A slow, almost stolid, story of how a family develops against great odds.

A DUKE, THE LADY, AND A BABY

From the Rogues and Remarkable Women series , Vol. 1

A woman must infiltrate her own home in order to care for her infant son after the death of her husband.

Patience is a West Indian heiress who married Colin Jordan, a proper English gentleman. Patience loved her husband, but he became remote and distant over the course of their brief marriage and died before meeting their now 3-month-old son, Lionel. Colin’s evil uncle, Markham, forcibly removes Patience from her home and sends her to Bedlam, the mental asylum, hoping to gain control of her large trust by claiming he is Lionel’s sole remaining relative. After escaping Bedlam with a friend, Patience is determined to find a way to regain control of her trust and take Lionel back to her home island, where he will be safe. Her plan is thrown into chaos with the arrival of Colin’s cousin and heir, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, who inherited their home and is Lionel’s true legal guardian. Busick fires all the servants and bans Markham from the house, paving the way for Patience to disguise herself as a wet nurse for Lionel. Although Busick cares for Lionel and wants to be a good guardian, Patience can’t trust him with her secrets. Busick already believes she abandoned Lionel, and he’ll never understand the toxic mix of racism and sexism that allowed Markham to get rid of her so easily. Riley’s use of first-person narration for Patience highlights both her desperation to save her son and her ability to see how English society has failed them. Slowly, Patience learns to trust Busick, and they decide to work together to bring down Markham. The Duke’s affection for Lionel and the way the three bond as a family is the primary love story; Busick and Patience's romantic relationship as partners and lovers is underdeveloped and emotionally flat.

A slow, almost stolid, story of how a family develops against great odds.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4201-5223-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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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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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