Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Roarin' In: Unusual Historicals for March 2023

March roared in like a lion for yours truly. Besides some truly wild weather for the part of the world I live in (rain, so much rain...), it's been a crazy busy month on the work front. My reading has suffered a bit because of that, coming in fits and starts.  The current patterns seems to be barely reading during the week, then gorging at the trough on the weekends.  Which is also why I'm fashionably late with this month's Unusual Historicals post - but it's worth the wait! Some choice picks this month, including a Wendy favorite reprint!  Read on Macduff...

The Untamed Warrior's Bride by Michelle Willingham 
To claim what should be his… 

He must claim her! 

Piers of Grevershire might have been born illegitimate, but he’ll fight for the land he knows is his. To do so, he must win Lady Gwendoline’s hand in marriage! What starts as a secret mission of vengeance soon becomes more as Gwen’s unique fire ignites a powerful connection between them. And when they’re married, Piers finds earning Gwen’s trust means revealing his true identity—and the betrayal that risks destroying their fledgling bond…

Let me tell you how grossly behind I am on Willingham's backlist - I need to go on a binge of my Harlequin Historical collection, which is now forming it's own mini-cluster of mountains in my TBR pile.  This is the second book in her Legendary Warriors series and features that most medieval of staples, the hero out for vengeance who inconveniently falls in love with the heroine who initially started out as a tool to achieve said vengeance. I'm expecting some good groveling here.

After eight days in a cramped stagecoach, divorcée Marigold Davis already regrets her decision to come to Denver City to marry. She certainly didn’t realize she’d signed up for mosquitoes, mud, and scores of rough men eyeing her like a hot meal on a cold day. But with her life in Kansas all but incinerated, Marigold needs a husband. Even if she’s not the bride that gold prospector Virgil Gardner is expecting… 

Virgil Gardner has a reputation as a grumpy hard-ass, and he’s fine with it. He’s also no fool—this is not the woman he agreed to marry. It takes a tough-as-nails woman to survive the harshness of a Rocky Mountain gold claim, and this whiskey-eyed, gentle beauty is certainly not the type. Now it’s just a matter of how quickly she’ll quit so he can find a wife who will stick. Someone who can care for the only thing he values even more than gold–his children. 

But Marigold isn’t about to give in. Cramped in a one-room shack. Berry picking turned into a bear escape. Or cooking for an entire crew of bottomless pits. She’s got more grit than most. And just when Virgil starts to realize his replacement bride might be the treasure he’s been looking for, an unannounced guest arrives…to change everything.
I will never not want to read a historical western written by an author who came to write said historical western from some other sub genre.  I'm still lugging around the baggage from the Great Historical Western Migration to Regency Ballrooms and Almack's Terrible Lemonade from the late 1990s and early 2000s after all.  So when an author does the opposite of that - and comes to historical westerns - I'll always be intrigued.  Collins is best known for her work with Harlequin Presents and this is not only her first historical western, it's her first published historical.

During ball season, anything can happen— even love. 

It’s ball season in Vienna, and Maria Wallner only wants one thing: to restore her family’s hotel, the Hotel Wallner, to its former glory. She’s not going to let anything get in her way - not her parents’ three-decade-long affair; not seemingly-random attacks by masked assassins; and especially not the broad-shouldered American foreign agent who’s saved her life two times already. No matter how luscious his mouth is. 

Eli Whittaker also only wants one thing: to find out who is selling American secret codes across Europe, arrest them, and go home to his sensible life in Washington, DC. He has one lead - a letter the culprit sent from a Viennese hotel. But when he arrives in Vienna, he is immediately swept up into a chaotic whirlwind of balls, spies, waltzes, and beautiful hotelkeepers who seem to constantly find themselves in danger. He disapproves of all of it! But his disapproval is tested as he slowly falls deeper into the chaos - and as his attraction to said hotelkeeper grows. 

This is Biller's third book and of course I haven't read the other two yet. Like you even have to ask?  Anyway, she's garnered herself a loyal and ardent fan base in Romancelandia already, and this one is set in Vienna and the heroine's family owns a hotel. I cannot say no to hotels, boardinghouses, and the rest of their ilk in historical romance. It's a very particular blend of catnip that I like.  Anyway, this is a trad published (Macmillan), trade paperback release - so I'll likely be leveraging my library card for this one.

