Saturday, December 31, 2022

Murder in the Snow by Verity Bright (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery) Book Four

Publication Date: November 16, 2020

Length: 274 pages

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Just in time for New Year's Eve and the last day of December 2022 I have completed a full season of these delightful mysteries!  When I discovered they were written with the setting for each season I thought that was pretty neat and am now looking forward to reading four per year during the matching time period until I've eventually caught up with all of them. This story takes place, of course, in winter and was just perfect in that I started reading it Christmas Eve and ended it New Year's Eve, roughly coinciding with the same days as the story itself. It was a great end to a great year of reading!

In this adventure, Eleanor and Clifford are hot on the trail of a murderer who has seemingly killed a local villager who has come to Henley Hall to partake in the Christmas Eve festivities along with those residents of Little Buckford. At the time of his death everyone assumed he had died during the fun run in the snow, seemingly from a heart attack. But as Eleanor and Clifford find clues revealing otherwise they begin to suspect that not only was he murdered, it was in a similar manner as the murder of Eleanor's Uncle, a case which was never fully proven nor solved. Eleanor feels particularly responsible as the crime occurred at her home during her party in which she was trying to show the townspeople how much they mean to her. When two more people are taken ill and have to be hospitalized with the same symptoms as the murder victim, Clifford and Eleanor have to work fast to make sure no one else is targeted. Along with the dashing Detective Seldon and the loyal staff of Henley Hall, they have plenty of willing help in their quest. 

Maybe it was because I was on Christmas vacation and totally relaxed, or maybe it was because I've grown attached to these characters, but I found myself smiling at how much I enjoyed this book as I finished it today. It had everything I love in a cozy mystery: a charming country setting, recurring characters with distinct personalities, a clever, unique murder method impossible to guess at, and two love interests vying for Ellie's affection. It is nice how the author sees fit to occasionally list the suspects and their motives so one doesn't get confused (as I sometimes do in other murder mysteries) and the short chapters make it easy to read even in the busiest of times. It's really the perfect type of story during the craziness that is the holiday season. 

When I reviewed the first book, A Very English Murder, I stated that the book was formulaic and that is true. But as I've continued with the series I've realized each one is very unique and that the author has taken a lot of effort to create a new setting and twists and turns in the story. So that formula works here. There are some cozy mysteries that become tedious in this area and I think it is because the characters and plot don't change a whole lot from book to book. These have just enough differences to make them fresh and enjoyable in their own way. I am already excited to read the next one, Mystery By the Sea, in March on my spring break. 

Now I'm off to celebrate New Year's Eve with my family and ring in 2023! Wishing you a safe and happy evening from Texas.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

All That is Hidden (A Molly Murphy Mystery: Book 19) by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles


Publication Date: March 14, 2023

Length: 320 pages

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Thank you to NetGalley for loaning me this book for review.

This was my first book by Rhys Bowen to have read but I had heard of her before and knew she was very popular. Even though this is a series book I decided to just jump in and read the one being published this spring. I plan to eventually read the latest book in her other series, Royal Spyness. This is the continuing story of Molly Murphy, a housewife and mother who has come a long way from her days as a single gal newly arrived from Ireland. 

Molly is slowly adjusting to her quiet domestic life with her policeman husband, Daniel, and their son and foster daughter. She is retired from her former life of sleuthing and is Molly Sullivan now, living in Greenwich Village in a home she loves, albeit a simple one. When her husband tells her they are moving to a new home in the swanky area of Fifth Avenue with servants and plush surroundings she is bewildered. He also informs her he is running for the office of sheriff and will be closely aligned with Tammany Hall, a shady political organization. Molly eventually discovers it is all a cover for Daniel's real work, investigating corruption within the group.

When Big Bill McCormick, an important associate of Tammany, is murdered during his daughter's birthday party at his own mansion, Molly and Daniel along with their ward Bridie set out to discover why and who is involved. As they get to know the dysfunctional family and their many secrets, the mystery only deepens. Drawing on information obtained by Bridie's new friendship with the daughter, Blanche, and Molly's compassion for Bill's widow, they begin to form a picture of how Big Bill came to be at his desk, stabbed in the back. Strange happenings start to put them in harm's way and Daniel begins to wonder if this undercover scenario has been taken on at unnecessary risk to his family.

The book has a solid mystery that has a lot of twists and turns. I originally guessed at part of the storyline which turned out to be partially true with more added to it and was glad as I hate it when mysteries are too obvious. The author does a good job with an authentic setting and I learned a bit about the politics of the day and Tammany Hall. The behaviors of the servants in Molly's new home as well as the proper behaviors a lady of the manor should adopt were well done and served as an interesting backdrop to the murder plot. 

Maybe I'd have been more invested in Molly and her character if I'd read this series in order. It felt like I was missing a lot of her personal story and didn't have a real connection to her children either. Sometimes the writing was a bit simplistic and redundant but this was minor and didn't take away from the story too much. I'm thinking I want to go back and read the first book, Murphy's Law, to get a clearer picture of Molly's life before she meets her husband, Daniel. That may make me see this story in a new light. Overall I thought it was a fun, cozy mystery and would recommend it positively.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Can't Wait Wednesday: Dark Queen Wary by Paul Doherty

This is book 4 in the Margaret Beaufort mystery series. I had not come across the other books before so was excited to know there are more. I have precious little time to read all of an entire series, but if I really enjoy a book I want to go back to the beginning. Hopefully this one does not disappoint. 

Margaret Beaufort is a fascinating figure and I always associate her with the dark side of things in the Wars of the Roses. Perhaps this is unfair and perpetuated by the STARZ series, The White Queen and The White Princess, nevertheless I can realistically see her caught up in a mystery like this one.

March 7, 2023

Historical Fiction/Mystery, Thrillers

224 pages

Book description courtesy of NetGalley

1472. Edward IV reigns triumphant over England and his rivals, the Lancastrians. But he is uneasy, for one true claimant remains: the young Henry Tudor, son of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. Henry's continued existence worries Edward, so he hatches a plan to bring a cuckoo into the nest – an imposter prince is presented to Margaret Beaufort as her son.

Margaret is no fool and knows she must play this game of kings carefully . . . When she is invited to George Neville’s beautiful home ‘The Moor’ to help investigate some mysterious and gruesome murders she knows dark forces are at play. Whispers of a shadowy figure called Achitophel hang over the house's occupants, like the impenetrable mist that descended on the battle of Barnet the previous year and secured the crown for Edward. And as the body count increases, Margaret suspects there is a link to that fateful battle and the murderer who seems relentless in his thirst for blood . . .

Can Margaret protect her life as well as her true son’s claim to the throne?


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions To My Book Collection (or books I plan to buy)


This week's Top Ten Tuesday is  "what books did Santa bring you for Christmas?" Or, alternatively, what books are you planning to buy with all those gift cards and money Santa brought you? Well not only did Santa bring me money for books, I got a brand new Kindle Paperwhite to read them on. So Merry Christmas to me! Of course I bought it and wrapped it without looking inside the Amazon box and then told my husband what he'd bought me. He was very surprised when I opened it on Christmas morning, ha! But I wanted to make sure I got the one I really wanted. Now I have the same dilemma I always have....I want ALL the books. 

Here are the ones I either received from someone in paperback form or plan to buy. Some are so new they are expensive so if I can get them through my online library app I will go there first. Happy Reading in 2023 everyone!

1. The Sun in Splendour by Jean Plaidy- The story of Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses comes to life in this novel which bears the same title as the Sharon Kay Penman book. I have read hers and want to see how Plaidy handles the story. This one is not available on Kindle so I'm excited to have bought a new paperback copy.

2. Peril in Paris by Rhys Bowen- Book number 16 in this cozy mystery series, Royal Spyness. I requested this on NetGalley but was declined, (oh well) so I just got my own copy. It looks like a lot of fun. Who doesn't love an international mystery set in Paris?

3. Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs- This story is a retelling of the story of Ruth from the Bible but set in Scotland during the 1745 Rising. I am definitely intrigued and excited to have discovered it. 

4. The Maid by Nita Prose- I read this is to be made into a movie and so I'd like to buy it and read it before I go see it.  Amazon says it is "a Clue-like locked room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit." 

5. The Drowned City by K.J. Maitland- Book 1 of the Daniel Pursglove Mystery series set in the 17th century. The main character goes "underground to infiltrate a Catholic network and discovers a Jesuit conspiracy."

6. Mystery By the Sea: (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery- Book 5) by Verity Bright- I still have to finish Book 4 but I love this series so much there is no doubt I'll want the next one in line. In this book Eleanor travels to a resort in Brighton to enjoy some rest and relaxation, only to find herself embroiled in a mystery involving her former husband, who is supposed to be dead.

7. Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic Story of America's Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin- I love all things pirate and high seas. I started this book awhile ago and had to return it to the library, so I'd like to finish it. It is a great read covering the Golden Age of Piracy. 

8. The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz- I mentioned this one last week for Can't Wait Wednesday.  This one is set during the 1715 Jacobite Rising and looks like a bit of a romance, which I'm normally not big on, but there seems to be enough mystery and history to make me want to buy it and read it. 

9. The Innkeeper and the Fugitive: Tales From the Highlands Book 3 by Martha Keyes- I have been meaning to get back to these books for a long time. There are four books in this series and I've read the first one. I already own book 2 but will probably go ahead and get book 3 just because I want to have it. Set in the Highlands of the 18th century they are more romance than mystery. The author does a great job with authenticity of the time and place so I really have enjoyed them so far. 

10. Secrets of the Nile by Tasha Alexander- I'm not sure about this one but will probably go ahead and get it. I love books set in Egypt so the cover and title alone were enough to hook me. It is a mystery involving murder, a Nile cruise, and ancient relics. Seems like an Agatha Christie or Elizabeth Peters type book and I love those!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Read Christie 2022 December Selection)

Publication Date:  December 19, 1938

Length: 288 pages

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

I have been saving this book for awhile now because I wanted to join the Read Christie challenge and this is the book they chose for December. Also, who wouldn't love this book around Christmas time of course! I am still a newcomer to Agatha Christie books and am learning to adjust to her style. As someone who expects a lot of historical atmosphere from her novels it has been a stretch to remember that Christie books are all about the crime and the whodunit and not necessarily the historical setting. But I think I'm finally appreciating her the way she intended. This book had a lot of colorful characters to keep track of and my original theory was way off. Seeing the story develop and realizing how wrong I was made it an interesting read.


We begin in London on December 22nd at a train station where a mysterious stranger, Stephen, is returning home from South Africa after a long absence. His cryptic thoughts as to his reappearance are clues to the unfolding drama. On the train he meets a young woman, Pilar, who stands out due to her exotic, ethnic appearance and the two strike up a conversation. When Stephen realizes she is headed to the same home, Gorston Hall, as he is, he is puzzled and intrigued. But he keeps this news to himself.

At Gorston Hall we meet the first of several couples who are gathering for the holiday festivities.  The host and owner of the manor house is Simeon Lee, an old man nearing the end of his life, who has called everyone together for his own nefarious purposes. His four sons, Alfred (who already lives at Gorston Hall with his wife, Lydia), George, David, and Harry (who is unmarried) are all as different as can be and at odds with one another due to the complicated relationship between them and their father and now deceased mother. All are mistrustful of Simeon and his motives and have their own reasons for wanting to be present to witness the awkward family reunion. Their wives are equally distrusting of the old man and only care to know what he might be up to regarding changes in his will. Enter Stephen and Pilar who appear to throw a wrench in the already contentious situation. Stephen is Simeon's late business partner's son and Pilar announces she is Lee's granddaughter. 

When Simeon is brutally murdered on Christmas Eve all are suspects. Detective Hercule Poirot, who happens to be visiting the area, is asked to help with the case and is only too happy to agree. As he eventually moves into Gorston Hall to get closer to the suspects and crime scene, he discovers some are not who they claim to be and others are hiding secrets that unravel slowly to form a much different picture than they present. Knowing Simeon was murdered in a seemingly locked room with no one inside makes for a difficult case. Poirot sets out to discover just how it could have happened and the twist is not what anyone expects. 

What I liked

I enjoyed this book and felt that the ending was satisfying. It was not one I figured out quickly, although I did start to suspect the correct answer in the last few pages. Still, it was hazy enough throughout the story that Christie did a superb job of leading one in the wrong direction several times. The couples and their wives were a hot mess of dysfunction and Stephen and Pilar added a mysterious quality to the bunch. I thought Harry, the prodigal son was an interesting character and Poirot is always fun to watch as he goes about his work solving the crime. The interaction between him and the policemen working the case was well written as the three men bounce ideas off of one another, always looking to Poirot to guide them and wanting his expert opinion. 

What I didn't like

Sometimes the story seemed to go in circles and repeat itself with references to the characters' backgrounds. I found myself thinking I already knew information that was just being presented a different way again. There wasn't much of a Christmas atmosphere and at times it felt as if this book could have taken place pretty much in any month. Unlike Anne Perry, Christie didn't work to give one that holiday vibe, which was a bit disappointing. But this didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. 

Recommend or not?

