A delightful historical romance featuring a new family of nonconformists to fall in love with.

THE DUKE HEIST

A young lady attempts to steal a painting but finds she’s nabbed a duke instead.

Most young women trying to sneak into Regency society long to be seen, but Chloe Wynchester is the opposite: She strives to be invisible. She and her siblings, an eclectic group of six orphans adopted by the late Baron Vanderbean, use their unique talents “doing good works beneath people’s noses.” Though most of their missions are altruistic, her latest aim is personal: to liberate a painting that was significant to Bean and is precious to his adopted brood, stolen from them by Lawrence Gosling’s father, the previous Duke of Faircliffe, who had sold it to Bean years ago because he needed the money. She hatches an elaborate plan to steal it back, but the plot is upended when she accidentally kidnaps the duke instead. The timing couldn’t be worse, from Lawrence’s perspective, as he’s sacrificed nearly everything he has to rebuild his family’s reputation and is about to complete his task by proposing marriage to a woman with a large dowry. As his kidnapper, Chloe is all too visible to Lawrence, who assumes she’s a social climber. Needing some reason to keep seeing Lawrence as she searches for the still-missing painting, Chloe convinces him to give her lessons and help her find a wealthy suitor. The attraction between them grows with each lesson, especially when he learns that she’s an avid follower of Parliament and can match him argument for argument. Their first kiss leaves both certain of their chemistry, but Lawrence is still Chloe’s sworn enemy even if he doesn’t know it, and he’s also still set on restoring his dukedom, so even as they fall in love, both struggle to abandon what they’ve always believed and who they pretend to be. There are plenty of steamy scenes, but the emotional center of the book unfolds as Lawrence and Chloe come to care for each other and, for the first time, experience being seen and loved for who they truly are. Though slightly bogged down with exposition, the story is a charming introduction to a new series, and readers will look forward to seeing the next Wynchester meet their match.

A delightful historical romance featuring a new family of nonconformists to fall in love with.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1952-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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