The RITA ceremony took place last night at the RWA conference. For those unfamiliar:
Up to 2,000 romance novels are entered in the RITA competition. A novel may be entered either by the author or by the book’s publisher in one of the contest categories. After the first round of judging by published romance authors, entries that meet the qualifications to become a finalist then advance to the final round.
Once RWA announces the RITA finalists, a final round of judges evaluates and scores these novels to determine the RITA Award winners. The RITA Award winners are announced at a black tie awards ceremony at the RWA Annual Conference.
I like to pick out a few winners that I have yet to read and try them each year. Definitely want to try Falling Hard by Lexi Ryan and maybe Wicked Dirty by J. Kenner. Any thoughts on the winners? Any books I must read??
Romance Novella: Forbidden River by Brynn Kelly
At the end of the earth, they’ll play a dangerous game…
French Foreign Legionnaire Cody Castillo—“Texas” to his fellow commandos—is an adrenalin-junkie. Chasing deadly thrills is his only reprieve from a bloodstained past he can’t forget. But when he finds himself caught in a mass murderer’s crosshairs in the lonely wilds of New Zealand, he finds an unexpected and intriguing ally.
Ex-air force pilot Tia Kupa has always found safety in nature, until a killer turns the wilderness into a playground. In this life-or-death game, the guarded woman who lives by the rules must rely on a risk taker with a death wish. The sexy devil-may-care legionnaire may be the wrong guy for her, but desire is just as primal as terror. Even if they outrun a predator, they can’t escape the sizzling bond neither of them saw coming
Former actress Emma Rothschild is partying in Vegas in disguise. But I’m not fooled. Five years ago, I knew that body better than my own, and I haven’t forgotten a single detail—not the curve of her hip beneath my hand or the hitch in her breath when I kiss her neck.
When Emma’s unexpectedly left alone in Sin City, I agree to spend the weekend with her. As friends. Why not? If I can knock down the toughest guys in the NFL, I’m strong enough to keep my hands to myself, even if she is the sexiest woman I’ve ever met.
Emma is part of my past—years so shrouded in secrets that not even my best friends know the truth about who I am. I’m a single dad now and not interested in revisiting my old ways or trying to win back the only woman I ever let close enough to break my heart.
But this is Vegas, where all bets are off, and with Emma, nothing ever goes as planned…
Young Adult Romance: Seize Today by Pintip Dunn
The third book in the New York Times bestselling and RITA®-award-winning Forget Tomorrow series is a thrilling conclusion to an epic trilogy.
Seventeen-year-old precognitive Olivia Dresden is an optimist. Since different versions of people’s futures flicker before her eyes, she doesn’t have to believe in human decency. She can literally see the path to goodness in each person—if only he or she would make the right decision. No one is more conflicted than her mother, Chairwoman Dresden, and Olivia is fiercely loyal to the woman her mother could be.
But when the Chairwoman captures Ryder Russell, a boy from the rebel Underground, Olivia is forced to reevaluate her notions of love and faith. With Ryder’s help, Olivia must come to terms with who her mother is in the present—and stop her before she destroys the world.
Historical Romance Long: Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen (May gave this an A- last year. I read Bowen’s latest earlier this year and really enjoyed it. Definitely an author to try if you like historical romance.)
Their love was always in the cards.
He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he’s more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty—in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he’ll have to devise a proposition she can’t turn down.
Gossip said he was an assassin.
Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie’s club offered a surefire way to make quick money—until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible.
He’s known only as Wren. A wealthy, dangerously secretive man, he specializes in making problems disappear. A professional fixer, Wren hides a dark past, but his privacy is shattered when Emery Finn seeks him out—and what she wants from him is very personal.
Some people disappear against their will. Emery’s job is to find them and bring closure. Wren is the only person who can help solve Emery’s own personal mystery: the long-ago disappearance of her cousin. Just tracking down the sexy, brooding Wren is difficult enough. Resisting her body’s response to him will prove completely impossible.
