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.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Horn of Plenty: Unusual Historicals for November 2023

For those playing along at home, Amazon's search algorithm seems to be back to it's normal mess as opposed to the epic hot mess of the past several months. That said, I still found myself looking at entirely too much porn for my own good (seriously, some of the covers and titles - my eyes may never recover).  This month though I had a lot of help from AztecLady who sent me a wide swath of upcoming releases. I combed through that list, then did some of my own searching, which means this month we have a bonanza of 11 titles! 

The Lady's Scandalous Proposition by Paulia Belgado
A proposition to shock the ton

And delight her rogue

Lady Persephone MacGregor is a genius with machines but hopeless as a debutante! After a lackluster first season, this one will be her last—and her best chance to experience sensual pleasure if she’s going to be a spinster for the rest of her life… So when she meets unconventional Ransom, the charismatic yet elusive owner of a gambling den, she decides to shock him with a daring proposition!


Belgado is a relatively new author in the Harlequin Historical universe, and this, her third book, is her first to land within the parameters of "unusual historical." Oh sure, a heroine who knows she's bound to die a spinster but who wants to experience passion - it's been done. But said heroine is also  mechanically inclined (ahem, machines) and our hero owns a gambling den. It's also a Victorian and I can typically count on Harlequin Historical authors to write actual Victorians - not also-ran Regencies claiming to be Victorians. 

Silver Lady by Mary Jo Putney
Together they faced the past . . .
A sense of duty sends Bran Tremayne to Cornwall to confront his heritage of British nobility. Abandoned at birth, Bran wants nothing to do with the embittered remains of his family. But as a special agent for the Home Office, he senses trouble brewing along the coast. And he can’t turn away from the vulnerable woman he encounters in the Cornish countryside. Merryn’s amnesia makes her past a mystery to them both, but with her life in danger, the only thing Bran knows for sure is that the beautiful stranger needs his protection . . .
But would they share a future?
Leaning into Bran is difficult enough, but can Merryn trust the strong bond—and the powerful passion—she feels for her rugged rescuer? She has no choice once Bran uncovers that she is at the center of a plot between French agents and Cornish smugglers. From misty woodlands to stormy shores, the two join forces with a band of loyal Cornishmen to bring down a common enemy. Yet will their growing love survive the coming peril?
Cornwall! Smugglers! An amnesiac heroine in danger! Icing on the cake of Putney's latest is that it's also set during the Georgian era.

Courting Miss Emma by Linda Broday
Texas, 1868. Emma Taggart has finally found a place to belong – setting up Heaven's Door orphanage with her sister Maura was a new beginning for her – and one she will do anything to protect.

When guarded ex-army man Stone Landry buys the neighboring land and moves in - camels and all - Emma's world changes forever. He is an infuriating man who instantly gets under her skin - in ways she never dreamed possible, and despite herself, Emma starts to wonder if, just maybe, he is man enough to take on a Hangman's daughter . . . But their newfound connection is quickly tested by violent night raids, kidnappings, and underhand tricks by powerful rancher Zeke Parker, who is intent on running them out of town and taking the land he deems to be his. Can Emma find enough courage to trust in Stone and help him give her the life she's always dreamed of?

Book 2 in a series centered around sisters whose father was a hangman. Also our hero buys the land next door and moves in with some...camels? In Texas? I've read Broday in the past and she tends to infuse some humor in some of her books and I'm not a Funny Ha Ha Western fan (dark, gritty, death lurking around every corner Western fan here). This blurb certainly doesn't read Funny Ha Ha, but this is one I'll be sampling from the Day Job to see if it sticks.

Warriors in Winter by Michelle Willingham (Reprint)
Enjoy a collection of three holiday stories featuring second-generation characters from the MacEgan Brothers series!

