Friday, July 24, 2020

Wendy's Unusual Historical Picks for July 2020

Since the folding of Heroes & Heartbreakers in (time flies) 2017 my monthly Unusual Historicals post has been cross-posted over at Love In Panels. Suzanne and Company are currently on hiatus to regroup, reassess, and hopefully rediscover their joy amid burn-out. I've been blogging a long time (since 2003) and have a lot of feelings about Romancelandia of late - most of them Old Man Yelling at Clouds.  Since I don't want to hijack this month's cornucopia I'll just leave you with this Romancelandia: Tired of wading through troll-ish garbage on social media to get to "book stuff?"  Want to support the "supporters" of the genre?  Start following and reading blogs again.  Also, Google Reader has been gone for 7 years now. Get over it and find an alternative that you can tolerate.  Now - on to the books!

 Trouble & Strife by Lara Kinsey (Kindle Unlimited)
Novella
Elizabeth Percival is sweet. Professionally. She left behind a life of stifling luxury to work in Cadwell’s chocolate shop. After over a decade, she’s itching to take over. She’s not about to let some broad-shouldered brawler mess it up. Even if he does have shoulders to die for.

Sidney Chance isn’t an enforcer…anymore. After a decade of smacking heads together in the name of the Chance Brothers, he’s lieutenant to the city’s most powerful family, but he’s not sure what to do with himself. Sid’s made some bad choices, but maybe the worst is mooning over a girl who keeps making good choices for him. Suddenly he has clean socks and wooly sweaters, and he’s not sure he minds, exactly, but it’s not doing his fearsome reputation any favors. But one taste of sweetness isn’t enough.

Can Sid convince Elizabeth he’s worth the trouble?
I just finished the first novella in this series and was intrigued by Sidney, who is described as in recovery and a bit haunted.  So much so that it's his younger brother acting as "CEO" of the family business.

Winner Takes All by Anna Harrington
Novella
Four years ago, Jackson Shaw left the employment of Viscount Darlington to strike out on his own as a horse trainer—and escape the temptation posed by the viscount’s beautiful daughter, Francesca, a woman he could never have. But success as a trainer has proved elusive, and the only hope for saving his indebted farm is to win the famous Epsom Derby.

Francesca Darlington is desperate to win the Derby for her own reasons. She’s managed to cajole her father into an agreement: if her colt wins the Derby, then she’ll earn the freedom to marry whomever she wants. But if she loses, she’ll marry the man her father has chosen for her—a man she will never love.

When an accident at the track brings Frankie back into Shaw’s arms, old desires return, and Frankie realizes that Shaw is the only man she wants to marry. But only one of them can win the Derby and seize their dream for the future, while the other is racing for a fall.

A working class hero and a romantic couple who both need to win the same horse race for different reasons.  Oh, and all those old complicated feelings getting in the way.  

Rhapsody for Two by Theresa Romain (originally published in How to Ruin a Duke anthology)
Novella
Simon Thorn is on the run from his past. A onetime metalworker who’s transformed himself into a Renaissance man, he’s worked as an actor, a tutor, and a musician. Blessed with a glib tongue, he’s never met a stranger—but he fears seeing a familiar face.

Rowena Fairweather is facing a difficult future. She’s the last in a line of brilliant luthiers—builders of stringed instruments—and her illustrious family legacy is about to fall prey to debt.

When the scandalous novel How to Ruin a Duke brings Simon and Rowena together, the solution to her problems just might lie in his mysterious past. These unlikely allies soon become lovers…but will Simon surrender his heart to Rowena, or take to his feet again?
This was previously published in a duology with Grace Burrowes so check your TBR before one-clicking.  There's so much "unusual"  here it's hard to know what I'm more intriguing by! The Renaissance man hero? The heroine who makes stringed instruments? Unlikely allies turned lovers? Gimme!
 
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees. But when a beautiful beekeeper arrives to take care of the pests, Agatha may be in danger of being stung by something far more dangerous…

Penelope Flood exists between two worlds in her small seaside town, the society of rich landowners and the tradesfolk.  Soon, tensions boil over when the formerly exiled Queen arrives on England’s shores—and when Penelope’s long-absent husband returns to Melliton, she once again finds herself torn, between her burgeoning love for Agatha and her loyalty to the man who once gave her refuge.

As Penelope finally discovers her true place, Agatha must learn to accept the changing world in front of her. But will these longing hearts settle for a safe but stale existence or will they learn to fight for the future they most desire?
The first book in this series was one of my favorites of 2019 so I've really been looking forward to this one (although why Avon can't seem to find someone who is halfway competent in Photoshop is beyond me...). A printer heroine on the brink of bankruptcy and a beekeeper heroine. When was the last time any of us read something like that? Like, never!

 
The Rebel Heiress and the Knight by Melissa Oliver

She must marry the knight

By order of the king!
Widow Eleanor of Tallany Castle knows her people are broken by the taxes demanded by King John. So when she’s ordered to marry Hugh de Villiers, a knight loyal to the king, she’s furious—even if he is handsome! As gallant Hugh begins to heal the scars of Eleanor’s abusive first marriage, she’s even more determined to keep her secret: she is the outlaw the king wants to send to the gallows!

Melissa Oliver is the latest in a string of authors who have benefited from Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write initiative - and this debut novel is the first in a two book contract.  Is there a better medieval villain that King John?  Go ahead, I'll wait.  Plus this one has a sprinkling of Enemies To Lovers and a big dash of a Heroine With a Big Secret!


 
The Flapper's Baby Scandal by Lauri Robinson
Her undercover life…

Her secret child
Dancing in speakeasies at night is dutiful heiress Betty Dryer’s only escape from her father’s tyrannical control and marriage plans. There she meets mysterious FBI agent Henry Randall. Drawn into his investigation—and to emotionally scarred, lone-wolf Henry himself—Betty gives in to her desire, believing this could be her only chance at love before she’s forced to wed. Until she discovers she’s pregnant with Henry’s baby!


Book two in Robinson's Sisters of the Roaring Twenties series, our heroine is dancing the night away throwing back Gin Rickeys (OK, that might be poetic license on my part....) when she falls into the arms of an FBI agent and whoopsie-doodle ends up pregnant. Well that will certainly put an end to the party - but alas, true love will certainly be on the horizon.


Conveniently Wed to the Viking by Michelle Styles

Strangers on the run

Now they must wed!
Sandulf, youngest of the famed Sigurdsson brothers, is on the trail of the assassin who murdered his family. On his way, he meets Scottish runaway Lady Ceanna, a prickly, wary woman trying to escape a forced marriage. Her beauty and courage make Sandulf realize there may be more at stake than his revenge… As the threat of her family follows them, there’s only one way to keep her safe—marriage!


Styles' latest is the third book in the multi-author Sons of Sigurd series featuring a bevy of hunky Vikings. A hero bent on revenge finds himself inconveniently wed to a runaway bride with a less-than-stellar family hot on her heels.  Ooooh, road romance!

A lot to choose from this month to fill out Ye Olde Shopping list.  Hopefully there's something here to pique your interest.  Take care of yourselves Romancelandia, be good to each other, find some tiny moments of joy - and Lord above, keep wearing your face masks and washing your hands like Lady Macbeth.

1 comment:

Jill said...

I much prefer blogs to social media. I've walked away from 99% of social media bc I've realized it casts this filmy layer of unhappiness and vague anxiety over everything.
If other people want it, good for thme. It's just not for me.