One of the questions I’m asked several times a month is, “Who’s a new author I’ve missed?” Or, “What’s everyone reading?” Those questions go hand-in-hand and this past weekend I was asked by two specific organizations to give them suggestions: one to use in a panel and one in a post. So, I thought this week I’d share with you what our Fresh Fiction reviewers are very eager to get their hands and eyes on! You would be surprised, as I was, to find they are not necessarily from the BIG name author who has a track record, but instead are books with buzz building from romance readers. Trust me when I say it was a surprising conversation with our reviews editor.

First off, if you’re a historical romance reader, you’ll be ecstatic to learn publishers are coming out with historical romances that are NOT run-of-the-mill formulaic books. Maybe the backlash against historicals is finally ending. There has been a drought of great new voices in the past five or six years in romantic historical fiction. I won’t say it’s been completely dry, but the new ones had to have a twist that wasn’t always personally totally satisfactory, and I’ve been reading historical romances since you were all born. Thankfully, I have a library of old books that I can re-visit as I want and need. But for new readers or ones dependent on bookstores and e-readers, great historicals have been slim pickings. The hot news is that Entangled, the up-and-coming publisher, has a historical line in 2013. I’ll be watching for it. But right now, the big player in new voices for historical romances seems to be Sourcebooks Casablanca.

If you think about it, it seems perfect that the strong new historical voices are coming from the publisher who brought back the queen of historical romance, Georgette Heyer. Two hotly requested books are Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal by Jayne Fresina, out in June, and Lady Vivian Defies a Duke by Samanatha Grace, releasing in May. The titles alone are humorous; seriously, they are both a mouthful, to say nothing of a memory trick.

In Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal, the action starts off with a mystery in the first chapter and the pace never lets up. The heroine, Lady Mercy, is a proper miss who happens to be a matchmaker for all her friends. Her one improper action is a hasty marriage of a few hours at age 17 to the bane of her existence. The bane is no longer proper and now a prize fighter with secrets of his own. How their courtship unfolds is the stuff of Heyer’s own dreams, and makes for a wonderful read. I can see why Jayne Fresina is highly anticipated by readers. Her story is fast-paced, her characters clearly written and funny! The woman writes the best dialogue I’ve seen in years. After a fast read, I had to go find The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, which came out in 2012 and I missed at the time. I’ve added Fresina to my watch and read list.

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Next up is Lady Vivian Defies a Duke, by Samantha Grace. Where DO they get these titles? They are hard to type and to remember, but thankfully the stuff inbetween the covers is just delicious. Grace takes the plot of unwilling groom and free spirited bride, tosses in some great characters and fast-paced story to make a novel worth savoring. Again, I had to go back and find the previous titles by Grace. (I’ve obviously been missing some great historicals in the past year.) So those are two historical romance authors to putLady Vivian Defies a Duke on your own watch list.

Now to switch gears a bit. One hotly requested book for February 2013 is a romantic suspense. Midnight Alias by Elle Kennedy is hot hot hot. Did I say HOT? The cover will make all the cover aficionados pant a bit, although I cannot understand why a federal agent needs to take off his shirts but leave on his shoulder harness. (Maybe I just nitpick a wee bit.) So, this one takes a mercenary operative and mixes him up with a slightly or maybe VERY bad heroine to capture a really bad guy. Again, it has a mixed bag of ex-special forces guys who have formed a new unit/family to fight crime and terrorists. The story takes places in the seedier underbelly of New York and makes it look gangster-glamorous. A warning for those who don’t like salty language: You’ll be self-censoring from the first chapter. This is the second book in the Killer Instincts series and I foresee a long run ahead for its readers.

The last selection for your must-have list is Mating Instinct by Katie Reus, out in March. The third entry in the Moon Shifter series, Mating Instinct takes a newly turned shifter coming to grips with her new life and mixes it up with an old lover. Savagely attacked Kat becomes a shifter without any control of her powers, making her a great danger to her family and friends. Her ex-lover returns with the guilt of not being there to protect her and also to figure out who is really the threat. It’s fun to read a paranormal with an intriguing suspense arc as well. Reus gives the series a great deal of room to grow and she hasn’t disappointed us yet. Reus has moved to the ranks of “why can’t she write faster?”

So, who’s on your “watch” list as a new or up-and-coming author? Did I leave one of your favorites out?

Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all  the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual readers conference, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.