After Brianna MacEgan’s husband was killed by a Viking, she will stop at nothing to avenge his death—even if she must wield the sword herself. But when the handsome Arturo de Manzano offers to train her to fight, the Spaniard slowly begins to melt the ice around her heart …

After being caught in a snowstorm, Rhiannon MacEgan seeks shelter with a fierce Viking. She’s intrigued by the handsome warrior Kaall, but he’s holding a terrible secret. Not only is Kaall blind, he’s also her cousin’s greatest enemy…

Adriana de Manzano is betrothed to Liam MacEgan, a man who rescued her from captivity, but she’s hiding the darkness of her past. To save Liam’s life, she was forced to betray him. If she tells this proud Irish warrior the truth, will he ever forgive her?
Originally published by Harlequin Historical in 2012, Willingham wraps up her MacEgan Brothers self-published re-releases with this holiday themed anthology featuring members of the second generation. All three stories are interconnected and you can read my review of the original edition over at The Good, The Bad and the Unread. 

The Cruel Dark by Bea Northwick
Millicent Foxboro is haunted.

Not by ghosts, but by the anguish of her past and the uncertainty of her future. After all, even in the progressive year of 1928, most people would balk at hiring a woman who’d spent two months in a mental ward for traumatic amnesia. So when an uncommon assistantship to a reclusive Professor of mythology falls into her lap with an ungodly salary attached, her desperation for stability overrides her cautious nature.

To Millie’s dismay, the widowed Professor Callum Hughes and his estate, Willowfield, are more than she bargained for. The once magnificent home, known for its sprawling gardens and dazzling parties, is falling to pieces after the death of the professor’s fragile wife. What’s more, the staff has been reduced to the only three people not frightened away by rumors of ghosts, leaving the halls empty and languishing in bitter memories.

The professor himself is a grim, intense man with unclear expectations, unpredictable moods, and hungry eyes that ignite Millie’s own dormant passions. The closer she finds herself drawn to Professor Hughes and his strange world of flowers and folklore, the more the house closes in, threatening to reveal her secrets. But the professor is keeping secrets of his own and the most dangerous of all is hers to discover.

A Gothic! A heroine recovering from traumatic amnesia, a mysterious professor of mythology and a creepy house. Just inject this straight into my eyeballs.

Where There's a Duke There's a Way by Emily EK Murdoch
Arthur Hebblethwaite, Duke of Fitzpaine is in rather a pinch. Firstly, he’s not actually a Duke.

It was such a clever idea. Pretend to be a duke, go to France, and live on the scraping and bowing of those desperate to impress a nobleman. All well and good, until someone recognizes him. Until he grabs a woman and uses her as a hostage to escape a French encampment. Until he looks at the woman and…oh, hell.

Joanna Bettencourt doesn’t know what’s worse: being a shy heiress with a father desperate to marry her off, being captured by the French and held prisoner, or being dragged onto a horse by a maniac by the name of the Duke of Fitzpaine. Pretending to have a husband ready to protect her seemed the obvious option.

But as the “Duke of Fitzpaine” and the “penniless Mrs. Epwin” arrive at the coast, desperate to return to England, they are faced with a problem: there’s only one cabin. Cue a little pretense that this time they both share. A fake marriage.

They’re both lying to each other, and they both don’t know it—but they can’t lie for long about the heat searing between them, the affection growing as they slowly open up to each other.
A hero pretending to be a Duke and a heroine pretending to have a husband. Oh, and they're on the run in France, only to take refuge in the only cabin available to them - so now they're fake married. This sounds positively delightful!

The Countess Caper by Alyxandra Harvey
Lady Tessa Kilkenny’s ramshackle manor house is filled with mice and snakes and peeling wallpaper—as well as women with nowhere else to go. And Tessa will do anything to keep them safe.

Even steal a carriage from Roarke Noble, the Earl of Dartmoor.

As her first foray into being a highwaywoman, it has mixed results. She gets her cousin to the midwife just in time. But she also gets a marriage proposal.

Because Roarke needs a wife.

And with Tessa he gets more than he bargained for. She won’t tell him why she is fighting off housebreakers and stealing from earls and viscounts. Or why her disaster of a house is rigged with traps to discourage unwanted visitors.

