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By Alex Bellink from Westchester County, New York (Tappen Zee), via Wikimedia Commons

Call it the "Sleepy Hollow" effect.

Lately I've noticed a minor spate of locally-set titles appearing in the two genres I order for the library-- romance and speculative fiction.  What I find the most curious about this current crop of novels is that, as far as I've been able to determine, none of the authors are local to our area.  (Thomas Olde Heuvelt isn't even from this continent-- he's Dutch.)

It's never fazed me in the slightest to come across NYC-set titles (it's the biggest metropolis in the country, after all).  But it always surprises me to find the Hudson Valley on an author's radar, especially if the author has never lived here.  I'm not saying it's a bad place to set a novel-- quite the opposite, in fact, if it's a historical.  I guess I'm just accustomed to my fiction happening... well... somewhere else.  Someplace not quite so near my personal reality.

In a way, though, I still get that sense of remove I seem to crave. The beauty of fiction is that the author doesn't have to be a slave to the details; he or she has the ability to create someplace entirely new out of the familiar.  If you're as curious as I am to see what recent fiction authors have made of our region, read on...


The Horror in Our Backyard

Ghosts of Bergen County by Dana Cann (Express Horror Cann)
From the book jacket:

Gil Ferko is a private-equity lieutenant who commutes to Manhattan from the New Jersey suburbs. His wife, Mary Beth, has become a shut-in since a hit-and-run accident killed their infant daughter. When Ferko reconnects with Jen Yoder, a former high school classmate, Jen introduces him to heroin. As his dependency on the drug grows, his downward spiral puts his life in danger and his career in jeopardy. Mary Beth has also found an escape—first in prescription drugs that numb her senses, then in the companionship of a mysterious girl who heightens them. A ghost? Mary Beth believes so. And Jen is also haunted. Years ago she witnessed a man she had just met fall from a rooftop. She walked away from the accident and has been haunted since by the question of why she did so. As her quest to rectify that mistake starts to collide with the mystery of the hit-and-run driver who killed Ferko and Mary Beth’s daughter, all of the characters are forced to face the fine line between fate and happenstance. Dana Cann’s debut novel is a tautly paced and intricately plotted story in which collective burdens manifest into hauntings.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt with Nancy Forest-Flier, trans. (Express Horror Heuvelt)
From the book jacket:

The English-language debut of the best-selling Dutch novel, Hex, from Thomas Olde Heuvelt-- a Hugo and World Fantasy Award-nominated talent to watch.

Whoever is born here is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's beds for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened, or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

This chilling novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in mainstream horror and dark fantasy.


The Romances Next Door

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden (PbkRomance Camden) (Coming Soon)
From the book jacket:

A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

Nuts by Alice Clayton (PbkRomance Clayton)
From the book jacket:

The New York Times bestselling author of Wallbanger and Rusty Nailed is back with Nuts, the first in a brand new series set in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley.

Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.

Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton (Coming Soon: due out in July! This is the next title in series after Nuts.)
From the book jacket:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be...love?

Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell (PbkRomance Mitchell)
From the book jacket:

Trying to escape the shambles her con-man father has made of their reputation, Lucinda Curtis arrives in West Point, New York, determined to land a husband from the military academy. Campbell Conklin is first in his class and preparing to embark upon a storied career in the U.S. Army. Lucinda thinks Campbell will make the perfect husband... as long as he does not find out about her father.

Seth Westcott also has taken a liking to Lucinda. He's kind, smart... and working extremely hard to graduate last. Tradition states that the worst cadets are assigned to the cavalry out west. And west is where Seth must head to track the swindler who stole all of Seth's mother's money. Seth is smart enough to vie for the top spot, but life isn't fair and this is his chance to catch the man who ruined his family. It's too bad Campbell is all shine and no substance, but Lucinda will surely see through all of that, won't she?

 

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