Historical Fiction

Code Name Hélène – Ariel Lawhon - The day is February 29th, 1994, and Héléne is parachuted from an RAF plane into France in 1944 on a mission to aid the Maquis - the French Revolutionaries - ahead of the Allied landing, armed with vital information to aid the resistance and of course, her red lipstick. Flashback to eight years in the past when the first stirrings of war are in the air and Héléne is the Australian journalist Nancy Wake, witnessing a horrifying example of Nazi cruelty in Vienna. This one experience has a profound effect on her and she vows that if she can ever do anything to subvert the Nazis she will - and eventually, a few years later when she is settled down into a socialite's life in Marseille, an opportunity appears. The two storylines run in parallel, tracing the many transformations she goes through - Nancy, Mrs. Fiocca, the smuggler Lucienne Carlier, the infamous White Mouse hunted by the Nazis, the spy Héléne, and finally Madame Andrée - painting a portrait of a remarkable woman who became one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance.…
My Calamity Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows - The third installment in this unique series brings us the story of Calamity Jane. Wild Bill's Wild West is a show that travels around putting on exhibitions of sharpshooting. This is however a cover for the group of garou (that is, werewolf) hunters tracking down the leader of the Pack, only known as the Alpha who has been running wild biting and turning humans. Jane, along with Wild Bill Hickok and his son Frank arrive in Mississippi following a lead and after a hunt goes awry, Jane finds out that she has been bitten. When she hears rumours of a cure for garou, she takes off immediately for Deadwood, but things aren't what they seem and the rest of the crew are in hot pursuit as she is running straight into even bigger trouble.…
The Black Swan of Paris – Karen Robards – ARC Review - In wartime Paris, Genevieve Dumont is a celebrated singer favoured by the Nazis who uses her fame and the privileges she is afforded as an artist to help the resistance undetected - passing messages to allies, smuggling refugees across borders disguised as part of her troupe and more. The allied invasion is drawing closer when Lillian de Rocheford, Genevieve's estranged mother, is captured. To prevent her from giving away any information, the resistance is prepared to go to any length to silence her. But Genevieve is determined to save her, and she and her long-lost sister Emmie must put aside their differences and find a way to cross the dangerous territory of Occupied France to save their mother's life.…
Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen – Alison Weir - Henry VIII has tired of his latest queen, Anna, and even as he seeks to be rid of her, nineteen year old Katheryn Howard catches his eye. A poorer relation of the Howard family and the niece of the powerful Duke of Norfolk, Katheryn has been raised by an assortment of relatives while her father endlessly sought royal favour, finally ending up in the household of her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. When she is summoned to court many years later to serve Queen Anna, the family intentionally pushes her forward, hoping to gain the influence they once had when Anne Boleyn was on the throne. But Katheryn's past holds far too many dangerous secrets and they all threaten to come back to haunt her even as she delights in the pleasures of being Queen of England.…
The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy – Alexandra Walsh – ARC Review - Now safely back at Marquess House with the two Tudor rings, all that remains for this age old conspiracy to unfold is the missing silver locket. With the discovery of a previously sealed off grotto under the mansion, several chests of old journals and documents along with a few portraits are found, which may just hold the key to discovering what was hidden away at Marquess House all those centuries ago. As the sisters begin to unravel the last piece of this mystery, the story in the past timeline now sets its focus on Arbella Stuart towards the end of Elizabeth's reign. As a potential successor to the throne, Arbella has always played a precarious game at court, but she was also deeply involved in the elaborate plot concocted by the Ladies of Melusine to protect the Tudor twins. Marquess House holds secrets yet to be found, and the answer is within reach, yet the sisters are in more danger than ever before as their enemies seem to be drawing ever closer.…
The Paper Girl of Paris – Jordyn Taylor – ARC Review - Sixteen year old Alice Prewitt has just inherited an apartment in Paris from her grandmother that no one in the family has ever heard about before. She finds an apartment perfectly preserved in time, untouched since the years of World War II, but more interesting are some old photos and the diary of her great-aunt Adalyn, whom no one knew existed, which set her off on a quest to uncover long buried family secrets.…
Daughter of the Reich – Louise Fein – ARC Review - Hetty Heinrich is the perfect German daughter. With her father working his way up the ranks of the SS and her brother set to join the Luftwaffe, Hetty has been raised to be faithful to the Nazi ideology, and never thinks to question it until the day she runs into someone from her past - Walter Keller, a childhood friend estranged due to his being Jewish, who once saved her life. As they begin to spend more time together, fully aware of how risky it is, Hetty begins to realize that whatever she has been taught are all lies and she becomes determined to do something to fight it. But anti-Semitism is on the rise across Germany, and when it becomes so bad as to threaten Walter's life and any plans the two of them had for the future, Hetty is faced with some overwhelming decisions to make, conscious that one mistake could mean the end of everything for both of them.…
Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait – Alison Weir - When news arrives that Henry VIII is looking to strengthen ties with the German duchy of Kleve, twenty-four year old Anna is considered a likely candidate to wed him. Henry commissions Anna's portrait, which he is well pleased with. Many months of negotiations later, the treaty is signed, and though Anna is wary due to Henry's reputation, she is willing to do her duty by Kleve. But as she sets off for England, she carries with her a dark secret from her past that would spell the end of everything if it was found out.…
Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen – Alison Weir - This third installment in the Six Tudor Queens series takes a look into the life of Henry VIII's third queen, Jane Seymour. Starting during Jane's childhood at Wulfhall, when she wanted more than anything else to be a nun. But realizing that the hardships of this life are not for her, she returns home, and following a terrible family scandal, it is arranged for her to go to court and serve Queen Katherine, whom she quickly becomes very devoted to. Jane soon discovers that the vicious rivalry, gossip and intrigue of court life is far from her peaceful life at Wulfhall, and she has arrived at a particularly tumultuous time as the King is actively pursuing an annulment. When the Queen's household is dismantled, upon her family's insistence she reluctantly takes a role in Anne Boleyn's household and Jane watches as Henry goes so far as to break from Rome to secure his new marriage. But it is not long before the King's attention strays from his new queen, and this time it is to Jane.…
The Light in Hidden Places – Sharon Cameron - Sixteen year old Stefania Podgorska's life changes when bombs fall on the Polish city of Przemsyl and the Germans invade. The kind Jewish family she worked for, the Diamants, are forced into the ghetto, and she and her younger sister Helena are left alone in a German occupied city that grows more dangerous by the day. Then Max Diamant appears at her door one night, having jumped from the train taking him to a death camp and begs her to hide him and his remaining family and friends. Fusia agrees, though she is risking both her life and her sister's, and sets out to find a larger house and a job to support and feed them all. She soon finds herself hiding thirteen Jews in her attic, when the Nazis show up to requisition her house for the army.…
The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel – Pamela Binnings Ewen – ARC Review - The Queen of Paris is a glimpse into the life of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel better known as Coco Chanel during the years of World War II. On one hand, the Nazi occupy Paris, and on the other, Coco's business partner has escaped to America taking with him the confidential formula of the world famous Chanel No. 5 perfume. Fearing a double cross that might see her cut out of her business and the loss of her life's work, she begins a legal battle for the ownership of the House of Chanel and is determined to win at any cost, using the fact that her business partner is Jewish to her favour, and even collaborating with the Nazis.…
