We pick the “Buried Treasures” of 2013

Starfish-beach-wallpaperIn 2013, self-publishing was mainstream, social media allowed authors more specific ways to publicize their work, and everyone had a strongly held opinion about what constituted a great romance novel.  This environment makes the idea of a “buried treasure” more difficult to define. So, let’s agree to accept this definition: a buried treasure is a book you loved you think isn’t as well known as it should be.When I asked reviewers here at AAR for their buried treasure nominations, many said it was a difficult thing to pick. Several asked if a novel is still a buried treasure if more than one reviewer lauds it. A few demurred to choose at all, saying there wasn’t a book they felt met the criteria.

Here are the picks our staff ultimately made:

Melanie: “The only book I have that I’d consider to be a buried treasure was Swept up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman. I read it for review back in July, and I love the humor mixed with the fantasy elements. I don’t get to read a lot of books like that anymore, and it was just really fun. I did read a very short m/m novella at the end of the year, Something Real by Julia Alaric that was quite wonderful. It’s a sci-fi romance novella. The characters were spot-on, and I was surprised how lyrical such a short novella could get.”

Pat: “Just about everything I read is buried since I’ve been reading and reviewing gay romances, so which is the most buried of the treasures is difficult to pick with so many good choices.  However, my favorite would be Sex & Sourdough by A. J. Thomas which is structured around hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Some of the book is poetic in its descriptions.  My two runners-up would be Beyond Duty by SJD Peterson which looks into the lives of two retiring gay soldiers who wonder if they should come out to family and friends, and Something Like Autumn by Jay Bell, the third in the series, this one an in-depth look at one of the minor characters in the first two books.  While the romances in each of these books is strong, it’s the bigger issues and the authors’ discussion of these issues that makes these books stand out.

Lynn: “Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol – I’m not sure why her books don’t get more buzz, but Randol writes fabulous historical adventures. The characters in this one were a treat and I was sad to see this trilogy come to an end. Since I often get series fatigue, that’s saying something. Also, Trancehack by Sonya Clark – I loved the world building in this novel, and also liked that the author wrote this book in such a way that it can really be read on more than one level.”

Mary: “The closest I have to a buried treasure for 2013 is Alice Clayton’s Wallbanger. It’s laugh out loud funny.”

Heather: “Tessa Bailey’s Protecting What’s His. It’s fun, sexy, and still sweet. Protecting What’s His was a keeper for me.”

Blythe: “I think mine is a little bit borderline, but I would pick Jennifer McQuiston’s What Happened in Scotland. It was a good debut and had a different structure than most European Historicals – and I place a pretty high value on novelty.”

Alexandra: “I’m not exactly sure how “buried” mine is, but the only title I can think of that might fit the bill is The Turncoat by Donna Thorland. It was her debut novel last year, and as I recall it got a good review at AAR, which is why I picked it up. I generally like any book set during the American Revolution, and this book brought the history to life so well that I just fell in love.”

Lee: “One of my favorite buried treasures from last year was Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson.  Last year, Ms. Donaldson wrote her second book, Blackmoore, and I enjoyed it just as much as her first book.  A little darker in tone and beautifully written, I highly recommend it for historical romance readers.  Another new author to me, is Sarah E. Ladd, and last year she released two books, The Heiress of Winterwood, and The Headmistress of Rosemere.  Both are historical romances but with little bits of mystery.”

Caz Owens: “I really enjoyed Moriah Densley’s Song for Sophia from EsKape Press(which I reviewed for us). It was an entertaining story with two very well characterised protagonists – the hero was especially compelling – and lots of great dialogue. Alyssa Everett is a relatively new author who I think deserves to be more widely known – her Lord of Secrets (Carina Press) was an excellent read (if on the angsty side) featuring a lovely beta hero with a shameful past.  It was very well written and the romance was charming. In terms of books that didn’t seem to generate the buzz they deserved, I loved Caroline Linden’s Love and Other Scandals – it was one of my favourites of last year.  It’s funny and sexy – full of sparkling dialogue and didn’t rely on spies, pirates or convoluted plots to maintain interest.  It’s a story of two unlikely people falling in love and it was superbly done.”

