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.

Monday, May 22, 2023

So Many Books: Unusual Historicals For May 2023

I've been doing these Unusual Historical round-ups for a long time, but it wasn't until 2020 that I wrote something about how I generate these posts which included this gem: "...some months offer more variety, more diversity, and just plain 'more' than others."  Folks, this is a "just plain more" month.  This month I'm featuring 11 books. Yes - 11! Honestly, I can't remember the last time my cup ran this much over.

The Dueling Duchess by Minerva Spencer 
When Cecile Tremblay lost everyone and everything in the French Revolution, she never imagined that she'd earn her living as a markswoman in a London circus. But Farnham's Fantastical Female Fayre has become her home, her family, and her future. Another thing Cecile never imagined was becoming entangled with the man gossip columns call The Darling of the Ton. But mere weeks after her rejection of his insulting carte blanche—and his infuriating engagement to an heiress—Darlington is back, this time to beg Cecile for help. And help him she will, by teaching him about honest work—and the right way to treat a woman. 

Gaius Darlington has always led a charmed life. Until now. Suddenly, a long-lost heir has appeared to claim his title, possessions, and property, Not only that, but Guy's fiancée has jilted him to marry the usurper! Yet there is a silver lining: it's no longer Guy’s duty to marry an heiress to save the dukedom. He’s free to wed the woman he loves—if only he can earn her forgiveness. 

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But fury is just a step away from passion, and Guy knows just how to arouse Cecile’s...

This is the second book in the author's Wicked Women of Whitechapel series (yes, I still need to read book one - I'm staying on brand over here...) and this description has me moving up book one in my TBR! A hero who has gotten knocked down a few pegs and a scorned heroine who is not about to let him forget it.  Oh, and she's got a haunted past courtesy of the French Revolution and she's a markswoman?  Gimme this now!

He must earn her trust... 

before he wins her heart! 

In distancing himself from his nefarious wealthy family, Julian Fuentes has gained a rebellious reputation. Still, he’s shocked when heiress Amalia Troncoso hires him to stage her kidnapping! Julian doesn’t mind masquerading as a bandit to help Amalia get her inheritance from her tyrannical uncle, or spending time with the bold heiress who’s captured his imagination. But will the truth that ties their families together prevent their alliance from becoming more? 


This is San Andres' second book for Harlequin Historical and the second one to be set in early 20th century Dominican Republic. A hero from a notorious family who gets roped into a scheme by the heroine to claim her inheritance.  Another author I need to move up my TBR and not for nothing - the hero on this cover is wearing a hat!  There are too few hat-less dudes on historical romance covers, says me.

Despite her illustrious title, Camille, Duchess of Hereford, remains what she has always been—a pariah. Though her title means she’s technically accepted by London Society, the rebellious widow with her burgeoning interest in the suffrage movement and her American ways isn’t exactly high on every hostess’s guest list. But Camille starts to wonder if being an outcast is not without its perks when the tantalizing answer to her secret fear appears in the shape of Jacob Thorne, the illegitimate son of an earl and co-owner of London’s infamous Montague Club. 

Jacob is used to making deals with his club members—he’s just not accustomed to them being beautiful women. Nor have the terms ever been so sweetly seductive as Camille’s shocking proposition. To finally buy his own club and gain the crucial backing of investors, Camille offers Jacob the respectability of a fake engagement with a duchess. In return, the tempting widow has one condition: she wants Jacob to show her if it’s possible for her to experience pleasure in bed. 

The lure of such a bargain proves too delicious to resist, drawing the enterprising rogue and the wallflower duchess into a scandalous game and an even more dangerous gamble of the heart.

St. George is back with this fourth book in her Gilded Age Heiresses series. I'm really intrigued by this one - I've got a thing for social outcast heroines with a rebellious streak and she enters into a devil's bargain with the hero because honestly - whenever there are sexy shenanigans involved, nobody ever comes away unscathed.

A position too good to refuse… 

A desire too strong to deny! 

After being abandoned at the altar, housekeeper Kate Winters has finally found peace working at a grand house. Until her new employer, Lord Henderson, unexpectedly returns, resolved to sell his estate. Determined to remind the brooding earl of the beauty of his home, Kate’s discovering the allure of the man behind the title. Scarred by her past, dare Kate risk her future by surrendering to this forbidden attraction?

