In January I had the chance to catch up on some historical titles I’ve missed, and thought I’d share.

First off is THE TEA ROSE by Jennifer Donnelly.

I’ve mentioned Donnelly before, and I have yet to read a book of hers that didn’t prove she’s a phenomenal and flexible writer. THE TEA ROSE is notable because it is one of those books that friends from various pieces of my life have recommended to me. Obviously I’m a reviewer and have access to pretty much all the books, but it’s rare when I hear about a book from people both within and outside of the book community. THE TEA ROSE is one, and I finally got access to it in audio (it’s part of the Audible Romance Package) and picked it up.

East London, 1888-a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths.

Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, a bright and defiant young woman dares to dream of a life beyond tumbledown wharves, gaslit alleys, and the grim and crumbling dwellings of the poor.

Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

But Fiona's dreams are shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death at the dark man's hands, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit-and the ghosts of her past-propel her rise from a modest west side shopfront to the top of Manhattan's tea trade.

Authentic and moving, Jennifer Donnelly's The Tea Rose is an unforgettable novel.

I loved the book. Wonderful writing, an epic story, and unforgettable Fiona Finnegan, who loses everything in England and comes to America determined to have it all, including a bit of revenge. To the many people and varied readers who have recommended this book to me since it released a decade ago, thank you! (And again, I really recommend her—a beautiful writer!) The romance was slightly frustrating, since Fiona and her soul mate keep missing each other by minutes and millimeters, but the reconciliation is highly satisfying, so all is forgiven.

Continue reading >


 

(The Kirkus reviewer did not agree. Review here.)

The Hunter I read (listened to) another Kerrigan Byrne, who writes intense, dark, sexy historical romance along the lines of, for instance, Elizabeth Hoyt. THE HUNTER features an actress and an assassin as the main characters, and the plot is deep and twisty, with some suspense, some redemption, a few surprises and a lot of heat. 

Really enjoyed it, and Byrne is getting some really great—and well-deserved—buzz. 

A scandalous proposal.

Christopher Argent lives in the shadows as the empire's most elite assassin. Emotion is something he tossed away years ago, making him one of the most clear-eyed, cold-hearted, wealthiest, and therefore untouchable men in London. But when his latest target turns out to be London's own darling, Millicent LeCour, Christopher's whole world is turned upside down. Overwhelmed by her stunning combination of seduction and innocence, Christopher cannot complete the mission. She has made him feel again. Now, he will do anything to save her life, so that he can claim her as his own...

A perilous passion...
When Millie learns what Christopher was hired to do, she is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this notorious hunter's arms may be her only path to safety—even if doing so could be the deadliest mistake she's ever made. But how can she resist him? As the heat between her and Christopher burns out of control, danger lurks in the shadows. Is their desire worth the risk? Only the enemy knows what fate has in store…

Finally, I really like author Kieran Kramer, whose recent Two Love Lane titles are contemporary, but so far, not in audio. {sad sigh}

Loving Lady Marcia However, again thanks to the romance package, I discovered LOVING LADY MARCIA, the first title from her House of Brady historical series, which is loosely—in a tongue-in-cheek, Regency-romance-meets-60s family sit-com kind of way—based on The Brady Bunch. It was really a treat, with fun, witty allusions to the TV series fans will giggle at, even while they enjoy watching the Regency version of Marcia Brady meet her match.

In the House of Brady, three very lovely girls have hair of gold—and hearts to match—but finding a match among the gentlemen of London is one comedy of errors that could bring down the house…

MARCIA GETS SCHOOLED…

Of the three Brady sisters, Lady Marcia has always seemed the girl most likely to lead a perfectly charmed life. But after a handsome cad breaks her heart, she swears off love and devotes her life to teaching girls at a private school. In spite of her family's wish for a London debut, Marcia is happy where she is—until terrible news sends her back to the Brady clan…and into the arms of an unexpected suitor.

ON THE SUBJECT OF LOVE

A dark and dashing earl who knows Marcia's past, Duncan Lattimore is surprised by what a fascinating and independent woman she's become. Marcia, too, is surprised—by the fiery attraction she feels for Duncan. But why—why—must he be the brother of the scoundrel who broke her heart? Why must Marcia's rival at school forbid her from seeing him? How can this lady possibly resist this fellow—when they know that it's much more than a hunch…?

So there are a few back list titles for you to look into, and if you’re interested in their upcoming works, Byrne’s next title, HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS, releases in August and Donnelly’s STEPSISTER, a dark(er) retelling of the Cinderella story, hits shelves in May. No word yet on more of Kramer’s next title that I can see, but SECOND CHANCE AT TWO LOVE LANE came out last August.

Finally, I wanted to give a little heads up as to the authors visiting the Romance of Reading Facebook page this month, in case you’re interested. So excited for this great line-up!

Feb 6 - Laura Trentham

Feb 13 - Alyson Richman

Feb 20 - Falguni Kothari

Feb 27 - Julie Anne Long

 

Hope to see you there!

Happy February, Happy Reading!  #LOVE #BOOKS