Anonymity is essential to Wren’s success, yet drawn by Emery’s loyalty and sensuality, he’s pulled out of the shadows. But her digging is getting noticed by the wrong people. And as the clues start to point to someone terrifyingly close, Wren will have to put his haunted past aside to protect the woman he loves.
One warrior driven by an oath he will give his life to fulfill.
Another tormented by his love for the woman he failed.
Haunted by loss, each warrior is consumed by his relentless quest for redemption. Alone, each will fail. But when Calydon warrior Gabe Watson and mage Vladimir Hawkings team up to cross over into the demon realm to hunt down those who matter most, they finally have a chance to change the past …until they encounter two bold, sensual women who hold the key to everything that matters to them…brave, independent women who want nothing to do with them.
Sophie Flanagan has no memory of her life before she was kidnapped by demons, including how she got the wedding band that burns on her hand. Only her unbreakable friendship with half-demon healer, Maria Souvaine, has enabled her to survive. The two women are caught a desperate battle against a threat so powerful it will destroy them forever.
When two fierce, towering warriors invade the demon realm, Sophie and Maria are thrust into a chaotic spiral of lust, escalating peril, and…for the first time in centuries…hope. Will the passion and danger that ignites cause the final destruction of all that matters…or finally free them all from the deadly shadows that grip them so tightly?
On the outside, Lyle Tarpin is a clean-cut Hollywood actor whose star is on the rise. Inside, he’s battling his own demons, shunning relationships and finding solace in the arms of a string of anonymous women paid very well for their discretion.
But when he’s photographed in a compromising position by an over-eager reporter, the only way to save his career is to say that the woman he was with is his fiancée. And now Lyle has to play a very public game with the only woman who’s ever managed to get under his skin.
Struggling waitress Sugar Laine agrees to spend one night with Lyle—but only because she’s desperate to save her family home. She never expects that a night of passion will turn into a pretend engagement … or that the heat between them will blossom into love.
But sometimes love has a price.
And now the only question is—can Lyle and Sugar afford to pay it?
Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love?
Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.
Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But his past failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He’s determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.
When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?
Professor Audrey Graham shouldn’t be alive. But she didn’t walk away from the accident that should’ve taken her life. She shouldn’t have ever walked again according to the doctors. But after two years of physical therapy and countless surgeries, she’s got a second lease on life. First stop? Camp Firefly Falls to try and catch up on some of the living she never did before her accident.
Firefighter Hudson Lowell shouldn’t be alive. In the wake of losing two members of his team in a structure fire gone wrong, he’s been unable to work, unable to pull himself out of the survivor’s guilt. In a last ditch effort to snap him out of it, his family surprises him with a 2 week reunion session at Camp Firefly Falls, reminder of a simpler, better time. The last thing he expects to find is the woman he helped cut out of a snarled up wreck of a car two years before.
As sparks ignite between rescuer and rescuee, Audrey finally gets the chance to repay her hero. But can she convince this proud, stubborn man that life is still worth living? Or will Hudson let this chance at happiness slip through his fingers?
Contemporary Romance Mid-length: Tell Me by Abigail Strom (I gave this one a C+. I found the first half really cute but the second half got dark and heavy)
Shy bookstore owner Jane Finch grew up hiding in the margins of her own life while her vibrant, adventure-loving sister, Samantha, dominated every plotline. She’s made peace with it, unlike Sam’s business partner, Caleb, who’s always nudging Jane to go after what she really wants. Why should she care what blunt, brash Caleb thinks? They’ve never had much in common, except for Sam.
After tragedy strikes, they don’t even have that.
Caleb can’t quite remember when Sam’s little sister stopped being like a surrogate sibling to him and became just…Jane. She’s the most intriguing woman he’s ever met, and so much sexier and stronger than she thinks. On the emotional journey to honor Sam’s memory, the spark they’ve tried to deny becomes an inferno. This journey was meant to be an ending, but will they discover an unexpected new beginning?
Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins (Tori gave this a B)
One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.
Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.
With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter–a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was–Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.
But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.
Best First Book: Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (Kini gave this a B+)
The first book in a sizzling duology about dancers who find love from #OwnVoice’s Alexis Daria.
Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.
Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.
When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.