Frampton has written another historical romance that feels classic while also respecting the expectations of modern readers.

A WICKED BARGAIN FOR THE DUKE

From the Hazards of Dukes series , Vol. 3

A marriage of convenience starts with a negotiation and delivers more than either party agreed to.

Thaddeus Dutton, Duke of Hasford, doesn’t want much. Just a woman who is “unassuming in looks and manner,” “able to immediately handle her duties as his duchess,” and, the last item on his list, able to “engage satisfactorily in sexual congress.” As soon as he starts looking, he’s already found her: Lady Jane Capel. The trouble is that her sister, Lady Lavinia, knows that Jane is already in love with another, so she inserts herself in their courtship. Lavinia herself is not set on marriage, preferring to devote herself to her secret career as a popular author. But when an accidental tumble lands them in a very comprising, very public position, Lavinia does succeed in keeping Thaddeus from marrying Jane, because she’s soon married to him herself. Both spouses are reasonable and willing to bargain to make their marriage of convenience work, and they agree that once an heir is born, they will go their separate ways, as they are complete opposites. Their initial couplings are less than satisfactory for Lavinia, but she quickly sets Thaddeus straight, and they unlock a powerful chemistry. As they spend evenings together fulfilling their bargain, they come to realize they have much more in common than they thought and begin to privately fall for each other—but each fears they are the only one who wants to renegotiate their agreement. As in previous entries in Frampton’s Hazards of Dukes series, Thaddeus and Lavinia’s story is a charming combination of steamy, funny, and warmhearted. It’s thrilling to read a romance heroine who’s not afraid to directly say “I would like to have more fun doing it”  and a hero who’s not offended by the request but is, rather, happy to oblige. As in previous books, Frampton combines the best elements of classic Regency with contemporary touches. The story stands alone well enough, but fans of the first two books will be especially pleased.

Frampton has written another historical romance that feels classic while also respecting the expectations of modern readers.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302308-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Powerful but in need of a polish.

THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR

In Nazi-occupied Kraków, a friendship between two young women, one Jewish and one Polish, alters the destinies of both.

The present-day prologue introduces an unidentified 70-something woman who is visiting Poland, trying to work up the nerve to make contact with a 90-ish Kraków resident. The novel proper alternates the first-person narratives of Sadie Gault and Ella Stepanek, both 19. A mass deportation of Kraków’s Jews in 1943 drives Sadie’s father to take desperate measures to avoid the camps. With the help of Pawel, a Polish sewer worker, Sadie and her parents escape into Kraków’s sewer tunnels, but Sadie's father drowns along the way. To avoid capture, Sadie and her mother—who's pregnant—must hide in a small chamber inside the sewer system along with the Rosenbergs, a more devout family. Meanwhile, Ella’s father died defending Poland, and her stepmother, Ana, is now welcoming German officers to Ella’s family home (where she lives at Ana’s sufferance). Then one day, walking through a market, Ella spots Sadie through a grate, and they make eye contact. She returns the next day, and gradually the acquaintance between the young women warms into friendship. Sewer living gets even more challenging when Pawel, sole source of food and supplies, is arrested. Ella, aided by her resistance fighter boyfriend, smuggles food to the refugees. Sadie and young Saul Rosenberg overcome their religious differences and fall in love. After Sadie’s mother gives birth, the infant’s wails force the fugitives to make a terrible choice. All these well-drawn characters have too few options, which they debate endlessly and repetitiously. The description of how the sewer dwellers exist for months in a small, bare, filthy space is sketchy. The book's timeline can feel vague—the main action is happening in 1943, but the historical circumstances suggest 1944. There are continuity glitches. At the beginning of the book, Ella notes that her father left no will, but much later, the will turns up with no comment. Contemporary parlance creeps in: “we can do this,” “a few months tops.” Still, there are gripping scenes, particularly toward the end, and a poignant epilogue.

Powerful but in need of a polish.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-778-38938-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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