MLD Choice Awards 2018 - FictionThe Best Novels of the Year!
1. A Fine Gentleman by Sarah M. Eden
London barrister Jason Jonquil has spent his entire life working to establish his identity as a gentleman, a man of refinement like his father and brothers. But when fiery Spanish beauty Mariposa Thornton walks into his office, he finds himself losing his grasp on his dignified character. The woman is infuriating, pushing him to the limit of his legendary patience. However, her case seems simple enough—a small matter of inheritance. Or so he believes.
Once a well-born lady, Mariposa fought to survive the brutalities of Napoleon’s war on Spain. She braved horrific perils and undertook dangerous missions on behalf of those fighting against the invading French army. But her greatest battle still lies ahead: after being separated from her family, Mariposa sets in motion a plan to reunite with her loved ones in England. To avoid drawing the attention of the French, Mariposa dons a carefully crafted persona to conceal her true purpose. As Jason and Mariposa are drawn together by the case, they come to know the people beneath the masks they both wear.
When the truth of Mariposa’s quest is revealed, the couple is pulled into a mystery that will test the limits of their courage—and expose the true desire of their hearts.
book 4 in The Jonquil Brothers series
2. Origin by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.
book 5 in the Robert Langdon series
3. For Love or Honor by Sarah M. Eden
From the moment they met, Marjie’s heart has belonged to handsome Captain Stanley Jonquil, younger brother of the Earl of Lampton. But six long months ago, when Stanley’s sense of honor required that he do as he had sworn and return to the Continent to fight in defense of King and country, neither Stanley nor Marjie could have dreamed what the cost of his service would be.
It has been ages since Stanley last wrote, and Marjie and the Jonquil family are plagued by his unknown fate—until the day he unexpectedly reappears. Marjie’s joy, however, is quickly shadowed by confusion—the aloof, battle-worn soldier before her is not the man he once was.
In the wake of Stanley’s blatant disinterest in renewing their acquaintance, Marjie’s devastation turns to determination as she vows to help him find peace. But his scars run far deeper than anyone realizes. Despite his feelings for her, Stanley believes Marjie deserves a man whose hands are not stained with the violence of battlefields and whose mind and heart are not haunted by the horrors he has seen. Honor requires Stanley to return once more to the life he has grown to despise, one he knows will destroy him in the end, even as his heart beckons him to stay with Marjie, the only woman he could ever love, and the promise, at last, of redemption.
book 5 in The Jonquil Brothers series
4. The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen
Anthony Blake is in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the façade of a flirtatious playboy.
Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn’t as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.
She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won’t confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?
5. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or redemption.
6. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.
Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.
book 3 in The Stormlight Archive series
7. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
book 1 in the Winternight Trilogy
8. My Dearest Love by Sarah M. Eden
Ian O’Connor spends his days in the purgatory of a New York textile factory, enduring the dangerous conditions to keep his family afloat. Somewhere in the vast, dark corridors of his daily prison is an angel. He has seen her only once but is determined to find her again.
Biddy Dillon has lost her home and her family. Loneliness chips away at her fragile hopes until she meets Ian, whose soft-spoken kindness touches her heart. For the first time in years, she begins to believe in the possibility of good things to come.
When tragedy conspires to pull the couple apart, they must decide if theirs is a future meant to be built together, or if fate has other plans.
book 0.5 in the Longing for Home series
9. Safe House by Traci Hunter Abramson
The guardians, the shadowy heroes of the top-secret program designed to protect members of the most elite government organizations, are being hunted down one by one. There is a single explanation: a traitor must be embedded somewhere in their midst. But if they themselves are the target, who will protect them?
CIA operative Renee Niezen has heard tales of the guardians, though she’s never really believed in their existence—until she is approached by Charlotte, an old friend who desperately needs her help to stop the systematic destruction of the guardian program. Renee accepts the plea for assistance, but not everyone is thrilled to have her on the team. Kade—one of the last guardians standing—is unimpressed with Renee’s qualifications and turns instead to the legendary Saint Squad for help. But when Renee is caught in the crosshairs, Kade must set aside his antagonism for the woman in order to protect her. Their grudging alliance soon develops into much more—but before the pair can examine their feelings, their investigation takes a dramatic twist. With lives on the line, Renee and Kade must use their spy training at every turn as they draw dangerously close to the shocking truth.
book 2 in the Guardians series
10. Every Breath You Take by Mary H. Clark
Laurie Moran’s professional life is a success—her television show Under Suspicion is a hit, both in the ratings and its record of solving cold cases. But her romantic break from former host Alex Buckley has left her with on-air talent she can’t stand—Ryan Nichols—and a sense of loneliness, despite her loving family.
