New books by Historical Novel Society members, May 2021

Congrats to the following author members on their new releases! If you’ve written a historical novel or nonfiction work published (or to be published) in January 2021 or after, please send the following details in via our contact form, or tweet @readingthepast by July 7: author, title, publisher, release date, and a blurb of one sentence or less. Details will appear in August’s magazine. Submissions may be edited for space.

Eleonora and Joseph: Passion, Tragedy, and Revolution in the Age of Enlightenment is a novel by Julieta Almeida Rodrigues (New Academia Publishing, July 21, 2020) with alternating viewpoints, where the interwoven first-person narratives follow the characters from the salons of Naples to the halls of Monticello, and from the streets of European capitals to the new world of Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Imperfect Alchemist, a debut novel by Naomi Miller (Allison & Busby, Nov. 2020), features two women creators in Renaissance England – Mary Sidney Herbert, a skilled author and alchemist, and Rose, a gifted artist – who join forces to defy the patriarchal constraints of their society.

In Paul Martin’s first Music & Murder Mystery, Killin’ Floor Blues (Level Best Books, Nov. 3, 2020), father and son musicologists John and Alan Lomax travel throughout America’s Jim Crow South during the Great Depression, recording the songs of undiscovered Black musicians while investigating the murders of several early blues greats, including Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith.

In M. K. Wiseman’s Sherlock Holmes & the Ripper of Whitechapel (Independently published, Nov. 3, 2020), a novel which has received authentication from the Conan Doyle Estate, Sherlock Holmes’ investigation of the Ripper murders take a turn . . . a turn which deprives him of his usual assistant, Dr. John Watson.

Captain of the Tides, Gunner Morgan by Charles D. Morgan with Jacque Hillman (Hillhelen Group, Dec. 23, 2020), is based on the life of Charles “Gunner” Morgan, who shipped out from New Orleans as a third-class apprentice seaman in 1882 and, in 1898, led the dive team pulling bodies from the USS Maine disaster; his grandson, Charles D. Morgan, discovered his grandfather’s old sea chest filled with documents, leading him on a journey to reveal his legacy to America.

 Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things (Posey Quill Publishing, Australia, Jan.) concludes Wendy J. Dunn’s Katherine of Aragon series: María de Salinas, Katherine of Aragon’s lifelong friend, tells a poignant story of friendship, betrayal, hatred, forgiveness – and love.

Odin the One-Eyed Wanderer has dismissed Brynhild from the sisterhood of the Valkyries for disobedience, condemning her to sleep until “sons are sires” and a man comes who will be her equal; but if she loses her maidenhood, she will lose both her magical youth and her strength, in The Linden’s Red Plague, book 2 of the Valkyries Saga by Ann Chamberlin (Epigraph, Jan. 15).

Peter B. Dedek’s Touching Fire: A Vestal Virgin’s Tale (Somnium Press, Jan. 23) chronicles an ancient priestess’s tragic quest for freedom and meaning in the stunning, colorful, and oppressive setting of imperial Rome.

Eye of a Rook by Josephine Taylor (Fremantle Press, Australia, Feb.) follows two women who develop mystifying gynaecological pain – in Victorian London, Arthur tries to find help for his wife Emily, and in contemporary Perth, Alice researches the history of hysteria to make sense of her disorder.

In Donis Casey‘s second Bianca Dangereuse Hollywood Mystery, Valentino Will Die (Poisoned Pen/Sourcebooks, Feb.) as the greatest screen idol of all time lies dying in August of 1926, his friend Bianca LaBelle, star of the silver screen in her own right, promises she will find out who is responsible – but with time running out, she must call on the one man who can help them before the charmed life of Rudolph Valentino comes to an end.

In Lisa E. Betz’s Death and a Crocodile (Crosslink Publishing, Feb. 9), when her father is murdered, Livia and her maidservant pound the ancient Roman pavements in search of the killer, with the help of a reluctant lawyer, a lovelorn merchant, and an unrepentant, sausage-snatching cat.

