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

And the RITA Goes To . . .

Three weeks ago, the Romance Writers of America handed out its RITA awards which is deemed by the industry to be the highest award an author can achieve. It’s an award, though, that is the target of a great deal criticism for everything from its categories to the entrance fee to the way in which the judging is carried out.

Each year seems to have at least one controversial win. This year’s controversial winner was Caridad Ferrer’s book, Adios to My Old Life. Ferrer’s book was originally entered into the Young Adult category but lack of contest entrants forced RWA to eliminate the category. Per the rules, Ferrer was given the option of choosing other categories for her book should she desire to continue in the contest. Ferrer chose New Book and Contemporary.

She won for Best Contemporary.

There were arguments made on either side as to why this award was appropriate or inappropriate. Some argued that it was not a romance. Others maintained a YA book should not have won. What no one said, though, was that this wasn’t a good book. In fact, two readers I trust, JMC and Keishon, have both read and raved about the book.

What the Ferrer win exemplified for me was that the RITAs, for all their glory, is still so subjective that no consensus will ever be created to validate the RITAs. Each year there will be a controversy and each year a different set of supporters and detractors will arise. Is there a better way to categorize and run the contest to achieve a higher degree of validity? I doubt it. I can’t see the RITAs ever attaining the status of the OSCARs even within the romance community. What I can say is that, for writers, the award is meaningful and worthwhile. (Julia Quinn says it is heavier than an Emmy). And isn’t that enough?

We ran the RITA Reader contest and had 267 entrants. Not one entrant got more than five (5) out of eleven (11) right and only six entrants got five. Entrant no. 92 was the random winner. Entrant No. 92’s ballot was as follows:

  • “The Husband Trap” by Tracy Anne Warren
  • “Summer at Willow Lake” by Susan Wiggs
  • “My So-Called Love Life” by Allie Pleiter
  • “The Mommy Quest” by Lori Handeland
  • “Lady of Sin” by Madeline Hunter
  • “Ready & Willing” in The Boys Are Back in Town by Tanya Michaels
  • “A Hunger Like No Other” by Kresley Cole
  • “Born in Death” by J.D. Robb
  • “Devil In Winter” by Lisa Kleypas
  • “From the First” by Jessica Bird
  • “Blind-Date Marriage” by Fiona Harper
  • “A Lady Raised High” by Jennifer Ashley writing as Laurien Gardner

Entrant No. 92, however, was from the UK and the contest winner had to be a US resident for postage costs. Next year, though, it will be open to everyone. I’m just going to start saving today. ;). The next random winner was Jaci Burton, who also picked five the winners correctly. Burton tried to deny the prize saying that she was an author but authors are readers too so I forced her to take it. Plus, I felt that she would be guilted into reading them and blogging about it.

The results of the contest were fairly interesting. It is important to note that the contest called for entrants to pick who would win, but not who they thought should win. Whether there was overlap, it is hard to tell. Burton said she picked who she thought should win.

Kresley Cole, winner of the Best Paranormal Category, sent me nine books to give away to random entrants. Dorchester sent me a set of RITA finalists to give away as well. Since Ferrer’s win was controversial, I decided that every contestant who picked Ferrer’s book for as the Best Contemporary would be the winner of a donated book. The winners have been contacted.

images.jpgBest Traditional Romance had close contenders in A Woman Worth Loving by Jackie Braun (24%), Domesticating Luc by Sandra Paul ( 21%) and Blind-Date Marriage by Fiona Harper (19%). The winner, Claiming His Family by Barbara Hannay, had only 14% of the vote.

images.jpgIn the Best First Book category, Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday had 29% of the votes followed by the winner, The Husband Trap by Tracy Anne Warren with 27% of the votes.

images.jpgIn Best Contemporary Single Title Romance, 22% thought Summer At Willow Lake by Susan Wigg would win followed by fellow Harlequin book, Irresistible by Susan Mallery at 18%. The winning book, Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer received only 16 votes or 6.7%.

images.jpgThe Best Long Contemporary Romance, 22% voted that The Mommy Quest by Lori Handeland would win and she did. Second was Under His Spell by Kristin Hardy with 18% of the vote.

images.jpgIn Best Short Contemporary, winner From the First by Jessica Bird killed the competition with 27% of the votes. Closest to her was Married in Haste by Christine Rimmer with 16% of the vote.

images.jpgBest Inspirational Romance voters thought A Family Forever by Brenda Coulter would win with 24 % of the vote. 21% thought My So-Called Love Life by Allie Pleiter would be the RITA winner. Only 12% thoughtRevealed by Tamera Alexander would win.

images.jpgIn Best Long Historical, voters felt confident in awarding the prize to On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn with 27% of the votes. Mary Jo Putney’s The Marriage Spell came in second at 25% of the votes.

images.jpgBest Romantic Novella‘s results gave “Her Mad Grace” in Bad Boys Ahoy! by Sylvia Day big odds to win with 35% of the vote. The winning novella, “‘Tis the Silly Season” in A NASCAR Holiday by Roxanne St.Claire, only received 11% of the vote.

