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A Quiet Read by Thomas Charles Farrer, 1880

It is the last Wednesday of March and time for another selection of pre-published and newly published titles. All reviews are taken directly from Publisher’s Weekly and in some cases straight from Amazon, as I seem to have misplaced some of my journals. To clarify, I have not read any of these titles myself and thus cannot give my opinion on its merit. Eight Fiction and eight Non-fiction titles are listed below. Be sure to pepper your local librarian or bookstore about acquiring the items you are most interested in.

 

FICTION

Confessions of a Royal Bride-Groom by Vanessa Kelly

Griffin Steele, rakish by-blow of the Duke of Cumberland, and spinster Justine Brightmore are very brought together by a baby boy dropped on the doorstep of the whorehouse Steele owns, with a message begging Steele to keep the infant safe. It is a tough assignment. As luck would have it, one of the “girls” can fill in as wet nurse, but there is still need of a nanny. Enter Justine, who fears no damage to her reputation; but when rumors spread about the unmarried woman living under Steele’s roof, the suddenly honor-bound lord insists on marrying her.

The Dark Affair by Marie Claremont

Deeply passionate intriguing tale of “mad passions” set in 1866, Lady Margaret Cassidy, a beautiful and insightful Irish woman, meets her match. Margaret is desperate to reach Lord James Stanhope, Viscount Powers, and secure the funds and protection she needs to keep her hotheaded brother, Matthew, safe from English authorities. Driven by necessity, Margaret reluctantly agrees to James’s father’s request that she marry opium-addicted James and nurse him back to health. As Margaret works her magic on James, she is drawn to his handsome, feral strength as well as to the emotional and compassionate man hiding behind a wall of grief over his daughter’s death. James recognizes that beneath Margaret’s pretty exterior lies a woman of great fortitude who remains in pain over her own terrible history. As circumstance and danger test their relationship, the marriage of convenience becomes much more.

Death Among the Ruins by Pamela Christie

Second Arabella Beaumont mystery takes the wealthy Regency London courtesan to the ruined Roman city of Herculaneum on a treasure hunt. After seeing a sketch of a bronze statue of the god Pan “in an amorous attitude,” recently unearthed at Herculaneum, Arabella becomes to determined to find the original. Unfortunately, the murder of the antiques dealer who was to procure the piece for her forces her to go to Italy to fetch it herself. What ensues in this “mad scheme” involves disguised clergy, knowing street urchins, and a mysterious professor. Naturally, cannot help indulging in a dalliance or two while in Italy.

Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

When Laura Kelley, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, creates costumes for Edna St. Vincent Millay’s next reading tour, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman.

Sapphires are an Earl’s Best Friend by Shana Galen

The final Jewels of the Ton Regency romance. Lily Dawson is the Countess of Charm, a notorious courtesan. She’s also a spy for the Foreign Office, assigned to seduce the Duke of Ravenscroft and find out whether he’s a traitor. Lily has secretly been in love with Andrew Booth-Payne, the Earl of Darlington, for years, but he only notices her when she begins flirting with his father, the duke. Andrew’s interference quickly changes to welcome kisses, leaving Lily to walk a careful line between two amorous men while she races an unscrupulous spy-killer to the evidence she needs.

Solsbury Hill by Susan Wyler

A Gothic-tinged debut with grand love affairs and friendly ghosts. When New Yorker Eleanor Abbot is summoned to her Aunt Alice’s deathbed in Yorkshire, England, Eleanor is stunned to learn that she’s poised to inherit Trent Hall, her aunt’s sprawling country estate. The estate looks like it’s straight out of Wuthering Heights, complete with ghosts just like the ones who haunted Emily Bronte’s fictious mansion, including a young woman in a long wool dress who begs Eleanor to find a bundle of letters hidden inside the house. When she finds the letters, Eleanor learns that the ghost is Bronte herself, who wrote part of her famous novel while living at Trent Hall. It’s soon clear that Wuthering Heights’s central theme of finding and losing a great love amid the moors was based on actual events. More than that, Bronte was not the last resident of Trent Hall who had to make Catherine Earnshaw’s famous choice between two men-and sooner than she suspects, Eleanor will be forced to make a similar choice herself.

