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The King’s Mercy
It’s 1747, and captured Scotsman Alex MacKinnon, indentured as a blacksmith on a North Carolina plantation, longs for freedom despite his attraction to Joanna, the owner’s stepdaughter. At first opportunity, he escapes to the mountains, where he encounters Cherokee Indians. Meanwhile, Joanna dislikes owning slaves and dreams of a simpler life, but she faces constant opposition from the plantation’s ruthless and sneaky overseer. Influenced by an itinerant preacher, Alex renews his faith in God and returns to the plantation to make amends. Fans of American history will enjoy the rich details in this sweeping story of tragedy, intrigue, and romance.
The Bright Unknown
Elizabeth Byler Younts
Brighton Friedrich lives her first 18 years in an insane asylum where her mother is a patient. A caring nurse loves and educates Brighton and her best friend, an albino boy named Angel. As they grow older, Brighton and Angel realize they must escape the increasingly dangerous and oppressive surroundings, but their first interactions with the outside world prove disappointing and scary. Resilience and wit help them overcome the horrible things (beatings, solitary confinement) they endured as children. Difficult to read at times, the story exposes the misguided and often barbaric treatment of the mentally ill in the early 20th century.
When several of her co-workers die in apparently random ways, Caitlyn Lindsey suspects foul play. She fears someone is eliminating witnesses to nefarious activity at her pharmaceutical lab. Caitlyn takes her suspicions to Josh Solomon, a detective whose wife was the first victim. Meanwhile, someone is trying to frame Josh for his wife’s murder. Caitlyn and Josh must guard against overt threats and hidden forces to avoid becoming the next casualties. As they partner to unravel the conspiracy, their mutual admiration grows into romance. Fans of suspense will enjoy the story’s fast-paced action.
The Dating Charade
At 32 years old, Cassie Everson presumes she’ll be single forever. Enter Jett Bentley, a sensitive, dreamy firefighter. After a few quasi-dates, they begin to imagine a future together. But when both gain custody of three children each, then hide their unexpected instant families from each other, things get complicated. The seemingly lighthearted story quickly veers into serious territory: the challenges of parenthood, the frustrations of the social services system. Although a fine debut novel, this book’s title and cover art are misleading: They suggest a cute rom-com, but the story yields little romance amid some slapstick comedy.
Based on true events, Jane Kirkpatrick’s One More River to Cross (Revell, 2019) is the remarkable tale of a wagon train’s attempt to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains during winter. On March 1, 1844, a group of 51 men, women, and children—many of them Irish Catholics seeking religious freedom—set out from Missouri to settle in California. But as the monthslong trip stretches from summer into winter, 8 feet of snow and treacherous terrain force them to split up and abandon their wagons before reaching Sutter’s Fort. Faced with starvation and desperate conditions, they complete their journey in March 1845.
Similar to other Kirkpatrick novels featuring early settlers of the U.S. West, this story highlights courageous women. Although the women on the wagon train acquiesced to the men’s decisions, they showed fortitude and resourcefulness when forced to sustain themselves and their children. Two gave birth on the journey and managed to keep their infants alive. Fortitude, indeed. —S.B.