This past weekend saw the culmination of another Rita ceremony at the Big Show among the professionals in the genre that gets no (literary) respect: romance. 2000+ romance writers descended upon Washington D.C. to celebrate, network, and reward themselves for another year of hard work, and in many cases, success: in a dismal publishing environment, books with romantic content saw sales increase.
And how did Apprentice Writer's predictions go about who would walk away with the Oscar equivalent in the subgenres she's been known to meander?
Best First Book
Her One Desire by Kimberly Killion (historical)
No Good Girls by Jean Marie Pierson (light women's fiction)
Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs (YA paranormal)
Passionate by Anthea Lawson (historical)
Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (historical)
Strangers in the Night by Kerry Connor (category)
The Secret Soldier by Jennifer Morey (category, suspense)
Your Roots Are Showing by Elise Chidley (light women's fiction)
The only title in this cross-section of genres which AW read was 'Private Arrangements' and she loved it with such passion and conviction that she was all set to be 100% certain it deserved the Rita. Then - she learned of 'No Good Girls' and 'Your Roots are Showing', two books set to resurrect smart chicklit, and was torn; perhaps there should be a Rita each for best first book, historical division and contemporary divisions? Then - she learned that 'Passionate' is partly set in Tunisia. Northern Africa! How cool and unusual and deserving of being encouraged! Even greater tornity. All for naught: the winner was 'Oh.My.Gods.' Somehow, AW doesn't feel an overwhelming desire to rush out and buy it. Not fair to the book, but it is the victim of AW's unfulfilled anticipation. That's the way the whimsical reader cookie crumbles.
Contemporary Single Title Romance
No Good Girls by Jean Marie Pierson
Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson
Out of Time by Samantha Graves
Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Sweet Talk by Susan Mallery
Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves
Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber
Your Roots Are Showing by Elise Chidley
AW has not read one of these titles. Not one. It gets worse: she has not read a single one of these authors, period. Perhaps time to do something about that? Maybe start with the winner, 'Not Another Bad Date'?
Duchess by Night by Eloisa James
In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath
Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal
The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne
To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt
Where the Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens
This looked to turn into a cagematch for AW's affections, with 'Private Arrangments' and 'The Spymaster's Lady' going at it head to head. Given her enjoyment of the 'Desperate Duchesses' series, had she managed to read Book 3( 'Duchess by Night' ) by now it could well have become a three-way fight. AW has never really caught on to the huge fan-love for Elizabeth Hoyt's work, or Lisa Kleypas, or Stephanie Laurens, and has not read Lorraine Heath at all. And in the end, it was another unknown-to-her author and story walking away with the prize: 'The Edge of Impropriety'. Stunningly beautiful cover, though.
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Last Dance at Jitterbug Lounge by Pamela Morsi
The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Tribute by Nora Roberts
Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris
One can almost hear the Gentle Reader saying, "But in this category, AW, your very own after all, you must be 100% well-versed and knowledgable!" The reply Gentle Reader would receive is "Nope. Have not read a single one of these titles, and what's more, authors." Shocking, indeed. Exactly what HAS Apprentice Writer been reading all year??? Obviously, works that fly below, beside or above RWA's radar.
This great little list of titles has the pedigree to push to the top of the TBR. AW wonders whether the other authors contemplated whether it was worth attending the ceremony when they learned they were up against Nora Roberts, whose 'Tribute' won the prize.
Regency Historical Romance
Duke Most Wanted by Celeste Bradley
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne
The Dangerous Duke by Christine Wells
The Edge of Desire by Stephanie Laurens
Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory
Of these titles, AW has read the twin to 'Mr. Cavendish, I Presume' (which she has been told more than once is exactly the same book), 'My Lord and Spymaster', and 'The Dangerous Duke'. She enjoyed all three. If pressed for unimaginable reasons to choose only one, she'd have to go with the Bourne title - and lo and behold 'My Lord and Spymaster' won! Hooray! Huzzah! Hip, hip!
So let's see: of five categories, AW correctly predicted a grand total of ONE.
Perhaps she should shelve any notion to earn her future living as a bookie.
GENTLE READER - thoughts on wins? Losses? Which of the many AW has not read which she really should pick up?
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