By Álvaro Enrigue. Tr. by Natasha Wimmer.
Feb. 2016. 240p. Riverhead, $27.95 (9781594633461).
The entirety of Enrigue’s joyfully disorienting novel takes place during a match of
pallacorda, a precursor to tennis, between
Italian painter Caravaggio and Spanish poet
Quevedo. The ball they bat back and forth is
spun from the hair of beheaded Anne Boleyn,
and the plot only becomes more tangled
from there, roping in a bustling constellation of characters, including Galileo Galilei,
Hernán Cortés, and his traitorous Nahua
mistress, La Malinche. Enrigue liberates
this historical fiction from a fixed time and
place by fabricating stories about real figures
and assembling a pastiche of encyclopedic
snippets, treatise excerpts, and Castilian definitions. The result is a humorous, hopscotch
meditation on a world united by empire and
violence on the verge of the seventeenth century. Shaped by his imagining the migratory
patterns of imperial brutality, Enrigue’s ambitious tale bends in on itself and will reward
readers who won’t mind feeling like wanderers lost in the increasingly erudite corridors
of Borges’ library of Babel. Winner of the
2013 Herralde Novel Prize, Enrigue joins
fellow formidable Spanish-language authors
Enrique Vila-Matas, Juan Villoro, and Roberto Bolaño. —Diego Báez
By Break of Day.
By M. L. Buchman.
Feb. 2016. 352p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, paper, $7.99
In Buchman’s latest Night Stalkers novel,
Brooklyn-born army-captain Kara Moretti,
the RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) pilot attached to the SOAR (Special Operations
Aviation Regiment) berthed
on the ship Peleliu, falls for
Texan Captain Justin Roberts, pilot of the unit’s largest
Chinook helicopter, although
she tells herself it’s only about
great sex. Justin has other
ideas. After a hilarious visit to
meet the Moretti clan, they
are called back into action to secretly extract a
spy from an American base in Israeli territory.
When Justin’s Chinook is hijacked, Kara has
to face hard facts: not only does she love him,
she now has to shoot him down. The rest of
the story concerns a stealth rescue organized
by the super-warrior Delta Colonel Michael
Gibson and the search for who was behind
the hijacking. A great read as usual, and
the second in which Buchman reverses the
damsel-in-distress trope and has the woman
rescue the man. Along with providing fasci-
nating technical details and superb sex scenes,
Buchman is a master of delivering romance
that is as charming as plausible within a
military setting. This will please his growing
audience as well as fans of Suzanne Brock-
man, Maya Banks, Catherine Mann, and
Kaylea Cross. —Mary K. Chelton
Her Fierce Warrior.
By Paige Tyler.
Mar. 2016. 320p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, paper, $7.99
On a recon mission with his Special Forces
A-Team in Tajikistan, Sergeant Angelo Rios
discovers a female “hybrid” (a human-made
animal shifter) frightened after escaping
from a hidden laboratory. In the first installment in Tyler’s X-Ops series (Her Perfect
Mate, 2014), the Department of Covert Operations’ cat-shifter, Ivy, had her DNA stolen
by evil scientists, and she and the DCO have
been worried that it would be used to create hybrids, so Rios’ news is cause for alarm.
This new hybrid, Minka, is unnerved by
her strength and feels unable to control her
rage, but Angelo has a calming effect on her,
and she joins the team. Back in the States,
the other shifters help her tame the “beast”
within as she and Angelo fall in love. Minka
helps them uncover details about the doctors who experimented on her, and all signs
point to foul play within the DCO. Though
not brimming with Tyler’s usual action, the
tender romance between Minka and Angelo
is just as appealing, and fans will be delighted with both returning and new characters.
A Hold on Me.
By Pat Esden.
Mar. 2016. 320p. Kensington, paper, $12.95
(9781496700056); e-book (9781496700056).
In newcomer Esden’s adult contemporary
gothic, Annie Freemont, an aspiring art
appraiser, takes her dad, who seems to be descending into dementia, to Moonhill, the old
family home on the coast of Maine, where
several family members still live. Annie has no
memories of the family or the place where her
mother died in a freak accident. Filled with
antiques and treasures, Moonhill also features
strange shadows and secret passages. Acting
strangely and becoming threatening, Annie’s
father, who has always refused to be parted
from the urn holding his wife’s ashes, which
they have carried with them for years, now
forces Annie to dump her mother’s cremains
in the ocean, nearly killing her in the process. A hunky and mysterious groundskeeper
adds romance to the tale, while a cousin who
just wants to have fun incites trouble. A major and unexpected paranormal threat adds
freshness to Esden’s page-turner, and readers
will be delighted that this is the first in her
series, Dark Heart. —Diana Tixier Herald
How to Wed a Warrior.
By Christy English.
Feb. 2016. 352p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, paper, $7.99
The second in English’s delightful Broad-
The Prophetess: Deborah’s Story.
swords and Ballrooms series, following How
to Seduce a Scot (2015), begins with Pru-
dence saving a girl who has drawn a sword
on Lord Grathton in Hyde Park. Prudence
knows Lord Grathton from her former
debutante life, before her parents died and
her brother disappeared at sea with much of
the ton’s money. She steps in to help smooth
things over and ends up agreeing to move
in with the Highlands girl, Mary Elizabeth
Waters, and her brother, Robert, to pave
the way for them to enter high society. In-
stead, perceiving her true nature behind her
disguise as a humble widow, they end up
helping her. When it turns out that there is
more to her brother’s story than she realized,
Prudence needs the Waters’ help setting the
past right. English infuses sexy fun into this
light adventure, possibly her best yet, along
with plenty of intelligent characters and live-
ly dialogue to round it out. Fans of Grace
Burrowes and Amanda Quick should be in-
troduced to English. —Amy Alessio
By Jill Eileen Smith.
Feb. 2016. 368p. Revell, paper, $14.99 (9780800720353).
Deborah, a prophet and the only female
judge in the Bible, is portrayed in Judges 4
and 5 and now takes center stage in the latest
in Smith’s Daughters of the Promised Land
series, following The Crimson Cord: Rahab’s
Story (2015). As Sisera, a
sadistic and powerful Canaanite general, wreaks
havoc on the Israelites, it
looks as though all will be
lost. Deborah’s prophecies,
however, encourage her people to wage what should be
by all rights a losing battle
against the evil forces of a genocidal maniac. This thrilling retelling of how Deborah’s
faith and vision lead to victory is skillfully
intertwined with the edge-of-your-seat story
of the metalsmith’s wife, Jael, who after being repeatedly threatened by Sisera, kills him
in her tent. Readers, even those deeply familiar with the biblical tales of Deborah and
Jael, will be swept away by the danger and
suspense. Smith excels at writing fiction that
brings women in from the margins of biblical history and allows their achievements to
shine. —Shelley Mosley
YA: YAs will be inspired by the courage
of Deborah and her teenage daughter,
A Sweet Misfortune.
By Maggie Brendan.
Feb. 2016. 336p. Revell, paper, $14.99 (9780800722654).
Brendan continues the Virtues and Vices
of the Old West series ( The Trouble with Patience, 2015) set in the Montana Territory
of 1862. When cattle baron John McIntyre
sweeps Rachel Matthews off her feet at the
local saloon, the last thing she feels is romantic. Having rescued Rachel per her brother’s
request, John is attracted to her fiery spirit.
But it isn’t long before she learns that he
owns her family’s land after paying the back
taxes her brother couldn’t afford. Rachel is as