All posts filed under: Historical Fiction

Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell (Against All Expectations #1)

Ellis Eaton, a young actress who dreams of Hollywood stardom, takes on her toughest role yet when she agrees to pose as a friend and temporarily work at the telephone exchange. If she succeeds, she’ll earn the funds she needs to skip town and make her dream a reality. When Ellis overhears a threat to Griffin Phillips, the boy everyone assumes she’ll settle down with, she commits to foiling the plot to hurt Griffin while avoiding his romantic advances.   Siri Mitchell ventures into the Roaring Twenties with a charming, but scatterbrained, heroine in Ellis whose mad-cap escapades will have you laughing at her misadventures. Mitchell’s book is well-written and has moments of (surprising) depth with a pulse on class relations and the dark side of Prohibition. Featuring a gorgeous Art Deco-influenced cover, the book also includes end notes on Prohibition and the real gangsters of Boston in the 1920’s and discussion questions for book clubs or classrooms. ———————– This review first appeared in the August 2014 issue of Historical Novel Review. I received a copy of the book for the purposes of a …

Every Tear a Memory by Myra Johnson (Till We Meet Again #3)

The Specs: EVERY TEAR A MEMORY by Myra Johnson (Till We Meet Again, Bk 3), Abingdon Press, 2014, $14.99, pb, 320pp, 9781426753725 Joanna Trapp leaves her old life in France behind when the war ends and family calls her home. But civilian life as a switchboard operator in Hot Springs, Arkansas, doesn’t have the same appeal as her formerly adventurous life as a Hello Girl for the Army Signal Corps. Thomas Ballard is a semi-successful businessman at the Arlington who was medically ineligible to serve, and although he seeks a quiet life, he finds himself attracted to Joanna’s daring spirit. The question they must answer together is whether there’s room for love when they differ in values. Johnson continues her post-WWI series, which follows female protagonists who served during the war and the Ballard men who love them. The plot here is full of flawed characters, poor choices and misunderstandings that stand in the way of love and keep the emotions relatable, whether it’s teenage angst over a boy, or the desire to be respected …

Hope at Dawn by Stacy Henrie (Of Love and War #1)

The Specs: HOPE AT DAWN (Of Love and War, Bk 1) by Stacy Henrie, 2014, Forever (an imprint of Grand Central Publishing), $8.00/C$9.00, pb. 384pp, 978-1-455-59880-9 Livy Campbell is the daughter of an all-American family; with two brothers fighting overseas, she desperately wants to help her family and accepts the first job she’s offered, as a schoolteacher in Hilden, Iowa. Friedrick Wagner, a handsome German-American living in Hilden, just wants to provide for and protect his family, but the fear and prejudice against people like him makes that increasingly difficult. Complicating things is his growing attraction to Livy, a match that can never be. With an uncertain future ahead of them, Livy and Friedrick must tread carefully to retain their faith and their freedom. Condensing a timeline of real events in 1918-1919 including the liberty loan drives and a language law passed by the Governor of Iowa in 1918; Henrie sets the fictional town and characters of Hilden in a hotbed of anti-German sentiment and fear. While the romantic tension could be stronger and Friedrick’s …

The Pelican Bride by Beth White (Gulf Coast Chronicles #1)

It is an age of exploration where men, out of greed or naked courage, fought for their own destinies and their women helped shape  a civilized community out of the marshes. Southern native Beth White is no stranger to the historical genre but she enters new territory with The Pelican Bride, the first in a series of romantic adventure novels set in eighteenth century French Louisiana. Huguenots in flight, Geneviève Gaillain and her sister Aimée, escape France and journey to the New World where they’ve each agreed to marry a settler. As both girls wade through the murky waters of finding a good spouse and surviving the difficulties of Colonial life, the secrets they brought with them may drown the community. Following the fates of the “Pelican Brides” of 1704, we discover with them the joys and disappointments of matrimony, and the faith and courage that is a lifeline in the midst of brutality and tragedy. In other words, this is not your typical mail order bride story. With a fast-paced plot full of dynamic characters inspired by the real settlers of the …

The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert

The World’s Fair of 1898 was the biggest thing to ever hit the Western town of Omaha. The Fair was held in conjunction with the Indian Congress and included a visit by President William McKinley and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Fair-goers flocked to Omaha from miles around, and with the promise of their purses came thieves, opportunists, prostitutes, and performers setting up shop along the fair’s Midway and the Grand Court. When a hot air balloon stolen from the Fair crashes on the farmhouse of the Sisters Egan, they take in its injured pilot, Ferret Skerritt. Ferret, a ventriloquist and con, weaves them a tale of his grand love affair with Cecily, a beautiful actress closely guarded by a one-eyed witch. The deeper the sisters are drawn into his fable, the more the magic of the fair is unveiled, complete with spiritualists, masquerades, a Chamber of Horrors and other surprises. The Swan Gondola is a beautiful portrayal of love and loss set against a glorious backdrop so vivid, it becomes an entire world. The …

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano (Ladies of Distinction #4)

The Specs: A MATCH OF WITS (Ladies of Distinction, Bk 4) by Jen Turano, Bethany House, 2014, $14.99, pb, 348pp, 9780764211270 The Wild West had better watch out when Agatha Watson comes to town! Cooling her heels after a hot story earned her more than a few enemies, the last thing Agatha expected to uncover in the Colorado territory was Zayne Beckett, the man who broke her heart two years ago. Zayne is in no condition to be left on his own and since Agatha always knows best, she’s determined to bring Zayne with her back to New York, whether he likes it or not. But her time away hasn’t made her any less of a target and Zayne thinks he’s man enough to keep Agatha out of danger, but he didn’t count on risking his heart in the process. Turano’s knack for comic timing shines in her latest book and many of the borderline absurd situations Agatha finds herself in are laugh-out-loud funny, especially if they involve a certain P-I-G named Matilda. In many ways, …

Truth Be Told by Carol Cox

The Specs: TRUTH BE TOLD Carol Cox, Bethany House, 2014, $14.99, pb, 350pp, 9780764209574 Arizona Territory, 1893. Amelia Wagner loved the summers spent alongside her father, working at his newspaper business in Granite Springs, dedicated to bringing truth to light as the masthead states. So when it’s Amelia’s turn to take over the business, it comes natural to her to pick up her father’s investigation into the Great Western Investment Company. Befriended by Benjamin Stone, one of Great Western’s newest employees, has Amelia found an advantageously placed ally or are Benjamin’s attentions just a distraction? Because something is going on in Granite Springs and someone doesn’t want Amelia to learn the whole story. Cox returns to her beloved Old West with another inspirational romance. Like her other novels, this one packs a lot of warmth, a dose of adventure, and humor, but the crisis is a bit too pitch perfect (real phrase?) for the genre – once you’re there, you know how it all plays out. With the investigative element in the plot, fans of …