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    17 Historical Fiction Books You'll Want To Get Your Hands On This Summer

    Welcome to hot ~book~ summer.

    1. We Two Alone: Stories by Jack Wang

    HarperVia

    Release date: June 8

    What it's about: A young boy jeopardizes his life to play hockey in 1920s Canada. A couple is caught in Shanghai in the midst of war. An actor in New York tries to keep his career afloat while his relationship crumbles. Threaded throughout these poignant short stories is the Chinese immigrant experience, as Wang paints a picture of life in diaspora throughout time. Capturing hope, pain, and sacrifice, these stories weave a story of those who journey into the unknown.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    2. The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

    Little, Brown and Company

    Release date: June 15

    What it's about: In this debut set just after the Civil War, recently freed brothers Prentiss and Landry find refuge on the homestead of George and Isabelle Walker, who are looking for a distraction from the grief of losing their only son. Meanwhile, the discovery of a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers throws the town into chaos, leaving Isabelle the surprise leader amidst turmoil. As beautiful as it is violent, this moving novel explores how love can bloom even in the most harrowing of circumstances.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    3. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

    Mira Books

    Release date: June 22

    What it's about: A continuation of her first, bestselling novel, Joshi sets the scene in 1969 Jaipur, where young Malik has just finished his education and is apprenticing at the Royal Palace. His first project: build a state-of-the-art cinema. But when its balcony tragically collapses on opening day, Malik senses something dark afoot and realizes that the "pink city" still fosters corruption amidst its wealthy upper classes. 

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    4. Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood

    Dutton Books

    Release date: June 22

    What it's about: As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Clytemnestra have everything: beauty, wealth, and the envy of all of Greece. But their upbringing comes with a price as they're swiftly married off as girls and expected to merely produce heirs and keep quiet as their husbands rule. But amidst the backdrop of the Siege of Troy, the sisters will push against societal norms to forge a new path for themselves and future women.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    5. In Royal Service to the Queen by Tessa Arlen

    Berkley Books

    Release date: June 29

    What it's about: For fans of The Crown comes an engrossing story of the beloved governess to Queen Elizabeth II. We follow Marion "Crawfie" Crawford as she diligently raises Elizabeth and her sister, becoming such a close confidante that Crawfie is the only person to support Elizabeth's marriage to Prince Philip. But Crawfie's loyalty to the Queen threatens her own relationships, and looming over her head is a betrayal that will sever her ties to the royal family forever.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    6. Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy

    St. Martin's Press

    Release date: July 6

    What it's about: A perfect beach read about the life of a naive Midwesterner-turned-Playboy-Bunny. Wisconsin seems like an unlikely place for a Bunny Ranch, and Sherri an even unlikelier bunny. Orphaned at 19, Sherri sheds her church clothes for the nearby ranch, enticed by the promise of glamour. There, she quickly learns the ropes and just as quickly falls into a love triangle — one that ends in a tragedy that will haunt her for decades. 

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    7. The Ice Swan by J'nell Ciesielski

    Thomas Nelson

    Release date: July 6

    What it's about: In 1917 Petrograd, Princess Svetlana flees the violence of the Bolshevik Revolution for the safety of Paris, where she and her family are forced into hiding. There, she meets Wynn, an innovative surgeon who's immediately smitten with Svetlana and offers to marry her and pay off her debts, hoping love will come later. Svetlana, out of options, agrees. But the Bolsheviks are still on her trail, and soon the couple is on the run with only their blossoming love to keep them going.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    8. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley

    William Morrow

    Release date: July 6

    What it's about: Based on a true story, Riley — known for her historical romance — creates an interesting narration of the life of Dorothy "Doll" Kirwan Thomas. The story follows Doll from her birth into slavery in the Caribbean to buying her freedom from her Irish planter father to her love affairs with notable men (including a naval captain who will become King of England). Doll's life is full of hardship, but also epic adventures that led her to become a powerful woman who left a distinct mark on the world.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    9. The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