Although I enjoyed it, I don't think it is one of Christie's strongest I've read so far. Noticing it is book 20 in the Poirot series I can't help but wonder if maybe she was churning out many books at this time in her career and wasn't able to create as strong of a story as she typically had in the beginning. For this reason I gave it four stars instead of five. I am glad to have read it and it is a must for any Christie fan but it certainly would not be the one I'd start with. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz

This is my first post for Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. I chose The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz because anytime I see the words "Jacobite" or "Scotland" I'm hooked! This book is set during the first Jacobite rising of 1715 and looks unique and interesting. I've gotten a little ambitious with my TBR pile for 2023 so I'm not exactly sure when I will get to it. If you have read it or plan to, let me know what you think.

Happy Reading!

January 23, 2023

Christian Historical Fiction/Romance

416 pages

Book description courtesy of NetGalley

In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley's father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Lady Blythe awaits who will ultimately be crowned king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with the clothes on her back and her mistress in tow. He has his own problems--a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing his father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

Drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting alliances, and ambitions, Lady Blythe must be careful whom she trusts. Her fortune, her future, and her very life are at stake. Those who appear to be adversaries may turn out to be allies--and those who pretend friendship may be enemies.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Last January I joined this challenge with the intent of reading 25 historical fiction books. I also planned to leave a review for each book on Amazon or Goodreads. Then I saw the beautiful book blogs others had created and wanted to try it myself in order to leave my reviews all in one place. Nearly a year later here I am ending the challenge with my blog and it all started here! Thanks to Marg at The Intrepid Reader and Baker for hosting this challenge.

Below is my list of books I read in 2022. Reviews for each book can be found on my blog ShellieLovesBooks. My goal was 25 books and I read 27 (not counting other genres like history, etc.) so I'm pretty pleased with that. Something I noticed was the number of sequels and certain authors I gravitate to. While it is fun to read and review new books I find it hard to let go of characters I love. In the coming year I'm going to try to work on more classics and new books but it will be a challenge!

Happy reading everyone!

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon
Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman
The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Lionheart by Ben Kane
Silence in Hanover Close by Anne Perry
Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters
Uneasy Lies the Crown by N. Gemini Sasson
Of Lands High and Low by Martha Keyes
Highland Spirits by Amanda Scott
The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman
A Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Crocodile On the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
A Very English Murder by Verity Bright
To Hold the Crown by Jean Plaidy
The Jane Seymour Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
Queen of Swords by Judith Tarr
Murder At the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell
Death At the Dance by Verity Bright
A Witness To Murder by Verity Bright
A Christmas Deliverance by Anne Perry
Enemy in the House by Mignon G. Eberhart
Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
Isabeau by N. Gemini Sasson
The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy
The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters


Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Curse of the Pharaohs (Amelia Peabody Book Two) by Elizabeth Peters

Publication Date: January 1, 1981
Length:  357 pages
My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

This is the second book in this series and since I almost always go in order when reading series books, my second one to read by this author. I enjoyed book one, Crocodile On the Sandbank, enormously and was really looking forward to seeing what was happening with these characters. Peters really got my attention with her unique style of dialogue and the humorous inner monologue of Amelia. It reminds me of the old movies of the 1940's and 50's. The setting is also a big draw in that there aren't a lot of mysteries that take place in Egypt except for a few Agatha Christie stories. 


Our story begins in England where Amelia and her husband Radcliffe Emerson are attempting a normal, quiet life with their young son Ramses. It is clear both feel stifled by domestic life and the social niceties that go along with 19th century upper crust society. Amelia especially is frustrated at home as wife and mother, yearning to return to Egypt and their archaeological adventures from where they first met. Emerson is a professor now but would rather be digging out tombs and roughing it in the desert. When one Lady Baskerville arrives asking for help with her late husband's latest Egyptian dig, both are excited to oblige her. Thinking the man's death was a natural one, neither Amelia nor Emerson are concerned about any danger, and deciding to leave Ramses with his Uncle Walter and Aunt Evelyn, they journey to the middle east to take over the project. Upon arriving they are introduced to the crew already employed on the site and as they begin work, start to believe that Lord Baskerville's death was in fact caused by something sinister. Overjoyed to be back in a location and atmosphere they are comfortable and enthusiastic about, neither Amelia nor Radcliffe want to get involved with the details of what could be murder but nevertheless soon find themselves targeted personally and have no choice but to begin investigating. While simultaneously continuing with the project, they both start to become suspicious of the different people involved with the dig itself. A mysterious figure in white running around terrifying the workers, more strange deaths, and mayhem continue as the couple work to unravel the who and the why behind it all.


