ON THE SHELF: Historical fiction titles with a romantic twist

Published 8:00 am Sunday, August 21, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

“Summer on Honeysuckle Ridge” is by Debbie Mason. Abby Everhart has hit rock bottom. She went from being a social media influencer to being an unemployed divorcee living out of her car. When her great-aunt dies and leaves Abby her homestead, she heads for Honeysuckle Farm in Highland Falls, North Carolina. She decides to fix the place up a bit and put it on the market. Instead of a charming getaway, she finds a run-down mess and a strange man is living on the property. Honeysuckle Farm is the only place that Hunter MacKenzie has ever felt at home and now this feisty city girl has come there to sell it. As he spends more time with Abby, however, she seems to grow on him, and he finds himself wanting her to stay for good. Will Hunter be able to convince Abby that this is where she belongs?

Tea Cooper delivers a historical novel with “The Cartographer’s Secret.” Evie Ludgrove grew up in the Hunter Valley in 1880. She lived in the shadow of her father’s obsession with Australian explorer Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt. Evie becomes determined to unravel the secret of the demise of Leichhardt when she learns of a reward for that information. When Evie sets out to prove her theory, she vanishes. Fast forward to 1911 and Letitia Rawlings has arrived at the family estate to inform her great-aunt Olivia of a death in the family. While there, she discovers a map that might hold a clue to the fate of her missing aunt, Evie Ludgrove. Letitia sets out to discover the truth but soon realizes that solving the mystery could be as perilous as it is liberating.

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“Bad River” is the latest Ranger Sam Burrack western by Ralph Cotton. Ranger Sam Burrack finds himself riding to the Mexico Valley hot on the trail of the Arizona Cowboy Gang. They have spent the past year at the top of the Most Wanted list and now they’re robbing banks and trains on both sides of the border. Burrack knows that he won’t find them just waiting around in Bad River and he knows that finding and confronting them won’t be easy. He embraces his patience and prays for a bit of luck as he scours the limestone mountains and the caves above the old Quaker mission. He’ll smoke them out if he has to because a ranger always gets the job done.

“Love in Unlikely Places” is an Amish romance by Linda Byler. Emma becomes a nanny for a family along the coast of North Carolina and her world opens up in new and exciting ways. Not only is she experiencing life outside of her Amish community in Pennsylvania, but she finds herself spending more and more time with Ben, the Amish man working on the house next door. Suddenly, Emma is forced to leave North Carolina and she doesn’t get the chance to say goodbye. As the months go by, she reflects on the romance she shared with Ben and how it made her feel. When she gets the chance to return to reunite with Ben, her world is shattered. Emma can only ask, “Why did God keep stringing her along, only to leave her broken-hearted again and again?”

Patricia Johns delivers “A Deputy in Amish Country.” Annabelle Richards is in need of a safe haven while she waits to testify in a high-profile trial. Deputy Conrad Westhouse volunteers to protect her at his family’s ranch, deep in Amish country. That’s perfect for Annabelle because she has always loved visiting the Amish countryside with its bucolic farms and quaint shops. As he watches Annabelle charm his neighbors and dream of starting over in the Ohio countryside, Conrad finds himself drawn more and more to her. He knows, however, that the only way to keep her safe is to keep his emotions locked down. Will these two wayward souls find the love and happiness they deserve?

Masters of western fiction William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone deliver their latest “Dead River: The Jackals.” Sean Keegan and Jed Breen follow fellow jackal Matt McCulloch into Mexico. Matt has just busted Apache renegade Blood Moon out of jail and the U.S. Army, and all manner of bounty hunters are on their trail. Laying in wait south of the border are the Mexican rurales led by Confederate expat Major Block Frazer who is looking to get revenge. Nothing will stop Matt McCulloch from completing his mission to save his daughter from the Apache band who abducted her. Though they are outnumbered and outgunned, the jackals will stand together to free Matt’s daughter or end up hung, drawn, and quartered.