Now Ryan has suggested a new case. Three years ago, Virginia Wakeling, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the museum’s most generous donors, was found in the snow, after being thrown from the museum’s roof on the night of its most celebrated fundraiser, the Met Gala. The leading suspect then and now is her much younger boyfriend and personal trainer, Ivan Gray.
Ivan runs a trendy, successful boutique gym called Punch—a business funded in no small part by the late Virginia—which happens to be the gym Ryan frequents. Laurie’s skepticism about the case is upended by a tip from her father’s NYPD connection, and soon Laurie realizes there are a bevy of suspects—including Virginia’s trusted inner circle.
As the Under Suspicion crew pries into the lives of a super wealthy real estate family with secrets to hide, danger mounts for several witnesses—and for Laurie.
book 5 in the Under Suspicion series
And the Other Nominees Were…
The Pursuit of Lady Harriett by Rachael Anderson
When wills clash and hearts collide, who will reign victorious?
Termed an Incomparable during her first London season, Lady Harriett Cavendish is beautiful, spirited, and confident, capturing the attention of a great many suitors. Unfortunately, they all failed to capture her attention, and she concluded the season as unattached as she’d begun it.
Only weeks prior to her second season, Harriett encounters Lieutenant Christopher Jamison while visiting Tanglewood Manor. Recently returned from war, the lieutenant is everything that Harriett’s previous suitors were not. He’s arrogant, ungentlemanly, irritating, and challenges her at every opportunity. When he goes too far, Harriett decides that it’s time to turn the tables on him. But as she sets out to put the lieutenant in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever.
book 3 in the Tanglewood series
The Waking Land by Callie Bates
Lady Elanna Valtai is fiercely devoted to the King who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder and must flee for her life.
Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition powers that suddenly stir within her.
But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.
book 1 in The Waking Land series
Mind Games by Stephanie Black
Psychologist Natalie Marsh’s dream is now reality: her mental health services clinic has opened and is housed in an elegant, newly renovated nineteenth-century building. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the clinic’s presence, including Heather Osbourne, a troubled young woman who wholly objects to the occupation of the building.
Heather has spent years wandering the halls of the abandoned structure, convinced she’s communing with her ancestor’s ghost. When Natalie thwarts Heather’s attempt to leap from a window, the shaken psychologist soon realizes Heather’s failed jump is merely one piece of a disturbing puzzle.
Greed and deceit are weaving a web around Natalie, and someone will stop at nothing—not even murder—to get what they want. Stretched to her breaking point, Natalie struggles to learn the truth, but only one thing is clear: nothing is as it seems.
The Midnight Line by Lee Child
Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not?
So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness.
The deeper Reacher digs, and the more he learns, the more dangerous the terrain becomes. Turns out the ring was just a small link in a far darker chain. Powerful forces are guarding a vast criminal enterprise. Some lines should never be crossed. But then, neither should Reacher.
book 22 in the Jack Reacher series
Nighthawk by Clive Cussler
NUMA crew leaders Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala must beat the clock to stop the world’s most dazzling new technological advance from becoming mankind’s last in this action-packed thriller from the #1 New York Times–bestselling grand master of adventure.
When the most advanced aircraft ever designed vanishes over the South Pacific, Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are drawn into a deadly contest to locate the fallen machine. Russia and China covet the radical technology, but the United States worries about a darker problem. They know what others don’t—that the X-37 is carrying a dangerous secret, a payload of exotic matter, extracted from the upper reaches of the atmosphere and stored at a temperature near absolute zero. As long as it remains frozen, the cargo is inert, but if it thaws, it will unleash a catastrophe of nearly unthinkable proportions.
From the Galapagos Islands to the jungles of South America to an icy mountain lake many believe to be the birthplace of the Inca, the entire NUMA team will risk everything in an effort to avert disaster . . . but they may be caught in a race that no one can win.
book 14 in the NUMA Files series
A Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson
Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents—or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage—alone and after dark—the ensuing gossip may force them together.
Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety; his father perished in a duel with his mistress’s husband, and Edward must avoid scandal himself if he wants to become prime minister. He certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged.
Can the culprit be brought to justice? Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career—and his life.
book 2 in The Regency Spies of London series
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.
The Lady of the Lakes by Jose S. Kilpack
Walter Scott has three passions: Scotland, poetry, and Mina Stuart. Though she is young and they are from different stations in society, Walter is certain their love is meant to be. For years, he has courted her through love letters. She is the sunshine of his soul. Though Mina shares Walter’s love of literature and romantic temperament, it’s hard for her to know if she truly loves him or if she has only been dazzled by his flattery. When she meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, her heart is challenged. Who will she choose?
But as every poet knows, “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and on a windy morning in the lake country, Walter meets Charlotte. At twenty-six, Charlotte Carpenter believes she will never find love. After all, she is a Catholic-born Frenchwoman living in London with a family history shadowed by scandal. Though quiet, practical, and determined to live a life of independence, her heart longs for someone to love her and a place to call home.
