For her sixth novel (after A Light on the Veranda), Ware returns to historicals with an unlikely romance framed around San Francisco's devastating earthquake of 1906. New architect Amelia Bradshaw returns to the city to claim what's left of the Bay View, her grandfather's hotel next to Chinatown, only to find that her drunkard father has lost it to J.D. Thayer in a poker game. After an unsuccessful court battle—at a time when women had no right of possession—Bradshaw takes a job as junior architect under Julia Morgan, the first licensed female architect in California history. When Morgan's firm is selected to rebuild the Bay View, along with its competitor, the Fairmont, Bradshaw is put in charge of the former, forcing her to work closely with Mr. Thayer, her adversary, who is determined to beat the anniversary of the quake and the opening of the Fairmont. In time, Bradshaw and Thayer learn that they have more in common than they think, and Bradshaw grows close to some of the Chinese workers, giving Ware a chance to chronicle the despair faced by that community during the disaster. Ware's trailblazing woman is a feisty host for an affecting story of the struggle to rise above the wreckage of mankind".
"The moving, tragic story of Charles I, the last absolute monarch of England, during his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. Richly drawn and inspired by the New York Times bestselling author's own experience living on the Isle of Wight, this dramatic retelling brings to life the cavalier king whom Cromwell deposed. But even more fascinating than the account of royal hopes and misfortunes is the tale of a charming servant girl who is as romantic and tender in love as she is bold and resourceful in plotting the king's escape".
A historically obscure lady-in-waiting provides a window into the rise and fall of Henry VIII's young fifth queen in the competent latest from Dunn (The Sixth Wife). The teenage Cat Tilney is raised in the company of the attractive and sexually precocious Katherine Howard in the household of a distant relation, the well-connected dowager duchess of Norfolk. Cat becomes Katherine's confidante and eventually follows her to court when she is made queen, and, as one of the few privy to the queen's secret affairs, Cat lands in a dangerous position when Katherine's romantic history becomes known and a ruthless investigation spreads to include Cat's own lover, Francis Dereham. Working from only a few references in the surviving records of the investigation, Dunn constructs the tale of a teenage girl in thrall to a more charismatic friend and the test of her loyalty. Though Dunn's modernization of the language can result in anachronistic turns of phrase, this is a convincing portrayal of young women made pawns in the dangerous politics of the Tudor court".
"This is Heyer's only romance novel to feature a female writer in the Regency world where a young lady didn't usually have those aspirations.
Sylvester, Duke of Salford, falls in love with a feisty young lady who wants nothing to do with him and aspires to be a writer-in fact she has written a scandalous novel that portrays him as the villain. Then a ballroom encounter launches a real scandal..."
Young Elizabeth, half-sister of Queen Mary has a hazardous path ahead of her. Reports of her as a heretic, a rebel and a potential enemy with 'a spirit full of enchantment' have reached the queen's reluctant bridegroom, Prince of Spain. Elizabeth must advance warily towards her destiny, amid courtly machinations, running the gauntlet between Bloody Mary's jealousy and Philip's uneasy ardorâ
This is the final volume installment of the evocative trilogy charting young Elizabeth's precarious path to the throne".
Twelfth-century England is an untamed land of medieval strongholds, forests, and feudalism. In a country where a battle over the throne leaves the nobles of the land free to fight amongst themselves for power, Rosamund Galleia, daughter of a lesser nobleman, is sent to become a lady-in-waiting at Duloe Castle. When battle with an unruly neighbor seems inevitable, the lord of the manor calls upon his most trusted man-at-arms to help defend his province. That man is Alexander Ringewar, a loyal knight and reticent heir to an earldom.
Rosamund feels a powerful attraction to Alexander but struggles against her feelings. In a world of arranged marriages and political unions, a girl of minor nobility should not dream of a future with such a high-ranking noble, especially one who is uncompromisingly wedded to his chivalric duty".
"The author of The Queen's Pawn delves into the early life of the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine in her new historical novel.
After her father's sudden death, fifteen-year-old Eleanor is quickly crowned Duchess of Aquitaine and betrothed to King Louis VII. When her new husband cannot pronounce her given name, Alienor becomes Eleanor, Queen of France.
Although Louis is enamored of his bride, the newly crowned king is easily manipulated by the church and a God that Eleanor doesn't believe in. Now, if she can find the strength to fight for what she wants, Eleanor may finally find the passion she has longed for, and the means to fulfill her legacy as Queen"
Behind every great artist stands a woman driving him to inspiration, aspiration, and desperation, according to Cowell (Marrying Mozart), who bases her latest novel about an artist and his muse on the life of Claude Monet. Beautiful bourgeoise Camille Doncieux leaves her family and fiancé for Monet, whom Cowell depicts early on as a rebellious young man trying to capture in his paintings fleeting moments of color and light before he matures into the troubled genius whose talent exceeds his income. In an art world resistant to change, Camille remains Monet's great love as he and fellow unknowns Renoir, Pissarro, and Bazille struggle to make ends meet, but, eventually, parenthood, financial pressure, long separations, career frustrations, and romantic distractions take their toll, and even after Monet finally achieves commercial success, the couple still faces considerable difficulty. While glimpses of great men at work make absorbing reading, it's Camille who gives this story its heart. A convincing narrative about how masterpieces are created and a detailed portrait of a complex couple, Cowell's novel suggests that a fabulous, if flawed, love is the source of both the beauty and sadness of Monet's art".
