Perks of Loving a Scoundrel by Jennifer McQuiston

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Miss Mary Channing can think of nothing more lovely than an early morning spent in the garden reading a book. She is not perturbed by the prospect of spinsterhood or a life of quiet and solitude. Her sister, unfortunately, is set on making her be social and experience something outside of her small little world.

Mary finds herself called to London and thrown into society unceremoniously. But not before she encounters a drunken Lord in the back garden who can only be a terrible rogue, the likes of which she has only read about in her precious novels.

When Mary finds herself thrown into a conspiracy with the very gentleman she is trying to avoid, and no one will believe them about a possible plot to assassinate a prominent government official or perhaps even a member of the monarchy, Mary Channing’s life takes a very exciting turn, full of ladies of the night, corruption, scandal, duels, espionage and intrigue.

Will Mary survive her London adventures? Can she spend time one on one with a scoundrel Lord with her dignity and virtue intact? If you enjoy novels of the bodice-ripper genre, you will love this amusing, easy weekend read. Perfect for a rainy day in your favorite blanket.

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

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Charlotte Bill is a nanny with the most prestigious appointment imaginable…Tending the children of the Duke and Duchess of York…children in line for the throne of England. The world of the royals is full of jewels, and gold, and glamour-but it’s speckled with deep dark secrets, and the cold comforts of a royal home-and Charlotte is quickly realizing that these children need her love and care more than she could have possibly imagined.

Despite the challenges, Charlotte, nicknamed Miss Lala by the children, spends years of her life raising an entire generation of children, sacrificing her own chances at love, home and hearth for a duty which has become her greatest life accomplishment. Charlotte sacrifices everything to ensure that the children, especially the last born son, Little Prince John, are safe and cherished until adulthood. No matter what it takes or who she will lose from her own life.

Stretching from 1897 through 1959, The Royal Nanny, by Karen Harper, tells the tale of a devoted nanny, and the details of royal family life. If you like historical fiction, especially the royal variety like Philippa Gregory, you will love this novel. I couldn’t put it down. Check it out!

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

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1942 Philadelphia and World War II is pulling able-bodied men and boys from every corner of the country. Young Maddie Hyde and her husband, Ellis come to blows with his crusty, uptight, disapproving upper class parents and are thrown out, disinherited and with limited financial support. Along with Ellis’s best friend Hank, a crazy plan is formed to travel to Scotland and finally find proof that the Loch Ness Monster exists…Thereby exonerating his father’s reputation which was ruined when he tried to do the same…And putting Ellis back in his father’s good graces.

But the spoiled, entitled little rich kids are about to learn what war has done to the rest of the world while they have been throwing back champagne at parties. The Scots are less than impressed by the rude, drunken American travelers and Maddie is about to learn what it is to be a friend, to serve the greater good, and to be grateful for life’s little blessings… If she can manage to survive the horror that becomes her marriage in the process.

At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), is a novel about the monsters that come in all shapes and sizes, a touch of magic (some helpful and some very, very dark), love, loss, and the importance of thinking about what good you can do in the world. Not quite a coming-of-age story, but a story about how one young woman becomes the woman she was always supposed to become, despite the many people in her life who have tried to stand in her way.

 

The Lake House by Kate Morton

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One little boy disappears in the night. The family is devastated. Alice Edevane is a budding teenager with a flair for mystery fiction writing and she’s concocted the perfect crime. When it appears to have come to fruition in real life and the gardener has gone missing, the weight of what she might have put into motion weighs heavily on her for the rest of her life.

Decades later, a young London detective named Sadie Sparrow is taking some time off after she makes a terrible career mistake. She heads to Cornwall and the mystery of the disappearance of the little boy calls to her, piquing her curiosity and prompting her to fill the long days with investigation into what might have truly happened. Two plucky heroines meet in a crossing of paths as they find they both have an interest in whatever happened to the Edevane baby that night at the Lake House party…And the plethora of family secrets held in the walls of the estate are more than anyone could have ever expected from the private, respected family.

