February 1, 2017 Booklist 29 www.booklistonline.com
her entire young life as a celebrated beauty;
however, it is her mind that she wants valued. As a young bride, she is particularly
eager to embrace the learned inner circle of
the Medici family of Florence, an opportunity which her new husband’s connections
afford her. Soon after her introduction to
them, she meets an artist discovered by Lorenzo Medici, Sandro Botticelli, and agrees
to have him paint her portrait. From this,
an unlikely friendship develops that soon
grows into something more. Though Simonetta is attracted to Botticelli, her loyalty
to her husband keeps her from acting on
her feelings. When faced with an unpleasant way of furthering her husband’s career,
Simonetta must make the choice between
loyalty to her husband or to her own heart.
In the tradition of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with
a Pearl Earring (2000), Palombo ( The Violinist of Venice, 2015) has married fine art with
romantic historical fiction in this lush and
sensual interpretation of Medici Florence,
artist Sandro Botticelli, and the muse that
inspired them all. —Stacy Shaw
Of Ashes and Dust.
By Marc Graham.
Mar. 2017. 338p. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432833930).
Jim Robbins is a sharecropper’s son living
in pre-Civil War Arkansas. His childhood
friendship with the wealthy landowner’s
children brings complications into his poverty-stricken world, namely, rivalry with the
arrogant son and hopeless love for the beautiful daughter, Angelina. In an era of slave
ownership, rigid class distinction, and limited opportunities for the poor, Jim’s pathway
is eased by the benevolence of the landowner. He is sent to Little Rock to receive some
rudimentary education. As the teenage boy
grows into a man, Jim’s love for Angelina
becomes an illicit affair, while North-South
animosity turns into war. The book follows
Jim through the horrors of war to the building of the Transcontinental Railway, from
burning love to heartbreaking deception,
from great highs to dreadful lows. Along the
way, Graham makes liberal use of his knowledge of the Masonic Lodge, venturing often
into the metaphysical. His characters are real
enough to be believed, while the situations
could be lifted right out of history. Overall,
this is a well written, very readable story, if a
touch long. —Reg Quist
Any Day Now.
By Robyn Carr.
Apr. 2017. 352p. MIRA, $26.99 (9780778319917);
In the second title in RITA Award–
winning and best-selling Carr’s splendid Sullivan’s
Crossing series, following What We Find
(2016), Sierra Jones, now nine months so-
ber, has decided to join her brother, Cal, and
his new wife, Maggie, at Sullivan’s Crossing,
a majestic Colorado wilderness campground
along a popular hiking trail. But Sierra isn’t
just there for a reunion with
her older sibling—she’s be-
ing stalked by a serial rapist
and needs to be some place
safe. What Sierra doesn’t
expect to find there is ro-
mance, but much to her
surprise, she does discover
love, with firefighter Conrad
“Connie” Boyle. Connie has trust issues of his
own, and rightfully so. Carr addresses serious
problems—animal abuse, sexual predators,
alcoholism, infidelity—realistically and sym-
pathetically while seamlessly weaving them
into the fabric of her engrossing story. Char-
acters from the first installment pop in and
out like old friends, so readers will want to
start at the beginning. —Shelley Mosley
Flash of Fury.
By Lea Griffith.
Mar. 2017. 352p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, paper, $7.99
In the first in Griffith’s Endgame Ops series,
Kingston McNally, ex-SEAL and the leader of
this Special Ops off-the-books group, meets
thy he feels. Griffith’s military romance has all
the elements readers treasure: a larger-than-life badass warrior, a woman to match him,
and action galore. Besides being a great read
with the promise of more Endgame stories,
the book has a wonderfully fulfilling ending.
Readers of Maya Banks’ KGI and Cindy Girard’s Black Ops International series will love
this. —Mary K. Chelton
His Cowboy Heart.
By Jennifer Ryan.
Feb. 2017. 416p. HarperCollins, paper, $7.99
If Ford Kendrick was going to be honest
with himself, Jamie Keller wasn’t really the
one that got away. It was more like Jamie
was the one Ford pushed away. Ford tries
to tell himself that he cut all ties with Ja-
mie for her own good, but that doesn’t dull
the pain of losing her one bit. Now Jamie is
back in town bearing the scars, some visible
and some not, from her military tour in Af-
ghanistan. Common sense dictates that Ford
should leave Jamie alone and
give her the space she needs
to heal, but Ford is tired
of doing what seems logi-
cal. Eleven years ago, Ford
didn’t fight for Jamie’s love,
but he sure as hell is going
to now. Book six in Ryan’s
Montana Men series (Her
Renegade Rancher, 2016) packs a powerful
emotional punch. Ryan not only brings to
the table emotionally engaging, multilay-
ered characters, she also writes with great
sensitivity about the physical, emotional,
and mental toll PTSD can levy on military
personnel returning home from active duty,
which ultimately makes her heroine’s jour-
ney back to the light all the more poignant.
How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days.
By Kerrelyn Sparks.
Mar. 2017. 416p. St. Martin’s, paper, $7.99
As Sparks starts a delightful new paranor-mal-romance series, The Embraced, Luciana
begins to learn about her mysterious origins
when a stranger shows up at the convent
where she has been raised. The Duke of
Vindalyn turns out to be her father. He has
hidden Luciana away because her special
powers put her in danger, but now the sister
she never knew, Tatiana, must be presented
to the king, who decreed she must marry
Leo, the Lord Protector, who is superfast
and superstrong, can fling electrical shocks,
and kills whomever he touches, including, it’s rumored, his mother and nanny as
a boy. If Tatiana is not presented, the duke
will be executed. But Tatiana is dead. Luciana valiantly pretends to be Tatiana to save
her father’s life, but they are targeted by assassins. Luciana uses her powers to uncover
dangerous plots, while, because of their
belief in their inability to physically touch,
Luciana and Leo’s erotic tension ratchets up.
Readers will relish Spark’s lovingly detailed
and memorable tale and look forward to the
next. —Diana Tixier Herald
A Note Yet Unsung.
By Tamera Alexander.
Feb. 2017. 432p. Bethany, $25.99 (9780764230066);
paper, $15.99 (9780764206245).
It’s 1871, and violin virtuoso Rebekah Carrington has just returned from Vienna after
Griffith’s military romance has all the elements readers treasure: a larger-
than-life badass warrior, a woman to match him, and action galore.
—Mary K. Chelton, on Flash of Fury