Feb 18 2016 9:30am

Heart-Shaped Box: Not-Your-Usual Historicals Best Bets for February 2016

Tycoon by Joanna Shupe

February, a deceptively short month that brings a bonanza of options for not-your-usual historicals fans.  This month finds a few series ending, a few series beginning, and even a debut author thrown into the mix.

The Gilded Age!
Tycoon by Joanna Shupe

Sometimes the journey is more pleasurable than the destination . . .

In Gilded Age New York City, the bachelors of the Knickerbocker Club spend their days rubbing elbows with Manhattan’s most elite citizens—and their nights with its most intoxicating women . . .

Standing on the platform at Grand Central Station, Ted Harper is surprised by a fiery kiss from an undeniably gorgeous damsel in distress. He’s certain she’s a swindler who’s only after his money, but he’s never met a woman so passionate and sure of herself. Disarmed, he invites her to spend the journey to St. Louis in his private car—perhaps against his better judgment . . .

Clara Dawson has long known how to take care of herself, but the savvy shop girl is at a loss when she witnesses—and becomes entangled in—a terrible crime. Desperation propels her into a stranger’s arms at the train station, but she hadn’t expected Ted to offer her the protection she so badly needs—nor did she expect their chemistry to develop more steam than the engine of the train. He’s everything she never thought she could have, and she’s everything he didn’t know he wanted. But as her secrets begin to unfurl, their fledgling romance could be in danger of derailing before they arrive at the next station . . .

Let’s take a moment to talk about how crazy, stupid excited I am for this series.  Gilded Age New York and robber barons?  Yes please!  Shupe kicks off her new Knickerbocker Club series for Kensington Zebra with this prequel novella.

Charlotte by Virginia Taylor

A marriage most inconvenient…

After losing his first love in childbirth, Nicholas Alden knows with a great certainty that he must never be a father. But to be a husband is a very different matter—mandated by South Australian society, necessary for his family name. So when he meets beautiful social climber Charlotte, he believes he has found a wife he can keep at arm’s length. He is terribly wrong.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Charlotte hopes Nick can prop up her reputation long enough to secure a suitable match for her beloved cousin. She assumes that is all she can ask of her new husband—until they succumb to a night of uninhibited passion. Her heart is won in his embrace, but he doesn’t know the truth of her scandalous parentage. If he did, all would be lost.

Still, somehow, Charlotte dares to hope that her match of convenience could become something more. It is a reckless gamble, but the prize—a marriage of blazing lifelong desire—is one worth any risk…

A heroine hiding a big secret and a foolish hero who thinks he can simply marry for convenience without surrendering his heart.  Will they never learn?  This is the third book in Taylor’s South Landers series, set in 1860s Australia.

When I’m With You by Kimberly NeeWhen I’m With You by Kimberly Nee

For Katie Dunn, finding work as a maid at Marchand Hall is a new start in every way possible. She has a proper job now, and friends that treat her like family. No one in Bermuda knows about her shadowy past, and she plans to keep it that way.

The last thing she needs is to cross paths with one of those shadows—a man who shattered her trust.

Setting foot in Marchand Hall is both blessing and curse for Captain Rafe Sebastiano. In return for Lord Marchand’s help in saving his family business, Rafe has agreed to marry his benefactor’s daughter, whom he counts as a friend but does not love. That word is reserved for the biggest mistake he ever made. The woman he let slip through his fingers.

When Rafe and Katie inevitably come face to face, the pain of old wounds is as fresh as the fire that still burns between them. But if they aren’t careful, they could repeat the mistakes of the past—and doom themselves to a future empty of love.

Like riding a bike, Nee is back with this third book in her Sebastiano series.  It’s been six years since the release of the second book in this series, but the author decides to come back making a grand entrance: a Caribbean setting, a sea-faring hero and a former prostitute heroine.  One-click ahoy!

English Civil War!
Exile’s Return by Alison Stuart

England, 1659: Following the death of Cromwell, a new king is poised to ascend the throne of England. One by one, those once loyal to the crown begin to return ...

Imprisoned, exiled and tortured, fugitive Daniel Lovell returns to England, determined to kill the man who murdered his father. But his plans for revenge must wait, as the King has one last mission for him.

Agnes Fletcher's lover is dead, and when his two orphaned children are torn from her care by their scheming guardian, she finds herself alone and devastated by the loss. Unwilling to give up, Agnes desperately seeks anyone willing to accompany her on a perilous journey to save the children and return them to her care. She didn't plan on meeting the infamous Daniel Lovell. She didn't plan on falling in love.

Thrown together with separate quests – and competing obligations – Daniel and Agnes make their way from London to the English countryside, danger at every turn. When they are finally given the opportunity to seize everything they ever hoped for, will they find the peace they crave, or will their fledgling love be a final casualty of war?

Stuart wraps up her Guardians of the Crown series for Harlequin Australia’s digital imprint, Escape with this third and final book in the series.

Rake Most Likely to Sin by Bronwyn ScottRake Most Likely to Sin by Bronwyn Scott

A rake running from his past… 

For hell-raiser Brennan Carr, his Grand Tour has been the perfect way to replace difficult family memories with outrageous adventures. But discovering his Greek hosts want him to marry, Brennan must prove he's not ready to settle down—and fast! Is a fling with widow Patra Tspiras a delicious solution…? 

Patra has learned the hard way never to trust anyone, but Brennan's sinful seduction sweeps her off her feet! Could what started as a delectable affair soon transform into the happily-ever-after they've both been secretly craving?

