Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger
The Best of Men by Claire LetemendiaSet in Renaissance Italy, this classic of American popular fiction is the story of Andrea Orsini, a peasant boy who rises to perform delicate political, military, and romantic missions for Cesare Borgia.
Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa KleinIt is 1642, and Laurence Beaumont has just returned to England after six long years fighting - and avoiding fighting - in the European Wars. Having fled his homeland to escape the responsibilities of his noble birthright, he has been a lowly infantryman, a spy, and a cardsharp in a Dutch brothel. He has seen the worst inhumanities visited on men, women and children by enemy and neighbour alike, and he no longer has faith in God, in causes, or much in humankind itself. Yet as the clashes between King Charles I and his mutinous Parliament come to a crisis and England is thrown into civil war, Beaumont is drawn back into the world of warfare and intrigue when he discovers coded letters outlining a plot to assassinate the king. Soon the conspirators - one of whom is among the most powerful men in the kingdom - are in hot pursuit, and he must find proof of their identities before they overtake him. Pressed into service by the Secretary of State's ruthless spymaster, Beaumont finds himself threatened on all sides, facing the possibility of imprisonment, torture or worse, if he makes a single wrong step. The ravishing Isabella Savage, a practiced seducer, is interested in helping, but may only lead him deeper into the conspiracies within the king's camp. And all the while, Beaumont is haunted by a prophecy and by the memory of a love betrayed.
Vivid in its detail, filled with gripping action scenes, bawdy and smart, "The Best of Men" is a rousing, rich and thoroughly satisfying historical novel in the vein of Iain Pears' "An Instance of the Fingerpost" and the bestselling works of C J Sansom. Laurence Beaumont is an unforgettable new character, and Claire Letemendia is a dazzling new storyteller.
As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCannLizzie and Rosanna are cousins. But when the Civil War breaks out, Lizzie finds herself committed to the cause of the Union, while Rosie is swept up in the passions of the old south. Torn in their alliances, each girl finds herself grappling with the brutality of war, and the elusive promise of love, until the battle at Gettysburg brings them together once again.
Transplant Othello to the tumult of a country in social and political flux and en route to regicide -- England in the 1640s -- and render him uncertain about his sexuality, and you have the makings of Jacob Cullen, one of the most commanding characters in contemporary writing. As the book opens, Jacob is an educated, vigorous and dauntingly strong manservant in a Royalist household, who has begun to imbibe god-fearing revolutionary pamphlets. He is on the brink of marriage to his virginal sweetheart, but is unsure of his emotional needs, and in possession of a boiling point he reaches all too often. He is also, we learn, fearful of being identified as the murderer of a local boy, and a potential nemesis arrives on the very day of his wedding feast, prompting the first of a series of impetuous, temper-fuelled bad decisions: Jacob flees, dragging his new wife and one of his brothers with him. Thereafter he proceeds to wreak havoc on the lives of others but mostly on his own fortunes - as a servant, a husband, a brother, a soldier, and, critically, as friend, co-conspirator and lover of another man disaffected by the lurch from freedom to tyranny now apparent in Cromwell's New Model Army. To step outside the law, outside the state, outside the established and natural order of things seems to supply the only prospect of happiness...All this makes for a truly heady historical narrative: gripping, unusual, packed with heady ingredients - truly, we are in a world turned upside down by political fervour, inflammatory pamphleteering, social flux, grisly combat, apocalyptically evangelical Christianity, sexual confusion, and murder most foul...The earthy, tangy quality of McCann's Republican-style prose, infused with a fresh twentieth-century sensibility, makes the whole entirely accessible and irresistible. Is this then perhaps the first great novel of the English Revolution?