    Gallery Books

    Release date: July 6

    What it's about: Inspired by true stories, this harrowing novel follows Yona, a young woman kidnapped from wealthy German parents and raised in the harsh forests of Eastern Europe. When her captor dies in 1941, Yona, unaware of what's going on in the world, stumbles upon a group of Jews fleeing Nazi rule. Shocked, she helps them learn to survive — and hide — in the wilderness. But after betrayal sends her fleeing into a German-occupied town, her past and present will collide.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    10. Everyman by M Shelly Conner

    Blackstone Publishing

    Release date: July 20

    What it's about: Eve, raised by her aunt, Mama Ann, has spent her whole life with the mystery of her absent parents over her head. So in 1972, she arrives in Ideal, Georgia, in search for answers. A cast of characters join Eve on her journey, including Nelle, who is finding her own identity in her queerness, and Brother Lee Roy, a professor and mentor. But ultimately it's James and Geneva, two strangers Eve meets in Ideal, who change her journey forever.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    11. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

    Tor Books

    Release date: July 20

    What it's about: The first book in a historical fantasy series takes place in 1345 China, which remains crushed under harsh Mongol rule and, for the peasants starving in the Central Plains, greatness feels like a far-off fantasy. So when an eighth son, Zhu Chongba, is gifted a fate of greatness, everyone is stunned, even the clever second daughter, who was fated nothingness. But when the two children are tragically orphaned and Chongba dies in his despair, his sister decides to claim his identity...and his fate. 

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    12. A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe

    St. Martin's Press

    Release date: July 20

    What it's about: As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, Katharina was living the life as a UN translator by day and a girl on the town by night. Now, post-war, Katherina is married, rich, and the mother to two healthy sons. But this seemingly perfect picture of domesticity feels like a gilded cage to Katherina, so when she's offered a role as an informant to the FBI, she takes it. As she navigates KGB secrets, Katharina's own secret will threaten everything in her life.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    13. Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

    William Morrow Paperbacks

    Release date: July 27

    What it's about: When estranged sisters Clara and Madeleine's grandmother reveals she's dying, she has one wish: for her granddaughters to deliver three goodbye letters across Europe — together. Clara sees this as an inconvenience before she's due to be wed, while Madeleine — a reporter — is excited to see the events of 1937 unfold before her eyes. Along the way, a shocking family discovery brings the sisters closer, but a trip home aboard the Hindenburg leaves their fate up in the air.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    14. Shallow Waters: A Novel by Anita Kopacz

    Atria/Black Privilege Publishing

    Release date: Aug. 3

    What it's about: In this lyrical debut, we meet Yemaya — an African deity of the sea who finds herself flung back in time to 1800s America. We transcend time and space as Yemaya herself grows from a tentative young woman into the powerful deity she's destined to become. Along the way, we see her battle everything from sea evils to slavery, crossing paths with icons from American history. Part history, part fantasy, this novel crosses genre as easily as it does time.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    15. At Summer's End by Courtney Ellis

    Berkley Books

    Release date: August 10

    What it's about: When Bertie Preston accepts a commission to spend a summer painting the Earl of Wakeford's home, she hoped it will finally jumpstart her professional career — a tough feat for a woman in the 1920s. But the Great War has tarnished the home's family, with the earl himself locked away in isolation with battle scars he keeps hidden under a mask. As Bertie and the earl become close, she chips away at the secrets of the home, finding an unexpected bond with its residents. 

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    16. Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    Del Rey

    Release date: August 17

    What it's about: Moreno-Garcia proves her prowess as a historical fiction powerhouse again, this time in the form of a noir novel. While protests and civil unrest roil through 1970s Mexico City, Maite is focused on one thing only: the latest copy of her romance magazine. But when her beautiful and mysterious neighbor, Leonora, disappears, Maite begins to search for her. Meanwhile, Elvis — a gangster with a secret soft spot — is also on the case. As their paths cross, they'll realize just how far people will go to protect Leonora's secrets.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    17. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

    Doubleday

    Release date: September 14

    What it's about: In 1960s Harlem, we meet Ray Carney, a furniture salesman without a lot to his name besides a loving pregnant wife and a happy life. Few people know about his past, but as money gets tighter, the cracks in Ray's façade begin to widen. When he gets pulled into a heist that naturally goes wrong, Ray will suddenly have to navigate his past and present — can he avoid getting killed, collect his share of the loot, and keep his clean-shaven reputation?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    Which time period are you most excited to escape to?