A love story that remains gripping until the very last page.

THE AMULET

A trader takes his young bride into the perilous Canadian wilderness in this historical romance.

It is the summer of 1884 in the District of Saskatchewan in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Ian McNab, a trader and “granite-jawed” Scot, has taken a wife, to the surprise of all who know him. The beautiful Catherine looks about half McNab’s age and has the power to beguile every man who sets eyes on her. A born loner, McNab requested Catherine’s hand in marriage during their first encounter when visiting his father in southern Ontario. Now he finds himself returning with her to his trading post at the remote Pounding Lake, where he knows she will be utterly out of place. Before even arriving, their relationship is fraught—McNab is rough and impatient with her during lovemaking and considers her an “utter disappointment in bed.” And Pounding Lake is a troubled community surrounded by Native American reserves. Relations with the local Cree are becoming increasingly volatile. The strains are compounded when an already bitter winter worsens. Meanwhile, Catherine is introduced to the dashing Jay Clear Sky, a Cree interpreter who, fearing for her safety, gives her a protection amulet. The first draft of this tale was written by Sluman (Poundmaker, 1967, etc.). It was then rescued from obscurity by her daughter, debut author Somers, who “could not resist the urge to tweak” the story a number of years after her mother’s death. Closely based on the Northwest Uprising of 1885, this book, although a work of fiction, has a strong historical foundation. The engrossing narrative has everything required for a successful historical romance: a strong-willed heroine, a mysterious and forbidden love interest, and a viper’s nest of villains who eye Catherine lasciviously. The tension rises incrementally as the tale progresses, making for a true page-turner. But despite the growing sense of unease, there is also a fastidious attention to detail regarding the beauty of the Canadian wilderness: “She could see the water leaping and flashing, blue-green under the bright sunlight, free at last of the ice and debris that had choked it during the spring runoff.” Some readers may find the developing romance cloying, if unpredictable, but fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series will discover a comparable treat here.

A love story that remains gripping until the very last page.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-0480-8

Page Count: 253

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

MAGIC HOUR

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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