Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favorite Debut Novels for 2013

Well, it's that time of the year, fellow readers -- and I'm happy to look back at 2013 and take stock of all the books I've read for the year. I'm very happy with the number of debut novels that I read this year (15) but I would like to up this number in 2014 -- I'm hoping to read about 20 to 25 debut novels. Based on what I've read, there are a lot of debut novels that will be released in 2014, starting with Alyssa Alexander, Elizabeth Michels, and Darcie Wilde.

I'm starting my year in review with a list of my favourite debut novels read in 2013:
1. A Man Above Reproach by Evelyn Pryce (Read in October 2013)

A Man Above Reproach is the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel award for Romance and it is well-deserved. It is not just a breakthrough story but also has breakthrough characters: Elias and Josephine are wonderfully-layered and wonderfully-engaging. My favorite part is that both have actually authored obscure books that no one else, except them, has read and appreciated. I thought it was an indication of how like-minded they were and, beyond the social disparity, they were very, very compatible.
"You cannot become friendly with me, or court me, which seems to be what you are doing ... though I wonder if you are consciously aware of it. We cannot have a romantic story." She wound the ribbon that tied her robe around her finger: once, twice, thrice. He fixated on the circular movement, every muscle in his body stretched tight. "You read too much fiction if you think we can come to a resolution in the real world. The scandal would be of Byronic proportions and you, sir, are noted for your adherence to rules. I have nothing to offer you but trouble with the society you must continue to navigate all your days You are the Uncatchable; I am unsuitable. That is all that is going on here."

"I hate that nickname."
- loc 1547
2. Trials of Artemis by Sue London (Read in September 2013)

I thought this was a very good debut novel. There's a lot to love about it:
For one, the members of the Haberdashers Club: Jack, George and Sabre are well-fleshed out and are fascinating. I love that the three ladies were able to pursue freely and become experts in their chosen field of interest.

This was, I think Sue London's strongest point: she has managed to make all of her characters -- from the hero and heroine, to the Duke of Beloin and the Bittlesworth siblings (Sabre's siblings) -- very interesting. I wanted to read more about them. I wanted to find out more about them.

3. The Inconvenient Duchess by Christine Merrill (Read in September 2013)

Between the lines. Christine Merrill does an excellent job of conveying quite clearly that there is something deeper, something hidden, something unsaid -- and it makes for a very layered, very nuanced, very satisfying read. All 292 pages of wonderful words and of breathtaking storytelling and of a most complex hero and a most capable heroine.

4. The Dark Lady by Maire Claremont (Read in June 2013)

Maire Claremont's The Dark Lady doesn't read like a debut novel: it is bold and confident. This is a dark fairy tale and she's chosen quite a most unromantic theme: madness -- and decided to write a love story with it. The princess locked away in a prison and her not-so-perfect-and-not-so-charming prince has come to rescue her. While he does whisk her away, the happily-ever-after doesn't come until much later, after our princess deals with her ravaging addiction to laudanum and our prince confronts the demons that haunt him. Much like Heather Snow's Gabriel and Pen in Sweet Madness, Eva and Ian go through fire and put through the wringer -- and they emerge bloody, broken -- but also victorious.

5. The Trouble with Being Wicked by Emma Locke (Read in April 2013)

What makes this story interesting? The characters -- all representative of the human condition: a woman who seeks love (Celeste), a man who seeks acceptance (Lord Trestin), a mother yearning for a family (Elizabeth), etc. This was a very enjoyable read and I'm definitely reading the next book. (I already have it on my e-reader.)

6. What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston (Read in February 2013)

McQuiston's writing is fresh and insightful. She provides a new perspective and way of telling a love story. While the plot is not new, she uses the "morning after" storyline and makes her own by shifting the story from the normal adventure and hijinks to one of slow discovery and romance. 
She's able to inject humor into the story without making it too zany or gimmicky. I love her sense of humor -- it's very intelligent and very sharp.

To read my picks for 2012, click here.
To see my picks for 2011, click here.


  1. Love your insights Tin. Thanks for sharing. My tbr list has grown yet again. ^___^

  2. Hi, Camille!

    I think I will be devoting more time searching out and reading debut novels in 2014. I really like discovering new authors this way. ^_^



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