Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Thursday News and Deals: Bestseller Roundup of 2011


HarperCollins is making a core set of backlist titles available for print on demand through espresso machines.  I’m not sure why every digitized book can’t be accessed through an in store POD system but I’m glad that more print titles are being made available to readers who want print.


I know that there are a ton of Downtown Abbey fans amongst romance readers.  Publishers are taking notice as well and suggesting a number of titles that might appeal to the Downtown Abbey crowd.

So they are rushing to print books that take readers back to Edwardian and wartime England: stories about the grandeur of British estates (“Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle” by the Countess of Carnarvon); the recollections of a lady’s maid (“Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor” by Rosina Harrison); and World War I (“A Bitter Truth” by Charles Todd), the bloody backdrop to the show’s second season, which had its premiere in the United States last Sunday on PBS, drawing 4.2 million viewers.

None of these appear to be romances.  Do romance readers have any suggestions?


PW has a roundup of the bestsellers of 2011.  From the lede it appears that PW only tracks paper sales. If Bestseller = sales (and it doesn’t always) Random House had the best year with 104 hardcover bestsellers compared to runner up Penguin who had 86.  Random House’s books spent the most time on the bestseller list at 480 weeks almost doubling Penguin’s presence of 241 weeks.  The list notes that the Big 6 still account for the majority of print books sold:

 The top six—Random House, Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Macmillan—accounted for 89.8% of the hardcover slots and 81.3% of the paperback slots. Adding the additional four players featured on the table (p. 19) ups the total to 92.8% for hardcover and a whopping 96.9% for paperback.

It’s a great little article with charts and tables. I recommend you read it.  I’m not sure what it tells us about the state of publishing or where it is going from here but it is a data point.


The following are a few Harlequin deals I found on Amazon.  If you don’t find what you like in the list below, you might head over to Harlequin and use the $4 coupon SPEND4E11 or get 25% off one book at Kobo Books using code c1auto25.  Kobo also has a 30% off sale on selected titles using coupon code jan12us30.


  • Dangerous Angels with Bonus Materials by Francesca Lia Block * $0.00 * A | BN | K | S * This has 188 reviews, average 4.5 stars*


  • Spontaneous by Brenda Jackson * $0.86 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Lone Wolfe by Kate Hewitt * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Spanish Awakening by Kim Lawrence * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Lone Star Love Affair by Sara Orwig * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • Flashback by Gayle Wilson * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • Seducing the Accomplice by Jennifer Morey * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • Cold Case Reunion by Kimberly Van Meter * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • Five-Alarm Encounter by Karen Anders * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • Riches to Rags Bride by Myrna Mackenzie * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • What’s a Housekeeper to Do by Jennie Adams * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • High Octane by Lisa Renee Jones * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Husband Lesson by Jeanie London * $1.24 * A | BN | K | S
  • Picture of Innocence by Jacqueline Baird * $1.25 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Proposal by Brenda Jackson * $1.27 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Stolen Bride by Abby Green * $1.36 * A | BN | K | S
  • Waterford Point by Alana Matthews * $1.4 * A | BN | K | S
  • With a Little Help by Valerie Parv * $1.42 * A | BN | K | S
  • Best Man for the Job by Meredith Fletcher * $1.46 * A | BN | K | S

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ridley
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:24:18

    I really want to like Brenda Jackson’s books. They seem to be the only AA/multicultural books Harlequin lets escape their Kimani line (which never seems to work for me) to be published under the Desire imprint, and I want to encourage more of that. Unfortunately they just don’t work for me. They’re not bad books, and everyone else seems to love her, but they’re totally forgettable.

    Everyone else should try her, though. If you like potato chip reads, they’re solid books.

  2. RowanS
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:25:22

    For m/m readers, Charlie Cochrane’s series that begins with Lessons in Love is a fabulous look at life in that era. It follows two Cambridge dons as they solve mysteries and fall in love. The last book of the series takes place immediately after WWI, and deals with the fallout from that. I can’t recommend these highly enough–they are beautifully researched, beautifully written, and beautifully sensitive.

  3. Joy
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:35:22

    I want to know if those awesome-looking “espresso machines” dispense coffee as well as books. Because they really ought to.

  4. farmwifetwo
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:41:37

    Elswyth Thane wrote a Williamsburg series 70yrs ago or so. Starts just before 1776 and goes to WWII. They are romances with kisses.

    Also, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne” series ends with Rilla of Ingelside during WWI.

    WWI from my POV and yours is completely different. I have to admit I roll my eyes when American’s talk about it since the “Commonwealth” were in the Great Wars from the beginning. The US made millions on the backs of these countries before they joined in.

  5. Victoria
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:46:44

    More YA romance than romance, but A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson! It’s set after the war, and it’s a bit fairytale-ish, but so charming.