I'm a sucker for a good cross-class romance (I'm always curious to see if the author can pull it off in a way that makes me believe it won't be utter disaster-ever-after for the couple) and this one features a housekeeper heroine falling for an Earl.  I read a book by Martin last month and while it didn't wow me, it was pleasant - so I'm going to give this one a whirl.

 As the oldest of the McBride siblings, Morgan had to be protector and shepherd since Ma died and Pa ran off. It hasn't always been easy, especially when his heart longs to roam on the trail. But now that his brother Kit is married and settled, the time is right for Morgan to leave Buck's Creek. Little does he know that his hellcat of a little sister Junebug is dead set on keeping him at home and getting more help around the house – all with one honest advertisement in The Matrimonial News. 

Epiphany Hopgood has always had a gift for doing the exact wrong thing. She’s too tall, too loud, too opinionated, and too contrary for her family and community. Staring down the barrel of spinsterhood, she and her grandmother answer a seemingly straightforward ad for a bride. 

But when Pip shows up to Buck’s Creek, she finds that Morgan McBride is not the husband she expected. In fact, he doesn’t even want to be a husband. But maybe there’s a way to make everyone happy out on the Montana frontier… 

Sigh. Look, I've got a very checkered past with what I call Funny Ha Ha Historical Western Romances. They're normally not my thing.  I like Dark, Angsty, Are They Going to Starve and/or Freeze to Death Come Winter Historical Western Romances. But, historical western romance. I'm only human.  This is the second book in the McBride Brothers series and it's a mail order bride he wasn't expecting story - those are always good for a little fun.

Now the new Duke of Hollinburgh, Nicholas Radnor has two duties to fulfill: locate the mysterious woman mentioned in his late uncle’s will and acquire a suitable bride. When bedazzling, unconventional Iris Barrington shows up at the estate, Nicholas believes he may have found the missing beneficiary—unless she is a charlatan, or worse. But as for his second duty—he is finding it difficult to think of any other woman while tantalizing thoughts of Iris occupy his mind. He agrees to fulfill the late duke’s promise to her, even as he grows suspicious of both her motives and the danger that seems to surround her. All of which keeps her temptingly close at hand… 

Iris will do anything to restore honor to her beloved grandfather’s name. Even tangle with the likes of Nicholas, a man whose formidable intellect and good looks lure her like no other. But all her years on the continent have not prepared her for the sensual onslaught she discovers in his embrace—or the devastation of almost losing him to malicious intentions. Now Iris’s desire to unearth the scandal behind the dukedom burns ever brighter: for doing so might also protect the man who has stolen her heart...


There is nothing remotely "unusual" about this plot description, which would be why when I was browsing May releases I tripped right past this third book in Hunter's Duke's Heiress series. Yet for the second month in a row, AztecLady is looking out for us! She let me know that the heroine is A RARE BOOKS DEALER! Even better? She's posted her review for it!

May the best viscount or miss… 


When her best friend and employer is injured, groom Roberta "Bobby" Kinsley feels compelled to help him. She agrees to step into the saddle and compete in an endurance horse race to help secure his ancestral home. Yet the minute that Bobby comes face-to-face with her opponent—arrogant yet infuriatingly charismatic Lawrence, Viscount Hayes—it’s clear that it won’t just be the competition that has her heart racing! 

When tragedy strikes the heroine steps in to compete in horse race only to get distracted by her competition.  This could be watching my niece compete in an equestrian event last month talking, but dang it all, I'm intrigued.

 One last summer. 

For Manuela del Carmen Caceres Galvan, the invitation to show her paintings at the 1889 Exposition Universelle came at the perfect time. Soon to be trapped in a loveless marriage, Manuela has given herself one last summer of freedom—in Paris, with her two best friends. 

One scandalous encounter. 

Cora Kempf Bristol, Duchess of Sundridge, is known for her ruthlessness in business. It's not money she chases, but power. When she sees the opportunity to secure her position among her rivals, she does not hesitate. How difficult could it be to convince the mercurial Miss Caceres Galvan to part with a parcel of land she’s sworn never to sell? 

One life-changing bargain. 

Tempted by Cora’s offer, Manuela proposes a trade: her beloved land for a summer with the duchess in her corner of Paris. A taste of the wild, carefree world that will soon be out of her reach. What follows thrills and terrifies Cora, igniting desires the duchess long thought dead. As they fill their days indulging in a shared passion for the arts and their nights with dark and delicious deeds, the happiness that seemed impossible moves within reach…though claiming it would cause the greatest scandal Paris has seen in decades. 

