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Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

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1860-1890 – Illinois/Egypt

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Soul’s Cry by Cara Luecht

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Soul’s Cry

1892 – Illinois

Ione has everything she’d wanted with her busy shop filled to the brim with sumptuous fabrics, gossiping debutantes, and a neatly increasing profit margin. Not to mention the unexpected attention of a man who doesn’t know her past.
And then the letter dropped from the mail slot onto to lush carpet. He was back. And the abuse, the shame, rushes in, reminding her of how unworthy she really is.

Miriam also has everything she’d wanted—and with a baby on the way, for the first time in her life, she has everything to lose. When she’d been alone, the future had held promise, but now with her life full, it also holds fear. Unwilling to risk a vision of loss, Miriam stops painting what will be…right before Ione needs it most.

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The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

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The Lost Girl of Astor Street

1920 – Illinois

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

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You’re the Cream in my Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo

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1928 – Illinois

In 1928, Chicago rocks to the rhythm of the Jazz Age, and Prohibition is in full swing. Small-town girl Marjorie Corrigan, visiting the city for the first time, has sworn that coffee’s the strongest drink that will pass her lips. But her quiet, orderly life turns topsy-turvy when she spots her high school sweetheart–presumed killed in the Great War–alive and well in a train station. Suddenly everything is up for grabs.

Although the stranger insists he’s not who she thinks he is, Marjorie becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. To the dismay of her fiancé and family, she moves to the city and takes a job at a department store so she can spy on him. Meanwhile, the glittering world of her roommate, Dot, begins to look awfully enticing–especially when the object of her obsession seems to be part of that world. Is it really so terrible to bob her hair and shorten her skirt? To visit a speakeasy? Just for a cup of coffee, of course.

But what about her scruples? What about the successful young doctor to whom she’s engaged, who keeps begging her to come back home where she belongs? And what, exactly, is going on at the store’s loading dock so late at night?

Amid a whirlwind of trials and temptations, Marjorie must make a choice. Will the mystery man prove to be the cream in her coffee–the missing ingredient to the life she yearns for? Or will he leave only bitterness in her heart?

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A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

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A Lesson in Love and Murder

1912 – Canada, Illinois

The legacy of literary icon Sherlock Holmes is alive and well in 1912 Canada, where best friends Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts continue to develop their skills as consulting detectives.

The city of Toronto has been thrown into upheaval by the arrival of radical anarchist Emma Goldman. Amid this political chaos, Benny Citrone of the Royal North-West Mounted Police arrives at Merinda and Jem’s flat, requesting assistance in locating his runaway cousin—a man with a deadly talent.

While Merinda eagerly accepts the case, she finds herself constantly butting heads—and hearts—with Benny. Meanwhile, Jem has her hands full with a husband who is determined to keep her out of harm’s way.

As Merinda and Jem close in on the danger they’ve tracked from Toronto to Chicago, they uncover a sinister plot to assassinate presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. Will they be able to save the day and resolve the troubles threatening their future happiness before it’s too late?

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Rosa, Sola by Carmela Martino

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1960s – Illinois

Rosa Bernardi, an only child living with her Italian immigrant parents in 1960s Chicago, often feels alone, or SOLA, as her parents would say. But after she holds her best friend AnnaMaria’s baby brother for the first time, Rosa is sure that if she prays hard enough, God will send her a brother of her own. When Rosa’s prayers for a sibling are answered, she is overjoyed—until tragedy strikes. Rosa is left feeling more SOLA than ever, and wondering if her broken family will ever be whole again.

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Trouble Brewing by Jennifer Lamont Leo

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1927 – Illinois  

It’s springtime, when a young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of . . . that swoony fellow who works in Menswear. Meanwhile, Marjorie Corrigan’s trying to keep up with her crazy sales-clerk job at Marshall Field & Co. But who can get a good night’s sleep when the landlady’s brewing up some kind of trouble? A fresh, breezy short story to brighten your day and lighten your heart.

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The Christmas Robe by Jennifer Lamont Leo

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1926 – Illinois

Marjorie Corrigan, a weary sales clerk at Chicago’s elegant department store, Marshall Field & Company, mentally escapes the crush of holiday shoppers by daydreaming about her upcoming wedding. She spots the perfect item for her trousseau—a luxurious crimson velvet robe that she simply has to have. But when the robe proves too rich for her pocketbook, she resorts to desperate measures—a move that unleashes startling consequences. This inspirational short story is a Christmas treat that will warm your heart.

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Soul’s Prisoner by Cara Luecht

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Soul’s Prisoner

1891 – Illinois

Rachel is in danger. She’s seen too much.

She creeps along the cement walls through the dank underbelly of the asylum. She’d never planned to leave her quiet farm life, never thought she’d find a place in the city, never imagined she’d be in the kind of danger that would have her cowering in Dunning’s cold, labyrinthine basement.

Jenny has finally found her place. After a childhood of abuse, she has friends, a real job, and her only wish is to give her adopted son the kind of life she never had.

A life of stability, without the risk and uncertainty of a father.

But when Jeremy, Rachel’s brother, stumbles into their warehouse, asking for help to find his missing sister, Jenny’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble.

Love’s Sure Dawn by Naomi Rawlings

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Love’s Sure Dawn

1883 – Michigan and Illinois

No matter how hard she tries to help, Rebekah Cummings always ends up causing more problems than she solves. This time, though, things will be different. She’ll find a way to pay her family’s debts, even if doing so requires leaving Eagle Harbor. Maybe then they’ll finally accept her.

Gilbert Sinclair is going to marry an heiress. With his latest business venture sunk at the bottom of Lake Superior, he needs money to replace the steamship he lost, so he heads to Chicago where his father’s business connections should land him a suitable wife. Like most things in his meticulously planned life, everything goes as expected—until he discovers Rebekah Cummings working as the new cook on his ship.

Though forgotten feelings might swirl between Rebekah and Gilbert, so do the storms of expectation. Gilbert can’t afford to pursue a working class woman—no matter how badly he might want to. And Rebekah well remembers the pain she endured the last time Gilbert broke her heart. Should she step aside and watch him marry a stranger for nothing more than money…or can she convince him he deserves so much more?

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