Category Archives: Jennifer

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan (2017)

jacketI adored Denise Kiernan’s first book (The Girls of Atomic City) on a little known piece of history. Now, she turns her attention to the creation of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. In The Last Castle, Kiernan details the lives of Edith and George Vanderbilt (grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt) along with the construction of the massive house and the development (and protection) of the surrounding forests and land. The author effortlessly weaves the threads of the stories of people, places, and events in American history from the Gilded Age to WWII. An engaging and fascinating slice of history.

Intercepted by Alexa Martin (2018)

interceptedA modern romance featuring a delightfully snarky heroine. In Intercepted, Marlee vows not to date another athlete after her 10-year relationship with an NFL player goes south. Then she meets quarterback Gavin, and you can guess what happens next. What makes this story shine is Marlee's independence and individual growth, her witty inner dialogue (coupled with hilarious hashtags), and her fabulous support system. Alexa Martin is a new author perfect for fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jasmine Guillory, and Julie James.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce (2018)

dearmrsbirdIn 1940 London, 22-year-old Emmy Lake dreams of becoming a journalist to contribute to the war effort. Quite by accident, she accepts a job as a typist for a women's magazine... that soon has Emmy secretly answering letters written to an advice column. Debut author A. J. Pearce creates strong, charming characters and friendships along with a solid sense of place with London under frequent raids during the Blitz. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, Dear Mrs. Bird is a cheerful, bittersweet, and heartwarming tale of making a difference in the world in the midst of war. We’ve created a list of novels that take place on the home front during World War II.

1356 by Bernard Cornwell (2013)

1356A gripping historical adventure filled with compelling characters, 1356 details another segment of the fight for supremacy among England, France, and the church. While this is Bernard Cornwell’s fourth novel featuring Thomas of Hookton, you can jump right in to this standalone story. 1356 is an action-packed tale of intrigue, political machinations, and a quest culminating with the Battle of Poitiers during the Hundred Years’ War. Thomas and his band of mercenaries adhere to strong moral code, often putting them at odds with others in medieval France. For fans of history and historical fiction, military and war stories, quests, and compelling characters. Just a warning: this novel features several battles, so includes some graphic (though not gory) violence. Pro tip: Listen to the dramatic narration by Jack Hawkins for distinctly voiced characters, gritty battle scenes, and intense adventure.  

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole (2018)

dukebydefaultAnother unique and delightful romance from Alyssa Cole featuring realistic, sympathetic, and charming characters. In contemporary Scotland, Tavish is a traditional swordmaker struggling to keep his business afloat. American socialite Phoebe sees this apprenticeship as a chance to turn her life around. Sparks fly. You'll root for this pair as they navigate social issues, family challenges, and an unexpected dukedom in A Duke by Default.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (2018)

iwasanastasiaLong fascinated by the Romanovs, I jumped at the chance to read a new historical novel featuring the doomed Russian royals. Did Anastasia survive the firing squad? In alternating timelines, Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson share their stories. Whether you think you know what happened, you’ll be drawn into the dual narratives—Anastasia’s story starts in 1917 and moves forward, while Anna’s narration starts in 1970 and goes backwards in time. I was Anastasia is a richly detailed and moving tale. Try listening to Ariel Lawhon’s latest novel—narrators Jane Collingwood and Sian Thomas do an excellent job bringing the fascinating story to life.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig (2017)

ginnymoonFive years after being taken from her abusive mother, 14-year-old Ginny is in a forever home. And yet, not everything is proceeding smoothly. Narrated entirely from her perspective, Ginny Moon features the inner thoughts and interactions of this lovable yet troubled young autistic girl. The adults around her don’t understand why Ginny won’t let go of the baby doll left behind in her birth mother’s apartment, and Ginny doesn’t get why the adults won’t take action—leaving the reader trying to figure out the mystery. Debut novelist Benjamin Ludwig will capture your attention with this moving and heartwarming story. If you loved Eleanor in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I think you’ll also enjoy Ginny’s story.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (2018)

kissquotientPretty Woman with a twist: The Kiss Quotient is a delightfully frothy and hot romantic comedy. In her debut novel, Helen Hoang introduces two lovable yet troubled characters. 30-year-old Stella excels professionally (as an econometrician) yet struggles socially, in part due to her Asperger’s Syndrome. After a not-so-subtle hint from her parents about grandchildren, Stella employs her trademark logic, hiring an escort to help her improve in the sex and relationship department. Michael struggles with debt, and cynicism, and his boisterous Vietnamese family, and, well, this is a romance: happily ever after happens, but not before the pair hit a few roadblocks. Their journey is delightful, and shows a couple realistically coping with the challenges of neurodiversity. This story is a perfect summer read.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (2018)

This fun and flirty debut novel is a charming contemporary romantic comedy. After Alexa and Drew are stuck in an elevator, she agrees to be his fake girlfriend for his ex's wedding. Hilarity ensues between the lawyer-turned-mayor’s chief of staff and pediatric surgeon from opposite ends of California as they navigate their relationship in this multicultural romance. Pick up The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory when you’re in the mood to laugh (although it’s not all fun and games as they overcome obstacles). For other contemporary romances featuring smart protagonists, try The Thing About Love by Julie James or our new list of recommended romantic comedy novels.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (2017)

extraordinaryunionSet during the American Civil War, An Extraordinary Union features spies working on behalf of the Union. Alyssa Cole’s historical romance features adventure, intrigue, period details, and memorable characters. Born into slavery, Elle Burns is now a free woman. In 1862, she goes undercover, working as a slave in the household of a Confederate senator in Richmond, Virginia. She meets Pinkerton Secret Service Agent Malcolm McCall, a Scottish immigrant, and the pair form an uneasy alliance. As their relationship (both professional and personal) grows, Elle and Malcolm must navigate the uneasy world of race, politics, and war. For other historical romances featuring spies, try Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Beverly JenkinsThe Winds of the Storm, or Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady.