Buried Treasures of 2009

BT01 At one point, pretty much every reader has that moment of finding a wonderful, delightful book that doesn’t seem to be getting any love anywhere. It’s not flying off shelves at the bookstore, it’s not getting buzz all over the internet, it just doesn’t make sense. And that’s what our Buried Treasure column is for – it’s our time to mention the books that we really liked this year that just didn’t seem to get nearly as much attention as we thought they deserved. These may be books by midlist or small-press authors who should be better known or they may be lesser-known books by authors readers are more familar with. Either way, these books just haven’t gotten the attention we feel they deserve.

As in recent years, paranormals have been big and several of our staffers had good paranormal and alternate reality reads that they thought deserved more attention. Senior Editor Ellen Micheletti has really enjoyed Molly Harper’s Nice Girls Don’t series of which she reviewed Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs and Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men in 2009. Of the books, she says, “The books are so funny, I can’t read them
in public for laughing out loud. They are chock full of humorous characters and the writing is smooth and assured.”

bt02 Senior Reviewer and Pollster LinnieGayl Kimmel enjoyed Tekgrrl by A. J. Menden, a novel about superheroes with a “fascinating, intelligent heroine with some great super-power skills.” And Senior Reviewer Heather Brooks also found a paranormal to love in Midnight’s Master by Cynthia Eden, a demon romance with a powerful, standout hero and steamy sexual tension.

bt03 Normally I gravitate toward historicals and suspense, but I did find some really good paranormal reads myself this year, including one from a series that I think deserves a lot more buzz than I’ve seen it getting online. Doomsday Can Wait by Lori Handeland is the second in her Phoenix Chronicles series, featuring a heroine who must use her powers to fight against evil and stop demons bent on destroying humanity.

bt04a Continuing with the theme, my other buried treasure of the year was a historical but had a definite paranormal plot twist. For the Earl’s Pleasure is by Anne Mallory, a historical romance author with several books to her backlist. Her latest was a charming, even poignant read and I think it deserved more attention than it got.

bt04 Another of our publishers, Blythe Barnhill, also found a historical deserving of more attention. She describes Emma Wildes’ An Indecent Proposition as “innovative and different.” Rounding out the list of buried treasures with a historical setting was the regency trad/Jane Austen sequel The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview, which also garnered DIK status here at AAR when it was reviewed. Senior Reviewer Rike Horstmann described the author’s work using the point of view of “a difficult and too conventional heroine” as “amazing.”

bt05 Moving into the romantic suspense and thriller reads, we have the only buried treasure book this year to have been nominated more than once. Pollster Lee Brewer and Reviewer Jean Wan agreed that Dangerous Lies by Anna Louise Lucia was something special. Lee noted that she was so impressed that she went back and bought the author’s other novel, and Jean said of this book that she “was blown away by the assured prose and character depth.” In addition, this book also earned a DIK review here at AAR.

bt06 Jill Sorensen’s Set the Dark on Fire got favorable mentions on several internet sites, but still doesn’t seem to have gotten quite the amount of attention Rike Horstmann thought it deserved. She enjoyed both the setting and the characters in this one. And switching from romantic suspense to thrillers, Anne Marble really liked The Shimmer by David Morrell. When trying to guess why this book didn’t get as much buzz as others by the author, she noted that it was not quite like his usual work and was published by a different publisher as well. No matter what this reason, this was still a book in need of more attention!

bt10 Also on the suspense front, Bessie Makris wishes more readers knew about the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, of which Queen of the Flowers, Murder in the Dark and Murder on a Midsummer Night were published in 2009. Set in the 1920s, this mystery series follows the adventures the glamorous Phryne Fisher, a heroine who grew up poor in Australia and who then came into great wealth as her father inherited following the deaths of more distant relatives in the Great War. Bored by society life, Phryne has become an ultraglamorous investigator. Bessie describes the books by saying, “The setting gives Greenwood the opportunity to write about women’s lives in the 1920′s (including topics like birth control, abusive marriages, prostution, drug abuse. Phryne is also very glamorous with incredible clothes, a red Hispano-Suizo automobile, and an airplane. And to bring it all back to the romance genre, she doesn’t lack for male companionship.”

