An effervescent Regency romantic mystery brings a decrepit estate to life.

A DUKE TOO FAR

A hunt for treasure—and treasures of the heart.

Peter Rathbone, the Duke of Compton, isn’t ever expecting visitors—his estate is so impoverished that he keeps a tennis racquet at the dinner table to fend off attacks from bats. Suddenly, however, he becomes the host to two parties: the Earl of Macklin, whom he hasn’t seen in six months, and a group of young women (plus chaperone, naturally) who went to school with his late sister, Delia. Led by Miss Ada Grandison, Sarah and Charlotte and Harriet are all eager to help the duke uncover a secret that Delia told Ada about just before her accidental death. Though the house is in disrepair, they all settle in, with chaperone Aunt Julia taking the opportunity to teach them how to run a household. Ada keeps looking for chances to be alone with the duke, to discuss Delia’s secret, and their private encounters spark a mutual interest. But Peter, for his part, won’t act on his feelings, having nothing to offer her, and Ada grows frustrated. After they all discover that Delia’s secret is a potential treasure trove hidden on the estate, the girls race to solve the puzzle Delia left behind and find the fortune. Peter’s not sure anything will come of it—but the chemistry between Ada and him continues, treasure or not. In the fourth volume of her The Way to a Lord’s Heart series (How To Cross a Marquess, 2019), Ashford continues her explorations of a world outside, but not apart from, London society. With a light mystery and evocative detail, she sketches a gentler side of Regency life, away from the haut ton. Although the budding romance between Ada and Peter is sweet and compelling, it’s the friendship between Ada and her three girlfriends that really sets the book apart. All of the dialogue, but especially theirs, is fast-paced and charming, adding a welcome richness to the story. The appearance of Lord Macklin might seem odd to readers who are new to the series, but the book can be read on its own, and fans of the series are sure to enjoy the latest entry.

An effervescent Regency romantic mystery brings a decrepit estate to life.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6344-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.

CODE NAME HÉLÈNE

A historical novel explores the intersection of love and war in the life of Australian-born World War II heroine Nancy Grace Augusta Wake.

Lawhon’s (I Was Anastasia, 2018, etc.) carefully researched, lively historical novels tend to be founded on a strategic chronological gambit, whether it’s the suspenseful countdown to the landing of the Hindenberg or the tale of a Romanov princess told backward and forward at once. In her fourth novel, she splits the story of the amazing Nancy Wake, woman of many aliases, into two interwoven strands, both told in first-person present. One begins on Feb. 29th, 1944, when Wake, code-named Hélène by the British Special Operations Executive, parachutes into Vichy-controlled France to aid the troops of the Resistance, working with comrades “Hubert” and “Denden”—two of many vividly drawn supporting characters. “I wake just before dawn with a full bladder and the uncomfortable realization that I am surrounded on all sides by two hundred sex-starved Frenchmen,” she says. The second strand starts eight years earlier in Paris, where Wake is launching a career as a freelance journalist, covering early stories of the Nazi rise and learning to drink with the hardcore journos, her purse-pooch Picon in her lap. Though she claims the dog “will be the great love of [her] life,” she is about to meet the hunky Marseille-based industrialist Henri Fiocca, whose dashing courtship involves French 75 cocktails, unexpected appearances, and a drawn-out seduction. As always when going into battle, even the ones with guns and grenades, Nancy says “I wear my favorite armor…red lipstick.” Both strands offer plenty of fireworks and heroism as they converge to explain all. The author begs forgiveness in an informative afterword for all the drinking and swearing. Hey! No apologies necessary!

A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54468-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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