March 1, 2017 Booklist 47 www.booklistonline.com
azine called The American, trying to find her
way in the male-dominated journalism world,
when she is “seconded” to London to work for
Picture Weekly. It’s summer 1940, and the European war is just starting to heat up as Ruby
arrives and is immediately attracted to Bennett,
a Dunkirk survivor employed by a mysterious “research agency” (think clandestine ops).
There’s no time for romance, however, as Bennett disappears and the Blitz begins. There are
plenty of formulaic elements here—newsroom
camaraderie, bombs and heartbreak, tearful
goodbyes, etc.—but Robson manages the familiar elements skillfully, relying on a sharply
detailed evocation of the Blitz through the
fresh eyes of a young American and on characters who defy their types with just the right
splash of individuality. This pairs perfectly with
Lissa Evans’ Their Finest (2016) and Meg Waite
Clayton’s The Race for Paris (2015). —Bill Ott
My Last Lament.
By James William Brown.
Apr. 2017. 352p. Berkley, $26 (9780399583407).
Aliki, a teenager in a northeastern Greek
village in the 1940s, has an innate talent for
singing dirge-poems honoring the deceased.
After her father is executed by German soldiers, she’s taken in by Chrysoula, a neighbor
woman with a son, Takis, who may be mentally ill. Aliki grows close to Stelios, the young
Greek Jewish man Chrysoula hides in her basement with his mother, and their bond makes
Takis jealous. Then their household is betrayed,
and violence erupts, forcing the trio into political chaos as civil war tears the country apart
and Communist guerrillas roam the streets.
Because their characterizations are rather flat,
Aliki and Stelios’ love story doesn’t attain the
emotional heights it reaches for; the book’s
gripping final chapters, however, have undeniable power. Aliki’s dry humor is entertaining
as she records her life story on cassette for a
modern American ethnographer. Full of details
on folk traditions, like shadow-puppet theater
and ritual laments, Brown’s novel should entice readers curious about Greek history and
culture and WWII enthusiasts seeking a new
angle on the era. —Sarah Johnson
The Wages of Sin.
By Kaite Welsh.
Mar. 2017. 304p. Pegasus, $25.95 (9781681773322).
Welsh deftly explores an era of pioneering
women in her first novel. Set in 1882, The Wages of Sin follows Sarah Gilchrist as she enters
the University of Edinburgh’s medical school
with its first class of women. A disgraced London aristocrat, Sarah finds that her reputation
precedes her in Edinburgh, and she is friendless among her class of women in an even less
friendly university atmosphere. Her only place
of welcome is the clinic, in Edinburgh’s seediest
slum, where she assists. When one of her patients turns up in the mortuary at the university,
Sarah is shocked to find evidence of murder and
takes it upon herself to investigate the untimely
death. Welsh’s deeply feminist novel is an engaging, fast-paced tale full of twists and turns.
Though at times somewhat predictable, the
novel puts on full display the various struggles
of women entering academia, as well as women’s class struggles. Readers who enjoy historical
fiction that incorporates mystery and female
empowerment will love this. —Emily Brock
By Shelley Shepard Gray.
Mar. 2017. 247p. Avon/Inspire, paper, $12.99
(9780062469113); e-book (9780062469113).
Hannah Hilty knows her family blames her
for their having to move, but it really isn’t her
fault. Hannah didn’t ask to have a stalker. In
fact, she did everything she could think of to
discourage Trevor Ritchie, but the Englisher
just would not leave her alone. So Hannah and
her family have no choice but to leave Ohio
and start new lives in Hart County, Kentucky,
where Hannah quickly becomes known as the
“Recluse” by her new neighbors. When Isaac
Troyer unexpectedly bumps into Hannah
while out fishing, he is charmed and intrigued
by her. But can Isaac convince Hannah to leave
her self-imposed exile and rejoin the rest of the
world? Award winner Gray (An Amish Family
Christmas, 2016) neatly weaves a strong thread
of suspense into the plot of the first novel in her
Amish of Hart County series. Combine this
with Gray’s flair for crafting relatable Amish
characters whose everyday problems and concerns will resonate with readers of any faith
and you have a quiet yet powerful inspirational
novel with widespread appeal. —John Charles
YA: The protagonist’s relationships with
her siblings and her fledgling romance
ring true with YAs. JC.