bt07 A few of the staff here had some contemporary romance picks as well. Our Message Board Moderator Lea Hensley thought Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James belonged up there with the blockbusters. Of this book, she said, “I am impressed with her classy writing style and ability to deliver a contemporary romance that seems realistic, sensibly sexy, and totally character driven.” Publisher Sandy Coleman rounded out the contemporary picks with Too Hot to Handle by Robin Kaye. Sandy admired Kaye’s writing voice and stated that she “writes romances about ordinary people that are refreshing to someone who’s tired of the Billionaire Next Door. Which I am. Completely.”

bt08 Rounding out our buried treasures we have a work of women’s fiction, a series title and a male/male romance. Pollster Lee Brewer greatly enjoyed Henry’s Sisters by Cathy Lamb, a novel about the lives of three sisters who are united by their love for their mentally handicapped brother Henry. Senior Reviewer and Pollster LinnieGayl Kimmel thought First Come Twins by Helen Brenna, which received a DIK review, deserved more buzz as it was, “a wonderful category romance filled with complex characters and an interesting island setting.” Last but not least, Reviewer Katie Mack wanted to bring attention to Gobsmacked by L.B. Gregg which she described as “plain fun to read.” This novel features the humorous voice of a first-person narrator and has led Katie to glom the rest of the series. bt09

So, if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, these buried treasure picks for 2009 are a few we found to enjoy. What buried treasures did you discover this year?

-Lynn Spencer

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11 Responses to “Buried Treasures of 2009”

  1. Booksy49 says:

    This is a category I really used to enjoy in the AAR readers’ poll – I loved discovering good books I might have otherwise missed. Here are some of my suggestions for 2009:

    Butterfly Tattoo – Deirdre Knight – this had a lot of coverage on other sites, but not really mentioned here

    Tigers and Devils (M/M) – Sean Kennedy a really good discussion of homophobia in sport as well as a cracking romance and good read.

    Rachel

  2. Kim says:

    I agree that Julie James’s book Practice Makes Perfect was a great read in 2009.

    I’m looking forward to Julie James’s new book, Something About You, coming out on March 2. This time Ms. James pens a romantic suspense novel involving an attorney and a FBI agent from her past.

    JJ’s first two books were terrific, so I’m sure this one will be too.

  3. Sue S says:

    I’ll give a very loud second on the Nice Girls Don’t series! This is FUNNY stuff, very original, and includes a variety of great characters. The heroine’s completely disfunctional family and their machinations are the three stooges, plus we have hot vampire suitors. Can hardly wait for the next in the series!

  4. carrie says:

    My favorite find of 2009 was a little known author, Shelly Fredman, who has a wonderful series starting with No Such Thing As A Secret. I guess these would be called mystery/romance, but what makes them special is the depth of the characters and the relationships in the books. It’s silly, but I feel like the characters are friends, and I even find myself worrying about them! The fourth book in the series comes out later this month!

    Eve Kenin (aka Eve Silver) wrote two novels I discovered last year, and I wish she’d write more in the series: Driven, and Hidden. They are post-apocalyptic tales and very well done!

    I totally agree with the recommendation for Tekgrrl. I also highly recommend the previous one of the series, Phenomenal Girl 5, which is one of the few books I rated 5 stars for last year.

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  7. Ann Stephens says:

    Thank you for putting this list out, though it’s not helping my TBR pile get any smaller, lol.

  8. Kate K says:

    I dislike most romantic suspense but I LOVED Set the Dark on Fire. Such great characters and writing.

    This year I discovered Alisha Rai, a Samhain author I now love. I also enjoyed Mastering the Marquess by Vanessa Kelly. It was really sweet.

    It feels like I’m always looking for new stuff to read, so thanks for this list!!

  9. Emma Hox says:

    Great list, thanks, I will have to look into some of those.

  10. Dana says:

    My favorite discovery in 2009 was Katie Allen. She writes erotic romance for Ellora’s Cave and her books were hot, funny, and romantic. My favorites were Breaking the Silence and Raw Footage.

    I also discovered Nicole Kimberling, she writes for Loose ID and Samhain. Loved Primal Red and Happy Snak. Happy Snak isn’t really romance, but I loved the heroine and the world-building was fantastic.

  11. Trish says:

    I would agree with the Emma Wildes mention and I also enjoyed Megan Hart’s PLEASURE AND PURPOSE alternate reality historical three story anthology. I’d also argue that Anna Campbell’s CAPTIVE OF SIN and Carolyn Jewel’s INDISCREET both flew pretty well below the radar/standard buzz. And both were very good books.