This dazzling debut novel for fans of Mrs. Poe and Longbourn explores the scandalous historical love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson, giving voice to the woman who allegedly corrupted her son’s innocent tutor and brought down the entire Brontë family.
This is a tale of Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, the mistress of Thorp Green Hall. It is 1843 in Yorkshire and Lydia has suffered not one but two devastating losses this year. Her mother and her youngest daughter.
She doesn’t get much sympathy from her husband, who all but ignores her and the children, and to be honest, she isn’t a very sympathetic character.
She already has one Bronte sister tutoring her teenage daughters but now has hired a tutor for her only son. And Branwell is the lucky chap. Down on his own luck, at loose ends and fighting his own demons while dealing with his own rather odd family.
He is very passionate about life, the theater, and music and regales them with tales of his sisters, but under the surface, you can just feel the rather manic energy and short temper. As the two begin an illicit relationship, he gets more and more erratic and Lydia knows she must end things to keep her own reputation intact and before those pesky sisters get involved.
NetGalley Review/ August 4th, 2020 by Atria Books
Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut—a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.
Paris. About to be overrun with Nazis is not the best place for a not only German man but a Jewish one as well. As all-around is chaos and fear, a courier arrives at his bookbinding shop with a manuscript from a Baronness who would like it re-bound in the red leather she sends with it.
Inside are three stories, very unlikely tales. When the Nazis arrive the manuscript is forgotten for a bit and when he retrieves it he keeps it. Later he learns it can be read two ways. Straight through or in a very different way. The fantastical tale is hard to believe and takes us all over the world. The one commonality is Charles Baudelaire. He wrote at least the first one and a lot of this content is about him and a mysterious woman.
That is all I am saying here. This was something I have never seen a writer attempt. The word Epic comes to mind. The planning and detail this took are beyond anything I’ve seen.
Personally, I read it both ways and understood everything just fine. Although at one point I took a few notes to keep everyone straight.
Historical Fiction mixed with fact and fantasy. Well Done!
NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press July 28,2020
Detective Superintendent Tom Harper senses trouble ahead when the prime minister plans a visit. Can he keep law and order on the streets while also uncovering the truth behind a missing child?
Detective Superintendent Tom Harper has a bad feeling about the Prime Minister making a stop in Leeds. It’s September of 1908 and everyone is on edge. Whether it’s the Suffragettes or the massive amount of unemployed men, Tom has a feeling this is not going to turn out well.
As if that isn’t enough, someone has dropped him a letter claiming that a young boy, Andrew, was stolen from his family fourteen years prior. Looking into the case he finds very little in the file. In the middle of trying to hold off a riot over the Prime Ministers visit, he is also in the middle of a child abduction ring and some of the people involved do not intend to be captured.
Will Tom get things under control before the entire city goes up in smoke?
Very Well Done!
NetGalley/ Severn House July 7, 2020
A story with Paris, a book shop, a publishing house and set in the past and present sounds like a great idea.
Charlotte was a difficult character to know. I didn’t feel as if I knew any more of her story than what we knew at the beginning.
What was her sin? We know people who did whatever they had to do to survive the Nazi regime. They lied, they took food from the enemy, some even informed on their own people. But Charlotte wasn’t one of them. And where this war is concerned, people aren’t so forgiving of those who did what she did.
The entire thing felt disjointed and shallow. Not my cup of tea.
NetGalley/ June 2nd, 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Chawton, England was the final home of the great Jane Austen. It’s little more than a bump in the road, but tourists come from all over the world in hopes of finding something of Jane there.
What is left is the great house, the grounds, and the cottage where Jane wrote. In the great house, Frances Knight lives with her ailing and horribly mean father. The house and her father are falling apart and Frances seems unable to anything but wait. With the cook, Josephine, and 16-year-old Evie Stone, she makes do.
Evie is scary smart. And for the past two years, she has been staying up all night to catalog the over two thousand books in the library, where she has found quite a few serious treasures and secrets!
In a series of events we end up with an odd group of people, brought together by their love of Jane Austen. An American movie star, a young widow, the village doctor, and a local laborer. There are wonderful supporting characters here as well. While this group at first has only one thing in common, their passion to preserve the legacy of Jane Austen. Ah, literature, the great equalizer of humanity!
Each of them has suffered horrible losses and unimaginable hardships and as they get to know each other in their pursuit of a common goal, they find they aren’t so different after all. And I did not see that ending coming! Well Done!
I absolutely adored this mix of fact and fiction! I can’t believe this is the author’s first published work. The characters were perfection and I will definitely read this one again!
NetGalley/ May 26th, 2020 by St. Martin’s Press
The House of Falconer #2
James and his Uncle are back in the second House of Falconer book. While his uncle is busy with the newspaper, James has gone from working in the shop of Henry Malvern to being Malverns managing director.
