My Thoughts on the RITA Finalists

The list of 2007 RITA finalists has been published – here’s my take on it: 

1) I’ve read very few of those books nominated – my comments on finalists I’ve read (or recognise) in the categories that interest me:

  • Best First Book
    I’ve only heard of two of these books previously: Eyes of Crow (Jeri Lynn Smith-Ready) and The Husband Trap (Tracy Anne Warren), but haven’t read either of them.  I actually didn’t realise Ms Warren was a new author – I could have sworn I’ve seen quite a few of her books around!  Oh well, I’m obviously really observant.
     
  • Best Long Historical Romance
    I’ve read two finalists:  The first one I’ve read is The Marriage Spell (Mary Jo Putney) – I would have thought this fell under paranormal romance, there’s magic in it!  Ah well, she’s an auto-buy for me, anyway.  The second finalist I’ve read is On the Way to the Wedding (Julia Quinn), which was voted by AAR readers as the Most Disappointing Read and Worst Read of 2006.  I didn’t agree with the AAR vote (I thought that there were way worse reads), but this is an interesting difference.
     
  • Best Paranormal Romance
    Now I read a lot of paranormal romance, and I’ve only read one on this list, The Dream Thief (Shana Abe).  Ummm… I don’t know – I liked this book, but was it one of the best paranormals of the year?  Marjorie M Liu has two books listed in this category – I know I’m in the minority here, but I don’t really get on with her books.  Maria V Snyder also finalled for Magic Study, which I haven’t read.  I read Ms Snyder’s first book, Poison Study in hardcover, but decided to wait for the paperback release of Magic Study.  Another thought – you have to submit your book for consideration in the RITAs, I suspect a lot of the SF/F writers whose work would fall under this category just didn’t submit an entry.
     
  • Best Romantic Suspense
    Not surprised by the Born in Death (J.D. Robb) nomination, but I haven’t read this yet.  I like Eve and Roarke, but I’m in no hurry to read these books.
     
  • Best Short Historical Romance
    Lots of familiar names here – I haven’t read Christina Dodd’s The Barefoot Princess though.  I’ve ordered Laura Lee Guhrke’s latest release And Then He Kissed Her, based on the online reviews and excerpt, but I haven’t read any of her books before.  The Taming of the Duke (Eloisa James), Devil In Winter (Lisa Kleypas) and Scandal in Spring (ditto)- yep, these were among my favourite historical romances last year. 
     
  • Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
    I’ve only read California Demon by Julie Kenner – I liked it but don’t really recall it having strong romantic elements, though.  Maybe it did, I thought it was a lighthearted vampire read.

2) I was surprised at the distinction between Long and Short Historical Romance, i.e. Julia Quinn’s OtWttW under Long Historical, and Lisa Kleypas / Eloisa James’ books under Short Historical Romance, but an AAR poster explained that this was purely based on word count.  Apparently, 95 000 words is the cut-off point for Short Historical – another mystery explained!

3) I’m disappointed that the YA category was cancelled due to low turnout – I think there were quite a few good YA romances published last year, e.g. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, Sharon Shinn’s Dream-Maker’s Magic, etc.  Oh well.

Generally, my reading doesn’t appear to be very much in sync with the RITA awards.  It is a writers’ award for writers though, and heck, even though the online romance readers’ community is very active, it probably forms a small part of the romance-buying world as a whole.

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