Sep 24 2014 9:30am

Hitting the Books: Not-Your-Usual Historicals for September 2014

September means back to school time, and what better way to celebrate than with a bit of history that takes you off the beaten Almack’s path. The variety of settings is a welcome sight this month with a list that includes new voices and established veterans.


Night of the Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat's wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father's quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady's maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

According to early review coverage, Raybourn brings in past characters to neatly tie this story to previous releases.

Sweet Jazz by Ursula Renée

The Big House's “Coloreds Only” policy makes the club popular with Harlem residents. The same policy makes it harder for the owners to find and retain musicians. After four weeks of listening to saxophonists with bigger dreams than talent, the owners are ready to hire the first person who walks in and plays “one good note.” Their words come back to haunt them when Randy Jones auditions.

Many of the employees are not thrilled when Randy breaks the color barrier. He does find an ally in Cass, the club's sassy singer, who goes out of her way to welcome him. Offstage, Cass Porter looks like a teenager, but when she sings she’s all woman. Inside, she’s been hurt badly and has determined never to love again.

As their relationship develops, life at the club for Randy becomes complicated when he has to fight both Cass’s fear of opening her heart and those who want to keep them apart.

A baby-faced heroine meets her match with the only decent saxophone to come her way in a long while. So what if he’s white? This Prohibition-era Harlem set historical is the author’s debut.

Dark Secrets, Deep Bayous by Meg HennessyAmerican-Set!

Dark Secrets, Deep Bayous by Meg Hennessy

A love kindled behind two masks...

A wealthy woman of mixed blood, Aurélie Fentonot has few options for marriage, but she also carries a burden: she must break a curse placed on the land of her ancestors. She sells herself to an American planter to reclaim the land he stole, though he stirs a deep, burning passion that could too easily distract her. But her American has dark secrets that threaten her plans...and could shatter her heart.

A curse that demands their unmasking...

Jordan Kincaid must marry the Creole beauty or face arrest as a pirate before he completes his dire mission. Though he’ll risk everything for revenge, Aurèlie’s soothing and seductive ways remind him there's more to life than vengeance. But he's not as he pretends and when danger closes in on them, Jordan soon learns...neither is she.

Set in early 19th century New Orleans, this is the first book in a projected series. Also, at the time of this post writing, this digital release was retailing for $0.99 at several online outlets.

Ancient Rome!

1001 Erotic Nights, Part 3: Siren of Gaul by Lisa Cach

Nimia is sent to seduce the Visigoth king Alaric, in order to capture a key Roman general and change the course of history… as she also changes Alaric’s perceptions of morality. A repressed Visigoth is no match for a siren trained by the most depraved of Romans.

Chameleon-like Cach is back with the third novella in a serial about a former slave with paranormal abilities. A blend of history, paranormal and Old School fun, Simon and Schuster must be pleased, as Cach recently announced they’ve picked up the next three installments, to be published in 2015.


The Songbird’s Seduction by Connie Brockway

Effervescent bon vivant Lucy Eastlake is a young operetta singer whose star is on the rise in Edwardian London. Though struggling to maintain her beloved great-aunts’ household, she holds fast to the belief that “things will work out.” Now, with the fiftieth anniversary of a siege her great-aunt Lavinia lived through approaching, it looks like Lucy is right, because a fortune is due to be divided among the survivors. All Lucy and her great-aunts have to do is travel to a small Pyrenees town to claim Lavinia’s share of a fabulous treasure in rubies. What could be more simple?

Professor Ptolemy Archibald Grant is the brilliant, straitlaced grandson of a British lord who also withstood the siege. When his grandfather asks him as a matter of honor to escort his old love on the journey, the about-to-be married professor agrees, not expecting Lucy to be part of the bargain. Losing the great-aunts en route, the handsome, buttoned-down professor finds himself caught up in Lucy’s quirky, bewildering, and probably illegal efforts to reunite with them, as he is drawn further and further into an inexplicable infatuation with the free-spirited singer. What could be more complicated?

But when unwilling attraction gives way to sizzling passion, both will be forced to confront the ages-old question of whether love trumps honor…or the other way around.

This new historical from fan-favorite Brockway hit all the right notes for H&H blogger Cheryl Sneed who loved the screw-ball comedy vibe a la the Grant/Hepburn classic, Bringing Up Baby.

Bellissima by Anya RichardsWorking Class Couple!

Bellissima by Anya Richards

His seductive rhythm calls to the passionate soul hiding within…

Jane Rollins is anything but plain, but to keep her position as housekeeper to a wealthy family, she is content to hide her beauty behind a dull façade. This deception has become second-nature to her—until dance master Sergio Fontini waltzes into her life.

While the other inhabitants of the house see him as a foreigner and beneath their notice, Jane sees strength, barely leashed power, and an aura of iron control—an irresistible, arousing combination.

Sergio sees through Jane’s disguise to the woman beneath, and the desires in her veiled gaze call to him like the utterly irresistible strains of a beautiful symphony. The circumstances couldn’t be worse, for seducing her will endanger both their livelihoods.

Yet there are lessons he cannot resist teaching her, steps of a dance that crescendos to her final surrender…

How’s this for a delightful twist? The sexy Italian dance instructor is typically relegated to the lothario villain role and the heroine is always anybody but a housekeeper. This novella is set in the Victorian era and features two not-commonly-seen leads. I cannot download this one fast enough.