From 1889 to 1892 we watch as James goes through the good, the bad, and the jaw-dropping with all of the poise we love him for, as his feelings toward Alexis go from disapproval to romance. But James has recently been in touch with Georgina Ward and she has a secret to share.
All at once his carefully plotted life plan is turned upside down. The question is will he be the better for it or not.
I would recommend reading book one first, so you know the backstory. Has there ever been a bad BTB book? NO.
I hope we will see more of this character!
NetGalley/October 6th, 2020 by St. Martin’s Press
1754 London. Not the most pleasant time in history. And not a time kind to women. Poor Bess Bright works all day hawking shrimp to make barely enough to scrape by.
When she has a random encounter with a young man that leaves her pregnant, her only option is to give up her daughter. Leaving her at the Foundling Hospital is gut-wrenching for her. But Bess isn’t one of those mothers who won’t come back. She fully intends to come for her daughter as soon as she can. Leaving a token of half a whalebone heart her child’s father gave her, as an identifier.
Six years later and Bess goes back for her daughter only to be told that her daughter was picked up the day after arriving by a woman with the correct identifier. Distraught and confused she is determined to find her child.
I enjoyed the writing in this tale. The atmosphere was easily imagined and while it was horribly sad, it was also full of courage and the relationship between a mother and her child.
NetGalley/ April 7th, 2020 by MIRA
A Miss Underhay Mystery #2
It’s the summer of 1933 and Kitty Underhay is still reeling from all of the things that happened at The Dolphin. Where her long-absent and a very criminal father has come and gone in a cloud of suspicion.
But the one good thing to come out of it all is finding out she has family! Hoping it may bring her more information on her mother, who went missing in 1916, Kitty happily accepts her cousin’s request to come to Enderley Hall and stay a bit. Get to know the aunt and uncle and maybe have a bit of fun.
Kitty and her maid, Alice, feel something is off the minute they enter the home. Everyone is twitchy and no one seems to know anything about her mother or the visit she paid them just before she disappeared. Nanny Thoms remembers though and she gives Kitty just a snippet here and there before she is found at the bottom of the kitchen stairs.
Important papers are missing, people are being murdered and thank goodness Matt arrives to help investigate what is going on.
This is the second in the series and I enjoyed it just as much! Matt and Kitty are such strong characters and I can’t wait for more of their adventures!
NetGalley/ March 19th, 2020 by Bookoture
The Sin Eater walks among us, unseen, unheard
Sins of our flesh become sins of Hers
Following Her to the grave, unseen, unheard
The Sin Eater Walks Among Us.
In 16th Century England, 14-year-old May Owens, an orphan, has been condemned to a life sentence for stealing bread. It could have been worse. Her punishment is to be a Sin-Eater. Apprenticed to the old Sin-Eater. She can’t speak and none should speak to her except the dying. It is she who will sit and hear all of their sins and take them into herself by eating the food that represents each sin.
She is treated brutally and marked with a collar around her neck and an S tattooed on her tongue. She has very little learning except for the letters in her name. And she can barely understand the old woman who is teaching her.
Called to the castle, they enter to hear the sins of a dying woman. A governess at court. When they return to eat the food, there is a deer heart on the coffin. But May nor the old woman heard her confess to murder. When the old woman refused to eat it, she is killed and May is left on her own.
As more women die in the castle, May thinks she may have figured out why. And along the way figured out who she really is. Now she just needs to figure out who! Before she is the next to die.
This was in no way what the blurb said. The Handmaid’s Tale meets Alice in Wonderland. I think that is a disservice to the book. This was a dark, gritty tale full of mystery and legend with characters both tragic and humorous. May Owens may have been born to be much more than her life became, and her strength and determination was that of a warrior.
Most of the book was hauntingly sad but this was the 16th Century. The one definitely made a mark on my heart.
NetGalley/ April 7th, 2020 by Atria Books
The setting is Ireland in 1924. Nora Doyle is a thirteen-year-old girl, living in a rural area where the struggle for survival is very real.
She and her family live in a small cottage that is cold and cramped. She wants to escape being poor, but she doesn’t let it stop her smile.
One day as she and her best friend, Kitty, are watching another funeral procession they notice the big house on the hill. Nora really wants to see the place where her mother worked at one time and has now forbidden Nora from ever going there but won’t say why.
When Kitty talks her into sneaking into the garden, the adventure begins. They find an opening and in they go. The garden is beautiful and they aren’t the only ones there. A boy named Edward is there. The three form a fast friendship that has Nora spending all the time she can in their secret garden. But Nora is sneaking around going against her mother’s wishes. And Edward is the key to a family secret that could change Nora’s life forever.
This one tugged on my heartstrings. The brutal hardships, the loss, and even the friendships.
Well Done! The author pulls us in and doesn’t let go. I like that.
NetGalley/ February 5th, 2020 by Bookouture