While contemporary and erotic romances are getting more of readers' attention, historical romance continues to deliver, with more and more new authors busting out their dance cards and writing dashing heroines and delicious heroes. Here are some of historical romance's most auspicious debuts:
The year began hot and heavy with Sara Ramsey’s Heiress Without a Cause. Who doesn’t love an actress heroine? The story is about a proper chaperone by day who masquerades as an acclaimed actress by night. Lady Madeleine Vaillant will do anything to guard her secret talent—including becoming the mistress of the most notorious rake in London. But when the duke demands her heart, will she give up her dreams for a chance at love? The rest of Ramsey’s Muses of Mayfair series includes a writer and a painter. Delicious!
Manda Collins kicked off her Ugly Ducklings series with How to Dance with a Duke. It’s the story of a headstrong wallflower and an ex-soldier duke who must team up to learn what really happened during her father's ill-fated Egyptian expedition. This book made me gasp out loud at a surprise toward the end. Collins’ mixture of suspense and romance is splendid!
January also included the highly anticipated first book in Jillian Stone’s series, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy. Beneath gas-lit streets, anarchists with bombs plot a deadly attack on Victorian London. Scotland Yard detective Zeno “Zak” Kennedy’s investigation leads him into the arms of free-thinking, Impressionist painter Cassandra St. Cloud, whose connection to the terrorists catapults their passionate affair into perilous adventure.
February was hot, hot, hot with books including Kristen Callihan’s Firelight, book 1 of the Darkest London series. It’s a gothic retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” in which a tormented masked man must surrender his humanity in order to protect his true love. What he did not count on, however, is that she is equally determined to save him, for only she can see the goodness in his heart, and love him for it. Who does not love a good fairytale retelling?
One of my favorite books of the year, Samantha Grace’s Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, was also released in February. An unapologetic rake has the tables turned on him when his family's innocent houseguest beds him then leads him on a merry chase to the altar. This was a fun, fun story, with an absolutely delicious hero!
February also taught us that beakers and ball gowns don't mix, in Heather Snow’s Sweet Enemy. When lady chemist Miss Liliana Claremont goes undercover as a husband-hunter to investigate Lord Geoffrey Wentworth, the earl whose family she suspects murdered her father, romance isn't part of her formula. But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control... I love the combination of smart, sassy heroine and a real chemical attraction.
Anna Randol’s A Secret in Her Kiss, debuted in February as well. It’s a charming tale in which a beautiful British spy in the heart of the Ottoman Empire has been blackmailed into completing one final mission. When a handsome army major is sent to see that she complies, she must decide if she can trust him with her life...and her heart. This book had me hooked from page one and I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something fresh and original outside of the ordinary Regency world.
March breezed in with Leigh Lavalle’s The Runaway Countess, a lively retelling of Robin Hood. During a hot and thunderous Nottingham summer, a lady thief steals from the rich to give to the poor. Captured by a handsome lord, she resists his interrogations—but not his tempestuous kisses. Right and wrong turn inside out as she finds herself falling in love with her mortal enemy. She had me at Lady Robin Hood. Love it!
April brought us Tracey Devlyn’s A Lady’s Revenge, in which a British agent flees her French captor’s torturous dungeon and falls in love with the decoder responsible for her imprisonment. This book has a gorgeous cover and a ton of great reviews.
May included Darcy Burke’s Her Wicked Ways. To save his orphanage from collapse, Montgomery “Fox” Foxcroft leads a double life as a highwayman. Banished debutante Lady Miranda Sinclair is his salvation—until she rejects him. Out of options and falling for the heiress, Fox must risk what principles he has left and take advantage of her wicked ways—even if it ruins them both. After reading this book, Fox has got to be one of my ALL TIME favorite hero names now! J’adore! Plus, he’s totally yummy and a highwayman. The end.
The summer started with a bang with Erin Knightley’s More Than a Stranger. It’s a lovely sweet story in which indignant letters from a sister to her brother's new best friend lead to love then heartbreak. Years later, when he comes back into her life with a different name and plenty of secrets, she thinks he's a stranger, but her heart knows he's so much more. The great set up of this story did not disappoint.
September brought my own debut, Valerie Bowman’s Secrets of a Wedding Night, in which a widowed countess writes a scandalous pamphlet that sets the ton on its ear. When the widow’s former flame arrives and her doorstep and demands a retraction and threatens to seduce her, the real fun begins. Of course I’ll leave the editorial comment to others but I will say that I am completely humbled to be in such fine company.
The year promises to come to a sizzling end with Tracy Brogan’s Highland Surrender, the only Scottish historical on the list. To seal a truce, two lifelong enemies are commanded by their king to wed, but family betrayals, age-old secrets, and a plot against the crown converge, and soon the newlyweds must choose between clan loyalty and an unexpected passion. This one comes out December 4th, just in time to be stuffed into stockings by the chimney with care.
2013 promises to be just as fun with Anne Barton’s When She was Wicked, Ashlyn Macnamara’s A Most Scandalous Proposal, and Jennifer McQuiston’s What Happens in Scotland on the historical debut horizon with February releases.
Which historical release was your favorite in 2012 thus far? What are you looking forward to in 2013?
Valerie Bowman writes Regency-set historical romance novels with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging storylines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands! Publishers Weeklycalls Secrets of a Wedding Night, an “enchanting, engaging debut that will have readers seeking future installments” and Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “This fast-paced, charming debut, sparkling with witty dialogue and engaging characters, marks Bowman for stardom.” And Booklistgave it a starred review!You can find Valerie on the web at www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com and on Facebook and Twitter.