Italian Renaissance!

Betrayed by His Kiss by Amanda McCabe

In a city of shadows…

Orlando Landucci knows all too well what darkness lies beneath Florence's dazzling splendor. And when his beloved sister is torn from him, he will stop at nothing to avenge her death.

…only a kiss can light up the darkness

But from the moment he lays eyes on innocent Isabella Spinola, something inside him shifts. She is the kin of his sworn enemy, yet he feels compelled to protect her. With every forbidden kiss Orlando's sense of betrayal deepens, so when the time for vengeance comes, will their bond be enough to banish the shadows forever?

McCabe is one of the Renaissance writers at Harlequin Historical, having written books set in Regency England, the Caribbean, Scotland and the Elizabethan court. What’s left for a Renaissance writer to tackle? The Renaissance, of course!


Sweet Bea by Sarah Hegger

Is anything sweeter than revenge?

In a family of remarkable people, ordinary Beatrice strives to prove herself worthy. When her family is threatened with losing everything, she rushes to London to save them. Unfortunately, she chooses as her savior the very man who will see her family brought low.

Garrett has sworn vengeance on Sir Arthur of Anglesea for destroying his life when he was a boy and forcing his mother into prostitution for them to survive. He has chosen as his instrument Sir Arthur's youngest daughter, Beatrice.

Can Beatrice’s goodness teach Garrett that love, not vengeance, is the greatest reward of all?

Hegger’s debut with Kensington is set during a turbulent time in English history, King John’s reign. With a second historical in this series in the pipeline, Hegger is also busy with a contemporary series with Kensington, slated for a Spring 2015 release.

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne BittnerWestern!

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Elizabeth Wainwright is on the run. Accused of a murder she didn't commit, she has no choice but to cut ties with her old life and flee West. The last thing she wants is attention, but when her stagecoach is attacked, she suddenly finds herself under the fierce protection of one of Montana's famed vigilantes...whether she likes it or not.

Lawman Mitch Brady is sworn to uphold justice in the wild lands of 1860's Montana. He's never met a man he's feared, and he's never met a woman more desperately in need of his help. Something's shaken the secretive Elizabeth, but as he gets to know the beautiful city belle, he finds the only thing he wants more than her her trust.

Bittner built her reputation writing western sagas, but she does something a bit different with her latest release. The grittiness is still there in the form of a vigilante lawman hero, but she wraps her couple up in a small town on the cusp of becoming civilized. Readers get two flavors of western romance (small town vs. gritty angst) in one.

Wild West Christmas by Jenna Kernan, Kathryn Albright and Lynna Banning

A Family for the Rancher by Jenna Kernan

Two years ago, Dillen Roach fell for wealthy debutante Alice Truett. Now she's at his door with his orphaned nephews in tow! Could Alice be the perfect Christmas gift for this solitary rancher?

Dance with a Cowboy by Kathryn Albright

Kathleen Seridan is determined to leave the tragedy of her past behind her—including brooding cowboy Garrett. But with Christmas magic in the air, can she resist the warmth of his touch?

Christmas in Smoke River by Lynna Banning

Gale McBurney is an utter mystery to rich “city girl” Lilah Cornwell. But to make Smoke River her home by Christmas, she'll have to let this rugged cattleman take the reins….

Three known authors in the Harlequin Historical universe, the happy news here is Kathryn Albright, back from a long hiatus. Her previous book appearing in 2009, this anthology entry is only the beginning. She has a new full-length historical slated for a January 2015 release. 

What unusual historicals are hitting your books this September?


To find out more about each book mentioned:

Night of the Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn  
Sweet Jazz by Ursula Renee    
Dark Secrets, Deep Bayous by Meg Hennessy  
1001 Erotic Nights, Part 3: Siren of Gaul by Lisa Cach  
The Songbird’s Seduction by Connie Brockway  
Bellissima by Anya Richards  
Betrayed by His Kiss by Amanda McCabe    
Sweet Bea by Sarah Hegger  
Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner  
Wild West Christmas by Jenna Kernan, Kathryn Albright and Lynna Banning  













Wendy the Super Librarian also blogs at So dig that library card out of your pocket and head for the stacks.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Wendy the Super Librarian
1. SuperWendy
And, of course, I left one off. The Unsuitable Secretary by Maggie Robinson, which is set during the Edwardian era. Cheryl wrote a lovely First Look for it earlier this month:
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I LOVED the Unsuitable Secretary...and the Reluctant Governess...and Maggie Robinson in general now! I think I'll be adding Desperate Hearts to my TBR pile too!
3. PhoebeChase
Good lord my TBR list just had a growth spurt! Ever since discovering Jenn Bennett's Roaring Twenties series I want ALL the not-your-usual historicals.
Megan Frampton
4. MFrampton
I started reading Mia Gabriel's Lord Savage this morning, and that's set in 1907, and it drips with historical flavor (and it's erotic, so it's kinda drippy in general).
5. PhoebeChase
I wish I could "like" or "favorite" that comment Megan. LOL
Megan Frampton
6. MFrampton
@PhoebeChase Ms. @JenniferProffitt is taking me to task on Twitter so my comment, so I'm glad SOMEONE has my back. <flounces>
Jennifer Proffitt
7. JenniferProffitt
I'm not necessarily taking you to task @MFrampton, simply saying that, while I love your puns, that was too punny even for my standards (which are remarkably low)
Post a comment