But when those secrets put her life in danger, Roarke discovers he will do anything to save her.
A heroine with a scandalous past who essentially opens a battered women's shelter in Regency England, finds herself swept up by the hero - who needs a wife. The second book in a series, go forth and read AztecLady's recent review, who describes it as delightful with serious underpinnings.

One Night in Hartswood by Emma Denny
Oxford 1360

When his sister’s betrothed vanishes the night before her politically arranged marriage, Raff Barden must track and return the elusive groom to restore his family’s honour.

William de Foucart — known to his friends as Penn — had no choice but to abandon his fiancĂ©, and with it his own earldom, when he fled the night before his enforced marriage. But ill-equipped to survive on the run he must trust the kindness of a stranger, Raff, to help him escape.

Unaware their fates are already entwined, their unexpected bond deepens into a far more precious relationship, one that will test all that they hold dear. And when secrets are finally revealed, both men must decide what they will risk for the one they love…
A medieval featuring a double-deception plot - neither hero is being honest with the other by pretending to not be who they truly are.  Reviews for this one have been a bit all over the map. Of the folks I follow I've seen emotional swooning messes, meh it's OK I guess and this book got on my last hot nerve. I am curious but what this adds up to is me leveraging one of my library cards.

Her Warrior's Surprise Return by Ella Matthews
A surprise reunion

With the warrior from her past…

It’s been years since Ruaidhri abandoned Sorcha, and she’s no longer the woman she once was. Now leader of the Suibhne Clan, she must unite her people against invading forces. When rumors of Ruaidhri’s return to Ireland prove true, she’s unsettled at seeing him again. He offers to help her, but his past betrayal still burns, even if desire is as strong as ever. Should Sorcha trust her head…or her heart? 


First book in a new multi-author series (Brothers and Rivals) this one features some of my favorite medieval catnip. A heroine in need of a warrior and the only one who shows up is the hero who betrayed her in the past. 

Western Blue by Suzie Clarke
In 1868, Caroline Bluebonnet Hutching is forced to leave her Texas home and make a new life in Nevada. But the townsmen are against her, and she can’t get the help she needs. Undaunted, she advertises for female workers, only to find that each woman who answers her ad is as desperate as she is. And she’s entirely unprepared for the one who steals her heart.

When raiders attack Isabel Segura’s horse ranch and slaughter her family, she’s left with nothing—no home, no future, no hope. When she sees Blue’s ad, a new dream sparks to life. Determined to begin again, she sets out on a journey she never could have imagined.

Heroism, loyalty, friendship, and love. The odds are against this unlikely group—but never underestimate women who have nothing to lose.
Lesbian cowgirls battle Evil Rancher in 19th century Nevada. Reviews I've seen so far mention plenty of grit, well-done action scenes, yet a hopeful tone. They also mention a slow burn romance that never fully catches fire.  I adore gritty westerns and these heroines sound like my jam but this is another one going on the library lending list to try out.

A Gilded Age Christmas by Amanda McCabe & Lauri Robinson
Two festive romances set in the glamorous Gilded Age

Two short romances

Celebrate a Gilded Age Christmas!

In Amanda McCabe’s A Convenient Winter Wedding: marrying Connor O’Neill is about survival for penniless heiress May Van Der Berg. The distant self-made millionaire is far from the passionate husband she’d once dreamed of…except for that scorching kiss! In Lauri Robinson’s The Railroad Baron's Mistletoe Bride: after years of estrangement, romance blooms when Kurt invites store clerk Harper and their shared niece to spend Christmas at his mansion. But are they just a family for the holidays? 

The holiday season can be hard. You're busy, your attention span is close to snapping, but you still want to unwind with some reading. Harlequin is usually there to help me out this time of year with their holiday-themed anthologies and this one is set during the Gilded Age! 

Whew! Enjoy this bountiful harvest now folks because December tends to be traditionally fairly thin.  Also, for those who celebrate Thanksgiving here in the States - stay safe and stay healthy.  What Unusual Historicals are you looking forward to?