An engrossing, research-heavy tale of Croatia in the early modern period.

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The House of Baric Part One

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A debut historical novel follows an aristocratic family in 17th-century Croatia, at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War.

In 1649, a young nobleman named Mauro Baric has inherited his father’s position as baron of their ancestral lands. Though only in his 20s, Mauro has been hardened by both the early loss of his brother and his years in combat, leading troops in service of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, of which he is a vassal. As the heir to the house of Baric, Mauro must not only live up to his late father’s legacy as a local ruler, but also enter into a long-ago arranged marriage to Resi Kokkinos, the daughter of an Ottoman Greek merchant and smuggler with whom his family conducts business. Both young people initially chafe at being forced to marry a stranger they do not love; Resi faces the particular hardships of living in a culturally strange land and existing at the whims of a husband who is often away. Over time, the newlyweds grow closer, and Resi begins to learn the inner workings of her new home. This novel—the first in a projected trilogy—is driven by research and a complexly developed social system. To this end, Bald includes a five-page history lesson before the first chapter and a 10-page glossary of characters at the back of the book, which includes drawings of period dress. Everyone from kitchen servants to Venetian princesses has a role in the book. And while many of these characters possess richly drawn emotional lives—the dislocated Resi is a particularly engaging heroine—a considerable reader investment in the Baric world is needed to make sense of the players and their positions. Great attention is given—in both narration and dialogue—to military organization, legal and taxation systems, gender roles, local politics, and a myriad of other specialized topics. While these focuses can slow down the plot, readers who make the commitment to the material will be rewarded with a full fictional immersion in a corner of 17th- century Europe. 

An engrossing, research-heavy tale of Croatia in the early modern period. 

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943594-00-9

Page Count: 442

Publisher: Hillwaker Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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