Everyone loves a debutante. First novels (and story collections) get lots of love from reviewers and booksellers, but it can be harder to get attention for a second or third book. Here are some notable novels from experienced but not-yet-famous writers:

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens: “An unflinching look at pregnancy and childbirth. Lore arrives at the hospital alone, carrying a single duffel bag and an extremely detailed birth plan. Franckline, the maternity nurse charged with her care, soon learns that this taciturn, prickly woman is no more enthusiastic about accepting help than she is about fetal monitoring or an IV….Powerful—aesthetically and viscerally.”

Amateurs by Dylan Hicks: “The personal and social lives of a group of friends are on display in this modern novel of manners. Hicks’ second novel, after Boarded Windows (2012), is smart, witty, and endearing.…A handy score card of who what when helps keep track of everyone in this sprightly tale about friendship and courtship, money, love, assorted complications—and writers. Felicitous characters and a scrumptious plot make Hicks’ second novel refreshing and fun.”

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan: “Morgan follows up her slim, keening debut (All the Living, 2009) with an epic novel steeped in American history and geography. As a boy, Henry Forge determines to turn the land his aristocratic Kentucky family has planted with corn for generations into a farm for racehorses.…Vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion.”

The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith: “An appealing fictionalized biography of the revered British novelist George Eliot imagines the inner impulses and passions hidden under a cloak of 19th-century propriety….An intelligent, delicate, but not quite rounded portrait of genius.”

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.