Happy New Year, friends!
As 2015 comes to a close, I want to wish you all a year to come full of joyful and abundant reading!
This is also a terrific time to point out some great debut authors that launched this year. Since I didn’t get to read many myself, I asked a few reader and author friends and did a little research, plus took note of a few titles that I’d heard about through the year.
It can be tricky to pick books by debut authors, but here are a few highly recommended names I expect we’ll be hearing a lot from in the years to come:
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delightful debut by Amy E. Reichert. It takes place in Milwaukee and features a chef having a bad day, and the restaurant critic who takes unholy glee in writing about it. They meet at a bar, are coy about what they do, and he falls in love with her right about the time he realizes his review crushed her dream. Managing to work out that conflict in a believable way is impressive enough, but Reichert also convinces us that Milwaukee is practically a must-see vacation destination! Highly recommend.
Joanna Shupe hit the market with so much buzz this year it was impossible to miss her. She also published three books in three months, fulfilling a whole series in her debut year. It begins with The Courtesan Duchess, in which Julia, the Duchess of Colton, pretends to be a courtesan in order to seduce the stranger she married eight years ago, when she was 16, and who promptly abandoned her. The goal is to conceive a child, not fall in love with her husband, but when she does, is it possible he’s fallen in love with her too? There’s a reason we’ve heard so much about Shupe, and her next series takes place in the Gilded Age. Sounds yummy!
Another wonderful 2015 historical debut is Susanne Lord’s In Search of Scandal. When bold Charlotte Baker meets explorer Will Repton, she knows they’re meant for each other and is willing to risk anything to convince him—even ruin. Will is captivated, but also emotionally traumatized by his most recent adventure which ended in tragedy. Can Charlotte convince him she can face any challenge as well as help him heal? (Courtney Milan praised it as "Beautifully written, deeply romantic, and utterly magnificent.”)
And my last historical debut recommendation is Anna Bradley’s A Wicked Way to Win an Earl. Bradley’s first book is witty and sultry, and while the plot sounds like a typical Regency vendetta story—“aristocrat seeks to ruin the girl whose mother stained his family’s reputation”—the author turns the standard trope on its head by making unexpected twists and writing smart, bright characters determined to outwit each other in their dangerous game played against the rigid rules of the ton.
Three great new voices in historical romance!
For more contemporary romance, try Kim Amos, another debut author who was incredibly prolific this year, publishing four titles in her White Pine series in Grand Central’s Forever line, starting with A Kiss to Build a Dream On.
Looking for something a little different? Try Annika Sharma’s debut, The Rearranged Life, which follows college senior Nithya, who has always believed she’d marry an Indian boy, but falls in love with an American—a bit of a taboo in her family. A modern Indian take on the New Adult genre, I’ve heard good things about this book from a few people, but I was struck by one Amazon reviewer’s praise: “Khaled Hosseini meets Cora Cormack meets OH MY GOD MY POOR HEART.” Well! Who can resist that?!
I can’t tell you how many people have recommended Karma Brown’s Come Away With Me, a novel of loss and hope (more women’s fiction than romance, but this seems to be a strong crossover title). “An unexpected journey leads one woman to discover that life after loss is possible, if only you can find the courage to let go.”
Another women’s fiction debut (from Glamour Magazine book editor Elisabeth Egan) I’ve heard huge praise for is A Window Opens, a sort of not-quite-midlife coming-of-age story about a women who thinks she has it all, until it all starts to quake. And then she has to ask herself not how to have it all, but instead what it is she really wants. (It received a Kirkus star review, too.)
Finally, I am wholly intrigued by The Sparrow Sisters, Ellen Herrick’s debut. “With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of Eastwick, Ellen Herrick’s debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible, if you aren’t afraid to listen.”
2015 was a great year for romances and women’s fiction, and I look forward to the coming year to see what all of these ladies have in store, not to mention the gift of titles from 2016 debut novelists as well as my tried-and-true favorites!
Happy New Year, happy reading!
(Do please share any 2015 debut novels you’ve read or heard were great—and if you’ve read any of these, let us know what you thought. It’s always a gift to hear about great writers, and a privilege to support them when they’re emerging.)