cover image The Queen of the Valley

The Queen of the Valley

Lorena Hughes. Kensington, $15.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3628-4

Hughes revisits Spanish-born chocolatier Puri in the kinetic sequel to The Spanish Daughter. In 1925, Puri, whose full name is María Purificación de Lafont y Toledo, travels from her adopted Ecuador to Colombia to try to find her cacao supplier and onetime lover, Martin Sabater, after his shipments of cacao beans unaccountably cease. Soon after Puri steps off the train, ruffians rip her dress, and the nun who had been her seatmate lends her a habit to wear. Puri arrives at Martin’s hacienda and learns it has been turned into a hospital by Farid Manzur, a haughty, ambitious doctor and old boarding-school chum of Martin’s, who claims Martin was killed by a jaguar. As a cholera outbreak rages, Puri pitches in to treat the afflicted, despite her lack of medical training. She also keeps up her disguise as a nun, which puts those around her in a confessional mood as she tries to uncover what really happened to Martin. Meanwhile, romance blooms between Puri and one of her patients, who is another close friend of Martin’s, and their forbidden love adds more tension to the suspenseful story. Hughes’s fans will devour this delectable confection. Agent: Rachel Brooks, BookEnds Literary. (Sept.)