images.jpgNovel with Strong Romantic Elements had a neck and neck race between California Demon: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner (20%) and Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday (19%). Eventual winner, A Lady Raised High by Jennifer Ashley writing as Laurien Gardner, received 18 votes for the second lowest percentage of a winner behind Adios to My Old Life.

images.jpgBest Paranormal Romance voters predicted the win by Kresley Cole by a comfortable margin. A Hunger Like No Other received 28% of the vote followed by Shana Abe’s The Dream Thief with 23%.

images.jpgThe biggest upset, though, would have to be Best Romantic Suspense winner Blackout by Annie Solomon. She received only 11 votes in total which is a little more than 4% of the vote. Born in Death by J.D. Robb received 50% of the vote with The Kill by Allison Brennan coming in a very distant second with 11% of the vote.

Do these statistics mean anything? Probably not, but it was fun to analyze them. I hope that everyone participates next year. I want to give special thanks to the publishers and authors who donated books to giveaway during this contest:

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. Danielle
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 06:02:11

    Congratulations Jaci!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Jayne
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 06:48:25

    One question: How does Julia Quinn know that a RITA is heavier than an Oscar? Has she won an Oscar? Knows someone who has?

  3. Jenn L
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 08:06:31

    Congrats to Jaci Burton. She deserves to win too. She is most generous when it comes to her own work, just more proof that good deeds get good deeds in return.

    Also, I will say this the RITA’s have no weight for me. I mean it’s great that the authors get recognized at an event that is for authors, but lets be honest here.

    In Romantic Suspense there is no way anyone should have beat JD Robb. I know, I know everyone loves Nora, but crap did you read that book? Did the people who voted read the book? If they read it did they get it, aside from having a great cast of characters and a great plotline, it was so much more. If JD is nomiated next year and loses I will be shocked, especially if Innocent In Death is the book nominated. The ending of that one and the nature of the crime is over the top and there is no way anyone could beat it.

    Ok off my soapbox. Next year I will have to participate in this contest.

  4. Robin Bayne
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 08:21:01

    Congrats to those who guessed correctly!!

  5. Bonnie Ferguson
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 08:32:20

    Congrats, Jaci!!! :)

  6. Jaci Burton
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 08:48:51

    Of course I’ll read them! And thank you Jane. I’m honored and thrilled to win these books. My husband as he looks at my overflowing bookshelf? Not so much ;-)

  7. Jennifer McKenzie
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 09:58:10

    I’d never guess these. The only one I’d have guessed at all was Lisa Kleypas.
    Great to see Gemma up there. She rocks.

  8. Julia Quinn
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 10:48:52

    Heavier than a GRAMMY. Never touched an Oscar or an Emmy, but I’ve had a Grammy in my hot little hands.

    Seriously, the grammy was kinda chintzy, IMHO.


    P.S. My uncle has one. He wrote one of the songs on Flashdance, which won for best soundtrack.

  9. Alison Kent
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 17:44:06

    In Romantic Suspense there is no way anyone should have beat JD Robb.

    Well, there are people who don’t feel a series with continuing characters qualifies as a romance since the characters don’t meet, break up, make up, and live HEA. I know of people who have marked Robb books as “not a romance” in past competitions.

  10. Jenn L
    Jul 31, 2007 @ 19:58:38

    Wow Alison, I guess I could see that. I still think it’s a romance and not every moment of Eve and Roarke’s lfe is perfect, but if that’s the definition they are going by, then I would be wrong in my pick.

  11. Mary Stella
    Aug 01, 2007 @ 19:14:12

    As far as the Romantic Suspense category, I read both Blackout (the winner) and Born in Death. I’m glad that I didn’t have to pick between the two to decide one winner for the Rita. They are both outstanding books.

  12. Marie-Nicole Ryan
    Aug 04, 2007 @ 11:42:29

    As for the Romantic Suspense category, I’ll say right off that I’m prejudiced in favor of Annie Solomon. She’s a friend and fellow MCRW member, plus, I’ve read BLACKOUT and it was exactly what I want in a romantic suspense–suspenseful, scary, and surprising. That being said, BLACKOUT is Annie’s fifth romantic suspense and I believe she’s an author with a great career ahead of her. So, once again, yea Annie! And no, I wasn’t a judge, wasn’t eligible to judge in the RITA this year.

    All that being said, I’ve got to get BORN IN DEATH. I really enjoy Eve and Roark’s journey and world.

  13. 2012 RITA finalists for Young Adult Romance « The YA YA YAs
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 20:46:49

    […] It wasn’t too long ago that there weren’t enough YA Romance entrants for the RITA Awards to qualify as a category. Remember when Caridad Ferrer’s Adiós to My Old Life won the RITA Award for best contemporary single title romance and some people complained that a YA book didn’t belong in the category? The only reason Adiós to My Old Life was even up for best contemporary single title romance in the first place was because the YA category was cancelled for lack of entrants. […]

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