An intriguing romance debut that centers class struggles along with the love story.

HOW TO SURVIVE A SCANDAL

A woman destined to be a duchess finds herself at the bottom of the ton.

Lady Amelia Crofton, diamond of the ton, is finally getting married, but not to the man she’s been engaged to since childhood. No, rather than becoming Lady Wildeforde, she’s being rushed to the altar with Benedict Asterly, son of a footman and noblewoman—“a mere mister.” Benedict thought he was doing a good deed by rescuing Amelia from her overturned carriage in the middle of a snowstorm, but instead, it appears she has been compromised, and both find themselves trapped in a marriage they do not want, far from London. Benedict does have a grand house, courtesy of his mother, who never recovered from her hasty marriage below her station, so he eschews society in favor of his beloved business building steam engines. Amelia, having been raised to be the wife of a duke, can’t do anything practical, like start a fire or cook. She quickly makes friends with Benedict’s little sister and tries to make herself useful. Indeed, before long, Benedict and Amelia do uncover a shared attraction, bolstered by each discovering the other is more complex and intriguing than they had assumed. And they are each grappling with class tensions: The society Amelia was raised for may no longer want her in their ranks, and the community Benedict tries to support may no longer want him, or any relation of the aristocracy, either. Parish’s cleareyed examination of what life was like outside the Regency beau monde makes this debut romance a welcome addition to the genre, allowing readers the usual glimpse into the fashion and gossip of the time while also exploring how many people worked behind the scenes to make those dinners and hunting parties seem so effortless as well as the combined grievance and gratitude they might feel toward their employers. Amelia and Benedict’s story is a classic marriage-of-convenience tale told well, with a handful of intimate scenes, but the couple's relationship primarily blooms through their growing respect for each other’s abilities. Several charming supporting characters are introduced, and readers will look forward to seeing if Parish is able to use future entries in the series to continue her study of the Regency world across class boundaries.

An intriguing romance debut that centers class struggles along with the love story.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-0448-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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