Aug 13 2015 12:00pm

Hitting the Books: Not Your Usual Historical Best Bets for August 2015

A Most Precious Pearl by Piper Huguley

August is the time of year we start admitting that summer is almost over and autumn is just around the corner.  The kids are getting ready to go back to school and their parents are more than likely past ready to send them.  If you’re looking to fill out your beach reading for one last gasp of summertime surf and sand, look no further than this month’s intriguing line-up of not-your-usual historical offerings!

20th Century!
A Most Precious Pearl by Piper Huguley

Asa Caldwell returned from the Great War with nothing to show for it—as in nothing below his left knee. Forget about the journalism career he loved. His story is over. Done. 

Yet he finds the strength to journey to Winslow, Georgia, to get Ruby Bledsoe Morson’s sister out of trouble. Before he can bring Mags Bledsoe home, though, a spate of mysterious attacks reawakens his investigative instincts.

During the war, Mags did her duty to God and country by stepping into a management role at the textile mill. Now she’s been shuffled back to the rank and file—and Asa has her hard-earned job. Not only is the infernal man doing everything wrong, her plan for revenge against the mill owner who lynched her childhood sweetheart is farther out of reach than ever.

As they clash over almost everything, Mags begins to set fire to Asa’s soul, bright enough to dim the memory of the killing fields of France. Enough to give him a new mission in life—to make her feel the same way.

This is the second book in the author’s Migrations of the Heart series, which follows the Bledsoe sisters during America’s “Great Migration,” when large numbers of southern, rural African-Americans were relocating to northern urban industrial cities.  The first book, A Virtuous Ruby was an RWA Golden Heart finalist in 2014, and the author has a third book in the series planned for a November 2015 release.

A Haunting Desire by Julie Mulhern

A Haunting Desire by Julie Mulhern

A killer walks the streets of New Orleans, eviscerating men and leaving them in the streets, and for madam Trula Boudreaux, it’s bad for business. Trula needs help but she’s not prepared for Zeke Barnes, the charming would-be savior who darkens her doorway-or the yearning he awakens. For while Trula knows well the delights of lust, she avoids love at all costs…

Investigating the killer was one thing, but Zeke can’t help but be enchanted by the gorgeous mystery woman who runs an exclusive brothel. Caught between his duty to protect the city and his clear-as-day desire for Trula, Zeke sets about capturing Trula’s heart-or at least a place in her bed. But with every moment Trula resists, Zeke falls into greater danger.

For his investigation into the haunted city and madam doesn’t just risk his heart but both their lives.

Also the author of a cozy mystery series set against the backdrop of a 1970s country club, A Haunting Desire takes place in 1902 New Orleans.  It was also a finalist for RWA’s Golden Heart for best historical romance manuscript in 2014.

The Rebel Daughter by Lauri Robinson

For every wild child… 

No more watching from the sidelines for Twyla Nightingale: her feet are firmly on the dance floor! She won't let anyone sour the delicious taste of freedom—especially not Forrest Reynolds, back in town after all this time. 

…there's a guy who thinks she's the bee's knees. 

Forrest didn't expect a warm welcome from the Nightingale sisters, not after their lives had been so dramatically upturned. But seeing the challenge in Twyla's eyes, Forrest takes this rebel for a wild dance she won't forget!

Robinson continues her 1920s series for Harlequin Historical with this second book. The third and final book in the trilogy is slated for an October 2015 release.

A Pirate’s Command by Meg Hennessy

Colette Kincaid once knew such love and delicious passion in the arms of her pirate husband, Donato de la Roche. Yet Colette could not continue to live as the wife of a pirate, when reunited with her family. So she fled, taking their son with her and reconciling herself to never seeing her husband again…

Until their son is taken.

Donato is convinced his wife is behind his son’s disappearance—just as she is convinced he is the villain. Now they’re unable to leave each other’s side as they seek their child, forced to confront the desire that still smolders between them. But Donato knows that soon he must face the secret about Colette he’s been hiding for so long. And it’s a secret for which there is no forgiveness…

A marriage-in-trouble meets a reunited theme in this second book in the author’s Secrets of the Bayou series.  The heroine was rescued during the course of the first book, Dark Secrets, Deep Bayous, and is that hero’s sister.

Down in the Valley by Jane Shoup

Down in the Valley by Jane Shoup

Miss Emeline Wright risked everything to escape the monster who stole her innocence, her dignity, her pride. Now no one in her little home town nestled in the West Virginia hills must ever know what she was forced to do while a captive in the city. Her only chance is to make a go of her uncle’s failing farm, but how can a woman alone, in rough country, survive?

With unfailing courage and an open heart, Em wins over the townspeople who’ve judged her so harshly, taking in a motley crew of misfits who show up, one by one, to lend a hand. But it’s the quiet strength and unfailing love of a single man that will show her how to trust again as they build a  home to last forever…

When her uncle dies, leaving her unprotected, the heroine enters into a partnership with the hero to make a go of her failing farm. Publisher’s Weekly says, “Shoup moves assuredly through trauma, family discord, and romantic misunderstandings to capture lovely bits of Americana and a bygone way of life.”

The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford...and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she's determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love... before they're lost to each other forever.

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love...and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

The third and final book in the author’s Thornbook Park trilogy is the story fans have been waiting for–reuniting a married couple torn apart by tragedy.

