I love unique historical romances that bring to light little-known or little-remembered parts of history. Even better if the author can make me laugh and cry in the same book. These new releases fit the bill.
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
Looking for Unique Historical Romances Set in Exotic Places?
Thirty years ago, most historical romances offered by Christian publishers had limited settings. The Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and the West. Happily, a handful of inspirational writers set their books in more exotic settings, resulting in unique historical romances. Before you argue about the exoticness of Washington, DC, let me assure you I included The Prince of Spies for good reasons. For a country girl like me, the history of Washington, DC and all its political intrigue seems pretty exotic!
And did you know embroidering with beetle casings used to be a thing? Or that Australia had a gold rush? See? Just what I promised: unique historical romances set in exotic places.
By Kimberly Duffy, Bethany House Publishers, March 2021, 432 pages.
Ottilie Russell has only ever known life in Calcutta. First as the adored child of an English scientist and Eurasian woman, then as the helper for her bereaved mother. Now her mother has died in a tragic accident and Ottilie must provide for her grandmother and younger brother. Each tragedy has cracked her faith in a God who cares, despite what her mother and her grandmother tell her.
She must rely on her skill as an embroiderer to put food on the table and keep Thaddeus in school. Her maternal grandfather, who abandoned her grandmother and mother years ago, offers to help, but Ottilie wants nothing to do with him. She lives between worlds—the vibrant, colorful world of Calcutta with its languages and traditions, and the stiff Victorian world that disparages those of mixed race.
A stranger arrives on their doorstep and informs her that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson. His paternal grandmother and aunt want him and his sister in England. A grandmother and aunt who have no idea Thaddeus inherited his father’s skin coloring and Ottile favors her grandmother’s people.
Everett Scott, her grandmother’s messenger, insists Thaddeus has a responsibility to the peerage and England. Ottilie finds herself drawn to the kind stranger, and soon calls him friend. But she remains firm in her decision to stay in India—until tragedy strikes again.
This time, Ottilie agrees to allow Thaddeus to travel to England, on the condition that she accompany him. Family secrets further test her faith as Ottilie prepares for their journey to the land of her father. A land full of people who will most likely reject her for the color of her skin just as surely as the British in Indian have rejected her. But she will endure anything for the love of her brother.
Upon arriving in England, Ottilie suffers rejection, betrayal, and helplessness as she tries to navigate a new life in an unknown world. Will her mustard seed of faith flourish in spite of the hardships?
What I Loved About This Book
Duffy weaves a tapestry of colors, smells, sounds, and emotions that draws readers in from the first page. This isn’t just a book about a journey between two worlds, it’s a book about the journey between unbelief and faith. Ottilie knows how to be a Christian, but she doesn’t understand faith. She must go through the fires of adversity to understand the world without faith and the world with faith.
Replete with historical details from both India and England, the words shimmer like the beetle casings used in Ottilie’s embroidery. This is a book I’ll read over and over again.
By Tea Cooper, Thomas Nelson, March 2021, 383 pages.
Jane Piper had no family, but she does have remarkable math skills. At the age of nine, philanthropist siblings Michael and Elizabeth Quinn take Jane from the orphanage she has always known and sponsor her education. By the time she finishes high school, she has taken on the running of the Quinn’s auction house business.
The successful Quinns have orphan roots, just like Jane. But when Elizabeth has a mysterious reaction to a local museum exhibit, Jane wonders if her past holds more than even Elizabeth can remember. Can Jane help her benefactress uncover her past before the whole town of Maitland turns against the people who have changed her life forever?
Why I Loved this Book
The Girl in the Painting combines history, mystery, and rich cultural details from Australia’s past. I love the quirky characters—Jane struggles with social awkwardness—and the cameo appearances by characters from The Woman in the Green Dress. I have great respect for authors who tell the truth about how minorities have been treated historically, and respect indigenous groups.
Unlike many inspirational historical novels, this story is light on romance and probably asks more questions than offers answers to spiritual questions. Readers who love Kristy Cambron will enjoy The Girl in the Painting.
By Elizabeth Camden, Bethany House Publishers, February 2021, 345 pages.
When Marianne Magruder walks out on the ice to save her nephew’s dog, an unexpected source of help comes in the form of an engaging young man. Young men don’t usually spark an interest in Marianne—she’d rather spend time with her family or work at her job taking photographs for the government.
When the mysterious young man sends her flowers and then shows up at the studio where she develops her film, Marianne admires his joyful spirit and ingenuity in finding her. And then she discovers his last name.
Luke Delacroix has spent his adult years seeking adventure and challenge. After spending months in a Cuban prison and bringing down a spy ring, he’s ready for a new challenge. He commits to acting as a human test subject for the Poison Squad so he can prove, once and for all, that his family’s nemesis is poisoning unsuspecting consumers with dangerous food additives. His greatest wish? Bring down the congressman responsible for ignoring the truth about tainted foods.
After helping a damsel in distress save a dog, he tracks her down and begins a friendship. But will their friendship survive when he discovers her last name?
Why I Love This Book
In this Romeo and Juliet-themed finale to the Hope and Glory series, Camden creates two of her most engaging characters. Luke and Marianne’s friendship and love story prove love can win against all odds—including family feuds and disillusionments. Camden continues her story of the Delacroix family and its quest to ensure safety in the Golden Age food supply.
Her attention to both little-known historical details brings the setting and characters to life.Don't miss these three new unique historical romances set in exotic locations–they'll make you laugh and cry and open up a world you never knew. #amreading #Bookreview @TeaCooper1 @Bethnay_House @ThomasNelson Click To Tweet