2010 seems to have been a good reading year for many of our readers and also for AAR staff. Some of the books we’ve loved have gotten lots of buzz, but there are always those buried treasures out there waiting to be found. Some of these books come from new authors or smaller presses, and a few are from bestselling authors who, for whatever reason, just didn’t get the buzz here on the site that staffers felt they deserved. So, here is our chance to point out the books from 2010 that we really think more people need to read.
It was a good year for historicals in general, and we certainly don’t lack for Buried Treasure picks in this department either. Publisher Sandy Coleman and Reviewer Dabney Grinnan both found a special historical that they thought merited more attention. Of Seven Secrets of Seduction by Anne Mallory, Dabney said, “(I)t was one of the best historicals I read last year. I loved the middle class book-loving heroine, Miranda, and Maximilian was a very sexy, very literate hero. The romance between them unfolded at a perfect pace and it was marvelous to watch them fall for each other intellectually as well as (very hotly!) physically.” This is an opinion that Sandy emphatically seconds.
Reviews Editor Jean Wan had similar feelings about Kate Noble’s The Summer of You. She describes the book as “a pleasure” and states that while the book has been mentioned various places, “I just don’t
get the feeling that Kate Noble’s latest is getting the attention it deserves.” Senior Review Jane Granville also chose Kate Noble’s novel, saying that, ” I was really pleasantly surprised with the unique tone and writing style of the book, which made it stand out from a genre that is unfortunately a bit homogeneous in that regard.”
Another book chosen by multiple staffers was The Sergeant’s Lady by Susanna Fraser. Senior Reviewers Maggie Boyd and Rike Horstmann both gave the book high marks. Maggie “loved this little gem of a historical with its unique plot and characters,” and stated that “It was so nice to read about a middle class hero – heck, any hero not a Duke is always a plus to me!” Rike said of Fraser’s novel, “I love the unique setting, the delightful middle-class hero, and
the way the relationship and its chances at that period are depicted: utterly moving, and without any easy way for hero and heroine to get together (they do get together, though!).”
One of my personal Buried Treasure picks was a book from a debut author that actually earned a DIK review from me. In for a Penny by Rose Lerner is a real gem of a book. The author throws in all manner of small and telling details that really make this book unforgettable, and I thought it deserved more buzz than it received.
Various websites (inlcuding this one) have mentioned that Westerns seem to be making a comeback and reviewer Pat Henshaw believes that there is a Western out there deserving of more buzz than it’s gotten to date. Of Open Country by Kaki Warner she remarks that, “Warner’s trilogy surrounding three brothers, this being the tale of the middle brother, is stunning for a new author who melds historical fact and fictional romance in such a convincing way.”
And speaking of Westerns, a self-published Western made its way into Message Board Moderator (and resident audiobook expert) Lea Hensley’s Buried Treasure picks. She chose Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell and stated that, “Ms. O’Connell’s writing is fresh and doesn’t rely one bit on overused romance scenarios. Through Anne and Cord’s honest interaction and joy with one another, I saw a mature relationship develop and I believed theirs was a
true love story in every way.”
Paranormals and fantasy romance continue to be strong, and we certainly had our favorites there as well. I read both The Battle Sylph and The Shattered Sylph by L.J. McDonald in 2010, and thoroughly enjoyed spending time in that world. Paranormal and, to a lesser degree, fantasy series abound, but this one deserves more readership than it seems to have gotten. The books were published by Dorchester and the implosion over there no doubt affected distribution, but they are still available and I hope more people will read them.
And, even though the series has made print bestseller lists, Reviewer Emma Leigh and Senior Reviewer Jean Wan both felt that Larissa Ione’s Demonica series merited more attention both at AAR and online in general. They found that these books just weren’t getting the word of mouth referrals that series by J.R. Ward and other authors received, and for that reason wanted to spotlight them here. Of Ecstasy Unveiled and Sin Undone, Jean says, “I think this is a fantastic paranormal series, one that couples original world-building with sensible, compelling characters.”
And, though it’s not genre romance, AARList Moderator Anne Marble found Cryoburn, the latest in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga worthy of a closer look from romance readers. She notes that Bujold has a certain appeal among romance readers, but that there just wasn’t much discussion of this particular book when it came out in October 2010.
Contemporaries and romantic suspense got some attention as well. Rike Horstmann particularly enjoyed Trash Course by Penny Drake, which she found to be “a mostly funny romantic suspense full of quirky characters and a lot of atmosphere.” Reviewer Heather Stanton chose another contemporary release from Carina Press as her Buried Treasure. When explaining why she thought Shannon Stacey’s Exclusively Yours was her Buried Treasure for 2010, Heather stated, “I found it to be a fun read with likeable characters and plenty of wit. I find good contemporaries to be in woefully short supply and am thrilled when I find an author that does them well. I am definitely looking forward to future offerings from Ms. Stacey.”
Reviewer Dabney Grinnan particularly enjoyed On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards and thought it deserved more attention. Of this novel, she says, “This is the second book in a series set in the restaurant
world of New York City. The lovers in this one, Devon–the bad boy celebrity chef– and Lilah Jane–ex-high school drama teacher–, are very sexy and funny together. Plus the book–and the series–features a m/m love story that is lovely and sexy in its own right. I like all three books in the series, but this is my favorite.”
And then there were the series romances. Pollster and Senior Reviewer LinnieGayl Kimmel chose two series romances as her Buried Treasures of 2010. They were A Miracle for His Secret Son by Barbara Hannay and A Match Made in Court by Janice Kay Johnson. She gave both of these books DIKs when reviewing them, and felt that both deserved a much wider readership.
Reviewer Pat Henshaw found series title What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss deserving of buzz as well. Though it received favorable reviews on several sites (including a B+ from AAR), Pat wanted to see more buzz for this book. Of Bliss’ writing she says, “I think she and Sarah Mayberry are two gifted writers who may get buried in the monthly Harlequin glut.” Message Board Moderator Lea Hensley agreed with the recommendation of Karina Bliss. She felt that, “(t)he whole fantasy of a superstar falling in love with a town librarian totally worked here,” and having read this book, she stated that Karina Bliss “is now on my radar.”
Though we don’t see nearly as much chick lit as we used to, Pollster Lee Brewer did find Nancy’s Theory of Style by Grace Coopersmith well worth reading. She decribes the book as “fun”, with a heroine who is “a separated San Francisco socialite who is really over the top in her life’s choices and conversations with people.”
And last, but certainly not least, we have some erotica to highlight as a Buried Treasure. Publisher Blythe Barnhill said of My Lady’s Pleasure by Olivia Quincy that, “It’s erotica –
but erotica like I’d never read before. It’s more like a thoughtful exploration of love, sex, and sexual mores…”
So, there you have it – AAR’s Buried Treasures of 2010. If you’re looking for books to add to the TBR, here are a few that were much-loved by the staff here at All About Romance and which we hope more readers will pick up and love as well.
– Lynn Spencer