Daughters of Rome
A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress".
Cafe Procope, known as a meeting place for dangerous freethinkers, and meets outspoken philosopher Denis Diderot. The two are instantly taken with each other, but Diderot is married and Sophie wants security more than anything else. Diderot has taken up the monumental task of editing a Bible-like encyclopedia "containing all human knowledge," a book which, as this is the mid-18th century, is a direct threat to the monarchy and the church. Diderot is quickly persecuted, placing the lives of all around him—Sophie included—at risk. Care for him though she may, the likelihood of Sophie or any other freethinker saving Diderot grows dim. This historic tale is compelling and well written, and Prange particularly brings Paris to vivid life. Unfortunately Sophie, his heroine, is less interesting than the supporting characters, particularly the king's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Still, fans of historical fiction will find plenty to like".
Six days after giving birth to a daughter, Lily, the marquise du Châtelet dies, leaving Lili in the care of her friend Julie, who's just given birth to her own daughter, Delphine. The marquise was noted for her intellect and free spirit (indeed, there are questions as to the identity of Lili's father), two qualities Lili inherits, along with the trouble they cause a young noblewoman navigating the tricky 18th-century court of Louis XV. Eager to determine their own destinies, Lili and Delphine make mistakes and raise many an eyebrow, testing Julie's resolve. Lili protects and defends Delphine, ultimately bringing about the girl's happily ever life, leaving Lily alone to ponder, and soon discover, her own ambiguous identity. Unlike many historicals with "strong" heroines, Delphine and Lili complement and support each other, which deepens them more than enough to make readers care (especially for the strong-willed Lili). And by telling the marquise's story along with her daughter, Lily's, Corona brings a changing world, peopled with fascinating historical figures like Diderot and Voltaire, to vibrant life".
The Bird Sisters: A Novel, Rebecca Rasmussen
"Rasmussen's debut novel begins like a typical coming-of-age story, but reveals itself to be a singular portrayal of familial sacrifice and loss. As elderly women, sisters Twiss and Milly live alone in the house where they grew up in Spring Green, Wis. They spend their days tending to injured birds and roaming their land, lost in memories. For Milly, there is the constant reminder of what could have been. Twiss spent her childhood happily trailing behind their golf-pro father, but Milly dreamed about a family and children that never happened. There was hope for a young Milly, until an accident strips their father of his golfing abilities and sets in motion a series of events that rips apart the already unstable family. Dad retreats to the barn, and mom bemoans her choice to marry for love, leaving behind her wealthy family; a cousin who was thought to be a friend becomes an unexpected rival; and the sisters are left with only each other. As young women, and as old ones, they learn that their relationship is rewarding, but not without consequence. Achingly authentic and almost completely character driven, the story of the sisters depicts the endlessly binding ties of family"
Maligned as the courtesan who revealed the mighty Samson's secret for money, Delilah has become synonymous with treachery. But behind the myth is a tale far more tragic! From the moment they met, there was a fire in their relationship, with Samson pitted against Delilah's family. But Samson soon develops an overwhelming passion for Delilah; entranced by her beauty and passionate nature. Meanwhile the Israelites and the Philistines are in a state of constant conflict, with Samson a seemingly unbeatable warrior. The Philistines are desperate to learn the secret behind Samson's power and enrol Delilah as a pawn to bring him down. Driven by misplaced anger, Delilah agrees to use her wiles to discover the secret of his strength. But Delilah finds that Samson is far from the ogre that she had assumed. But a sequence of events have been set in motion which both of them are powerless to stop. The consequences of her mistake have gone down in history and this wonderful novel is as alluring and beguiling as Delilah herself. The perfect treat for fans of Anita Diamant and Helen Dunmore".
Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alison Weir
"Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor of Aquitaine has spent the past dozen frustrating years as wife to the pious King Louis VII of France. But when Henry of Anjou, the young and dynamic future king of England, arrives at the French court, he and the seductive Eleanor experience a mutual passion powerful enough to ignite the world. Indeed, after the annulment of Eleanor’s marriage to Louis and her remarriage to Henry, the union of this royal couple creates a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees—and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty. But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles and bitter betrayals. Amid the rivalries and infidelities, the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, and the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will threaten to engulf them all".
Former Yale professor William Deresiewicz has been reading, teaching, and writing about Jane Austen for decades; now, at the conclusion of his academic career, he describes his almost lifelong personal encounter with an author whose insights transcend those revealed by mere scholarship. A Jane Austen Education illuminates the novelist's craft by showing how her mastery of everyday relationships still speaks to our times. Deresiewicz's unconventional memoir helps explain Austen's extraordinary appeal among readers otherwise immune to classic literature".