Will Amanda's new life be torn apart if she reveals her tender secret and opens her heart to Chase? 

Midwife Amanda Ryan moves to a beautiful Rocky Mountain town after a heartbreaking family loss, optimistic and hopeful for a new start. She doesn’t expect a run-in with the tall and handsome owner of the town’s lumber mill, former Mountie, Chase Murdock. 

Who is he to claim that her new cabin is actually his cabin, declaring she’s been swindled by the same crook who just fleeced his lumber mill? She insists she has papers to verify she bought the home, fair and square. 

Setting out to prove each other wrong, Chase and Amanda can’t risk getting emotionally entangled. He’s had it with dishonest people, and she's hiding something. Yet, their time together is lively and filled with laughter. Unexpected kisses turn into passion. Their intimacy builds into something much deeper, but Amanda’s not ready to move forward after all the heartache she’s suffered in the past. 

Bravely and silently dealing with the loss of her own baby and resulting infertility, then her shocking divorce, Amanda nurtures the other women in town. She can’t have children and wonders if she could ever be the wife that Chase deserves. 

Falling in love with Chase means risking her heart. Or is he a stronger man, a kinder man, than Amanda might imagine? 

Gah! I've been waiting forever for this to be reissued because it's a good 'un! Originally published as The Midwife's Secret by Harelquin Historical in 2003, you can read my review from 2005 (!) right on this here blog. The hero has been swindled by his business partner, his fiancée has run off, and now the heroine shows up claiming to own a piece of his land. For her part the heroine has a pretty big secret. She's a midwife and not only is she divorced (!), she's barren. And she knows for a fact that women tend to not want barren, divorced women as their midwife.  

Roguishly handsome Oliver de Lacey has always lived lavishly: wine, weapons and women are his bywords. Even salvation from the noose by a shadowy society provides no epiphany to mend his debauched ways. 

Mistress Lark's sole passion is her secret work with a group of Protestant dissidents thwarting the queen's executions. She needs no other excitement—until Oliver de Lacey drops through the hangman's door and into her life. 

As their fates become inextricably bound together in a struggle against royal persecution, both Oliver and Lark discover a love worth saving…even dying for.


Wiggs wrote several historical romances (in a variety of settings and time periods) before she settled into the women's fiction she's been writing for the last several years.  This is the second book in her Tudor Rose trilogy and it was originally published under this title back in 2009.  Prior to that though, this story's first appearance was back in 1995 under the title Vows Made in Wine. I really, really need to dig this trilogy out in 2023 because this back cover blurb practically sings to me...

That's it for this month's trip through Unusual Historicals.  What are you looking forward to reading?


azteclady said...

ack, my TBR cordilleras of doom grow with each of these posts, Wendy (thank you!).

Aside: as I read the original review for the Kate Bridges book, where you admit that you had bought several of her books even though you hadn't read anything by hers yet? oh, me, so much me. Generally this has turned out well for me, because I do this when specific people recommend the author, or the discussion about their books mentions specific tropes and/or how some issues are handled.

Occasionally, though, it's been a problem, when the first one I grab from their own TBR-cluster turns out to be a dud.

Wendy said...

AL: It's been a while (thank goodness!) - but yes, there have been times where I've collected multiple books by an author, had the misfortune of picking the one that made me angry, and I end up weeding out everything else unread. I will generally give authors a second (and third...) chance if the first book at least hits my "C" range - but I have had times where I've hit the dreaded D or F range and ugh! Happily it's been a while since that's happened!

azteclady said...

I'm having this problem right now with Erica Ridley--my first experience was not just a DNF, but with my fragile reading mojo, it's making me rethink my life!

Whereas the other two books I read recently that I didn't like, where I have other books by the author in the TRB cordillera, I was mostly okay with "not for me", the violently BAD taste the Ridley left in my brain means I'm once again not reading anything--for two weeks and ongoing!--and knowing that I have a whole BUNCH of her books unread is giving me hives.