The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy CambronThe Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

What it’s about (from publisher HarperCollins Christian):

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.

Why you should read it:  Mixing fictional characters with true historical figures is a daunting task, but author Kristy Cambron achieves such excellence in that vein that the reader is compelled to devour the author’s note at the end, just to find out which characters lived among us … and which were constructed on the page. Historical fiction lovers will adore this novel!

A vivid and romantic rendering of circus life in the jazz age, The Ringmaster’s Wife features two rich love stories and a glimpse into our nation’s live entertainment history. Highly recommended!

Broken Ground by Karen Halvorsen SchrekBroken Ground by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

What it’s about (from publisher Howard Books):

Newly married to her childhood sweetheart, twenty-one-year-old Ruth Warren is settling into life in a Depression-era, East Texas oil town. She’s making a home when she learns that her young husband, Charlie, has been killed in an oil rig accident. Ruth is devastated, but then gets a chance for a fresh start: a scholarship from a college in Pasadena, CA. Ruth decides to take a risk and travel west, to pursue her one remaining dream to become a teacher.

At college Ruth tries to fit into campus life, but her grief holds her back. When she spends Christmas with some old family friends, she meets the striking and compelling Thomas Everly, whose own losses and struggles have instilled in him a commitment to social justice, and led him to work with Mexican migrant farmworkers in a camp just east of Los Angeles. With Thomas, Ruth sees another side of town, and another side of current events: the numerous forced deportations without due process of Mexicans, along with United States citizens of Mexican descent.

After Ruth is forced to leave school, she goes to visit Thomas and sees that he has cobbled together a night school for the farmworkers’ children. Ruth begins to work with the children, and establishes deep friendships with people in the camp. When the camp is raided and the workers and their families are rounded up and shipped back to Mexico, Ruth and Thomas decide to take a stand for the workers’ rights—all while promising to love and cherish one another.

Why you should read it:  Coming-of-age romance … written through the eyes of a grieving widow? Indeed! A hearty “Brava!” to Karen Halvorsen Schreck for this beautiful portrait of young love, loss … and the slow, subtle draw toward love, anew.

The style of prose gently dances between literary fiction and women’s fiction, pitting innocent trust against learned fear, and naivete against the quest for true wisdom. Grief, hunger and hope are expressed through Ruth’s first-person point-of-view in a heart-rending fashion that is truly experiential.

A masterfully written historical novel that honestly and compassionately sheds light on issues of marginalization and ignorance still plaguing our nation today, Broken Ground is not to be missed.

Serena Chase is the author of the critically-acclaimed Eyes of E’veria series. Book four, The Sunken Realm, is available now. An accomplished partaker of dark chocolate, Serena lives in Iowa with her husband and two teen daughters, but dreams of someday writing in a cottage by the sea.