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A Good Book by Tito Conti

February Pre-Reads is here! There are many new 19th century-ish titles coming out soon! So much so that I had to edit the list, twice! Some books are already out, but most are not. So get your quills and nibs ready to transcribe the titles down! Again, I have not read any of these so I cannot make an honest review of them. Synopsis are directly from my professional reading; Publishers Weekly and Penguin Group Advance Publication Newsletter. I do hope you find one to your liking! Enjoy, Dear Readers.

FICTION

A Heart’s Rebellion by Ruth Axtell

Latest inspirational Regency romance, set against the glitz of London just prior to the Battle of Waterloo, enchants and delights as it follows a young couple’s path to love. Heart-sore and angry, vicar’s daughter Jessamine Barry is finished with matters of romance. After the gentleman with whom she had an unspoken understanding reveals his love for another, Jessamine agrees to travel to London for a season in hopes of leaving her heart-ache behind. A chance encounter with newly returned missionary Lancelot Marfleet, who is also second son of a baronet, plants the seeds of hope in her reluctant and rebellious heart. However, overcoming her previous failed relationship and navigating the ton prove to be almost insurmountable challenges, especially when she is introduced to her former suitor’s new wife.

Hyde by Daniel Levine

Edward Hyde first emerges independent of Jekyll on the streets of London in 1884–not as the malevolent brute that Robert Louis Stevenson conjured, but as a member of the lower classes who is fiercely protective of his and Hyde’s friends and interest. But over the course of two years, Hyde develops a reputation for evil that confounds him–and that he suspects is being engineered by Jekyll, whose consciousness lurks inside his own, steering hi into certain assignations and possibly committing atrocities while in his form. The backstory of Jekyll’s schemes for Hyde slowly unfold, relating to his earlier failed “treatment” of a patient with multiple-personality disorder, and traumatic events from Jekyll’s own childhood that come to light in the tragic denouncement.

Longing for Home: Hope Springs by Sarah M. Eden

In the late 19th century, the American-born farmers of the small Wyoming community of Hope Springs are at war with their Irish-born neighbors. The primary force for peace is Joseph Archer, a neutral local land baron who’s in love with his housekeeper, young Irishwoman Katie Macauley. Tavish O’Connor, Katie’s Irish sweetheart, must work with her and Joseph to save the people of Hope Springs from themselves.

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

Set in 1900, the story follows a young bride named Catherine Wainwright, who faces an array of challenges after impulsively leaving her Dayton, Ohio home and heading West to wed. Catherine’s first-person narration is also appealingly immediate. Catherine received acclaim and gained a bit of regional celebrity as a pianist in Dayton. But a casual friendship with a married man causes provincial tongues to wag, and the gossip leads to canceled concerts and lost teaching opportunities. When Oscar Williams, a childhood friend and prosperous rancher in Texas who has recently become a widower, sends Catherine a marriage proposal, she immediately accepts. Catherine and Oscar are less than completely honest with each other, and as truths are revealed, the plot thickens.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall: The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Vuaghn Entwhistle

First in a paranormal series featuring Arthur Conan Doyle finds the celebrated author having a “beastly day” after killing off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem.” First, a spiritualist medium, later identified as Lady Hope Thraxton, lures Doyle to darkened London house where she demands his help in preventing her murder at a forthcoming séance. Second, he must contend with angry Holmes fans outside the Strand magazine offices. Finally, Doyle accompanies fellow writers J.M. Barrie and Oscar Wilde to a risqué music hall performance, after which they learn of a conspiracy against Lady Hope, who will be hosting a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research at her Lancashire manor house in two weeks.

Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

On the night of May 19, 1876, 22-year-old Hugo Delegate awaits the arrival of the police at a house overlooking Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, the site of a savage murder committed by either him or a “girl murderess.” Hugo soon reveals that the victim, a “longtime acquaintance and sometime friend,” is but the latest in a series, and after his arrest, he presents the complex backstory to his defense attorney. Flashback to June 1875. Hugo, a Harvard student recently released from a sanatorium, accompanies his family on a cross-country trip. In Virginia City, Nev., he becomes fascinated with a sideshow freak, the so-called Savage Girl, allegedly raised by wolves. Hugo’s parents decide to civilize the girl, and introduce her into society on their return to New York.

