RITA Awards Credit: Creative Commons Attribution License photo by A writer afoot -
Tonight the winners of the 2011 Ritas will be announced. More than 80 books in 12 categories have been named finalists for the coveted statuette that, despite its acronymic appearing official designation as the RITA®, is named for Rita Clay Estrada, the first president of RWA. For the first seven years, the award presented to the works of romance fiction deemed the best of the previous year’s offerings was called the Golden Medallion. It didn’t become the RITA until 1990. The number of categories has fluctuated from a low of six the first year (1983) to a high of thirteen as recently as 2006. Comparisons to the Oscars are common but a bit misleading for literalists. Both finalists and winners are selected by a panel of judges. At no point do the members of RWA vote on winners. This fact should not dim the luster of the award nor detract from the excitement of the finalists or the glory of the winners. It certainly doesn’t affect my eagerness to know the winners.
I’m a sucker for award shows, and if I were running the universe, tonight’s awards would be televised--complete with red carpet scrutiny and post-award interviews. But I’ll have to be satisfied with the tweets that will come as the announcements are made and the pictures that will be posted later. I have my ballot marked with projected winners, and I have favorites, who shall remain nameless, for whom I’m keeping all appendages crossed. This year for the first time I remember I’ve read at least one book in each category, a total of thirty-three books. I read somewhere that reading sixteen RITA-nominated books qualified one as a RITA stalker. I guess I’m over-qualified.
Best First Book: Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner; When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer
Contemporary Series Romance: Welcome Home, Cowboy by Karen Templeton
Contemporary Series Romance Suspense/Adventure: The Moon That Night by Helen Brenna; Perfect Partners? By C. J. Carmichael
Contemporary Single Title Romance: Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts; Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson; Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis; Still the One by Robin Wells
Historical Romance: The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne; His at Night by Sherry Thomas; A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James; Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase; A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl; One Wicked Sin by Nicola Cornick; Open Country by Kaki Warner
Inspirational Romance: Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist; Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourne; On Folly Beach by Karen White; The Search by Nora Roberts; Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas
Paranormal Romance: Immortal Sea by Virginia Kantra
Regency Historical Romance: His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell; The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig; Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean; Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter; To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott; Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare; When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer; The Wicked Wyckerly by Patricia Rice
Romance Novella: “A Dundee Christmas” by Brenda Novak in That Christmas Feeling
Romantic Suspense: Edge of Sight by Roxanne St. Claire
Young Adult Romance: Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
You can see the full list of finalists here. I’ll also be watching for the Golden Heart announcements and cheering for Banditas Anna Sugden and Nancy Northcott and for new Samhain author Leigh LaValle.
Are you excited about the RITA Awards? How many of this year’s finalists have you read? Care to share which finalists would evoke your loudest cheers should they win? Who were you surprised to see not on the list of 2011 finalists?