  6. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:47:01

    One of Nicola Cornick’s novels has been renamed and reissued to appeal to viewers of Downton Abbey:

    Last week saw the UK reissue of my 2008 Edwardian historical romance The Last Rake in London with a new title, Dauntsey Park, and a gorgeous new cover. I was tickled pink when a UK magazine described the book as “perfect for fans of Downton Abbey,” The Oxford Times said that it was “everything a historical romance should be and more”, and another review described is as “a particularly fine Edwardian romance.” (from a post at Word Wenches)

  7. Meri
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 10:55:54

    @Victoria: You beat me to it! A Countess Below Stairs is lovely. I’m not sure if any of Ibbotson’s other books were set in England, but I believe they all take place around that time period.

  8. Julie
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 11:17:00

    A Countess Below Stairs is one of my favourite books ever! It’s one of the most charming and heartwarming books I’ve ever read. I also loved the Nicola Cornick Laura Vivanco mentioned.

    It’s not strictly romance, but Charlotte Bingham wrote two wonderful stories set during that period: Debutantes and The Season.

  9. Amy from Harlequin
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:10:33

    @Laura Vivanco — I was just about to post about “The Last Rake in London”! Inspired by that article, I’m actually working on a blog post for the Harlequin Blog with more suggestions (posting date TBD) but some Harlequin Historicals set around the turn of the century to the 1920s are “On the Wings of Love” by Elizabeth Lane, “Jack Compton’s Luck” by Paula Marshall, and “It Happened at Christmas” anthology. All of these are available in ebook, btw.

    @Ridley – Harlequin Romantic Suspense has a book this month with an African America hero and Hispanic heroine — Soldier’s Rescue Mission by Cindy Dees:

  10. Na S.
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:12:18

    Thanks for the coupons! I’m off to check out the Harlequin $4 one :)

  11. MrsJoseph
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:21:31

    @Ridley: I’d given up on the Kimani line long long ago. Which was sad because I really love AA/POC characters.

    And I totally agree with Brenda Jackson. I have one I’ve never finish sitting in my Kobo right now.

    @Amy from Harlequin: Thanks for the rec, I’ll try that out!

  12. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:28:49

    @Amy from Harlequin: Did Polly Forrester’s Double Dilemma (set in “1910 The Golden Summer of the Edwardian Age”) and Changing Fortunes (“Life after World War I … dashing soldiers – working women … and a rapidly changing society”) ever come out as Harlequin Historicals? I think they can’t have done. I’ve got M&B editions and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for interesting romances set in these periods.

    Incidentally, I just went looking for a link about them and I discovered that the author is still writing for HM&B, but as Christina Hollis. I wish she’d consider going back to historicals, because hers were set in such a range of unusual places/times, but presumably she’s got her reasons for moving to the Modern/Presents line. I’ll have to try and track down her newer novels now so that I can compare them to her older ones.

  13. Amy from Harlequin
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:32:02

    @Laura Vivanco – I checked our database and it doesn’t look like those two titles were ever published in North America.

  14. Evangeline Holland
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:59:28

    @MrsJoseph: You should look beyond Kimani to Kensington’s Dafina line (though make sure the books aren’t women’s fiction), Genesis Press, and Parker Publishing. There are also a few black romance writers published by e-publishers like Loose-Id.

    As for Downton Abbey-type romances (and speaking as someone who writes Edwardian/WWI-set historical romances), there aren’t too many out there.

    Jane Feather wrote a trilogy set in 1905-08 (The Bachelor List, The Bride Hunt, and The Wedding Game), which I do like, but aren’t Feather’s best when compared to her excellent “V” books. Laura Lee Guhrke’s Abandoned at the Altar trilogy is set in the early 1900s (Wedding of the Season, Scandal of the Year, and Trouble at the Wedding), and Kristi Astor’s Upon a Midnight Clear is set in 1908–once again decent reads, IMO. Lucia Grahame’s haunting historical romance is set in 1900s France and England I think, and of course you can’t go wrong with Judith Ivory (Beast, Dance and Bliss [written as Judy Cuevas]), who gets the zeitgeist of the early 1900s spot on.

    Rosalind Laker’s Orchids & Diamonds falls a tad outside of the romance genre spectrum, but it’s set in 1900s and WWI Europe, I really, really loved Sarah Smith’s trilogy set in mid-1900s to 1914 Boston and Europe (The Vanished Child, The Knowledge of Water, and A Citizen of the Country), I really enjoyed Harriet Smart’s Daughters of Blane (a UK release from the 90s now self-pubbed by the author), Gwendoline Butler’s gothic suspense The Red Staircase is set in 1900s England and Russia, and Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s mysteries are set in Edwardian England.

  15. Brian
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:12:15

    @Amy from Harlequin:

    and “It Happened at Christmas” anthology. All of these are available in ebook, btw.

    Am I just missing this on the Harlequin eBook site or is it only available from third parties like Amazon? I’ve run into a few Harlequin books like this lately, that are available elsewhere, but not directly from you guys, weird.

  16. Tina
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:26:42

    @Ridley: I feel the same about Brenda Jackson’s books. I do root for her success because hopefully it will prise open the door another scant few centimeters to allow more of the AA authors off the Kimani Island onto the mainland.