As in the first book, this one started off with the witty, funny interaction between Amelia and Radcliffe but since they are now married and parents, it included their feelings about their son Ramses, which made it even more endearing. Amelia is constantly keeping up a running conversation in her head that the reader is privy to, concerning her feelings about things and it is amusing to see that she is not especially maternal while Radcliffe is giddy over his son. Although I don't share her disdain for motherhood and domestic life, I did sympathize with the frustrations of being a stay at home mother, as I have been one, and for someone as brilliant as Amelia it must be incredibly trying. Ramses is also an unusually bright and unique child that keeps them on their toes.  

When they arrive in Egypt and the mystery really gets going we are introduced to a lot of new characters but each have a distinct personality I found interesting. The author does a good job of giving each a solid back story that keeps you guessing as to the identity of the murderer because all of them have some motive. This book was a bit Agatha Christie like in that way as I found myself having to keep track of the clues and the way Peters was always inserting some new tidbit to throw your predictions off track. The setting is always a draw for me and she does another fabulous job of describing Egypt, the people and culture, and teaching a few layman's facts about archaeology. I did not guess the ending so that is always a plus for me and even the characters I thought would be killed off or have a love story between them were a surprise. The feelings between Amelia and Radcliffe really shine in private even if they publicly argue and bicker and it is clear they are devoted to one another.


I was a little disappointed that the previous characters Walter and Evelyn were not included much in the story. I really liked them and as Radcliffe's brother and sister in law as well as good friends of Amelia's I had hoped the four of them would be a team again. Sometimes I found Amelia's sarcasm a little off putting and I think she is a bit hard on her husband who clearly matches her in wit and mental strength but she is also a woman living in a time when most men would not typically entertain a lady's opinion about much outside of society and home life. She has to maintain a tough exterior in order to be heard and seen.  The introduction of Ramses in the beginning and how quickly he is left in England and forgotten bothered me a bit because I just don't relate. My personal feelings toward Amelia were annoyance at how unconcerned she seemed to be at leaving her child so suddenly.  Overall the story was good, the suspense was there but I confess I gave it four stars because it just wasn't as good as the first book. I felt it took a bit too long to get moving and sometimes tended to go in circles. But the ending was satisfying so it was okay in the end.

RECOMMEND OR NOT? Yes it is a well written, well researched, entertaining mystery with an exotic setting. This is a series I plan to continue. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Top Ten Books On My Winter 2022-2023 To Read List


This week's topic is ten books I'd like to read this coming winter. I had a hard time with this one because narrowing it down to only ten books is impossible for me! There are just too many to choose from but I did my best. What is your bookish wish list for the coming season?

(All book descriptions are from Amazon books)

1. Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder—and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case. Christmas Eve, and the Lee family’s reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture and a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. When Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man. . . .

2. Murder In the Snow by Verity Bright
As snowflakes fall, Eleanor is cheering on contestants in the traditional fun run in the grounds of the Hall. But tragedy strikes when one of the runners drops dead at the finish line. Dashing Detective Seldon is convinced it’s just a heart attack, but Eleanor isn’t so sure. When she finds a rather distinctive key where the man fell, Eleanor knows she’ll never rest until she finds out the truth about what happened in her own home.

3. After Flodden by Rosemary Goring
Patrick Paniter was James IV's right-hand man, a diplomatic genius who was in charge of the guns at the disastrous battle of Flodden in September 1513 in which the English annihilated the Scots. After the death of his king he is tormented by guilt as he relives the events that led to war. When Louise Brenier, daughter of a rogue sea trader, asks his help in finding out if her brother Benoit was killed in action, it is the least he can do to salve his conscience. Not satisfied with the news he brings, Louise sets off to find out the truth herself, and swiftly falls foul of one of the lawless clans that rule the ungovernable borderlands.

