The Invention of Fire by Bruce Holsinger
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Though he is one of England’s most acclaimed intellectuals, John Gower is no stranger to London’s wretched slums and dark corners, and he knows how to trade on the secrets of the kingdom’s most powerful men. When the bodies of sixteen unknown men are found in a privy, the Sheriff of London seeks Gower’s help. The men’s wounds—ragged holes created by an unknown object—are unlike anything the sheriff’s men have ever seen. Tossed into the sewer, the bodies were meant to be found. Gower believes the men may have been used in an experiment—a test for a fearsome new war weapon his informants call the “handgonne,” claiming it will be the “future of death” if its design can be perfected.
Propelled by questions of his own, Gower turns to courtier and civil servant Geoffrey Chaucer, who is working on some poems about pilgrims that Gower finds rather vulgar. Chaucer thinks he just may know who commissioned this new weapon, an extremely valuable piece of information that some will pay a high price for—and others will kill to conceal. . .
Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe: An Elizabethan Spy Thriller by Kathy Lynn Emerson
UK Release Date: November 28, 2014
US Release Date: March 1, 2015
London, 1582: Mistress Rosamond Jaffrey, a talented and well-educated woman of independent means, is recruited by Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to be lady-in-waiting to Lady Mary, a cousin of the queen. With her talent in languages and knowledge of ciphers and codes, she will be integral to the spymaster as an intelligence gatherer, being able to get close to Lady Mary just at the time when she is being courted by Russia’s Ivan the Terrible. However, there are some nobles at court who will do anything they can to thwart such an alliance; and Rosamond soon realises the extent of the danger, when a prominent official is murdered and then an attempt is made on both her and Lady Mary’s lives. In her quest to protect her ward – and her estranged husband – Rosamond must put herself in mortal peril.
The Shepherdess of Siena: A Novel of Renaissance Tuscany by Linda Lafferty
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has always harbored a deep love for horses—though she knows she may never have the chance to ride. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, Virginia’s possibilities are doubly limited by her peasant class and her gender. Yet while she tends her flock, Virginia is captivated by the daring equestrian feats of the high-spirited Isabella de’ Medici, who rides with the strength and courage of any man, much to the horror of her brother, the tyrannical Gran Duca Francesco de’ Medici.
Inspired, the young shepherdess keeps one dream close to her heart: to race in Siena’s Palio. Twenty-six years after Florence captured Siena, Virginia’s defiance will rally the broken spirit of the Senese people and threaten the pernicious reign of the Gran Duca. Bringing alive the rich history of one of Tuscany’s most famed cities, this lush, captivating saga draws an illuminating portrait of one girl with an unbreakable spirit.
The Abduction of Smith and Smith by Rashad Harrison
Release Date: January 6, 2015
The Civil War is over, though for Jupiter Smith, a former slave and Union soldier, many battles still lie ahead. He returns to the plantation he worked on before the war in search of his woman, but rather finds his old master gone mad, haunting the ruins like a ghost. Out of pity for the now mentally ill Colonel, Jupiter strangles him and heads west to seek a new life in San Francisco.
When the Colonel’s son, Confederate soldier Archer Smith, arrives at home and finds his father murdered, he vows revenge upon Jupiter for all he has lost—following his former slave to the far reaches of the continent.
But things take a new turn as Archer’s desire for retribution is overwhelmed by his dependency on opium, and he ends up the target of a gang of “crimpers”…the very gang that Jupiter works for in San Francisco. When Jupiter fails in an attempt to save Archer, they both end up shanghaied aboard a ship headed on a dangerous mission and ruled by a merciless captain. Will the two Smiths work together to stay alive and return home, or will they become victims of the sea, the crew, and their mad captain?