Passion and promises collide as Walter, Mina, and Charlotte must each decide the course for their futures. What are they each willing to risk to find love and be loved in return?
book 2 in the Historical Proper Romance series
The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson
Alex Cross is on the wrong side of the law. Serving a suspension from the force while he awaits trial for murder, Cross has been branded as a trigger-happy cop, another bad apple walking the streets with a gun, an accusation that Cross will do anything to refute.
To make himself feel useful again, Cross opens a counseling office in the basement of his home. When his former partner Sampson shows up needing his help, Cross jumps at the chance, even if it may end up costing him what’s left of his career.
When a string of young, blonde women go missing, the investigation leads Cross and Sampson to the most depraved, darkest corners of the internet. Struggling to prove his own innocence and uncover the truth lurking online, Cross must risk everything to save his most at-risk patient of all…himself.
book 25 in the Alex Cross series
One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline
A handsome stranger moves to the small Pennsylvania town of Central Valley, and his name is Chris Brennan. He’s applying for a job as a teacher and varsity baseball coach at the local high school, and he looks perfect, on paper. But his name is an alias, his resume is false, and everything about him is a lie. And he has a secret plan – for which he needs a pawn on the baseball team.
Susan Sematov loves her younger son Raz, the quirky and free-spirited pitcher of the team. Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who’s dedicated to her only son Justin, the quiet rookie on the team. Mindy Kostis is the wife of a busy surgeon and the queen bee of the baseball boosters, where her super-popular son Evan is the star catcher.
The lives of these families revolve around the baseball team – and Chris Brennan. What does he really want? How far will he go to get it? Who among them will survive the lethal jeopardy threatening them, from the shadows? Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will keep readers riveted to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.
The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith
Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are approached by their part-time colleague, Mr. Polopetsi, with a troubling story: A woman, accused of being rude to a valued customer, has been wrongly dismissed from her job at an office furniture store. Never one to let an act of injustice go unanswered, Mma Ramotswe begins to investigate but soon discovers unexpected information that causes her to reluctantly change her views about the case.
Other surprises await our intrepid proprietress in the course of her inquiries. Mma Ramotswe is puzzled when she happens to hear of a local nurse named Mingie Ramotswe. She thought she knew everybody by the name of Ramotswe and that they were all related. Who is this mystery lady? Then she is alerted by Mma Potokwani that an unpleasant figure from her past has recently been spotted in town. Mma Ramotswe does her best to avoid the man, but it seems that he may have returned to Botswana specifically to seek her out. What could he want from her?
With the generosity and good humor that guide all her endeavors, Mma Ramotswe will untangle these questions for herself and for her loved ones, ultimately bringing to light important truths about friendship and family – both the one you’re born with and the one you choose.
book 18 in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series
Love and Loss at Whitmore Manor by Anita Stansfield
For nearly three years, British Officer Tristan Whitmore fought bravely for King and Crown in America. But his loyalty came at a price, and after slowly recovering from battlefield injuries, it is finally time to return to his beloved England and his wife, Muriel. But there is to be no tender reunion at Whitmore Manor—instead, Tristan is stunned to learn of his wife’s deceit in his absence and her unexpected death. And to add to the shocking blow, this devastating news is delivered by the last woman Tristan ever hoped to see again.
Olivia Halstead lost everything after the death of her father but found refuge with her cousin Muriel while Muriel’s husband was at war. Now, with the loss of her cousin, Olivia feels she has trespassed too long on the hospitality of the family. But before she can depart, Muriel’s husband returns, and Olivia’s own thorny history with the man comes rushing in: years ago, theirs was a tender courtship—followed too soon by a bitter parting of ways.
Now two people divided by past betrayal find an unforeseen chance for reconciliation. But when Tristan and Olivia find themselves on opposite sides of a revolution, will their clashing allegiances tear them apart forever?
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.
From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.
Petticoat Spy by Carol Warburton
Colonial Massachusetts, 1775
Abigail Stowell is a rarity for her time. The comely young woman is educated, outspoken, and attuned to the charged political climate around her. She is a staunch Patriot. In short, she is a rebel. So when Gideon Whitlock, an avowed Tory, rides into her village, Abby is not only put off by his politics and arrogance but is also annoyed by her undeniable attraction to him.
When she observes a clandestine meeting between her Patriot father and Gideon, Abby soon realizes that in a world divided by loyalties, not everything is as it seems. Soon she is drawn deeper into political intrigue than she ever dreamed possible. And just as feelings begin to heat up between Abby and Gideon, the shot heard round the world ignites the beginning of war between the colonists and the British redcoats. There is no time for hesitation, and Abby finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, treachery, and terror. Lives hang in the balance, and Abby will stop at nothing to support the Patriot movement—but will her allegiance to the cause mean losing the man she loves?