These five historical love stories span from late medieval times to the 13th century when what would become the Western U.S. was under Spanish rule, and through the Tudor and Regency eras in England. Most of these books are by Utah authors or authors
Meet Miss Onyx Hamilton, who is about to be engaged to a man so utterly and completely respectable and painstakingly ecclesiastical that it’s easy to fall asleep when engaged in conversation with him, in Carla Kelly’s Regency era novel “Summer Campaign.”
Of course, Onyx knows she should be flattered by his attentions because, although she is young and attractive, her circumstances are such that her social standing and respectability might be called into question when it comes down to tiny details such as family fortune and background. Life seems to be heading in a downward spiral of acceptable boredom until adventure leaps into her life when thieves stop her carriage and the handsome Major Jack Beresford comes to the rescue of Onyx and her maid.
Beresford, who is headed back to his family’s estate after years of serving in Her Majesty’s Navy, has demons of his own to conquer as he is drawn to Onyx.
When certain risks become necessary for survival, and the thrill of an unpredictable gentleman begins to unravel the image of how men and women truly feel around one another, Onyx’s life becomes anything but boring.
“Summer Campaign” is a refreshingly witty and intelligent read. It feels as though it was written by a favorite, sarcastic cousin of Jane Austen.
Kelly, a former Utah resident who calls Idaho home, uses historical details that give a rich texture to the backdrop of the story and dialogue that’s appropriate for the time period without any odd anachronisms to make it feel as if the characters don’t belong.
This delightful book doesn’t just fill the need for a good romantic novel; it is also a comedy, a history and occasionally a soupcon of action.
There is no swearing, and the romance doesn’t go beyond kissing. There is some generally described violence.
— Erin Adair
Margaret “Meg” Burton and her older brother, Daniel, are sent from Charleston, South Carolina, to England, where a distant cousin, the Duke of Southampton, will help Meg make her debut in London society in the 1812 season, in “Miss Burton Unmasks a Prince” by Utah author Jennifer Moore.
Adventure-loving Meg is also on a mission from her family to marry a man with a fortune to help her family as their business has suffered due to the tensions between countries.
The duke’s wife is Serena, a Spanish princess in exile, and her brother, Prince Rodrigo De Talavera, is living in the dower house as he works to find and rescue the rest of his family.
Meg meets Rodrigo while on a walk one morning and assumes he is the prince’s stablehand, and he introduces himself as Carlo. As the two continue to meet and a friendship blossoms between them, Meg fears that she will get Carlo in trouble due to their differences in station, and Rodrigo fears her response when he tells her his true identity.
A masquerade ball is planned before the family goes to London, and Rodrigo wants to tell her then. But as a prince in exile, he has people searching for him, too, and he needs to stay a step ahead to keep those he cares about safe.
Moore mixes the American, Spanish and English cultures, along with some wartime danger, into a tangled, entertaining and sweet love story.
There isn’t any swearing, the romance doesn’t go beyond kissing and there is some violence that is generally described.
Moore’s “Becoming Lady Lockwood” won a 2014 Whitney Award for best novel by a new author. Those who have read her book “Lady Emma’s Campaign” will recognize a few characters in “Miss Burton Unmasks a Prince,” though the novels stand alone.
— Christine Rappleye
Queen Elizabeth l has done everything she needed to do since she became queen. She married the King of Spain, made the alliances she needed to and produced an heir. But because Anne is the only heir between England and Spain, Queen Elizabeth knows she’s got to divorce Philip — freeing him to remarry and have another child — before Anne becomes a political pawn, in “The Virgin’s Daughter” by former Utah resident Laura Andersen.
Even as Queen Elizabeth prepares to divorce Philip, a plot to assassinate her is made known, called The Nightingale Plot.
All sources point to Blanclair, the home of the LeClerc family in France. In an attempt to stop the assassination and learn the reasons behind it, Queen Elizabeth and her lead intelligencer, Walsingham, bring Lucette Courtenay into play as a spy. Lucette is clever, witty and beautiful — everything they need to figure out the secrets the LeClerc men may be hiding.
But when Lucette arrives at Blanclair under the guise of a girl looking for a husband in the LeClerc brothers, she soon finds that Walsingham didn’t tell her everything she needed to know. It’s clear the Nightingale Plot has ties to Blanclair, but Lucette finds that the deeper she gets, the harder it is to separate her feelings from instinct in the deadly game she is playing for the lives of the queen and the princess.
