Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Danielle Dresser | What is it about Post-WWII Fiction?
Author Guest / March 6, 2019

Today, thoughts on historical fiction from Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser… Once upon a time, I was a publicist for a wonderful publisher (shout out to Sourcebooks!) and I spent a lot of time paying attention to publishing trends – what was working in the industry? What were editors acquiring? What was selling, aka what were people reading?  On top of my job, I was also a member of a book club and we went through a period of about a year or so where just about all we read was World War II fiction… was it because people really loved reading about this time period, or was it because that’s what the publishing industry decided to publish? To be fair, our book club instituted an unofficial rule to not read WWII fiction (until very recently, LOL!) and now that I’m back in the publishing industry, I’ve noticed something else… Post-World War II fiction. Set well after the war, usually in the 50s and 60s, these novels still have WWII looming over its narrative. Perhaps it’s a family member dealing with PTSD before there was a word for it, as a community dealing with tragedy grapples with in Judy Blume’s…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: The Family Bond
Author Guest , History / February 27, 2019

February means Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love and family. What better way to honor that tradition than by exploring love that endures through generations?  So this month’s historical fiction will look at sagas. These sweeping tales of love, loss, challenge, triumph, betraya, and trust pull the reader into the orbit of the protagonist family’s home and friends, detailing the changes wrought by events internal and external over the passage of decades. We begin with CHINA COURT by Rumer Godden.  In a compelling intermingling of past and present, Godden presents us the richly vivid life of the Quin family, from the establishment of their Welsh estate, China Court, in the early nineteenth century into the twentieth.  Beginning with founders Eustace and Adza, she moves back and forth to upstart village girl Ripsie who marries one Quin brother, and on through the story of Ripsie’s granddaughter Tracy. Weaving in the dramatic outside events that impacted all their lives and the private, personal crises that made and broke apart relationships, Godden creates an intimate portrait of a family over a one hundred fifty year span. The family at the heart of the next saga, C.L. Skelton’s HARDACRE, starts with rags-to-riches Sam Hardacre….

Lori Handeland | Author-Reader Match + Giveaway!
Author Guest / January 18, 2019

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Lori Handeland! Lori: Most readers know me as an author of paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, but my most recent novel, JUST ONCE, is a contemporary women’s fiction novel.  Women’s fiction deals women’s relationships-sisters, friends, children, parents, lovers – and may or may not contain a romance. AUTHOR-READER MATCH Fifty-something romance author seeks readers for an exploration of the relationship between two women who love the same man and how they come together when he needs them the most. What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match: – Free time is often spent chatting with friends about their lives and problems – Favorite books and movies are best read and viewed with a box of Kleenex nearby – Believes in true and forever love – Recent book favorites include The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and Before We Were Yours – LOVED the movie The Notebook What to expect if we’re compatible: – A journey through four decades with three characters…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Tapestry of Art and Scandal
Author Guest / January 16, 2019

Something about the richness and vibrant color of the brocade gowns of the Italian Renaissance calls up to me the decorations of the winter season—bright golds, reds, purples and candlelight glowing against the dark of winter.  So for this New Year’s column, we will look at several works of historical fiction that illuminate the art and politics of Medici Florence and Borgia Rome. We begin with BOTTICELLI’S MUSE by Dorah Blume.  Drawing upon much of what is known about the artist’s life, Blume presents the political and artistic cosmos that is Renaissance Florence through the focus of one of history’s most compelling painters, Sandro Botticelli.  While under the patronage of Piero Medici, during a visit to his sister at her convent, Sandro meets and falls in love with Floriana, a Jewish weaver who will be the inspiration for his masterpiece La Primavera. But disruptive forces are at work, the radical priest Savonarola exhorting not just against Jews, but decrying books, art and the Medici rulers themselves.  Deftly handling a large cast of characters, including notables Lorenzo Medici and Lucrezia Borgia, Blume’s story draws out the heart of Florence during one of its most tumultuous periods. The Savonarola movement also plays…

Jess Montgomery | Places that feel like home (even when, technically, they’re not)
Author Guest / January 14, 2019

My novel, THE WIDOWS, is set In 1920s Appalachia, specifically in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio. It was inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff in 1925, Maude Collins, who became sheriff after her husband was killed in the line of duty. Lily, my main character, likewise becomes sheriff after her husband dies in the line of duty, but here, the story diverges into fiction. In Lily’s case, no one is sure who killed her husband, Daniel, and Lily doesn’t buy into the “escaping prisoner” explanation. As she investigates, she meets a childhood friend of Daniel’s, Marvena. This novel is not a love triangle, but Marvena, as Daniel’s oldest friend, knows a lot about his background that Lily doesn’t, that Daniel kept from her. Likewise, Lily knows a great deal that Marvena doesn’t. Together, they solve the mystery of his murder, save their community from disaster, and in the process, grow as individuals and become friends. So, since they live just miles apart, how do they not know each other? Appalachia is challenging terrain, even today with good roads in many areas. In 1925, it would have been difficult to travel from one hill or holler to the other, especially…

Fresh Fiction Favorite Historical Fiction of 2018
Author Guest / December 19, 2018

Every day from now through the end of the year, we’ll be sharing our reviewers’ favorite reads of 2018. A different genre will be featured every day! We’ll share why these books were some of our favorites and what made them so special. We hope you’ll share yours in the comments, too! Today, we are discussing our favorite historical fiction novels of the year. What were some of yours? CARNEGIE’S MAID by Marie Benedict Reviewer: Clare O’Beara Carnegie’s Maid contrasts the Irish people who come to America with the Scots who came one generation earlier and are now wealthy industrialists, so lots to see. We find out how Carnegie got his love of libraries. Women’s Fiction Historical [Sourcebooks, On Sale: January 16, 2018, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492646617 / ] A self-made man takes lessons from his Irish maid A TOUCH OF DOWNTOWN ABBEY AND AN AMERICAN DYNASTY Buy CARNEGIE’S MAID: | Kindle | | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Ripped Bodice | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR *** NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA by Chanel Cleeton Reviewer: Danielle This book captured the spirit and turmoil of Cuba during a major…

Julie Justiss | History ReFreshed: For Richer or Poorer
Author Guest , History / December 19, 2018

With Christmas nearly upon us, thoughts turn to gifts, gift-giving and what a “gift” truly means.  What could be a greater blessing than realizing the “American Dream,” proving that with hard work and determination, a person can come from anywhere with virtually nothing and achieve whatever success they desire?  The set of stories we’ll look at this month feature both “haves” struggling to fit into their world and “have-nots” determined to create for themselves a future better than their past. Moving chronologically, we begin with THE SATURDAY EVENING GIRLS CLUB: A NOVEL by Jane Healey.  The author follows the lives of four young immigrant women in Boston’s North End, who find friendship and hope for a better life amid pottery-making and conversation at the Saturday Evening Girls Club.  All must fight not just poverty and prejudice, but the traditional expectations of their conservative ethnic families. Enterprising Caprice longs to become an entrepreneur running her own hat shop; bookish Ada, to obtain a college education, stunning Maria to avoid becoming trapped, like her Italian Catholic mother, in marriage to an abusive alcoholic, while timid Theo yearns to escape the rigid requirements of her strict Jewish tradition.  The friendship and support forged…

Hester Fox | Exclusive Excerpt: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author Guest / October 18, 2018

The town center proves to be that in name only. A run-down dry goods store with peeling letters advertises coffee, and a little white church sits at one end of the town green. That’s it. No theaters, no gardens and, worse yet, no bookshops. Yet there’s something charming about the simplicity of the square and the dirt roads that wind up and around it; there’s no stink of fish wafting off nearby docks, nor cobblestones caked with horse droppings. I take a deep breath and smile encouragingly to Emeline. Here’s our fresh start, not in the suffocating walls of Willow Hall with all its pretensions, but in the blue sky above it, the little town surrounding it. It doesn’t take long for our fresh start to lose its rosy glow. Two middle-aged women walk arm in arm, stopping to watch us unload from the carriage, Snip nipping at our dresses. They share a whispered word or two, and then creep a little closer to get a better look. The first woman lowers her voice and leans in toward her companion. “Those are the Montrose girls, you know. The family just came from Boston.” “Oh?” The other throws a glance back…

Linnea Hartsuyker | Top 5 Arranged Marriages
Author Guest / October 10, 2018

Right after we got engaged, my now-husband and I traveled to India with my mother. We met some of her Indian coworkers, and their eighteen-year-old daughters, who were planning careers in science and engineering. Still, these young women expected to choose husbands from among men vetted for them by parents and match-makers, and then have happy marriages. They told me that their parents had done well for them so far, and they expected their choice of mates would be good as well. For most of recorded history, marriages between young people have been arranged by parents and elders, though fiction often portrays first love and sexual attraction that throws arranged marriages into chaos. In my historical fiction about Viking Age Norway, I have created a mix of arranged and chosen marriages, with the chance of their success having much more to do with the personality and choices of those in the marriage than how it begins. I’m glad not to have had an arranged marriage for myself, but having been married for twelve years now, I think that some of the skills needed to make an arranged marriage work are also helpful in a chosen marriage. In fiction, I love…