The Lake House, by Kate Morton, does not disappoint. I waited years for the release of the author’s most recent novel and as always, I adored the novel. Kate Morton is a genius in all things secretive and long buried, and she crosses time periods so perfectly so the past has no choice but to slowly resurface, creating perfect page-turning intrigue that will leave you reading deep into the night. If you read The Forgotten Garden, The Secret Keeper, The House at Riverton, or The Distant Hours (or in my case, all of the above), you will not want to miss The Lake House. Kate Morton takes long-buried secrets and mysteries to the deepest, and most intricate levels, leaving readers feeling drained and bereft by the end of her novels…And craving more.

If you are a regular follower on my site you probably already expected me to adore The Lake House. If you have the time and energy for a book that will rob you of all your reserves, you will want to pick up The Lake House today. If you don’t…. Too bad for you.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

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The Maisie Dobbs series was an accidental slip of fate which I’m pleased to have stumbled upon. Like many of you, I have Netflix. Also like many of you, I tend to watch an entire series consecutively (night after night) once I’ve begun watching. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was one such Netflix find. I was also happy to discover that there is indeed a book series by Australian author Kerry Greenwoodbook series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood, about a sassy flapper-era female detective who is no stranger to adventure and intrique–Miss Phryne Fisher. Unfortunately, my library didn’t have any of the Phryne Fisher books and it wasn’t available as an ebook on Overdrive either. Which means if I want to read the Phryne Fisher books, I’ll have to buy them. And it’s a long series. Anyways, I came across an article which listed authors you should try if you like the Phryne Fisher books-historical mysteries with a plucky female heroine. Which is how I encountered the Maisie Dobbs books.

Maisie Dobbs is not a flapper-era female detective but she is a detective of sorts. She is a well-educated British ex-nurse who opens her own detective agency with interest in helping people. She’s not a scandalous, sassy flapper, she’s a lady with dignity and composure and a strong sense of decorum.

The first novel in the series by Jacqueline Winspear is simply called Maisie Dobbs, and it’s her first case after the Great War ends and she comes back home. She investigates a sort of commune in the country where wounded war veterans are going to get a break from the outside world and live together in peace and harmony among other men who understand them…The problem is that they never seem to come back, and there are some very suspicious deaths out there in the commune. When a close friend in the aristocracy asks for Maisie’s help finding out what is going on out there, Maisie doesn’t hesitate to jump on board.

If you like historical mysteries, definitely try the Maisie Dobbs series. Worth reading.

The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, by Edith Hahn Beer (with Susan Dworkin)

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The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin, is one story you will not be about to put down…But don’t pick it up at all if you want something sweet and romantic and warm and fuzzy. Because this is not that kind of story.

Edith Hahn was raised by Jewish parents, but raised as a pretty typical Austrian girl. Her parents had high hopes for her future, and she was encouraged to go to college and planned to one day be a lawyer. In her final stretch of school, unfortunately, the worst thing imaginable happened….The Holocaust began. Jewish citizens began to lose their basic human rights and even personal possessions. They were treated like lesser beings. They were denied jobs, education, even communication with the outside world. Jews started to disappear, running away to friendly neighboring countries, going into hiding, forced into labor, imprisoned, killed in random acts of violence.

Edith’s world was getting smaller every day. Her father passed away, her sister left the country, and her mother and a scattering of relatives was all that remained of the life she used to live. One day she and her mother are separated. She begs Nazi officers to spare her mother as they are being hauled off to do mandatory labor out on a farm…And she never sees her mother again.

When Edith is finally done with her labor, she is released and only wants to see her mother again. But her mother is gone and she is no longer welcome in the homes of her old German friends. She is too dangerous to have around. She is homeless, nameless, destitute…She must work the system and deceive everyone into believing that she isn’t Jewish…And what better way to cover her tracks than to marry a Nazi officer?

The Nazi Officer’s Wife is the most powerful story I’ve read this year, putting it squarely into a spot on my Best of 2015 List. The horrors of the holocaust, the inhumanity, the strength of one woman who had nothing and still survived. She risked everything and nearly sold her own soul to stay alive and persevere.

The story is that of Edith Hahn Beer, but it was made into a novel by Susan Dworkin. If you want literature that moves you, pulls your heartstrings, makes you angry, makes you feel desperate for the character to survive, then The Nazi Officer’s Wife is for you. I stayed up much too late at night reading this one….And if you can make it all the way through, I can guarantee you will lose some sleep, too.

The Reluctant Midwife : A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman

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If you read Patricia Harman’s The Midwife of Hope River, you will be thrilled to learn that the story continues with The Reluctant Midwife.

