get to Noelle, she has to lie about who she is, but her thirst for vengeance is so strong, she transforms herself into the pious, beautiful bride that JD Jones wants. Still, she never expected to be abandoned at the altar.

 His work as an abolitionist and fighter for justice will not allow storekeeper Liam Fulton to turn his back on the beautiful woman his archenemy is willing to leave at the altar. He figures a way to help Avis out of her predicament, offers to showcase her in his store so that other potential grooms in Noelle will see her and might want to marry the young woman with the long and elegant neck.

When swans mate, they mate for life. When Liam offers to help Avis, he never expects that in working with her to find a resolution to her problem, he discovers a fierce need to protect her. Avis doesn’t know that she might find something better than what she was looking for--a new way to a family and bonds of a strong and life-long lasting love.
This is actually book seven in the multi-author series, The 12 Days of Christmas Mail Order Brides.  It appears to be one of those series where the authors are all operating in the same world (and using the mail order bride hook) but the stories appear to function well as stand-alone reads.  I'm highlighting Piper's book because of my past experience with reading her (she tends to create a wonderful sense of place in her stories - you're reading a historical y'all, there's no mistaking that!) and I follow her on Twitter.  Note to those of you with Kindle Unlimited - it looks like the entire series is available there.  Gorge at the trough mail order bride fans!

The Rancher's Inconvenient Bride by Carol Arens (western)

A Wyoming marriage of convenience…

Agatha Magee has put her difficult past behind her and is living an independent life at the circus. But when William English rescues her—from being shot out of a cannon—their scandalous situation leaves them no option but to get married!

William has no intention of making this more than a marriage in name only. Agatha must somehow change his mind if she’s to have the family she’s always yearned for…

Arens has been writing for Harlequin Historical for a while and her backlist is chock full of westerns.  Has Wendy read her yet?  Of course not.  She's buried in the TBR of Doom. This sounds really interesting!  A heroine in the circus?  A misguided hero who "rescues" her?  I'll give this one a whirl.  And I know y'all usually rely on me for such information (HH, western, what do you mean you've never read her Wendy?!) - but opinions welcome.

A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner (Regency, reprint)
London 1815, just before Waterloo...

After her noble father disowned her, Lady Serena Ravenshaw clawed her way from streetwalker to courtesan to prosperous innkeeper. Now she’s feared and respected from one end of London to the other, by the lowest dregs of the city’s underworld and the upper echelons of the beau monde, and she’ll do anything to keep it that way.

When mild-mannered chemist Solomon Hathaway turns up in her office, asking for her help, she immediately recognizes him from one fateful night years before. She’s been watching and waiting for him for years—so she can turn the tables and put him in her debt, of course, and not because he looked like an angel and was kind to her when she needed it most.

She’s determined not to wonder what put that fresh grief in his eyes. But after a betrayal even Serena didn’t expect, she must put aside her pride and work with Solomon to stop a ring of French spies and save her beloved inn, her freedom—and England itself.
Originally published by Dorchester, then reprinted by Samhain - I imagine Lerner throwing her hands up in the air saying "Screw it, I'm self-publishing it this time!"  OK, seriously - HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK?!?  OK, so I knew about it.  But not that the whole heroine gets disowned becomes a streetwalker then a courtesan then an innkeeper "thing."  I AM HERE FOR THIS ALL DAY LONG PEOPLE!  Ahem.  I'm blaming this on not reading reviews closely and new back cover copy.  For those of us who missed it the first...and second time around, at the time of this blog post it's a sweet 99 cents in digital.

What Historicals are you looking forward to this month?


Mrs Giggles said...

Joanna Schupe's first Zebra series are old school in not a good way, IMO: toxic misunderstanding drama, heroes with exaggeratedly negative opinions about women even as they hypocritically hold these women to standards they themselves break on a daily basis, etc. I have her Avon book as well as her second Zebra series, but I can't bring myself to crack open the spine of any of them yet.

Some of the more innovative and interesting historical romances are still at Harlequin Historical. Which is ironic considering how formulaic the other lines of this publisher can be.

Wendy said...

Mrs. G: And I misspoke. I always forget about Shupe's first trilogy which was...Regency? The one I DNF'ed was actually the first Gilded Age book with Zebra - Magnate. But, and I'm not lying, everyone seemed to LOVE that series so I feel like I should try at least one more but...I've been dragging my feet. This novella, with the whole department store thing, and the fact that it doesn't seem linked to a series, seems like a good second chance option.

I am so behind on my Harlequin Historical reading. They're my favorite too - and about the only place you can find medievals these days (so it seems).

RND said...

Magnant is the only book I’ve read by Shupe. I was very underwhelmed, but I’m pretty picky about Gilded Age stories.

Piper Huguley’s books sure have gotten some lovely covers.

Carole Rae said...

The first three looks and sounds the best. :)

Wendy said...

RND: I liked it quite a bit until the marriage of convenience thing gets shoe-horned in and then the heroine's reactions/responses to the predicament she landed in were...well, thick. Her cluelessness also made the hero's Alphahole tendencies stand out more (and I was rolling with them pretty well, at first, because he is, after all, a robber baron!) and I just couldn't go on. But Gilded Age! So I really need to give her a second chance.

Carole: I'm glad you found a few that sound promising!

A Library Girl said...

I have a Samhain copy of A Lily Among Thorns. I remember it being very good, if a bit crammed full of stuff. The hero and heroine were really enjoyable.

Wendy said...

Library Girl: Sold!