Sacred Bride – David Hair and Cath Mayo - Six months after the Theban War, Odysseus and Bria find themselves infiltrating the oracular site of Dodona which has been taken over by priests of Zeus who have imprisoned the priestesses of Hera in the mountain. Their goal - to get a last few answers from the oracle before silencing it permanently so that the Trojans can't use it. The prophecies Odysseus receives are no less ominous than previous ones, but seem to show a ray of hope for Achaea, if a faint one. Adding to that the crucial knowledge he has gained, that prophecies are not cast in stone, finds Odysseus setting off on another quest - unite the Achaean kings under the High King's banner and secure the marriages of the daughters of King Tyndareus of Sparta, Helen and Clytemnestra, in Achaea's favour - something easier said than done, especially in the case of Helen, who, due to being a theia and the daughter of Zeus is a coveted prize on both sides of the Aegean.…
Katherine of Aragón: The True Queen – Alison Weir - The first book of Alison Weir's Six Tudor Queens series is dedicated to the story of Katherine of Aragón. Betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, at a very early age, Catalina has always been told that she would one day go to England to marry the prince and so become the Princess of Wales and one day, Queen. Following Prince Arthur's untimely death however, she finds herself betrothed to his younger brother Henry.…
The Fountains of Silence – Ruta Sepetys - The year is 1957, and Daniel Matheson arrives in Madrid with his parents. His father, an oil tycoon, is negotiating a deal with Franco. Daniel, however, hopes to get to know his mother's home country through his passion of photography, to understand what the real Spain is like and not just what is advertised to tourists. Ana Moreno is the daughter of Republican parents who were executed when she was a child, and she and her family live in fear, staying under the radar as much as possible. When Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid, he gets a glimpse of the lingering effects of the Civil War and how many people are still affected by it to this day.…
Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance – Jennieke Cohen – ARC Review - Lady Victoria Aston leads a comfortable and idyllic life on her family's country estate, and with her older sister well married, she enjoys a considerable amount of freedom. But when her sister unexpectedly arrives home, fleeing her abusive husband, Vicky must marry quickly before the matter becomes public and the family is ruined. However, her beloved Austen novels are little help against the London season and worse, she finds herself the victim of several mysterious accidents as the days go by, making her question everyone and everything around her.…
And I Darken – Kiersten White - What if the infamous Vlad the Impaler had been a girl? Lada Dragwyla is dismissed at birth by her warlord father for her gender, but grows up unexpectedly fierce and strong, the complete opposite of her younger brother Radu. Abandoned by their father as hostages in the Ottoman court, Lada and Radu find themselves in the enemy's den with only each other to rely on, knowing that their every move is being watched. But a chance run-in with the Sultan's youngest son Mehmed changes everything, and the siblings unexpectedly find themselves accompanying the Prince to distant Amasya as his companions, where, far from the watchful eyes of the court, the trio grow to be firm friends. Yet, Lada has not forgotten her home and still longs for vengeance on the Ottomans, but Radu is content in this new world, feeling safe for the first time in his life.…
The First Lady and the Rebel – Susan Higginbotham – ARC Review - The First Lady and the Rebel is narrated from the perspectives of two sisters on opposing sides of the unfolding American Civil War as their family is divided by politics - First Lady Mary Lincoln and her sister Emily Helm, who was married to the confederate general Hardin Helm.…
The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy – Alexandra Walsh – ARC Review - In this what-if story of Tudor England, it has been more than four decades since the birth of the twin children of Catherine Howard - two unknown, legitimate heirs to the Tudor throne. And Queen Elizabeth I has kept this secret close ever since the Lady Anne of Cleves entrusted it to her on her deathbed. But the unforeseen has happened - Philip II of Spain has found out about this and sees in it his opportunity to oust Elizabeth from the English throne.…
Mini Reviews #3 - Hello readers, and welcome back to Mini Reviews! This installment, let's chat about four books: American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt, Aru Shah and the Song of Death & One Dark Throne.…
My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows - Lady Jane Grey's story is one I've read many times over, the queen who ruled England for nine days and then had her head chopped off. But as our narrators say: "Sometimes, history gets it all wrong", and I must say, I rather prefer this version of the tale!…
