February 15, 2016 Booklist 35 www.booklistonline.com
brought to life in exquisite detail, and the story of their passion, pride, and artistic rivalry
ends with the creation of two of the world’s
most iconic art works, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa
and Michelangelo’s David. The artistic process can be one of self-doubt, struggle, and
sheer physical exertion, and Storey depicts
the drama here with truth and insight. A rewarding read for art aficionados and fans of
historical fiction. —Carolyn Mulac
The Taxidermist’s Daughter.
By Kate Mosse.
Apr. 2016. 432p. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062402158);
e-book, $12.99 (9780062402172).
A gothic novel from the award-winning and
best-selling author of Labyrinth (2006). The
story opens in an English coastal village on a
dark and stormy night in 1912. Constantia
Gifford has taken over the family taxidermy
business and has become obsessed with birds.
She suffers from some amnesia from a fall 10
years ago, but her memories have started to
come back in nasty little snatches. Something
else happened a decade ago involving “four
fine gentlemen,” something that appears to
have left everyone a bit edgy. It becomes fairly
obvious what that something was early on, and
the book sometimes lapses into melodrama,
especially at the conclusion, also occurring on
a dark and stormy night. Still, if fans of gothic
fiction can stomach the taxidermy details, they
will enjoy this book. The pacing is perfect,
the prose is perfect for the theme, and the author creates lovely verbal landscape paintings.
Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca comes first to
mind when seeking a comparison to the overall
mood of eeriness and damp that Mosse creates
so vividly. —Jane Murphy
Because of Miss Bridgerton.
By Julia Quinn.
Mar. 2016. 384p. Avon, paper, $7.99 (9780062388148).
Sybilla “Billie” Bridgerton blames the cat.
If the dratted pet had not somehow got itself
stuck in a tree, Billie would not have ended
up trapped on the roof of a farmhouse. The
fact that the feline did not seem to be even
a smidgen grateful for Billie’s
assistance was really the icing
on the cake. Fortunately, Bil-
lie knows that all she needs
to do is wait patiently, and
someone will come along and
help her get down. Of course,
with the way Billie’s luck has
been running that day, who
should happen to be the very first person
she spies but George Rokesby. The Bridger-
tons and the Rokesbys have been neighbors
for centuries, and Billie would welcome the
assistance of any of the Rokesbys except the
insufferably arrogant, know-it-all George.
When he subsequently ends up stuck on the
roof with Billie, that’s when the fur really be-
gins to fly. Powered by a surfeit of dazzling wit
and graced with a cast of unforgettable charac-
ters, Because of Miss Bridgerton is top-drawer,
polished-to-perfection Quinn that will most
certainly be savored by both longtime fans
and new readers alike. —John Charles
Fortune Favors the Wicked.
By Theresa Romain.
Apr. 2016. 368p. Zebra, paper, $7.99 (9781420138658);
Charlotte Perry didn’t tell Benedict Frost
her real name when she encountered him in
the Pig and Blanket in Strawfield, because she
never expected to see him again. So, of course,
when Benedict turns up at her
father’s vicarage as the visiting
scholar sent by a friend to stay
with them, Charlotte is a bit
worried. As it turns out, Benedict is more than happy to
keep Charlotte’s secret, but the
real problem is why Benedict
is in Derbyshire. Like every
other fortune hunter in England, Benedict has
descended on Strawfield in search of the six
trunks of new gold sovereigns that were stolen
from the Royal Mint. However, as far as Charlotte is concerned, she needs the reward money
more than he does, and she is going to be the
one to find that gold. Romain launches her
new Royal Rewards series on a high note with
this richly rewarding Regency tale, in which
she brilliantly demonstrates her flair for creating one-of-a-kind protagonists who are not cut
from the conventional bolt of romance-hero
and -heroine cloth. —John Charles
By JL Merrow.
Mar. 2016. 202p. Riptide, paper, $17.99
(9781626493834); e-book, $17.99 (9781626493827).
Sweet stories sweetly told without artifice
can bridge many differences and never go out
of style. Just such a tale is Merrow’s romance
about mismatched British gay lovers during a
leap year on the Isle of Wight in the English
Channel, four miles off the coast of Hampshire and known as a holiday destination since
Victorian times. There, would-be chef Rufus
loyally helps his elderly dad and his ineffective,
much younger second wife at their B&B but
is thrilled when a “handsome bloke” walks out
of the sea, presenting all kinds of possibilities.
Somewhat predictable quarrels and separations
across the channel ensue, but Rufus’ BFF, Liz,
a lesbian and single mom because her transitioning lover didn’t use a condom, provides
contrast and comedy as an attention-getting
character perhaps used too sparingly; her
sparked-up energy illuminates her scenes with
the fellows, who reveal their secrets, eventually becoming each other’s “bloke” in Merrow’s
gentle love story. — Whitney Scott
The Pastor’s Husband.
By Tiffany L. Warren.
Mar. 2016. 266p. Kensington, paper, $15
(9781617732027); e-book (9781617732034).
Warren’s ( The Favorite Son, 2015) unique
offering in the currently popular pastor
genre portrays a female leader. Nya and her
husband are building the church she saw in
one of her prophecies. Nya is pressed to ac-
cept a speaking engagement and urged to
produce a prophecy for the crowd. But her
gift doesn’t work on demand, so she prevari-
cates, telling a woman named Felicia that
good things and relationships are coming
“suddenly.” Suddenly Blessings becomes Nya’s
trademark and TV show, and book deals fol-
low. Her husband, Greg, keeps their growing
church going, but he cares more about truth
than money or power. Meanwhile, Felicia
encounters one bad situation after another
and vows revenge on Nya. She tries to break
up the couple with violence that instead
brings Nya and Greg back to their King-
dom work together. Some characters are
extreme, like Felicia, yet Nya and Greg are
richly dimensional and intelligent. Writing
in a uniquely inspirational voice, Warren
continues to offer thought-provoking and
enjoyable reading. —Amy Alessio
By Charlotte Hubbard.
Mar. 2016. 368p. Zebra, paper, $7.99 (9781420139419);
When three Amish sisters purchase an
abandoned church camp for a new settlement
called Promise Lodge, their unconventional
endeavor seems to invite scrutiny and criticism from the Old Order
at every turn. When young
Deborah Peterscheim escapes
to the settlement after being
cast out by her father and
looks to make amends with
her former fiancé, Noah,
the community must band
together in forgiveness. But
Promise Lodge’s peace is threatened when the
bishop’s trouble-making son arrives on Deborah’s heels determined to make her and the
other settlers at Promise Lodge pay for what
she’s done. Debuting her new Promise Lodge
series, Hubbard writes of healing and brave
new beginnings from a refreshingly feminist
perspective. While her tale deals with such
real-world problems as abuse, deceit, and
women’s rights within the Old Order, it does
so in a lighter way than Beverly Lewis’ The
Shunning (1997) and in a manner that will
please admirers of Cindy Woodsmall. Readers new to Amish romance will find this to
be an enjoyable introduction, while seasoned
fans will welcome this addition to the Amish
canon. —Kate Campos
The Rain Sparrow.
By Linda Goodnight.
Mar. 2016. 384p. HQN, paper, $15.99 (9780373789146).
Commissioned to write the newest lucrative thriller, famous author Hayden Winters
retreats to Honey Ridge’s Peach Orchard
Inn, in Tennessee, where his chance meeting with insecure but caring librarian Carrie
Riley and young local boy Brody sets him