The Midwife of Hope River told the story of Patience Murphy, serving as a midwife in the strain of the Great Depression, in the backwoods rural town near a mining camp. The heroine had heartbreak, made friends, made a life for herself and found love.

The Reluctant Midwife is about her friend, nurse Becky Myers. Hard times have hit everyone, but Becky has found herself in a unique situation. The doctor she worked for had a complete mental breakdown and has been a shell of a man ever since. He can’t speak, can’t work, can barely feed himself. His own family refuses to take on his care and she was the only person who cared enough to make sure he got treatment. Now she has gone to Hope River to find a life for herself, but she finds that the Depression has had drastic effects on the people and economy of the place. There is little work and only a shack of a house to live in while she tries desperately to find work.

But better things may be on the horizon for Becky as she learns to trust others and accept help, and she learns the solidarity of a self-made family. Perhaps there is hope for Becky, for Dr. Blum, even for Patience Murphy and her family and the rest of the residents of Hope River.

Patricia Harman’s portrayal of the historical era is poignant and sharp, brutally honest but full of hope and spirit. If you enjoy historical fiction with a little more substance and heartache, The Reluctant Midwife is for you. If you haven’t read The Midwife of Hope River, I recommend that you purchase both novels at once.

The Brides of Wishmore series by Cathy Maxwell

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Cathy Maxwell has two new books out in her brand new Brides of Wishmore series: The Bride Says No, and The Bride Says Maybe. These novels are best read back-to-back, because they feature the inevitable love stories of two sisters, Lady Tara Davidson, and Lady Aileen Davidson. When, once again, the father of these two young ladies has put himself in a dire financial situation, he decides it is time, for once and for all, to put his daughters to good use…By marrying them off, of course. The ladies are heartbroken, but little do they know, true love is on it’s way, and it comes from the most unexpected of places… If you like bodice rippers or historical romance novels with happy endings, and you need a good weekend read, be sure to pick up the new Brides of Wishmore series today!

Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol

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The third installment in The Sinners Trio series, by Anna Randol, is here. You may remember the preceding novels,  Sins of a Virgin and Sins of a Ruthless Rogue-Sins of a Wicked Princess is about the exiled Princess Juliana who is determined to get her country, Lenoria, back, after her castle was burned in a rebellion. She calls upon someone she knows who possesses a certain skill set to help her get the documentation she needs to regain control over her lands….She calls upon a spy, the famous man known in the underground as Wraith.

Ian Maddox has one goal, to ensure the safety of himself and his friends from an unknown threat. When he is summoned by the Princess of Lenoria he has no intention of assisting her in whatever petty problem she may have…But he quickly learns that her troubles may be woven into her own somehow, and decides to join forces with the girl and face the enemy together…Besides, she’s terribly attractive, especially when provoked to annoyance….

This is a mystery/historical romance that will satisfy anyone who loves bodice-rippers, so if you need a fix, buy Sins of a Wicked Princess. After a long week, everyone needs a guilty pleasure….

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

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John Gower is commissioned by Geoffrey Chaucer with a very vague and mysterious mission-find a book of songs that has gone missing. He is intrigued by the mission, but he has no idea how deep the plot will go until bodies begin to pile up. What is in this book that seems to be traveling in London’s underground? Does it have the power to set in motion terrible events, including the death of King Richard II? The more Gower learns, the more danger builds up around him. The surprise arrival of his formerly exiled son makes for very suspicious timing amid it all-how do all of these events tie together? What is the connection between a dead Lady in the woods, a handful of prostitutes, the famous Geoffrey Chaucer, a group of butchers, and his majesty, the King of England? Only the book will reveal all-and someone is killing to get their hands on it. Can Gower solve the mystery before the ultimate crime occurs?

This novel portrays 1300s London in a very harsh light-nothing is sugar coated, so if you are looking for something pleasant and romantic, this is not the book for you. The language, while probably very accurate, is a lot to take in, especially from the mouths of the prostitutes and the men who commission them. All in all, however, this novel is great suspense fiction, and an incredibly detailed account of what life might have been like during the time of Chaucer. If you enjoyed The Bones of Avalon, by Phil Rickman, you will want to pick up A Burnable Book, by Bruce Holsinger.