“Oh my goodness, I can’t BELIEVE that you don’t know this book!” How many times have you heard this – or said it to someone after raving about your latest find? Every reader I know seems to stumble upon a few truly wonderful reads that just don’t seem to generate the buzz we think they deserve. Each year, all of us here at AAR like to gather up a few of our buried treasures and share them with you.

This year’s Buried Treasures come from a variety of subgenres. There are series books, contemporaries, historicals, paranormal/futuristic – they cover a wide range. We have differing reasons for choosing our books as well. Lee Brewer chose two that usually get classified as women’s fiction or mystery in most bookstores, but which have a definite romantic element to them that she thinks readers will appreciate. The Last Time I was Me by Cathy Lamb tells the story of a woman starting her life over again, and A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond (sequel to A Rather Lovely Inheritance) features the same characters from Belmond’s first book as they, in Lee’s words, “travel around Europe trying to solve a mystery while visiting exquisite locations.”

Ellen Micheletti chose another suspenseful book as a Buried Treasure. This one, Pitch Black by Susan Crandall, is set in a small town, and Ellen states enthusiastically that, “I think Susan Crandall is one of the best at writing about small towns since she neither romanticizes nor demonizes them.” Ellen also greatly enjoyed her other Buried Treasure, Janice Kay Johnson’s The Man Behind the Cop and believes that, “Johnson has got to be THE most reliable series romance author out there.”

For two of our Senior Reviewers, Medallion Press, a small publisher, provided them each with a Buried Treasure for the year. Of Broken Wing by Judith James, Senior Reviewer Lisa Gardineer states that, “All I can say is WOW!” This unusual historical has received a DIK review here on AAR and from what I am seeing online, it has started to appear on more and more “to buy” lists for readers.

Senior Reviewer Rike Horstmann also gave Buried Treasure status to a Medallion Press novel. She chose The Legacy by TJ Bennett, saying that this novel set in Reformation Germany, “features the best relationship between hero and heroine I have read in a long time. The air sizzles, but it’s not just sexually(plenty of that too, though).” Rike also selected Mary Blayney’s jointly published novels Traitor’s Kiss/Lover’s Kiss as Buried Treasures because she really enjoys that Blayney “has a remarkable, unique voice and pacing that you find from no other author.”

Our other pick from a smaller press came from Sourcebooks Casablanca. Senior Reviewer Jane Granville selected Romeo Romeo by Robin Kaye as her Buried Treasure for the year.

Two of us here at AAR also really enjoyed books that we read from the Shomi imprint. Netherwood is discussed in more detail below, and Reviewer/Pollster LinnieGayl Kimmel chose Twist by Colby Hodge as her buried treasure of the year. She based her choice primarily on the heroine, Abbey, whom she describes as “one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”

For some, a Buried Treasure may be a book by a more established author that just has not generated as much buzz as it deserves. Senior Reviewer Heather Brooks selected Warror by Angela Knight as a Buried Treasure, and Senior Reviewer Andi Davis chose Lynn Viehl’s Evermore for just that reason. Andi indicated that while readers talk about Viehl’s novels, she didn’t hear nearly as much buzz on this particular book.

Though historicals tend to show up with some frequency in our Annual Poll as well as in Staff Picks, we also had several historicals identified as Buried Treasures. Our Advertising Manager and Senior Reviewer Lea Hensley chose Passion and Pleasure in London by Melody Thomas as her Buried Treasure. She reports that “Thomas consistently delivers delicious historical romances with memorable leads and yes – alpha men.” Hensley also worried that Thomas may not be getting enough attention and she wonders whether “Thomas woud be more widely read if her publisher didn’t weigh her down with ridiculous titles as well as inane blurbs that don’t reflect her gifted writing.”

Publisher Blythe Barnhill also named historicals as her Buried Treasures. Of What a Pirate Desires by Michelle Beattie, she states that it is “A really fun book that I swear no one has read but me, with a complicated hero.” Blythe also enjoyed Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory though she expresses concern that Mallory is “an Avon author who I think is getting lost in the shuffle.”

While she did not choose a straight historical romance, Publisher Sandy Coleman did choose a Buried Treasure with a historical setting. With what she describes as “a terrifically realized Victorian setting”, Sandy found Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn to be worthy of a wider readership. In describing the book, she indicates that, “The author expertly mixes the story of Julia’s evolution from widow to confident and assured woman with her own place in the world, with mystery and romance.”

For her Buried Treasures, Publisher Rachel Potter goes back into the modern-day world, selecting series title Shaken and Stirred by Kathleen O’Reilly and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s mystery, I Shall Not Want. Rachel describes Shaken and Stirred as “hot, sweet, and sometimes even funny.” Rachel has also become a fan of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s books, and recently interviewed the author.

For my own Buried Treasures, I found one futuristic romance that I wish had seen a wider audience. I really enjoyed the world Michele Lang created in Netherwood, and I am definitely curious to see more of her work. I also enjoyed Selena Montgomery’s romantic suspense novel, Reckless. The romance in that novel is self-contained, but I’ll need to follow the trilogy to solve the mystery. I really like her characters, so I’m looking forward to it!

So, what are your Buried Treasures for the year? What should we all be adding to our TBR piles that we may have missed the first time around?

-Lynn Spencer