Book review: History, mystery and romance with Ebury books

A thrilling alternative history of the Tudors, a sultry romance set in 16th century Constantinople and two wartime love affairs top a sizzling autumn line-up from Ebury.

By Pam Norfolk
Thursday, 30th October 2014, 9:00 am
History, mystery and romance with Ebury books
History, mystery and romance with Ebury books

A vibrant and expanding imprint of the Penguin Random House Group, Ebury specialises in commercial fiction and publishes bestselling women’s fiction, crime and thrillers, historical fiction and sagas.

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

What if the refrain had been ‘Long live Henry IX’?

The first book in an enthralling Tudor trilogy from US author Laura Andersen dares to imagine what might have happened if Anne Boleyn had actually given Henry VIII a son.

We all know the disastrous aftermath when Queen Anne failed to provide a male heir but here Andersen creates an action-packed fictional scenario as deadly, dramatic and dangerous as the real thing.

Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency and yet anxious to prove himself.

With the French threatening war and disaffected Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people – his older sister Elizabeth, his best friend and loyal counsellor Dominic, and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William’s mother Anne Boleyn.

Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. And when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors.

One of them will pay a heavy price for a king’s desire as a shocking twist of fate changes England’s fortunes forever…

Anderson’s Anne Boleyn is a mere shadow player in this intriguing new slant on the traditional Tudor saga as her son becomes embroiled in mystery, conspiracy and murder.

Packed with passion and perilous politics, The Boleyn King puts electrifying fictional flights of fancy into a slice of turbulent Tudor history.

(Ebury, paperback, £6.99)

The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich

If an exotic and opulent adventure floats your boat, then take a voyage to the teeming city of Constantinople where trouble is brewing in the mighty Sultan’s harem.

The Harem Midwife, Roberta Rich’s exciting, fast-paced sequel to The Midwife of Venice, offers the same seductive blend of history, suspense and red-hot romance.

At the Imperial Harem in Constantinople in 1578, Hannah and Isaac Levi, Venetians in exile, have overcome many obstacles to begin a new life in the Ottoman Empire.

Isaac works in the silk trade while Hannah, the best midwife in the capital, tends to the hundreds of women in Sultan Murat III’s lively and infamous harem.

One night, Hannah is unexpectedly summoned to the sumptuous palace and confronted with Leah, a Jewish peasant girl who was violently abducted. The Sultan has selected Leah as his next conquest and wants her to produce his heir but if the wilful girl fails an important test, she faces a terrible fate.

Captivated by Leah’s determination but aware that she will not pass the Sultan’s ultimate test, Hannah risks everything to help her.

But as Hannah agonises over her dangerous decision, a stranger arrives from overseas to threaten her peaceful life with Isaac, and soon Leah reveals another dark secret which could condemn them both…

Rich fills her novel with amazing characters and gorgeous detail, whisking us away to an escapist adventure in a city filled with magnificent palaces, domes, towers… and breathtaking dangers.

An extravagant feast of history and mystery…

(Ebury, paperback, £7.99)

A Woman’s Place by Maggie Ford

When a young shop worker witnesses a noisy suffragette march in London’s Oxford Street in 1909, she has little idea that the hard-fought struggle will change her life…

Maggie Ford, who has been writing short stories since the early 1970s, is a born storyteller and A Woman’s Place, previously published as Give Me Tomorrow under the pen name of Elizabeth Lord, brings us all the emotion and drama of the battle for women’s right to vote.

Eveline Fenton’s father believes a woman’s place is in the home but when she meets feisty suffragette Constance Mornington, her outlook on life alters dramatically.

The two girls are from very different backgrounds. Eveline is a grocer’s daughter from the East End of London while Connie is the daughter of a wealthy Harley Street doctor but when they are thrown together it is the start of a lifelong friendship.

Both girls are forced to keep their political beliefs from their family. Eveline’s father doesn’t approve of the women’s movement and Connie’s parents are more concerned with family respectability and the expectation that Connie will ‘marry well.’

However, when Connie falls for a lowly bank clerk she is forced to make a choice between her family and the man she loves. In contrast, Eveline finds herself attracted to a gentleman she meets at the suffragette meeting, but is Laurence Jones-Fairbrook merely dallying with her affections?

The battle between love and duty lies at the heart of this compelling and moving tale written with Ford’s trademark warmth, wisdom and compassion.

(Ebury, paperback, £5.99)

Home for Christmas by Lizzie Lane

There is a festive flavour to popular author Lizzie Lane’s new romantic drama which takes us from the home front to the battle front of the First World War.

As always in Lane’s compelling sagas, love and hardship take centre stage as she whisks us away to an age of terrible conflict. Warm and wise, funny and heartbreaking, her well-crafted stories never fail to capture the authentic atmosphere and spirit of times gone by.

Lydia Miller is in training to be a nurse when she first meets Robert Ravening and, despite the differences in their class and background, they fall head over heels for one another.

Robert is the nephew of a well-heeled lord while Lydia is the daughter of a respected but not wealthy doctor who is German by birth.

While her parentage is no hindrance to their relationship in peacetime, when war is declared and Robert heads to the battlefront in France, his family make it clear that they no longer approve of the match.

With no means of contacting Robert on the Western Front, Lydia volunteers herself and joins the Red Cross. But her love affair with Robert has had consequences that she will not be able to hide…

Lizzie Lane’s mother, who endured both the Depression and the war years, was a natural born storyteller and it is from her real experiences of the tumultuous first half of the twentieth century that Lane gets her inspiration.

In Home for Christmas, she weaves an enchanting and gritty story with all the sensitivity, authenticity and compassion that mark out her books.

A captivating read for cold nights…

(Ebury, paperback, £5.99)