- Blackthorne’s Bride by Joan Johnston. July 25, 2017. Netgalley.
Two years have passed since Josie Wentworth was bought from the Sioux for a gold watch and whisked back to England by Marcus Wharton, the Duke of Blackthorne. When Marcus breaks his promise to return Josie to America, she ends up as a maid in the home of his charming but neglected nephews. Once Josie’s long-lost family finds her, however, the suddenly wealthy heiress sets out to save the two boys from their indifferent uncle—and teach the duke a lesson in honor.
Learning that Marcus is seeking a rich American bride to save his estate, Josie plots to catch his eye—certain he’ll never recognize the beauty she’s become as the ragged captive he rescued. But Josie doesn’t wager on her marital charade taking a tender turn, as the nobleman she’s despised for years proves to be a very different man than she’s imagined. And there’s no denying his passionate caresses, as she falls deeper under the spell of a husband determined to claim her heart.
Josie finds that the Duke of Blackthorne is not the villain she imagines him to be. So how to resolve what she knows of him, with this new picture? She marries him to save his nephews from the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of their governess and housekeeper. This is a great read. I liked Josie’s spirit and Marcus’s trying to make amends. The two are well-matched.
- The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss. 2017. Netgalley.
The accommodations at Stillbrook Apartments aren’t exactly glamorous, but they’re quiet, affordable, and well maintained. The handyman is usually available to help with a leak or a broken bulb, his wife and two adorable kids often tagging along. When occasion dictates, the neighbors gather to wish each other well and spread the requisite holiday cheer. Everything’s very nice. Very normal.
But as Halloween approaches, strange occurrences are happening all around Stillbrook. The children tell disturbing stories, bizarre noises bleed through the walls, and one abandoned unit is found to be inhabited by something sinister—something that’s no longer alive.
For the safety of the tenants, the Halloween party has been canceled. There will be no decorations or masks, no candied apples or witch’s brew. But without treats to divert the Halloween Children, they have no choice but to play some very nasty tricks.
The tale is told from different point-of-views. It is also told in flashbacks which takes away some of the immediacy of the story. I did, however, find the story worthwhile reading.
- The Last Girl by Joe Hart. 2017. Netgalley.
A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.
Zoey suspects that everything going on around her is not as it seems. She is being kept captive along with other girls. But one by one, the girls are taken off to re-populate Earth, or so they think. Is something more sinister going on? This is an engaging read. I found Zoey admirable and inspiring.
- Wed to a Spy by Sharon Cullen. 2017. Penguin-Random House. Netgalley.
Simon Marcheford wants nothing more than to settle down on the land bestowed upon him by the English crown. Queen Elizabeth, however, is not about to let her best spy retire so easily. Simon will have his reward, she decrees, after he completes one last mission in Scotland. But no sooner has he sussed out a diabolical plot up North than Queen Mary weds him to her cousin—an exquisite beauty with troubled, soulful eyes—and orders Simon to watch her every move.
Aimee de Verris is no spy. But her life may depend on becoming one. Banished from the French court by Catherine de Medici, Aimee finds herself tasked with reporting on Queen Mary’s activities in Scotland, where she’s unnerved by the frigid weather and brutish customs. Worst of all, Aimee’s been married off to a most uncouth lout. But when murder strikes, she learns to appreciate Simon’s talent for shielding her with every inch of his muscular frame. If Aimee desires her husband, perhaps she could trust him—or even love him.
Sent to spy on Queen Mary by her aunt, Aimee finds herself wed to Simon, an English spy himself. Can either find a way out of the tangle of deceit around them? A very fun, mystery for all as to who is telling the truth and who is lying. Aimee and Simon are well-drawn characters.