Frampton has written another historical romance that feels classic while also respecting the expectations of modern readers.

A WICKED BARGAIN FOR THE DUKE

From the Hazards of Dukes series , Vol. 3

A marriage of convenience starts with a negotiation and delivers more than either party agreed to.

Thaddeus Dutton, Duke of Hasford, doesn’t want much. Just a woman who is “unassuming in looks and manner,” “able to immediately handle her duties as his duchess,” and, the last item on his list, able to “engage satisfactorily in sexual congress.” As soon as he starts looking, he’s already found her: Lady Jane Capel. The trouble is that her sister, Lady Lavinia, knows that Jane is already in love with another, so she inserts herself in their courtship. Lavinia herself is not set on marriage, preferring to devote herself to her secret career as a popular author. But when an accidental tumble lands them in a very comprising, very public position, Lavinia does succeed in keeping Thaddeus from marrying Jane, because she’s soon married to him herself. Both spouses are reasonable and willing to bargain to make their marriage of convenience work, and they agree that once an heir is born, they will go their separate ways, as they are complete opposites. Their initial couplings are less than satisfactory for Lavinia, but she quickly sets Thaddeus straight, and they unlock a powerful chemistry. As they spend evenings together fulfilling their bargain, they come to realize they have much more in common than they thought and begin to privately fall for each other—but each fears they are the only one who wants to renegotiate their agreement. As in previous entries in Frampton’s Hazards of Dukes series, Thaddeus and Lavinia’s story is a charming combination of steamy, funny, and warmhearted. It’s thrilling to read a romance heroine who’s not afraid to directly say “I would like to have more fun doing it”  and a hero who’s not offended by the request but is, rather, happy to oblige. As in previous books, Frampton combines the best elements of classic Regency with contemporary touches. The story stands alone well enough, but fans of the first two books will be especially pleased.

Frampton has written another historical romance that feels classic while also respecting the expectations of modern readers.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302308-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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