Friday, April 23, 2010
Celebrating RT Winners!
The Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award winners generated much buzz yesterday on social networking sites as congratulations were extended and repeated. I suppose these annual awards are second only to the Ritas, and there are a lot more of them—66, including 17 for categories. According to the RT web site, both nominees and winners are chosen by “over 50 reviewers” for RT Book Reviews.
I’m an awards junkie. I always want to know who won the Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, etc. I haven’t watched the Grammys in years, but I make sure to check the list of winners the following day. In the book world, I eagerly check for winners of the Pulitzer, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Awards, Newberrys, PEN/Faulkner prizes. A friend and I always guess the Agatha, Edgar, and the Macavity Awards and compare percentages of right guesses. I’m interested in all of these, but I am emotionally invested only in the nominees and winners of the awards in romance fiction. Many of these are writers I’ve been reading since the beginning of their careers, for whom I feel an intense loyalty. Some are writers with whom I’ve exchanged comments on boards and blogs. With a few I’ve enjoyed email conversations, and a growing number are writers I count as friends. So while I congratulate all the RT Reviewers Choice winners, I hope you understand that I’m sending up fireworks, filling my glass for a toast, and generally celebrating in honor of the following select group.
Best First Historical Novel: Goddess of the Hunt, Tessa Dare (Ballantine)
Tessa Dare is one of the best writers to be added to the list of historical romance novelists in recent years. She’s also an intelligent, compassionate human being and a good friend. Goddess has already earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and 4.5 stars from RT. It also won Best Debut Novel in AAR’s annual reader-voted awards. How great that Lucy and Jeremy have added a new accolade to their collection! It’s great for the author too. :) Yay, Tessa!
Contemporary: Temptation Ridge, Robyn Carr (Mira)
I haven’t read Freudian Slip by Erica Orloff, but True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson, Smooth Talking Stranger (a top ten read for me)by Lisa Kleypas, and What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips were all great books. I would have been happy to see any of them recognized. However, I am especially delighted that Robyn Carr won. I’ve been reading her books for ages, she was one of our most gracious Visiting Vagabonds, and the Virgin River series is one of my favorite series ever. For all these reasons, I’m cheering loudly for Robyn.
British Isle-Set Historical Romance: Some Like It Wild, Teresa Medeiros (Avon)
This was another category in which I would never have been able to pick a winner. I’ve been reading and adding Jo Beverley books to my keeper shelves for two decades now, and The Secret Wedding is a terrific book. If I were in charge, Eloisa James would top the bestseller lists and win a Rita every year. She is an extraordinary writer and a charming, caring person, and in Jemma and Elijah, the H/H of This Duchess of Mine, she created richly developed characters and one of the most compelling love stories I’ve ever read. But Teresa Medeiros has written some of the classics in romance fiction, including some of my all-time favorite romances such as Charming the Prince and The Bride and the Beast, and she is such a warm and witty person that only a churlish dunce would not be pleased to see her win. Some Like It Wild was an RT top pick and put TM on the NYT bestseller list again, and Connor Kincaid melted a lot of hearts. Brava, Teresa Medeiros!
Historical K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) Hero Award: Loving a Lost Lord, Mary Jo Putney (Zebra)
I began reading MJP books with her second offering, back in the day when she was writing traditional Regencies. Most of her books are on my keeper shelves, books like One Perfect Rose that I reread every few years. My personal Romance Heroes Hall of Fame is filled with heroes she created—Reggie Davenport, Peregrine, Nicholas Davies, Michael Kenyon, Kenzie Scott . . . Adam Lawford, Duke of Ashton, her latest hero and one of the most interesting dukes I've encountered in all my years of meeting dukes in the pages of romance fiction, is most deserving of the K.I.S.S. award IMO. Hurray for Ashton and MJP!
Historical Love & Laughter: Don’t Tempt Me, Loretta Chase (Avon)
What can I say about the author of the novel that more often than any other heads the best all-time romance novel list? “Inimitable” is an overused word, but it truly applies to Loretta Chase, who has a special gift for combining the poignant and the humorous as she does in Don’t Tempt Me. I smile when Lucien de Grey, Duke of Marchmont, greets the return of Zoe Lexham with the words, “Ye gods, it’s true. That dreadful girl is back.” That's just the beginning of the smiles and the sighs, some of the latter are teary-eyed. Here’s to Lucien, Zoe, and Loretta Chase (with a word of thanks to other nominees Meg Cabot, Claudia Dain, Karen Hawkins, and Barbara Metzger for the many hours of reading pleasure their books have given me)!
Historical Paranormal: So Enchanting, Connie Brockway (Onyx)
I’ve read So Enchanting twice. Neither time did I think that I was reading a paranormal, a sub-genre I rarely read. But I’ve read Connie Brockway’s midnight dark books, her leavened-with-light books, and her women’s fiction books. She has long been one of my never-miss authors, and I found So Enchanting totally enchanting. I have a big smile on my face as I lift a second glass to Connie Brockway and her take on witches. Salud!
Historical Romantic Gothic: Tempted All Night, Liz Carlyle (Pocket)
Sizzle and mystery and complex characters—Liz Carlyle gives readers all these and more in Tempted All Night, and she does it all so well. I started reading her books with A Woman Scorned in 2000, and I’ve found those qualities consistently in Carlyle’s books. She’s long been a winner in my estimation. À votre santé, Liz!
Innovative Historical Romance: The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, Jennifer Ashley (Leisure)
Here’s another category where some of the finalists not in the RT winner’s circle are always in my winners’ circle. Sherry Thomas is a genius with prose, and I’ve loved all her books. Not Quite a Husband was in my top ten last year. The late Edith Layton, whose To Love a Wicked Lord was also nominated in this category, belongs in a Hall of Fame reserved for the best and most significant contributors to the genre. With that said, The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie was my #1 read of 2009, so clearly I’m elated to see it recognized. I’m still dazed that it’s not up for a Rita. Jennifer Ashley is a talented and generous writer. (She offers great advice to YTBs on her web site.) Sláinte, Jennifer!
Contemporary Mystery: Kill for Me, Karen Rose (Grand Central)
I’ll be honest here. Margaret Maron, author of the nominated Sand Sharks, is my favorite mystery writer. I run over people to get to her latest Deborah Knott book, but she has won every award a mystery writer can win. I think Karen Rose is a fantastic writer, although her books are too dark and too real for me with my susceptibility to nightmares. But I’ve bought her books for my brother and sister, and my friends Manda and Kim C are big Karen Rose fans. Seeing my friends happy makes me happy, and besides Karen Rose is a lovely person, who deserves awards that make her smile. Cheers, Karen!
Historical Mystery: What Remains of Heaven, C. S. Harris (NAL)
Like many of you, I’m a huge fan of C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries. This award will spread the word to far more readers than we’ve been able to reach that for mystery lovers and historical romance lovers alike, these books are marvelous and memorable. I hope the bookstores have a run on these books. Congratulations, Ms. Harris (a. k. a. Candice Proctor)!
After all these toasts, I’m feeling a little dizzy but still quite happy to see awards going to authors who have given me countless hours of delighting in the worlds and characters they created. I’m sending up celebratory fireworks for all of them.
What RT wins delighted you most? Who would the winners have been had you been a judge? (You can see the full list of winners here.)