The Favored Queen -- A Novel of Henry VIII's Third Wife by Carolly Erickson, St. Martin's Press '11, $25.99, 295 pages, ASIN #0312596901.
The only regret fiction publishers have about Britain's King Henry VIII may be that he had only six wives instead of ten? How about fifteen? While readers can't seem to get enough of the Tudor era in general, Henry's marriages and dalliances are of particular interest. America's married uppercrust often figuratively lose their heads, but how boring when measured against Henry VIII's wives, two of whom literally lost their heads. Jane Seymour, the subject of Carolly Erickson's new novel, was Henry's third wife, and she lost her life as well several days after delivering Henry a son, which previous wives proved unable to provide. The author deftly traces Jane's ascent at court from maid of honor to Henry's first queen to becoming a confidante to Henry and, finally, his queen. Carolly Erickson has written 28 books, including biographies, histories, and fictional historical entertainment. She lives in Hawaii.
A Crimson Warning -- A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander Minotaur '11, $24.99, 324 pages, ASIN #0312661754.
If any British historical era rivals the Tudor era in fiction readers' interest, it is the Victorian age. In Tasha Alexander's new book, "some very prominent people in London are waking up to find their doorsteps smeared with red paint, the precursor to the revelation of a dark secret -- and worse -- by a sadist who enjoys ruining lives." In the latest in a series of "Lady Emily" mysteries, Lady Emily loves such diversions as "reading The Aeneid, waltzing with her dashing husband, and joining the Women's Liberal Federation in the early stages of its campaign to win votes for women." Until, that is, the red paint vandal upends her comfortable life. Emily and her husband, Colin -- a favorite agent of the crown, "are tasked with discovering the motive and identity of the twisted mind behind it all before another innocent life is lost." Tasha Alexander, a Notre Dame grad, divides her time between Chicago and the UK. She wrote her first novel in 2004.