4. America's Daughter by Celeste De Blasis
1773. The night that Addie Valencourt sneaks out to witness the Boston Tea Party, she knows that her world is about to change forever. Soon, the love and security of her tight-knit family is torn apart by the fight for American independence. When the British lay siege to Boston, Addie’s English-born father welcomes them into his home, while her childhood sweetheart Silas leaves to join General Washington. Addie is determined to follow him when she meets Scottish Highlander John Traverne. The frowning, dark-haired soldier is unlike anyone she has ever known, and he interests her more than he should. But any future with a man on the opposite side of this fight is impossible…

5. The Three Crowns by Jean Plaidy
In post-Restoration England, King Charles II has fathered numerous bastards, but not a single legitimate heir. Because of this, his brother, James, Duke of York, is heir-presumptive to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland—the three crowns of Britain. But James’s devout Catholicism, and desire to return Britain to the rule of Rome, does not sit well with his subjects and his time as king is sure to be short.
Raised under the Protestant guardianship of her uncle King Charles, James’s daughter Mary finds herself at fifteen facing a marriage to the Dutch and Protestant William of Orange, long prophesied to be destined for the throne. But can she follow her calling to rule Britain without losing the love of her father?

6. The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe
Madeleine Talmage Force is just seventeen when she attracts the attention of John Jacob “Jack” Astor. Madeleine is beautiful, intelligent, and solidly upper-class, but the Astors are in a league apart. Jack’s mother was the Mrs. Astor, American royalty and New York’s most formidable socialite. Jack is dashing and industrious—a hero of the Spanish-American war, an inventor, and a canny businessman. Despite their twenty-nine-year age difference, and the scandal of Jack’s recent divorce, Madeleine falls headlong into love—and becomes the press’s favorite target. On their extended honeymoon in Egypt, the newlyweds finally find a measure of peace from photographers and journalists. Madeleine feels truly alive for the first time—and is happily pregnant. The couple plans to return home in the spring of 1912, aboard an opulent new ocean liner. When the ship hits an iceberg close to midnight on April 14th, there is no immediate panic. The swift, state-of-the-art RMS Titanic seems unsinkable. As Jack helps Madeleine into a lifeboat, he assures her that he’ll see her soon in New York…

7. The Sheen On the Silk by Anne Perry
Arriving in the ancient Byzantine city in the year 1273, Anna Zarides has only one mission: to prove the innocence of her twin brother, Justinian, who has been exiled to the desert for conspiring to kill Bessarion, a nobleman. Disguising herself as a eunuch named Anastasius, Anna moves freely about in society, using her skills as a physician to maneuver close to the key players involved in her brother’s fate. With her medical practice thriving, Anna crosses paths with Zoe Chrysaphes, a devious noblewoman with her own hidden agenda, and Giuliano Dandolo, a ship’s captain conflicted not only by his mixed Venetian-Byzantine heritage but by his growing feelings for Anastasius. Trying to clear her brother’s name, Anna learns more about Justinian’s life and reputation, including his peculiar ties to Bessarion’s beautiful widow and his possible role in a plot to overthrow the emperor. This leaves Anna with more questions than answers, and time is running out. For an even greater threat lies on the horizon: Another Crusade to capture the Holy Land is brewing, and leaders in Rome and Venice have set their sights on Constantinople for what is sure to be a brutal invasion.

8. Katherine by Anya Seton
Set in the vibrant fourteenth century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II—who rule despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance, John of Gaunt, the king’s son, falls passionately in love with the already-married Katherine. Their affair persists through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption.

9. The White Ship by Charles Spencer
The sinking of the White Ship in 1120 is one of the greatest disasters England has ever suffered. In one catastrophic night, the king’s heir and the flower of Anglo-Norman society were drowned and the future of the crown was thrown violently off course. In a riveting narrative, Charles Spencer follows the story from the Norman Conquest through to the decades that would become known as the Anarchy: a civil war of untold violence that saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a desperate game of thrones. All because of the loss of one vessel – the White Ship – the medieval Titanic.

10. The Summer Fields by L.P. Fergusson
In the year 1704, dairy maid Elen Griffiths’ immunity to the smallpox plaguing England should be a blessing. But it feels more like a curse when she is selected to leave her home and nurse high-born Viscount Mordiford through the illness within the confines of Duntisbourne Hall. There, Elen finds a horribly afflicted patient but she also discovers a friend in Ned Harley, the charming valet. However, before long sinister forces threaten Elen’s life and honour. Rescued by the man she has grown to love, she flees the country with the English army, not knowing if her affections are returned. Across the Channel, Elen finds purpose serving as a nurse during the Duke of Marlborough’s campaign. Surrounded by the horror and confusion of the brutal war against the French, Elen is reunited with her love on the eve of the Battle of Blenheim. She learns that his feelings mirror her own, but a moment of joy may be all they ever know. Even if he survives the battle, a figure from the past threatens to destroy Elen’s freedom, her happiness and her life.