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To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice ColinFrom their first meeting in Paris aboard a hot air balloon, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier are drawn to each other. However, differences in social status preclude romance. Caitriona, a widow living in genteel poverty, is a paid chaperone to the children of a wealthy Glaswegian merchant, while Émile, an engineer employed by Gustave Eiffel, comes from a prosperous family that expects him to find a suitably moneyed wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, the would-be lovers find themselves caught between the irreconcilable demands of duty and passion. This moving novel boasts a slow-building love story between its sympathetic main characters and a vivid Belle Époque backdrop.
The Flame Bearer: A Novel by Bernard CornwellBefore he can reclaim his Northumbrian estate from his treacherous cousin, Uhtred of Bebbanburg must first honor his alliance with King Sigtryggr of Eoferwic (York), while outmaneuvering his enemies, Scottish King Constantin and Norseman Einar the White. Since Uhtred is a warrior, not a diplomat, readers can expect plenty of battle and bloodshed in this fast-paced and action-packed 11th novel in Bernard Cornwell's popular Saxon Stories novels. Due to the complex politics of 9th-century Britain, newcomers to the series may wish to start at the beginning with The Last Kingdom.
Sun Born: A Novel of North America's Forgotten Past by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal GearWhen a technologically advanced rival threatens the great city of Cahokia, "living god" Morning Star and his human sister, Night Shadow Star, must act quickly to secure the safety of their people. However, the siblings disagree on strategy. Can they unite against their common enemy or will their divided house lead to the downfall of a great civilization? Sun Born is the 19th book in the First North Americans series and the 2nd book in the Morning Star trilogy, a stand-alone subset of the main series that begins with People of the Morning Star. However, readers interested in the development of the Mississippian (or "mound-builders") culture may want to start with People of the River, which takes place a generation before the events of this novel.
A Want of Kindness: A Novel by Joanne LimburgAt age ten, Lady Anne of York arrives at the court of her uncle, King Charles II, where she'll grow up to become a consummate courtier in an England wracked by decades of political upheaval and bitter rivalries among Europe's royal houses. Meticulous research demonstrated by rich period detail makes A Want of Kindness a good bet for fans of Alison Weir's historical fiction; readers fascinated by the Restoration and the Stuart dynasty may also enjoy Marci Jefferson's Girl on the Golden Coin or Karleen Koen's Dark Angels, both of which follow young women whose survival depends on successfully navigating courtly intrigue.
The Silent Land by Sally SpencerElderly émigré Anna Mayakovsky looks back on her life, which spans much of 20th-century Russian history. Born a peasant girl, Anna is adopted by a local nobleman who raises her alongside his own children. Her marriage to a prince places her in the social circle of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Alexandria. However, once the Bolsheviks overthrow the monarchy in 1917, Anna becomes a revolutionary, a spy and, later, a defector. A larger-than-life protagonist whose life takes numerous dramatic turns makes this sweeping saga of Russia an exciting read.
The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel by Margaret GeorgeCleopatra VII Philopator, the legendary "Queen of the Nile," narrates her own story in this lush and highly atmospheric novel. Despite considerable competition for the throne, the indomitable young princess nevertheless becomes the sole ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt through her cunning, ruthlessness, and canny alliances with powerful Romans, including Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Throughout her tumultuous reign she displays an aptitude for politics matched only by her greatest enemy, Octavian. Like author Margaret George's biographical novels Mary, Called Magdalene and Helen of Troy, The Memoirs of Cleopatra draws on copious research to give voice to an influential woman of the ancient world.
The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. GortnerAfter Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia schemes his way to the papacy (as Pope Alexander VI), his illegitimate 13-year-old daughter Lucrezia -- now a bartered bride to the nobleman that helped him secure his new position -- begins her transformation from pawn to political player. While her brother Cesare uses military might to stake his claim, Lucrezia makes a series of marriages to form and reinforce alliances among Italy's most powerful families, including the Sforzas, the Gonzagas, the d'Estes, and the Medicis. Readers intrigued by the ambitious Borgia family may also enjoy Sarah Dunant's historical fiction duology, comprised of Blood and Beauty and In the Name of the Family.
Mata Hari's Last Dance: A Novel by Michelle MoranAlthough she'll one day present herself as a Javanese princess, Margaretha Zelle is born into a middle-class family in the Netherlands in 1876. At 18, she impulsively weds an army officer and accompanies him to the Dutch East Indies, where she endures an abusive marriage by immersing herself in traditional Indonesian dance, thus setting the stage for her debut as Mata Hari. After scandalizing audiences in Paris with her striptease act, she becomes a courtesan and -- once World War I begins -- a spy. For another atmospheric novel about this notorious woman check out Yannick Murphy's Signed, Mata Hari.
The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison WeirPrincess Elizabeth by birth, the three-year-old daughter of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII becomes simply Lady Elizabeth when her mother is executed in 1536. Over the next several years, Elizabeth watches as her father marries and disposes of multiple wives and as her half-siblings, Edward VI and Mary, wield power. Eventually, however, Elizabeth will herself rise from delegitimized daughter to reigning queen. This fictional portrait of the young Elizabeth will thrill readers who enjoy the endless drama of the Tudor court.
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