Rakes are a dime a dozen in historical romances, but Scott has been spicing things up by taking her rakes on vacation.  This is the fourth and final book in her Rakes on Tour series.  Someone pass me some baklava!

Horse Racing!
A Gentleman’s Game by Theresa Romain

How far will a man go
Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck-and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel's skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father's new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.

To win a woman's secretive heart?
Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team...and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind's life is built on secrets and Nathaniel's on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts...

Romain kicks off a new Regency series set against the backdrop of horse racing. All About Romance gave this a B+ grade and called it, “…a beautifully written and tender love story about two lonely people finding each other and finding the strength through their love for one another to break through the barriers that have been holding them back from making their lives their own.”

New Orleans!
A Pirate’s Revenge by Meg HennessyA Pirate’s Revenge by Meg Hennessy

Rayna de La Roche once lived a privileged life of a Spanish royal until her brother dragged her to America. In order to return to Spain, she must find a hidden treasure somewhere in New Orleans. She pairs up with a rugged American mercenary, whose mere touch unleashes her deepest desire.

Captain Zachary Nash has been accused of a murder he did not commit. On the run, he’s hired to protect Rayna. As much as he wants her, Zach cannot hope to have her, for she sees him as a common criminal. But keeping his hands off of her while they hunt down the treasure may be his toughest task yet.

As the passion sizzles between the royal and the captain, they’ll have to decide if the treasure is more important than love…

Romance heroines, they’re just like us.  One day you’re living the life of royalty, the next your brother is dragging you off on some godforsaken scheme.  This is the third and final book in Hennessy’s Secrets of the Bayous series for Entangled Publishing.

Roaring ‘20s!
Notes of Temptation by Rebecca Halsey

When Carrie Cooper leaves her small gold-mining town to seek her fortune, it’s not until she arrives in L.A. that she learns her college certificate is a fraud. The only work available is in a less-than-respectable speakeasy.

The job comes with the opportunity to take the stage with Oz Dean, the club’s captivating bandleader. But rivals out for her blood along with her place in the spotlight lurk behind the curtain.

Oz Dean has the rare ability to “see” music as brilliant colors, but nothing has ever dazzled him like Carrie’s pure, choirgirl voice. With a mob debt hanging over his head like a guillotine, he organizes a revue that will launch them all to stardom. Unfortunately, his bold move attracts exactly the kind of criminal attention he’d like to avoid.

Mired in Hollywood’s underbelly, caught off-guard by their growing attraction, Carrie and Oz are forced to consider the cost of success. Or their one chance to make beautiful music together could be their last.

It doesn’t get more exciting than this, a big Not-Your-Usual Historicals welcome to debut author  Rebecca Halsey!  “Romantic fiction with the flare of jazz and a touch of noir,” Halsey is already hard at work second Jazz Age novel.

Wed to the Texas Outlaw by Carol ArensWed to the Texas Outlaw by Carol Arens

A bride to redeem an outlaw! 

The only way Boone Walker can escape jail is by capturing the fearsome King brothers. But to do this he needs Melinda Winston's help and that means making her his wife! 

After only being valued for her beauty, Melinda is delighted to find a man who sees her for who she truly is. Even as their mission leads them into ever greater danger, Boone proves to be courageous and honorable beyond measure, and Melinda determines to show her outlaw husband that he is worthy of redemption…

Arens concludes her Walker Twins duet with this final book.  RT Book Reviews says that “Western fans will enjoy Arens’ sense of humor, fast pace, and continuous action…”

World War II!
Valley of Nightmares by Jane Godman

Danger lurks in the valley, and its ghostly source stalks Lilly’s nightmares…

As the threat of war darkens the skies over 1938 Europe, Lilly Divine trades the burlesque stage for a crumbling mansion deep in the mountainous heart of Wales.

Taran House is steeped in legend, remote and compelling as the reclusive owner’s motives for bringing Lilly to the valley. All she knows is she is to be governess to Gethin Taran’s niece, Ceri. And at night, eerie lights swirl and dance on the mountainside.

Although Lilly has never met Ceri, she knows the eight-year-old well. They meet in nightmares haunted by a sinister figure they both call the Hunter. The arrival of a mysterious black dog, and chilling howls echoing from the slopes, heighten Lilly’s fears.

Enthralled by Gethin, bound to orphaned Ceri, entranced by the unloved old house, Lilly must fight to keep her balance—and her young charge safe. But even as Lilly and Gethin succumb to sizzling passion, danger stalks just beyond the edge of the shadows.

I don’t typically feature historicals with paranormal elements, but I’m making an exception for this Gothic set in the early days of World War II.  This is an instance where you should check your digital TBR pile before one-clicking.  This book was originally published as part of Harlequin E Shivers Box Set, Volume 3.

What Not-Your-Usual Historicals are you looking forward to this month?


Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: 

Tycoon by Joanna Shupe  
Charlotte by Virginia Taylor  
When I’m With You by Kimberly Nee  
Exile’s Return by Alison Stuart  
Rake Most Likely to Sin by Bronwyn Scott  
A Gentleman’s Game by Theresa Romain  
A Pirate’s Revenge by Meg Hennessy  
Notes of Temptation by Rebecca Halsey  
Wed to the Texas Outlaw by Carol Arens  
Valley of Nightmares by Jane Godman  











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1 comment
1. Kareni
There are some enticing choices here! Thanks for the list.
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