With self-publishing and a proliferation of small presses dotting the landscape, I’m not surprised to see that 2012 yielded a rather varied list of buried treasures. We have a diverse group of reviewers and from the looks of things, they read a pretty diverse crop of books this year both for review and just for pleasure. Thankfully, that’s yielded a list of buried treasure books covering everything from the self-published to the books from major publishers that just didn’t seem to generate nearly as much buzz as we thought they deserved.
Started with the self-published, Dabney Grinnan really enjoyed the erotic novella, By His Desire by Kate Grey. I also had a fun self-published discovery. Mary Castillo’s romantic suspense novel, Lost in the Light has its weak points, but the mystery intrigued me and I appreciated how the author managed to make her heroine both sympathetic and very flawed. In the realm of contemporary romance, Jane Granville chose Mending the Line by Christy Hayes which she described as, “short and sweet and well-written — exactly the sort of comfort read I was looking for at the time,” and Pat Henshaw loved A Different Kind of Forever by Dee Ernst, which is the tale of a rock star meeting a woman and realizing they’re just perfect together – even if she is almost 20 years older.
Pat is also our resident male/male reviewer, and she found two that she thought deserved wider press. Of Brad Boney’s The Nothingness of Ben, she says, “The book has moments of poetry amid a gritty, very male story of three siblings’ journey after their parents suddenly die,” and she calls it an “amazing novel.” Pat also described Amy Lane as her “Buried Treasure Author of the Year,” and specifically chose Dex in Blue as one of her top Buried Treasures for 2012.
Moving on to fantasy romance, Louise VanderVliet happily discovered Gate to Kandrith by Nicole Luiken. Of this book, she says, “It is well written, full of strong world building, a great romance, and a cliff hanger ending. If AAR hadn’t reviewed it I would have missed it and I’m so glad I didn’t!!” We also had two historical paranormals make the list. Rike Horstmann chose Lessons After Dark by Isabel Cooper, “a very charming historical paranormal with quite ordinary characters who rise to the occasion,” while Blythe Barnhill enjoyed Moonglow by Kristen Callihan, a more major release that could use more press because,”while flawed is one of the most intriguing paranormals I’ve read in some time.”
Maggie Boyd stumbled across Edge of Midnight by Leslie Tentler on Amazon and after reading it, was astounded that there was almost no chatter about it online.Though it’s gotten more attention outside the romance world than among romance readers, Lee Brewer enjoyed JoJo Moyes’ women’s fiction release, Me Before You because “even though it is a tearjerker you understand why the characters make the choices they do.” She picked her copy up in the UK, and was pleasantly surprised to see it got a US release, since so many of her chick lit/women’s fiction favorites do not.
And then there were the historicals! Quite a few of us chose historicals for the Buried Treasures list this year. It was an Avon release that got reviews various places and even got a joint review at Dear Author, but Blythe Barnhill thought The Importance of Being Wicked was a good book that deserved even more chatter than it got. I had similar feelings about Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol. This was another widely available Avon release, and the fantastic spy heroine alone is worth the price of the book. I was surprised by how little chatter I’ve seen about this book because it really is a good read.
My last Buried Treasure is also a historical. As you could probably tell from the review, I thought Alissa Johnson’s Practically Wicked a wonderful gem of a book. Well-written and witty, it deserves a much wider audience. Lee Brewer would say the same of His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty, which I know was also Dabney’s book of the year.
Lee Brewer had one more historical Buried Treasure. Of Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, she says it’s “a sweet love story with a touch of adventure about set in an English country estate in the early 1800s,” and I know she’s looking forward to the author’s next book. Maggie Boyd picked a darker historical for this list, describing the post-WWI The Haunting of Maddy Clare as “the best gothic published in years.”
Both of Jean Wan’s picks were historicals as well. Of the first, she said, “This has been a good sea year for me, and Elizabeth Essex’s Almost a Scandal was a part of it. Even though it features a cross-dressing heroine (one of my least-favourite plot devices on the planet), she’s so full of courage and spunk without descending to maddening TSTL behaviour that I forgive Sally Kent – and Ms. Essex, of course – and just enjoy a jolly naval adventure.” She also greatly enjoyed one of Kate Noble’s novels and states that, “I’ve heard very little people talk about Kate Noble’s If I Fall, which I think is a crying shame because it was damn near perfect. I suspect it has to do with the heroine, who is not the nicest person in the world at the beginning, but Ms. Noble pulls no punches in exposing Sarah to the bone, the good and the bad. (And the hero’s not bad, either). Round out the cast with some excellent secondary characters, and despite some iffy bits at the end, If I Fall is a winner.”
What about you? What books did you love this year that you think deserved more attention than they’ve gotten to date?
– Lynn Spencer