Thief of Corinth by Tessa AfsharWhat it is: a compelling, lyrical work of Biblical fiction that's set in 1st-century Corinth and features Paul the Apostle.
Starring: Sixteen-year-old Ariadne, who flees her abusive mother's Athens home to live with her father in Corinth, where she not only learns that he’s an infamous thief, but also joins him as his assistant.
For fans of: Jill Eileen Smith, Connilyn Cossette, and Francine Rivers.
Freedom's Light by Colleen CobleStarring: Hannah Thomas, who is troubled by her husband's death fighting in George Washington's army, the strictness of her Puritan community, her disapproving in-laws, her sister's wild ways, and a deceptive old friend.
What happens: Hannah continues her husband's work as a Massachusetts lighthouse keeper, which finds her helping (and developing feelings for) a kind shipwreck survivor who may be a spy.
Try this next: For other engaging, atmospheric romances set during the American revolution, try Beth White's The Creole Princess or Kimberley Woodhouse's The Patriot Bride.
Everything She Didn't Say by Jane KirkpatrickWhat it is: a biographical novel imagining the life of Carrie Strahorn, who followed her strong-willed husband (a Union Pacific Railroad investor and writer) across the American West between 1877 and 1925.
About the author: Jane Kirkpatrick writes well-researched historical novels showcasing real women; she based this novel on Strahorn's memoir Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage.
For fans of: Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series, which also combines fascinating history with richly detailed stories.
Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel SawyerWhat happens: Childless Mennonites Martha and Anthony leave their family-oriented Indiana community for Kansas to help an old friend turn a ghost town into a resort -- but all three of them confront unexpected challenges.
Is it for you? Told from multiple points of view and addressing difficult topics like fertility problems, terminal illness, and even human trafficking, this well-wrought novel is a moving, powerful read.
The Gift by Shelley Shepard GrayWhat happens: The Vance family is forced to sell their Kentucky farm after bad decisions and their father's gambling leave them in debt. The Schwartz family buys it and moves in just before the holidays, but a series of suspicious accidents plague them. Is someone trying to scare them away? Susanna Schwartz hopes it's not handsome Neil Vance.
Series alert: Though this is the 3rd entry in The Amish of Hart County series, newcomers who enjoy romantic suspense are welcome here.
Christmas at Promise Lodge by Charlotte HubbardSet in... a new community in contemporary Missouri founded by three Amish sisters who hope to create a welcoming place for families and single people, whether Amish or Mennonite.
What happens: one of the sisters, a widow, may discover love again, and a young unmarried Amish woman, who's pregnant after being raped, could find love for the first time.
Series alert: This is the 2nd of three books in the Promise Lodge series (and recipes are included in all).
An Amish Christmas Love: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, and Ruth ReidWhat it is: a heartwarming anthology of Christmas stories celebrating the Christmas season and love in various forms.
Novelllas include: "Winter Kisses" by Beth Wiseman (featuring three generations of women and their suitors), "The Christmas Cat" by Amy Clipston (starring a grieving widow and a stray cat), "Snow Angels" by Kelly Irvin (which has characters from her Bee County series), and "Home for Christmas" by Ruth Reid (with an English woman, an Amish man, and a poodle named Lulu).
The Angel of Forest Hill: An Amish Christmas Romance by Cindy WoodsmallStarring: Rose Kurtz, the insecure, emotionally abused 21-year-old only daughter in a large Pennsylvania Amish family, who, at her bishops' request, goes to West Virginia to aid a young family.
What happens: When Ruth arrives, the wife has just died, leaving behind an infant, two toddlers, and a grieving husband. Rose agrees to a platonic marriage, partially to avoid going home again.
For fans of: well-drawn characters, thoughtful stories, and modern marriage-of-convenience romances.
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