Lately it seems that a lot of the books I'm loving are written by authors who are dead. Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Dunnett, and the romance-tinged mysteries I recently plowed through by M. M. Kaye... Makes me wonder if I was born too late or something.
Then I reread Damselfly Inn by Cameron Garriepy. I loved it just as much the second time around - and Cameron is ALIVE. Which is great for her and for the rest of us, because that means she is STILL WRITING, so the sequel to Damselfly Inn is coming out in two weeks and I managed to beg an advance copy. Thank you Cameron!
What sets these books apart for me is the robustness of the secondary characters. I didn't just fall in love with Nan and Joss (book 1) and Kate and Ewan (book 2), I got wrapped up in the town, with their friends Jack and Anneliese and Seth, Joss's parents, and even snarky, perfect Elisha. And since Cameron (as previously mentioned) is alive and well (having recently parted ways with her appendix!) I'll get to follow these characters for a long time to come. I'm looking forward to it.
These days everybody is writing romance anthology series (including me). Too often I feel like the books could and should be separate--that the inclusion of the best friend/brother/cousin is a marketing ploy, a cardboard placeholder to build the next story around, not a real person who's story extends from this one. But a character who pulls me along, who makes me excited to read the next book so I can discover their secrets, follow their struggles, and peek in on their friends who (hopefully) are enjoying a happily ever after, hooks me every time. I was so excited to discover Cameron's novellas which develop backgrounds of some of her characters: Elisha in Gilded Promise, Anneliese in Foolish Things (I totally guessed wrong about her, but I love that!) and Seth in Past and Pending (my favorite).
Links to all the books are on Cameron's website.