Maggie: “This year my Buried Treasure was found in a brand new location! For the first time all three books are ebooks. When I was looking (desperately and not very successfully) for new romantic suspense I stumbled across Frozen by Kate Watterson. It deals with a serial killer in Minnesota and since I had at one time lived near the area being discussed I was intrigued and took a chance on the book. I loved it and went back to Amazon for more which led me to Buried by Kendra Elliot, a spooky tale about a kidnapped bus full of children, and Forbidden by Lisa Clark O’Neill about an FBI agent whose vacation leads him to a new love – and a chilling mystery. I’m so glad ebooks have opened the market to those genres which are not currently at the top of publishers “to buy” lists. And I am so glad the quality of these books equals – and sometimes surpasses – the quality of whatever is being published by the print people.”

Rike: “My Buried Treasures are two titles that were also on my list of best reads of 2013: New Life by Bonnie Dee, which is self-published, and An Invitation to Sin by Sarah Morgan, which is a Harlequin Presents romance. Everyone expects Harlequin Presents to be fluff – I do! – but occasionally they are extremely well-written romances with both depth and fun that just happen to be set among millionaires – as is the case here. As for New Life, it is an equally moving and gripping story about a janitor who is mentally handicapped after an accident, and the smart lawyer he falls for.”

Dabney: “2013 was a great year for buried treasures. Out of my top ten list, six would meet my definition. I suggest Untamed by Anna Cowan, Glitterland by Alexis Hall, Unteachable by Leah Raeder, After Hours by Cara McKenna, Maybe This Time by Joan Kilby, and Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey.”

Have fun digging!

Dabney Grinnan

 

 

8 thoughts on “We pick the “Buried Treasures” of 2013

  1. Tripping Prince Charming- A Romancs of S(h)orts, is my choice. One, because reviews have been favorable. Two, because I wrote it and Lord knows I’m digging and scratching to bring it to light.
    This review, from a man- helped me to believe in this book. Lol, myself.
    “There is adifference between being fated and being star crossed, being blessed and cursed. Yet sometimes its very difficult to tell and extremely difficult to convince a skeptic that fairy tales can come true even if you have to walk through the fires of hell to convince them. This is amost unusual book and I don’t know how to classify it. It is a romance, yes. In fact is it three of them. On one level. On another, its a bit like a musical (think fiddle on the roof. Oh yes, quite literally think that…) It reads like ascreen play complete witha musical sound track and wonderful sets and locations. The back story to the entire thing could be a novel in itself, and toward the end it comes to center stage and rescues the entire effort. Another book by Ey Wade that is different from any other I have read, including her own. Its daring, often humorous, at times just a bit heart breaking, and highly original. There is a palette of flavors both sweet and at times bitter.”

  2. I have two. They may, or may not, be known, but I haven’t seen them discussed much in message boards, so I would consider them to be buried treasures so to speak.

    First up is Eversea and Forever Jack by Natasha Boyd. Both of these came out in 2013. The premise of these two sound so cliche and I almost skipped them because of that (big movie star meets small town girl romance). I am so glad I read them. They did not fall into that same tired story. They were both excellent and different from the usual.

    Next is a series by Susan Ee, Angel Fall (this was the first and actually came out in 2012) the second was World After (Nov. 2013). Again, another type of book I normally would have skipped over. Not sure what this is actually considered, paranormal maybe? Angels, zombies, apocalyptic? Whatever they are, they were excellent. Side Note: The first one Angel Fall has been optioned to make into a movie.

  3. Pingback: I'm a "buried treasure"! | Alyssa Everett : Historical Romance

  4. Caroline Linden’s “Love and Other Scandals” most definitely was one of my favorites last year too.

    I still need to play catch up and read Jennifer McQuiston’s “What Happened in Scotland” and “The Turncoat” by Donna Thorland. Thanks for the reminders.

    I love these kinds of columns! Thanks to all!

  5. Crazy Rich Asians (2013) by Kevin Kwan would be my choice.

    I’m not sure how much of a buried treasure this book is in terms of general fiction, but I hadn’t read anything about it via the romance community, so I’m considering it a buried treasure. However, as I understand it, the book has been optioned for a movie by the person who produced The Hunger Games movies, so it’s obviously captured attention outside of romance.

    I only stumbled across it because I was looking for contemporary books with Asian characters and/or settings just for a change of pace and this book popped up.

  6. Definitely Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams (an e-book). I normally don’t like books that get too into religion, but I really liked this contemporary marriage of convenience story. It was a romantic (and surprisingly sexy) tearjearker with a pastor widowed hero.

    • I didn’t know it and it looks good, thanks for recommanding it. Marriage of convenience is one of my favorite tropes and I know Noelle Adams with her other pseudo Claire Kent.

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