An engaging love story, historically captivating and romantically gripping.

THE NUN'S BETROTHAL

In this romance set in France in the early ninth century, an inexperienced nun and a sophisticated aristocrat wrestle with their mutual attraction.

Gilda and Lord Justin seem an unlikely, if simply impossible, pair—he’s a “worldly man” and she’s romantically naive, a nun who’s lived the bulk of her short life in a convent. She’s set to soon take her final vows. Nevertheless, despite their constant bickering, the connection between the two is an electric one, a truth Gilda cannot deny following their first kiss, tantalizingly described by Curtis: “There was a melting inside me. I forgot everything but my desire to continue the kiss. I wanted to get closer, but Justin pulled away.” They’re forced to grapple with their unresolved feelings when King Louis pairs them on a delicate, important mission: try to repair the rift that suddenly opened up between Count Cedric and his recently betrothed, Lady Mariel. Count Cedric sent his brother, Phillip, to represent him at the wedding ceremony, and now Lady Mariel claims she was deceptively led to believe that he’s her true husband. Now, she refuses to consummate the marriage, and Count Cedric looks to annul it, a thorny situation because King Louis is such an ardent advocate of matrimony. The author skillfully combines a love story with one more sinister—Lady Mariel has reasons to believe that her husband is so fixated on ending their marriage that her life is in danger as a result. Curtis paints a historically authentic tableau of the period in France, deftly explaining the religious and cultural context of the plot without didactic commentary. It is refreshing to see a tale achieve such titillating, erotic heights without resorting to a more unabashed, not to say lurid, style, a sign of the author’s novelistic subtlety.

An engaging love story, historically captivating and romantically gripping.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-685-5

Page Count: 248

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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

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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

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