The Lawrence Browne Affair.
By Cat Sebastian.
Mar. 2017. 336p. Avon, paper, $6.99 (9780062642516).
Lawrence Browne has a servant problem:
none want to work in a house that could very
well explode at any moment.
Now, despite Lawrence’s best
efforts to convince everyone
that his experiments on a
new type of communication
device are perfectly safe, he
still finds himself in need of
a new secretary. Meanwhile,
con man and thief extraor-
dinaire Georgie Turner finds himself persona
non grata in London after he refuses to bilk a
nice old lady, as gang-leader Jamie Brewster
insists he should. Posing as a candidate for
Lawrence’s secretary job would not only get
Georgie out of the city but would also repay a
favor Georgie owes his brother Jack. It seems
like the perfect plan, until Georgie arrives
in Cornwall and finds himself falling hard
and fast for his new employer. Readers will
quickly be entranced by the depth of emotion
and intensity of sensual desire Sebastian cre-
ates between her two protagonists. Pair this
up with her flair for nuanced characterization
and sly sense of wit, and Sebastian proves she
is a new force to be reckoned with in historical
romances. —John Charles
By Garrett Leigh.
Mar. 2017. 213p. Riptide, paper, $17.99 (9781626494794);
Nero is a taciturn, grumpy chef whose all-encompassing work at the hottest restaurant
in England’s Shepherd’s Bush gives him no
pleasure. Lenny is a new apprentice boss Nero
has to train despite the young man’s lack of
experience. Lenny is well versed in fear, and
he is grateful for shelter, even if it’s Nero’s old
couch in his place above the restaurant. Nero’s
limited patience is sorely tested by the vibrant,
attractive apprentice, until Lenny demonstrates
unexpected skills with garnish and presentation,
repurposing orange-peel scraps into aesthetic
enhancements. When Lenny’s peril abates, the
once unapproachable Nero asks him to stay, allowing the two to fall in love and into bed, and
for Nero to discover new sides of himself sexually and emotionally. Danger remains, yet Leigh
(Rented Heart, 2016) brings the action not to a
fiery, sock-’em finale but rather an oddly satisfying takedown, with order restored for these two
strays in love. Fans of British contemporary,
same-sex, and upbeat suspense will enjoy the
talented Leigh’s latest. —Whitney Scott
The Thing about Love.
By Julie James.
Apr. 2017. 384p. Berkley, paper, $15 (9780425273777).
James (Suddenly One Summer, 2015) convincingly forges a hot romantic couple out of
an alpha woman and a strong man in this FBI
caper. Jessica and John are horrified to find
themselves working as partners in an undercover operation, given their unforgettable battles
years ago during their time at the FBI academy,
where they competed and bickered for weeks.
Forced together again by an assignment out of
the Chicago office, they try to make the best of
it while pretending to be real estate developers
in Jacksonville, Florida. Traveling brings them
closer, leading to friendship and more. John is
hoping to get an elite new FBI assignment, so
both assume that this will be a light and short
flirtation. Their mission is surprising, and so is
their relationship. James’ dialogue and characters sparkle with intelligence and humor, and
there is plenty of action. Tough women who
can handle powerful guys are always welcome
in the contemporary romance genre. Fans of
Suzanne Brockmann and Julie Garwood will
enjoy James. —Amy Alessio
By Sara Humphreys.
Mar. 2017. 384p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, paper, $7.99
Versatile Humphreys (Trouble Walks In, 2016)
branches out with a new series featuring the
Dragon clan, which many believe is extinct. Indeed, Zander and his twin brother, Zed, are the
last of their kind, cursed and stripped of their
powers. One was forced to live as a human, the
other is trapped in hibernation. Zander has to