Strongwood: A Crime Dossier by Larry Millett

Millet’s absorbing seventh Minnesota mystery, a documentary-style account of a sensational 1903 murder case, pits 22-year-old Adelaide “Addie” Strongwood, a beautiful but tough working girl, against the powerful family of her ex-lover, Michael Masterson. Through various conflicting accounts of what occurred when Addie, either in self-defense or cold blood, shot Masterson, as their relationship fell apart in a morass of social and class conflicts. Addie’s clever attorney, J. Winston Phelps, comes to doubt much of what she has told him, but must argue her case against a relentless, often sarcastic prosecutor, Frederick Boardman, in gripping courtroom scenes. Addie convincingly claims justifiable homicide, both on the witness stand and in serialized newspaper accounts, while facing Boardman’s allegations of arson and blackmail. Phelps’s part-time investigator, colorful saloonkeeper Shad Rafferty, enlists the aid of series regular Sherlock Holmes, who’s visiting the twin cities with an ailing Dr. Watson. Holmes’s ingenious detective work is crucial to a shocking and disturbing resolution of the case.

The Trouble with Honor by Julia London

A debutant’s bravado, practicality, and wildness spice up the life of a duke’s jaded bastard son in this deliciously naughty Regency series launch. Miss Honor Cabot first meets renowned rake George Easton on an ill-advised expedition to a men’s gaming hall. Shortly after, she asks him to interrupt her stepbrother Augustine’s wedding plans by seducing Augustine’s fiancée, Monica Hargrove. Honor fears that Monica will convince Augustine to evict Honor, her mad mother, and her three younger sisters from the family home, once her stepfather dies and Augustine inherits his earldom. Honor quickly discovers how much she enjoys being fondled by George, which seems to happen whenever she plots with him in private corners of Mayfair’s formal events.

NON-FICTION

The Civil War: The Final Year Told By Those Who Lived It Edited by Aaron Sheehan-Dean

The incomparable portrait of a nation at war with itself concludes, illuminating the military and political events that brought the Union to final victory, and slavery and secession to their ultimate destruction.

Gods and Heroes: Masterpieces of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris by Emmanuel Schwartz

A rich overview of masterpieces from the original school of fine arts, with works from the 17th through the 19th century.

The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War by Vernon Benjamin

A place of contradictions since its first settlement by Europeans, the “drowned landscape” of the valley became the site of a truly historic flowering of art, literature, architecture, innovation, and revolutionary fervor.

Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the war for Lincoln’s image by Joshua Zeitz

Abraham Lincoln was blessed with the truly first-rate biographers in John Nicolay and John Hay, so it is altogether “fitting and proper” that Nicolay and Hay have now attracted a terrific chronicler of their own life and times in Joshua Zeitz.

Lincoln’s Memorial: The Story and Design of an American Monument by Jay Sacher

Through Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most beloved figures in American history and millions of people visit the Lincoln Memorial each year, few are familiar with the intriguing stories behind this national monument.

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz

Literary history based on “accidental partners in a profound social shift toward science and away from superstition.” Robert Koch, a meticulous and ambitious German country doctor-turned-scientist, isolated the bacteria causing TB, and, Goetz writers, in doing so “offered a template” not only for medical science but for “all scientific investigation.” Physician and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle also viewed “science as a tool,” and Koch’s work in microbiology “provided the template” for Doyle’s fictional detective’s fascination “with minuscule detail.” Though his scientific work remains an important legacy, Koch never achieved the fame he sought in finding a cure for TB. Yet, Goetz notes, “Koch’s science became a kind of remedy nonetheless,” changing the perception of the disease as “something that could be understood and defended against.” Ironically, Doyle, though an admirer of Koch, would ultimately help debunk Koch’s failed theory that an injection of “lymph” could cure TB. But this pair’s fascinating, convergent stories have much more in common, as Goetz aptly demonstrates that both Koch and Doyle were doggedly inquisitive men who discovered that neither germs nor crime are any match for science.

The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War by James Oakes

The title refers to a strategy most Republicans–sometimes overtly, sometimes secretly–supported, of gradual abolition by surrounding slave states with a “cordon of freedom” so that eventually slavery would “sting itself to death,” like a scorpion in a circle of fire. As any American with basic knowledge of the history knows, however, what actually occurred was the outbreak of Civil War and, in time, the Emancipation Proclamation. Oakes examines the later document in the context of the tradition of military emancipation, as well as the philosophical arguments underlying debates about slavery–of the right to freedom versus the right to property.

A Traveled First Lady: Writings of Louisa Catherine Adams Edited by Margaret A. Hogan and C. James Taylor

These selected writings from the wife of sixth U.S. president, John Quincy Adams, provide insight into an oft-overlooked period of early American history as the then first lady chronicles her life alongside her husband. Much of the collection is excerpted from diary entries, memoirs, or various autobiographies begun by Louisa, and though there are no records of her writings during her husband’s presidency, she wrote extensively on the time she spend as the wife of a U.S. foreign minister in Berlin and St. Petersburg during the early 1800s.

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