The second book in Herrera's Las Leonas series takes the reader back to Paris for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. An artist heroine grabbing her last chance at freedom before marrying a man she doesn't love meets a heroine driven by power who wants her land. A bargain is struck, and as it always goes in Romancelandia, everyone gets more than they bargained for.

Sworn to protect her

But she’s threatening his guarded heart… 

Retrieving Lady Allis from a convent is no easy task, as mercenary knight Sir Leon soon discovers… Brave and beautiful, Allis awakens emotions Leon thought he’d long buried after losing his family. Yet upon their return to her castle, the social gulf between them widens when Allis’s father demands she marry a nobleman. Leon has always believed love is an illusion, but will he be able to watch his defiant lady marry another?

Another cross-class romance, this one featuring a titled heroine retrieved from a convent and the lowly mercenary knight who literally has nothing to offer other than his heart.  Townend is another Harlequin Historical author I don't think I've read before, so I'm curious to try this.

It's 1908, and Washington state suffrage is back on the docket. The newest Suffrage Society is sashed, pinned, and ready for action... 

Winnie West is sick of know-it-all men and ready for adventure, so she sets her sights on becoming one of Seattle’s pioneering female journalists. But when her ridiculously sexy and equally obnoxious editor plants himself in the way of her first editorial on the suffrage movement, the games begin. Little does he know, but Winnie plays for keeps. 

Mack Donnelly will do anything to inherit the family newspaper, including following orders he doesn’t believe in. His goal is within sight when the fiery new girl rocks the boat. Mack has nothing against women’s rights, but the redhead with curves for days could cost him everything. So why can’t he stop pining over her? When he hops a ferry and follows Winnie on assignment, their rivalry explodes into passion. Can love survive a little subterfuge? 

Honestly? I know nothing about this book. The cover caught my eye as I was trolling through the Messy AF Amazon Algorithm when I was putting this post together and then I read the description and stopped dead in my tracks. Early 20th century? The Pacific Northwest? A hero and heroine at cross purposes?  Color me intrigued.  Since I stumbled across this book, I caught this brief review from Plot Trysts on their Instagram page and now I'll be downloading a sample to check out.

When Irish healer Aileen Ó Duinne finds a wounded man on her lands, she will do anything to save his life. But after she sees the broken body of Connor MacEgan, it evokes memories of a stolen night of passion. 

Connor is grateful to the beautiful healer for saving his life, but he nearly died as punishment for another man’s crime. His hands were crushed in a brutal attack, and he fears he may never lift a sword again. 

Aileen fights to help him regain his strength, but as their attraction grows, she’s terrified of losing more than her heart…she fears losing the daughter Connor knows nothing about.

Originally published by Harlequin Historical in 2007 under the same title, this is the fourth book in the author's MacEgan Brothers series, medieval romances set in Ireland. It's also, brace yourselves, a secret baby book!  This is an entry in the series I haven't read yet. I really need to prioritize finally finishing this series this year. The books I've read, I've enjoyed.

Whew! Dear Lord, are y'all as exhausted as I am? That's a mess of books this month. Enjoy them now because who knows when we'll see a cornucopia like this again.


azteclady said...

Delighted to help!

Whiskeyinthejar said...

Not only a hat but tipped/tilted in the sluttiest way, I need the book.

lowly mercenary knight who literally has nothing to offer other than his heart.

Exact combo of words to force me to add to tbr.

Highly recommend An Island Princess, one of my top historicals read this year.

GRs says I read Warrior's Touch (I gave it 3 stars) but other than vaguely remembering I enjoyed series, I can't remember anything from it. I did see the series has some Undones! in it though, so timely reminder of some I read

Wendy said...

AL: 😘

Whiskey: Good to hear re: An Island Princess. The last couple of months I've done these posts I've said to myself "I need to move this up the TBR" and of course now I'm mired in a "I don't feel like picking up a book, any book, slump." I'm hoping to kick my butt in gear over the long holiday weekend.

azteclady said...

Gah, Wendy, I'm so sorry about the slump; if you are in the mood for one of these, like, say, The Dueling Duchess? I recommend starting with the first one, The Boxing Baroness; it's really good!

(Full disclosure: I tried reading TDD first, but a lot of the setup is from the first book; the impression I got is that at least the first three books in this series share a beginning in the events of TBB. The third book is titled The Cutthroat Countess, coming out later this year, and Fantastic Fiction already has a cover and blurb for it--I confess, I can't wait; I'm hooked on the writing!)