A light, low-conflict Georgian romance.

THE SPINSTER AND THE RAKE

In Devon’s historical romance novel, a bold English countrywoman meets a duke with a secret.

It’s 1795, and Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Thornfield, is beset by a house party full of young ladies vying for the unmarried man’s attention. In frustration, he retires to his private library, where he finds yet another woman—Miss Georgiana Bly, regarded by many of her peers as a plain country spinster. He asks her to leave, but she defies him, not realizing that he’s the duke; to force her to go, he threatens to kiss her. However, she calls his bluff, which sets in motion a series of events that ends with them engaged. Georgiana has little experience in posh society, so Edward and his aunt go about training her in the proper ways of being a duchess. At the same time, she takes it upon herself to train the cold and sometimes socially awkward duke to be warmer and more easygoing. The couple quickly find that they share a love of literature, but Edward seems incapable of providing the emotional intimacy that Georgiana craves. Edward finally confesses that he’s always felt that his mind works differently than others’—readers may interpret his description to mean that he has an anxiety disorder or is on the autism spectrum, although this is never specified—and he worries if he’ll inadvertently drive Georgiana away. Then Georgiana’s father becomes embroiled in a scandal that could undo everything. Devon, the author of The Wallflower’s Wild Wedding (2021), effectively drops hints about Edward’s secret from the very first pages. However, he’s far from a rakish character, despite the novel’s title, as he dislikes all but a very small circle of people. Georgiana is an enjoyable heroine who’s well versed in politics and literature and a quick study when it comes to the rules of society, even as she flouts the ones that she thinks are silly. Overall, the novel is rather short on conflict, and the action often pauses at length so that the characters may have long conversations about William Shakespeare or Parliament. Still, the characters are a lively, well-realized group.

A light, low-conflict Georgian romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68281-613-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more