England, With a Twist!
Luck Be a Lady by Meredith Duran

They call her the “Ice Queen.” Catherine Everleigh is London’s loveliest heiress, but a bitter lesson in heartbreak has taught her to keep to herself. All she wants is her birthright—the auction house that was stolen from her. To win this war, she’ll need a powerful ally. Who better than infamous and merciless crime lord Nicholas O’Shea? A marriage of convenience will no doubt serve them both.

Having conquered the city’s underworld, Nick seeks a new challenge. Marrying Catherine will give him the appearance of legitimacy—and access to her world of the law-abiding elite. No one needs to know he’s coveted Catherine for a year now—their arrangement is strictly business, free from the troubling weaknesses of love. Seduction, however, is a different matter—an enticing game he means to ensure she enjoys, whether she wishes to or not...

Things are looking particularly sunny for Duran these days.  Last month she won a RITA for her 2014 historical, Fool Me Twice and Publisher’s Weekly awarded this, her latest release, with a starred review stating that her “intelligent, multilayered characters embody the best aspects of this wonderfully indulgent series.”

Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. DemeterFinding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter

Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die.

After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon's army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger.

But fate has a different plan.

Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she's moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home.

Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah - and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah's own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts - or will the cycle of history repeat again?

Published by Momentum, Pan Macmillian Australia’s digital imprint, the publisher is describing Demeter’s second historical romance as “Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James's Broken Wing….”  I know more than a few readers who won’t be able to one-click this one fast enough!

Taming His Rebel Lady by Jane Godman

In the six months since the Jacobites met defeat at Culloden, the English have ruthlessly routed the remaining rebels. Now Sir Edwin Roxburgh rides to claim Cameron House, his reward for his loyalty to the king.

His welcome comes at the point of a sword. It’s only after a fierce fight that Edwin discovers that underneath the banned tartan, the “boy” he’s just wounded is none other than the lady of the house.

If the crown thinks Lady Iona Cameron will allow an English soldier to turn her out of her own home, the crown is sadly mistaken. She never thought her desperate attempt to defy authority would send her to a traitor’s death—unless she agrees to marry Roxburgh. 

Edwin quickly realizes he has his hands full trying to control the fiery, rebellious widow—and trying to control his own desire to fill his arms with her beautiful body. But he has a dark past that makes love not only impossible, but dangerous—especially if Iona manages to slip past his guard.

This second book in the author’s Georgian Rebel series will be followed by the third book in the series sometime in 2016.  She’s also hard at work on a three book series for Harlequin Nocturne, the first of which is slated for a December 2015 release.

The English Civil War!
The King’s Man by Alison StuartThe King’s Man by Alison Stuart

Kit Lovell is one of the King’s men, a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything.  Terrified, in pain and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.

Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.

Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his master and King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.

The first book in this series, By the Sword, was a 2008 EPIC Award winner.  Like that first book, this second title was previously published but has since been acquired by Harlequin Australia’s Escape imprint where the books have been revised and reedited.  A third book in the series is on tap for February 2016.

The Middle East!
Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey by Lillian Marek

From sensible, sheltered girl
Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady EmilyTremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.

To the woman his heart desires
Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emily-whose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.

Despite some initial concerns, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books reviewer, RedHeadedGirl liked this second book in Marek’s Victorian Adventurers series for “the unconventional setting, and I loved that Marek clearly put a lot of thought in how to address this particular chapter of British and Middle Eastern history.”

The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren WilligThe Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

After twelve books, Willig puts a period at the end at the Pink Carnation series.  Library Journal reports that “Favorite characters from previous installments make brief appearances and the result is a little slice of reading heaven.”

The Countess and the Cowboy by Elizabeth Lane

Newly widowed, Eve Townsend is left with a grand title and not a penny to her name. She doesn't know what future she can build in the Wild West…but she's ready to learn, and to reunite with her family.  

When she arrives in Wyoming, she discovers her beloved sister's death and sets about caring for her niece and nephew. But burly Clint Lonigan is everywhere she turns! Even though he's Eve's opposite in every way, maybe a rough-mannered cowboy is just what this genteel countess needs…

Author of many historical romances, Lane has been keeping so busy with her contemporary work for Harlequin Desire that this marks her first historical western release since 2012’s The Lawman’s Vow.  Fans of her contemporaries shouldn’t fret however.  Stranded with the Boss is slated for an October 2015 release.

What books are landing on your shopping list this month?


Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: 

A Most Precious Pearl by Piper Huguley  
A Haunting Desire by Julie Mulhern  
The Rebel Daughter by Lauri Robinson  
A Pirate’s Command by Meg Hennessy  
Down in the Valley by Jane Shoup  
The Great Estate by Sherri Browning  
Luck Be a Lady by Meredith Duran  
Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter  
Taming His Rebel Lady by Jane Godman  
The King’s Man by Alison Stuart  
Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey by Lillian Marek  
The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig  
The Countess and the Cowboy by Elizabeth Lane  















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
So I was obviously asleep at the wheel when I wrote this post! The Alison Stuart would be The English Civil War, not a medieval :) Cromwell ahoy!
2. J.Patrick
Thanks for letting us know. @SuperWendy. We'll correct that for you.
3. Mo
This looks like a fabulous list. I think this is the best monthly list of "Not Your Usual Historicals" ever.
4. Julie Mulhern
What a thrill to be included in this AMAZING list! Thank you, Wendy!!!
5. Kareni
Some enticing choices here! Thanks for providing this list.
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