    @Evangeline Holland I second the nom of Genesis as a nice little gem of a press for AA & MultiCulti romance. Seems like their last few releases are exclusively e-format. Which is awesome considering they were the very last to enter digital publishing (or so it felt like to me.)

  17. Lada
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:39:58

    I think Catherine Cookson wrote some older romances set around the turn of the century. Its been years but The Wingless Bird (I think this is the one) stood out for me at the time from all it’s regency-set cousins. I believe some of her books were made into movies though I have not seen any of them.

  18. DS
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:50:00

    Humor with some romance , I warmly recommend Angela Thirkell, particularly the Barsetshire books. She wrote between 1931 and 1959 so don’t expect a sensual read. They are comfort reads..

  19. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:51:52


    Seems like their last few releases are exclusively e-format. Which is awesome considering they were the very last to enter digital publishing (or so it felt like to me.)

    You aren’t alone in your feeling on that. I like Genesis Press, but the paper-only thing was a pain and a half. Glad they’re finally going digital.

  20. Lada
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:53:55

    Also, don’t know if you’ve listed this before but I found it under new releases at BN: Tessa Dare’s novella (116pgs) “Once Upon a Winter’s Eve” is currently $0.79.

  21. Laura Lee Guhrke
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:57:16

    Thanks Dear Author for bringing up Edwardian romance! Those of us writing it sometimes feel like it’s an uphill battle, but we are persevering. Some recommended reads:

    Non-fiction: A Perfect Summer, by Juliet Nicholson (fascinating, packed with juicy info).
    Bio: Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell and Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain
    Fiction: The Edwardians, by Vita Sackville-West

    But as to romance, there just aren’t many of us doing Edwardian. Evangeline, above, mentioned all the ones I can think of except Connie Brockway. Her new e-book, The Other Guy’s Bride, is set in turn of the century Egypt.

  22. Tina
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 14:16:54

    If anyone likes light mysteries set in Edwardian England, Marion Chesney has written a 4-book (i think) cozy series Snobbery With Violence is the first one. I listened to the series on audio Davina Porter narrating. It was lovely to read something set in Post-Victorian England.

  23. Brian
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 14:23:04

    Some more Kobo codes, all expiring on Jan. 16th…

    jan12us30 30% off
    jan12row30 30% off
    jan12ca30 30% off
    jan12au30 30% off
    jan12uk30 30% off
    c1auto25 25% off

  24. MrsJoseph
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 14:39:43

    @Evangeline Holland: & @Tina:

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’m checking them out right now.

  25. Kathryn
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 15:42:42

    Can’t think of any romances that haven’t been mentioned but there is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series which starts in 1880s goes up to 1920s and Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters Series, which is set in parallel-universe late Victorian-Edwardian England. Both series have romantic elements to their stories.

    And if you want late Victorian/Edwardian authors that were writing about their times there are writers such as John Galsworthy (whose Forsythe chronicles were also turned into a successful British/PBS series), E.M. Forster (Howard’s End, Room with a view), Rudyard Kipling, G.K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes), E.M. Hull (The Sheik), and Elinor Glyn (Wikipedia credits her with pioneering women’s erotic fiction).

  26. Ros
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 18:07:20

    Flambards by K M Peyton. I think if it were published today it would be YA. And The Edge of The Cloud. There are two others in the series but I am not a fan of them.

  27. Bren
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 18:29:54

    LOVE E.M. Forster’s novels. I also really like Elizabeth von Arnim, whose book was actually mentioned in the first episode of Downton Abbey: ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN. Her more famous ENCHANTED APRIL is a delight and takes place at an Italian Villa that four women go in together to rent for a special retreat all their own. Very enjoyable reading and romantic story lines. Love this period. Also suggest renting the DVD “Manor House”… a fascinating PBS reality show where people from our day were retrained to live an Edwardian lifestyle, both above and below stairs. Fascinating stuff.

  28. library addict
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 21:19:28

    @Ridley: Have you read Carmen Green? I saw she had a Silhouette Special Edition, The Husband She Couldn’t Forget, available in digital when I was searching for titles to use the $4 coupon on today. The plot didn’t appeal to me (accident victim/physical therapist), but it will to others.

    Carole Buck’s Three-Alarm Love is available in digital. She was always an autobuy author for me. I wish she would come back to writing romances now that Larry King is over.

  29. Ridley
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:40:55

    @library addict: I’ve seen that one, but it’s an amnesia book. I do not read amnesia books under any circumstances whatsoever. Worst plot theme on Earth.

  30. Amy from Harlequin
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 11:52:34

  31. Estara
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 12:35:44

    Thanks, Brian, as always ^^

  32. Julie
    Jan 14, 2012 @ 02:11:14

    Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress is another novel set in Edwardian England.

    You might also want to try Margaret James’ excellent The Silver Locket, set before and during the First World War.

  33. B
    Jan 14, 2012 @ 04:37:47

    […] DA 1 | DA 2 | DA 3 | […]

  34. Books Like Downton Abbey | Dear Author
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 10:59:05

    […] From the readers here at Dear Author: […]

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