Andersen brings yet another thrilling tale to her collection of “twisted history” historical fiction, this time posing the question: What if Queen Elizabeth I, the celebrated virgin queen, gave birth to a legitimate heir? Andersen combines romance and political intrigue into a fast-paced, page-turning read that is sure to make a historical fiction fan out of just about any reader.
“The Virgin’s Daughter” masterfully introduces a plot that will have readers excited for the books to follow. Andersen, a Brigham Young University graduate, delivers complex characters among many intriguing historical details.
“The Virgin’s Daughter” contains no swearing or sexual content. It does contain some described violence associated with war.
— Hikari Loftus
Carla Kelly proves a latter book in a series can outshine its predecessors with “Paloma and the Horse Traders.” Bringing back the authenticity of the old Spanish West and the hacienda of Marco and Paloma while introducing additional enemies and newfound friends, Kelly turns “Paloma and the Horse Traders” into a must-read.
While readers can enjoy “Paloma” without first reading the previous installments of the Spanish Brand series, the true joy of the story comes in knowing where the characters started on the first page of “The Double Cross,” and then seeing where they end up on the last page of “Paloma.”
Kelly, a former Utah resident, adds a new tenderness to the characters by writing not only about the love between a husband and a wife but also about how Marco and Paloma’s lives are changed by their children.
Marco has been working on a peace treaty between the Spanish colonies and Comanche Indians. Just when it looks like life will settle down, a rogue Comanche named Great Owl brings new threats to Marco’s family and the peace of the colony.
Marco and Paloma open their hearts and their home to a cast of characters that bring smiles, tears and life-changing surprises and revelations in this series set at the end of the 18th century.
With a peace treaty on the horizon, family, friends and former enemies unite to vanquish the one who threatens to erase years of progress.
“Paloma and the Horse Traders,” due out in September, includes a few mild swear words. There are multiple scenes of violence, including scenes of killing, torturing, gutting, scalping and rape references. Sexual content includes mildly described bedroom scenes and multiple sexual innuendos.
— Tara Creel
"THE LADY AND THE MINSTREL," by Joyce DiPastena, Sable Tyger Books, $15.95, 599 pages (f)
Full of twists and unexpected outcomes, Joyce DiPastena’s latest historical love story, “The Lady and the Minstrel,” is an intelligent and well-written creation.
DiPastena, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presents a detailed and engaging tale that is set in the 13th century and plunges her characters into the stringent and often crippling regulations of life as a lord or a tenant in rural England.
Robert Marcel has come to stay with an old friend in his quiet cottage. Despite a strong warning to keep a low profile, Robert is drawn into the spotlight during a heated encounter with a group of nobles. Among the aristocratic group, Robert recognizes a beautiful face from his past.
Years earlier, Robert was forced to flee from his homeland pursued by hounds, and a 10-year-old girl risked her safety to help him escape. Now working as a traveling minstrel, Robert is called to the castle to perform for nobles including the beautiful, now full-grown girl from his past — Lady Marguerite.
Lady Marguerite’s father has maneuvered her unwillingly into a betrothal with the loathsome Earl of Saxton. The odious man has influence but no virtue and shamelessly flaunts his mistress in the face of his betrothed.
Thrust into the same events, Robert and Marguerite nurture a cautious relationship that builds into something more meaningful. Despite their divergent positions in society, they fall deeply in love.
However, devious villains and demons from the past repeatedly scheme to tear the two apart and ruin their lives. Robert and Marguerite are left to lean on the strength of their love to save one another.
DiPastena’s book is historically sturdy. Minor antique features dangle from every paragraph, leaving a truly authentic feel to the work. The characters are well-developed and convincing. Marguerite is a powerful, if flawed, heroine. Robert is prideful and obstinate but also unbending in his devotion to Marguerite.
While there is no foul language or explicit sexuality beyond passionate kissing in the book, Saxton’s character is base in every sense and his scandalous relationship with his mistress wends its way throughout the entire story.
The book is well-crafted and fluid but is also drawn out. The use of extensive detail, numerous plot twists and extended character interactions sometimes makes chapters feel more stretched than is needed. However, DiPastena’s work is a smooth and enjoyable read.
— Melissa DeMoux