Loving Lord Ash by Sally MacKenzie

Kit, Marquis of Ashton, discovered his groom’s daughter, Jess, embracing a naked man. Kit married Jess to save her reputation, and immediately fled without consummating the marriage. For the next eight years, Jess lives the artist’s life and provides safe refuge for the “sodomites” at Kit’s country manor, all the while pining away for her husband. When Kit arrives intending to make a deal for an heir and a spare, seeing Jess embrace another naked man sends him running once more. But Jess is determined to do things differently this time.

Why Kings Confess: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris

When the gruesome murder of a young French physician draws St. Cyr and his pregnant wife, Hero, into a decades-old mystery, they find themselves at lethal odds with the ruthless daughter of Marie Antoinette.

NON-FICTION

The Admiral and the Ambassador: One Man’s Obsessive Search for the Body of John Paul Jones by Scott Martelle

Part history, part biography, and part detective story, chronicles the tireless search by Horace Porter–Civil War hero, aide to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and U.S. ambassador to France–for the body of Navy hero John Paul Jones.

Black Blue Bloods: Legacy of an African-American Plantation Owner by Christopher Emil Williams

This is a true story of an African American family freed from slavery in the 1800s who went on to own a 575 acre plantation in 1876. Mack and Caroline Saxon who were 33 and 31 respectively at the time, were once owned by the original Anglo-Saxons of Europe. The book describes their self sufficient plantation  enclave, and how they survived against all odds in the 1800s. It details how they did things uncommon to blacks of that era including voting, making family members politicians, building schools and churches, marrying interracially, and acquiring land and wealth. The book includes supporting documentation gathered from over 30 different sources to show the validity of the story.

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda

A vivid and admiring portrait of Lee as a brilliant general who disliked slavery and disagreed with secession, yet refused command of the Union Army in 1861 because he could not “draw his sword” against his beloved Virginia.

House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919 by Lori Erikesen Rush

Presents a view of Atlanta, reflected through the city s most highly prized resource, its homes. Richly illustrated with archival photographs and annotated with historical commentary, HOUSE PROUD traces Atlanta’s response to national trends in interiors and furnishings. It also identifies the tastemakers those architects and interior decorators who helped craft Atlanta s image as a City of Beautiful Homes. The interiors presented in HOUSE PROUD tell the story of Atlanta and its people during the dynamic decades of 1880-1919, when the city emerged from reconstruction and entered a period of notable expansion and economic progress.

I Am a Part of All that I have Met: The Memoirs of Burke Nicholson of Balvenie by H. Burke Nicholson, Jr. and Mary Juliet Nicholson

Burke Nicholson was many things: Son of the South. Golfer. Scottish Baron. World traveler. Philanthropist. Husband. Father. However, he played one role that defined him more and informed the other aspects of his life differently than all of the others: visionary Coca-Cola executive. During his long and storied career, he had opportunities of which most “Buckhead Boys” could only dream from negotiating behind the Iron Curtain to having an audience with the Queen. Although his memoir is perhaps ostensibly an historical narrative and a tale of engagement on the battlefield of business, it is also a great love story, the relation of a lifelong romance.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives

The Old South by David Williams

The story begins with a survey of the South’s first peoples and its eventual intrusions by the Europeans resulting in a clash of cultures that transformed societies. Subsequent struggles for land and power, strategies to subdue and enslave, and efforts to resist and survive laid the foundations of what would become a distinct region called the South. During the American Revolution, that region passed out of the British Empire, birthed in a conflict that was as much a civil war as a war for independence, especially for Southerners. Over the following decades, Native Americans were relentlessly driven out as the South moved west, establishing an agriculturally based society and economy dominated by a slaveholding minority. Facing pressures against them from within the South as well as without, slaveholders sought to make slavery perpetual in a war that pitted not only North against South, but also Southerners against each other.

Suffer and Grow Strong by Carolyn Newton Curry

Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas was an intelligent, spirited woman born in 1834 to one of the wealthiest families in Georgia. At the age of fourteen she began and kept a diary for forty-one years. These diaries of her life before, during, and after the Civil War filled thirteen hand-written volumes with 450,000 words.  Because of her own losses, Thomas was sensitive to the well-being of other women. As she said, she had suffered and grown strong. Her life is an amazing story of survival and transformation that speaks to women in our own time.

 

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