Shelly Milliron Drancik’s The Distance of Mercy (Unsolicited Press, Feb. 9) centers on a university student raised in postwar Vienna who betrays her father and travels to late ’60s Chicago to study the violin; when she develops an unconventional friendship with a Black woman, both women gain some of what they lost from the war.

Two very different brothers must become allies to save the woman they both love, journeying from a Charleston prison to the Cheyenne nation in Sweet Medicine (Claire-Voie Books, Feb. 16), the epic conclusion of Elizabeth Bell’s Lazare Family Saga, spanning 1789-1873.

In Catherine Kullmann’s new Regency novel, A Comfortable Alliance (Willow Books, Mar. 27), when the Earl of Rastleigh discovers that a marriage based on affectionate companionship and mutual respect is only second-best, he must woo his wife again.

The Stars in April (IlluminateYA, Mar.30), the debut novel by Peggy Wirgau, is based on the true story of Ruth Becker, a twelve-year-old Titanic survivor.

In Wayne Ng‘s Letters From Johnny (Guernica Editions, Apr. 1), set in 1970 Toronto, eleven-year-old Johnny Wong tries to make sense of a murder, an absent father, and the FLQ terrorism crisis through heart and humour-filled letters to hockey legend Dave Keon.

The Damask Rose by Carol McGrath (Headline, Apr. 15) reveals the story of Eleanor of Castile, adored wife of the Crown Prince of England in 1266, who is still only a princess when she is held hostage in the brutal Baron’s Rebellion, and her baby daughter dies; scarred by privation, a bitter Eleanor swears revenge on those who would harm her family and vows never to let herself be vulnerable again.

In Amanda Cockrell’s (writing as Damion Hunter) The Border Wolves (Canelo, Apr. 19), the final book in The Centurions series, Correus, risen to prefect of a cavalry ala on the border, and Flavius, advisor to the Roman emperor, have both attempted to warn the erratic Domitian and the Moesian governor of the danger from across the Danube, but to no avail, and now must counter an attack that has wrecked a legion and killed the governor.

In FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams by Frances R. Schmidt (BookBaby, Apr. 19), FRED, a Buffalo, New York building, tells his character-driven historical tales honoring his ethnically and culturally diverse tenants and their families, who arrived in America from 1900-2020, creating a legacy of hope for current and future generations throughout the world.

Rose M. Cullen’s debut The Lucky Country (independently published, Apr. 21), is set in the early 1960s; an Irish family’s emigration takes them on a journey into the Outback of Western Australia, where their lives become entangled with an indigenous stolen child and, beset by misfortune, Patrick Glendon seizes an opportunity to change his luck.

Writer Barbara Follett disappeared in 1939, never to be heard from again, and now Maryka Biaggio tells the story of her enigmatic life in the novel The Point of Vanishing (Milford House Press, May 25).

In J. Lynn Else’s next book, Prophecy of Avalon (Awakenings, book 3; Inklings Publishing, Jun.), an evil djinn plans to change the course of history, and it’s up to four teenagers from Minnesota to unite the magic lands of Avalon in order to prevent him from completing his dastardly spell.

Yvonne Zipter‘s Infraction (Rattling Good Yarns Press, Jun. 1), set in socially turbulent St. Petersburg of 1875, features Marya Zhukova, a woman of many passions, but her husband isn’t one of them; it’s mathematics and literature that captivate her, in part, but her lover, Vera, enthralls her most of all.

In Duchess Deceived by Alyssa Roberts (awa Laura Davies Tilley; Champagne Book Group, Jun. 7), set in 1811 England, while fleeing men trying to kill her son for his title, widowed duchess Juliana Barrington, who has been taught to distrust her judgment, is helped by Ransom Wolfe Hawkins, a Royal Navy officer in hiding—until she discovers he is accused of murder.

In The Limits of Limelight (Gallica Press, Sept. 14) from award-winning author Margaret Porter, a pretty Oklahoma girl in Depression-era Hollywood strives for the stardom earned by her cousin, Ginger Rogers, until tragedy, experience, and increasing self-knowledge alter her aspirations–and present her with unexpected challenges and opportunities.


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