Pirates, the actual historical ones, did not bury their treasure. We have Robert Louis Stevenson to thank for that misconception, but it’s a powerful one. For one thing, it gave us the term, “buried treasure,” which applies, as it turns out, very well to the reading of romance novels. Why, you may ask? For that answer, you’ve come to the right place, because, this week, we are all about the buried treasure of the romance novel sort….
What exactly counts as buried treasure romance novels? Are they always about pirates? Well, no, but there probably are a lot of pirate romance novels that count as buried treasure. For the sake of this discussion, I am going to say that buried treasure reads are books that a person has read, and loved, and yet, are not frequently bandied about on the interwebs when one asks for recommendations of books to read next.
There are a lot of reasons a book could be deemed a buried treasure. The historical romance genre as we know it was birthed in 1972, with The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. The book of the moment, no doubt about that, but younger romance readers, born at the turn of the twenty-first century, let’s say, may not have had the same experience as their mothers, aunts, grandmothers (eep) etc, who were there for the first wave of modern historical romance.
Not that all buried treasure reads are historical romance, by any means. The sheer number of category romance titles automatically makes that subgenre a rich hunting ground. Many of our superstars of today’s shelves got their start writing category back in the day. Nora Roberts sat down at her kitchen table one snowy day, and began what would eventually become Irish Thoroughbred, and hasn’t stopped since.
There are also more modern buried treasures, as not all of them are buried beneath the seeds of time. With the rise of indie publishing, both print and digital, it’s entirely possible for great books to be out there, with no or little publicity, so how on earth is their ideal reader to find them? Well, other than other ideal readers leaving reviews, because that always helps. Small presses open and close, books go out of print, and, with more and more books winging their way to readers via online shopping, rather than a leisurely wander through a bookstore (and we will save discussions of how difficult it is for indie authors to get print books, and get them into chain bookstores, for another time)
The books I could list here are many. When I reviewed for the late, great Heroes and Heartbreakers website, I got a chance to read books I might not have found otherwise, from Viking adventures to Regency romps, , and I got the chance to talk about some of my favorite books from various categories, authors both active and retired. Those who know me in real life can confirm I could go on for days about this stuff. Those who know me very well can confirm that I have. I am always happy to give suggestions on particular types of books, and I do have a mental list of several themes on which I could do exactly that.
Big, sweeping epic historicals of yore are among my favorites, and when I find that there is an overlap between some of those first wave historical romance writers, and the writers of the (usually contemporary) gothics that were the forerunners of today’s romantic suspense, I am going to pounce on those like a cat on nip. Valerie Sherwood, for example, who wrote some of my all time favorite pirate romances, was also Jeanne Hines, who wrote some darned chilling gothics. Aola Vandergriff, another favorite, did the same thing, crossing from gothic to historical without missing a beat. As far as I know, neither of these author’s books are in e-book form, meaning that finding them takes a lot of searching, even on one’s knees in the back of a used bookstore (aka the summer Anna found the MacLeod Daughters series) but are oh so worth the hunt.
Who can tell what books will fall under this category n years to come, but one thing is sure, discovering a buried treasure read will never get old.
So, dear readers. I turn it now over to you. What, in your opinion, makes a buried treasure romance? What’s your favorite lesser known romance novel you think more people should read? Have a favorite trope you think you’ve read everything about, but are longing for more? Pull up a chair in the comments section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everyone at this table.