Connie Brockway on Un(der)sung Heroes: A Romance Readers' and Writers' List of Overlooked Gems
Have you ever read a book so captivating you couldn’t put it down? And as soon as you finished it, did you call a romance reading friend to rhapsodize over it only to discover that neither she nor, apparently, anyone else in the known universe had read it? And were you not only aghast, but affronted that this wonderful book had gone so unrecognized? Yup. Me, too.
Which is why I asked my readers, colleagues and friends to send me a list of their favorite hidden gems (they had to still be available in print and/or as a digital download).
The call was answered and I’ve spent the last month happily reading the most breath-taking, hilarious, touching romances-- romances I may never have enjoyed otherwise. And I’m here to share my top five with you, as well as some of your favorite romance authors’ choices for Most Under-Ballyhooed book.
In no particular order of preference:
Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson
The writing style is detailed, rich, and unhurried-- and it makes me recall how much I love being utterly immersed in a world and set down amongst a cast of fully articulated characters. This world has the added attraction of being 1922 Vienna (hallo, Downton Abbey!), where hard-scrabble orphan-turned-millionaire Guy Farne aims to buy the castle of a lovely, impecunious princess. Funny, charming, and delightful. Think Roman Holiday meets The Princess Diaries.
The Changeling Bride by Lisa Cache
Time–travel the way it should be. In this howlingly funny and intelligent romance, modern Portlandia native Elle redeems a coupon for “one free husband” given to her by...well, who knows?.. and finds herself transported to Georgian England where she stands in as bride for impoverished earl, Henry. The scene where Elle decides she needs to “invent” indoor toilets alone is worth the price of the download.
Broken Wing by Judith James
Not for the reader looking for a light diversion, Broken Wing features a Tortured Hero. Really. Tortured. Gabriel is a catamite brought out of a French brothel as reward for his compassionate protection of the kidnapped heir to an English title. The heroine is the boy’s older sister, Sarah. There’s no obligatory misunderstanding or juvenile behavior here. The characters are achingly real, honorable and always sympathetic. Cheering for a romantic couple like Gabriel and Sarah to overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds standing between them has never felt more satisfying.
The Year of Living Shamelessly by Susanna Carr
Pure entertainment in a contemporary setting. The classic trope of mousy girl (Katie) turned vamp to seduce Big Brother’s seemingly oblivious hot body best friend (Ryder) when done right, like it is here, feels as fresh and sexy as any 50 Shades out there. Steamy hot with tons of tongue-in-cheek wit. Prepare to read this delicious little treat in one sitting.
A Little Night Magic by Lucy March
This beaut of a novel should have been on everyone’s list this year. Liv is about to leave her life as a waffle house waitress and her unrequited love for fry cook Tobias when she discovers her magical abilities. Suddenly this smart-mouthed 28 year old is battling Dark Forces while trying to keep a lid on the whole magic business and get Tobias to, well, requite. So fast, fun, smart and creative I could not put it down. My find of the year.
But these are one woman’s opinion (granted, one very astute woman). Let’s hear from others...