I was away (busy) last month so this is what I got in the last 4 weeks.
Shield Wall by Justin Hill (for review, from the publisher)
Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father’s greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.
Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….
Second wife of the emperor Augustus, mother of his successor Tiberius, grandmother of Claudius and great grandmother of Caligula, the empress Livia lived close to the center of Roman political power for eight turbulent decades. Her life spanned the years of Rome’s transformation from Republic to Empire, and witnessed both its triumphs under the rule of Augustus and its lapse into instability under his dysfunctional successor.
Livia was given the honorific title Augusta in her husband’s will, and was posthumously deified by the emperor Claudius—but posterity would prove less respectful. The Roman historian Tacitus anathematized her as “malevolent” and a “feminine bully” and inspired Robert Graves’s celebrated twentieth-century depiction of Livia in I, Claudius as the quintessence of the scheming matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son’s path to the imperial throne.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (purchased)
Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.
Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and–after his murder–three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.
The Captive Queen by Alison Weir (purchased)
It is the year 1152 and a beautiful woman of thirty, attended by only a small armed escort, is riding like the wind southwards through what is now France, leaving behind her crown, her two young daughters and a shattered marriage to Louis of France, who had been more like a monk than a king, and certainly not much of a lover. This woman is Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and her sole purpose now is to return to her vast duchy and marry the man she loves, Henry Plantagenet, a man destined for greatness as King of England. Theirs is a union founded on lust which will create a great empire stretching from the wilds of Scotland to the Pyrenees. It will also create the devil’s brood of Plantagenets – including Richard C ur de Lion and King John – and the most notoriously vicious marriage in history.
Green Rider by Kristen Britain (purchased)
Karigan G’ladahon has fled from school following a fight which would surely lead to her expulsion. As she makes her way through the deep forest, a galloping horse pounds up to her, its rider impaled by two black-shafted arrows. With his dying breath, he tells her he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary magical messengers of the King, and makes Karigan swear to deliver their message he’s carrying, giving her his green coat, with its symbolic broach of office. This promise given to a dying man changes Karigan’s life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, she unwittingly finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand.
The Ambassador’s Mission by Trudi Canavan (purchased)
Sonea, a Black Magician of Kyralia, is horrified when her son, Lorkin, volunteers to assist the new Guild Ambassador to Sachaka. When word comes that Lorkin has gone missing, Sonea is desperate to find him, but if she leaves the city she will be exiled forever. And besides, an old friend is in need of her help.
Most of her friend’s family has been murdered – the latest in a long line of assassinations to plague the leading Thieves of the city. There has always been rivalry, but now the Thieves are waging a deadly underworld war, and it appears they have been doing so with magical assistance.
Paige Winterbourne was always either too young or too rebellious to succeed her mother as leader of one of the world’s most powerful elite organizations—;the American Coven of Witches. Now that she is twenty-three and her mother is dead, the Elders can no longer deny her. But even Paige’s wildest antics can’t hold a candle to those of her new charge—an orphan who is all too willing to use her budding powers for evil … and evil is all too willing to claim her. For this girl is being pursued by a dark faction of the supernatural underworld. They are a vicious group who will do anything to woo the young, malleable, and extremely powerful neophyte, including commit murder—and frame Paige for the crime. It’s an initiation into adulthood, womanhood, and the brutal side of magic that Paige will have to do everything within her power to make sure they both survive.
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (from bookmooch)
Even though she’s the world’s only female werewolf, Elena Michaels is just a regular girl at heart — with larger than normal appetites. She sticks to three feasts a day, loves long runs in the moonlight, and has a lover who is unbelievably frustrating yet all the more sexy for his dark side. Like every regular girl, she certainly doesn’t believe in witches. Then again, when two small, ridiculously feminine women manage to hurl her against a wall, and then save her from the hunters on her tail, Elena realizes that maybe there are more things in heaven and earth than she’s dreamt of.
The Murder In The Tower by Jean Plaidy (from bookmooch)
The dashing Robert Carr is a well-known favorite of King James I. After attracting his attention by falling from a horse in the tiltyard, Robert rises quickly through the ranks. But when the cunning and beautiful Frances Howard comes to court, a very dangerous liaison changes everything.
Married against her will while still a child, Frances emerges from that experience a headstrong force of nature—determined to have her own way, no matter what the consequences. Her attempts to rid herself of an unwanted husband, and later to ensnare a lukewarm lover, have led her deep into the world of spell-makers and poisoners. This is a woman to underestimate at great peril. But not until Robert finds himself ensnared in one of Frances’s plots—imprisoned in the Tower of London and accused of murder—does he learn at last what she is truly capable of.
The Merry Monarch’s Wife by Jean Plaidy (from bookmooch)
Charles II is restored to the English throne, and his court is lively and even scandalous. The country is eager for succession to be clear and certain: The next king will be the son of Charles II and his queen, Catherine of Braganza. Yet Catherine, daughter of the king of Portugal and a Catholic, has never been popular with the English people. She is also having great difficulty conceiving an heir, even as many of Charles’s well-known mistresses are bearing his children with ease. Catherine is aware that courtiers close to Charles are asking him to divorce her and take another wife—yet she is determined to hold her title in the face of all odds.
The Secret Bride by Diane Haeger (from bookmooch)
Mary Tudor, the headstrong younger sister of the ruthless King Henry VIII, has always been her brother’s favorite-but now she is also an important political bargaining chip. When she is promised to the elderly, ailing King Louis of France, a heartbroken Mary accepts her fate, but not before extracting a promise from her brother: When the old king dies, her next marriage shall be solely of her choosing. For Mary has a forbidden passion, and is determined, through her own cunning, courage, and boldness, to forge her own destiny.
The Novice’s Tale by Margaret Frazer (from bookmooch)
It is the year of Our Lord’s grace 1431, and the nuns of England’s St. Frideswide sweetly chant their Paternosters behind gracious, trellised walls. But their quiet lives are shattered by the unwelcome visit of the hard-drinking, blaspheming dowager Lady Ermentrude, with her retinue of lusty maids and men, baying hounds, and even a pet monkey in tow. The lady demands wine, a feast, and her niece, the frail and saintly novice Thomasine.
Devil’s Consort by Anne O’Brien (from bookmooch)
Orphaned at a young age, Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, seeks a strong husband to keep her hold on the vast lands that have made her the most powerful heiress in Europe. But her arranged marriage to Louis VII, King of France, is made disastrous by Louis’s weakness of will and fanatical devotion to the church. Eleanor defies her husband by risking her life on an adventurous Crusade, and even challenges the Pope himself. And in young, brilliant, mercurial Henry d’Anjou, she finds her soul mate—the one man who is audacious enough to claim her for his own and make her Queen of England.
The Fool’s Tale by Nicole Gulland (from bookmooch)
Wales, 1198. A time of treachery, passion, and uncertainty. King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon, known as Noble, struggles to protect his small kingdom from foes outside and inside his borders. Pressured into a marriage of political convenience, he takes as his bride the young, headstrong Isabel Mortimer, niece of his powerful English nemesis.
Through strength of character, Isabel wins her husband’s grudging respect, but finds the Welsh court backward and barbaric, and is soon engaged in a battle of wills against Gwirion, the king’s oldest, oddest, and most trusted friend. Before long, however, Gwirion and Isabel’s mutual animosity is abruptly transformed, and the king finds himself as threatened by loved ones as by the enemies who menace his crown.