An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
(Kensington, 2017, 263 pages)
This historical romance offered a unique twist on what we normally see. Set during the Civil War we are introduced to Elle and Malcolm as the country is first struggling to come to grips with what’s happening. Elle is a free black woman working undercover as a slave to spy for the Union. Malcolm is a white man who is also spying for the Union, though in the guise of a Confederate soldier. When the two realize they’re supposed to be working together things get complicated. They have to keep their identities secret from those around them, but at the same time there’s an attraction they’re both trying to fight… Can they accomplish the task at hand without blowing their cover or falling for each other?
I appreciated the diverse angle this romance took. It got high praise and while I wanted to like it more than I did, I can understand why it got so much attention. If you’re in the market for a unique historical romance (that’s not overly steamy) this could be just what you’re looking for.
Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
(Grand Central Publishing, 2017, 453 pages)
I will always love Jane Eyre (it’s even my default search when I have to test out the library catalog or a database 😉 ). It’s a classic that never gets old. I’ve read a number of Eyre-inspired novels that had something of a moment over the past couple years. This one takes a different approach in attempting to offer Edward Rochester’s back-story to better understand him. Shoemaker did a great job capturing the language and essence of Bronte’s world.
I was really into it at the beginning but the end of the book felt a bit rushed to me. Arguably, this was a text meant to provide Rochester’s origin story so it makes sense that most of the novel focused on his life pre-Jane. However, given the nature of this novel’s readership, it would have been nice to have a little more of the Jane/Edward relationship fleshed out. Even with that caveat, I think fans of Jane Eyre will appreciate this novel. Despite its “high” page count it was a relatively quick read.
The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry
(Dutton, 2016, 416 pages)
Chinese girl with brothel destiny.
The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor
(Riverhead Books, 2017, 322 pages)
Stamps, mysterious letter connects generations.
Breathless by Beverly Jenkins
(Avon, 2017, 384 pages)
Diversify your “wild west” mentality.
Possession by A. S. Byatt
(Vintage Books, 2001, 555 pages)
Historiographic metafiction, Victorian desire, academia
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
(Vintage, 2005, 391 pages)
Reimagining American history – disturbingly prescient.