Oracle’s War – David Hair and Cath Mayo – ARC Review - Odysseus has returned home to Ithaca after his adventures and fallen back into routine, albeit an uneasy one, now that his entire family is aware of his heritage. Not for long though, as chaos descends upon his sister Ctimene's wedding, Odysseus sets out once more to avenge his family honour…
The Catherine Howard Conspiracy – Alexandra Walsh – ARC Review - A historical thriller with some Da Vinci Code style mystery, The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is a what if novel, positing that the tale of Henry VIII's fifth queen is not quite what it seems. Alexandra Walsh's take on Catherine Howard melds historical facts with some pretty realistic sounding fiction in a thoroughly engrossing read.…
Mini Reviews #1 - Hello readers, and welcome to Mini Reviews! This installment, let's chat about four books: The Iliad, The Fire Queen, The Dead Queens Club and A Curse So Dark and Lonely.…
The Triumphant – Lesley Livingston - The gladiatrices of the Ludus Achillea are once more the darlings of Rome, but Cai has not been so lucky and is dismissed from the legions. When history takes its course, and Caesar is assassinated, Fallon knows that Rome is no longer safe for her or her sisters.…
Enchantée – Gita Trelease - Gita Trelease has perfectly captured the magnificence of Versailles and portrayed it in breathtaking detail. Enchantée is a work of art, carefully crafted from beginning to end.…
The Defiant – Lesley Livingston - Fallon has become Victrix, favoured by Caesar and the darling of Rome's masses, but her triumph has also earned her many enemies - starting with Nyx, the gladiatrix she defeated and subsequently freed. Set on revenge, a rival school threatens the home Fallon has found in the Ludus Achillea and the new family in her fellow gladiatrices.…
Circe – Madeline Miller - Circe is a character little spoken of. I knew of her from The Odyssey as  the witch who turned Odysseus' men, as yet another who delayed his return to Ithaca. But through this book, Circe has a voice of her own. Though an immortal, her emotions, her dreams, fears, guilt, hope are all very much human - genuine and relatable.…
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy – Mackenzi Lee - In this fast paced sequel to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, it is Felicity's turn to chase her dreams. One year after the Grand Tour gone wrong, none of the trio have bothered returning home. We find Felicity in Edinburgh, applying to hospitals and universities, hoping to find some place that will let a woman pursue medicine - something unheard of at the time.…
Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession – Alison Weir - The second book in Alison Weir's Six Tudor Queens series tells the story of Anne Boleyn. Anne leaves her family at the age of eleven for the court of the Netherlands. The glimpse into her years with Regent Margaret and then at the French Court are interesting and show very well how her experiences and lessons in childhood shaped her decisions in later years on the path to becoming Queen and beyond.…
Athena’s Champion – David Hair and Cath Mayo – ARC Review - Prince Odysseus of Ithaca travels to the Oracle at Pytho to be affirmed as his father's heir. But what should have been merely a routine ritual takes a shocking turn as a closely guarded secret is revealed, resulting in Odysseus being cast out into the world alone - a world where monsters and worse are bent upon killing him merely for who he is.…
Bright We Burn – Kiersten White - Historical fiction has sometimes been said to be boring, but books like The Conqueror's Saga prove otherwise. Kiersten White has done a wonderful job of making the story her own unique take while still staying as close to history as possible, telling the tale in such a way that even if you are knowledgeable about this time period, each twist is still just as surprising.…
Now I Rise – Kiersten White - Lada has returned to Wallachia with a small group of loyal men in hope of retaking her birthright. After several unsuccessful attempts to gain allies among men who see her as merely a girl playing soldier, she reaches out to her brother Radu, still with Mehmed in Edirne, recognizing that it is his skill in diplomacy that she requires.…
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee - Set in the early 1700s, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is narrated from the POV of Henry "Monty" Montague, the wayward son of an English earl. Along with his best friend Percy, and (much to his annoyance) sister Felicity, Monty is off on the traditional Grand Tour with full expectations of drinking and gambling his way through Europe.…