A Guide to Those 2013 RITA Winners

Romance is booming. It’s a genre with great writers, agents and publishers, and a fantastic organization, the Romance Writers of America, helping it flourish. A wonderful way to see where Romance, including some of its many sub-genres, stands right now is in the novels attaining the highest honors within the Romance community—the RITA Awards. The RITA Awards are announced annually from a group of nominations in certain categories. The 2013 winners were announced last night at the 33rd RWA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Not only are the RITA nominees and award winners good choices for those already into Romance, they are a great introduction for those unsure of the genre but willing to give it a try. For those readers, following is a guide to the RITA Award categories and winners, including descriptions of each category or sub-genre, and information about each winning novel.

Short Contemporary Series

Description: Romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, are less than 60,000 words in length, and are issued under a common category line/series name with publisher predetermined word counts and basic content guidelines. These books are often numbered sequentially and released at regular intervals.

Winner: A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan
The Private Lives of Public Playboys Series
Published by Harlequin Presents
Lucy Gilmour, editor
Paperback, 192 pages
Available as paperback and e-book

The Book: Money, charm and sensual skills don’t make up for a heart colder than ice. Wild parties, wanton women, relentless work—nothing helps tycoon Lucas Jackson escape his dark and haunting past. Arriving at his rural castle in a snarling snowstorm, he craves only complete isolation. But it seems oblivion can take an unexpected and highly intoxicating form! Personally delivering the vital file left on her boss’s desk, secretary Emma Gray starts to seriously regret her dutiful overtime mission. She never expected the dark side of the usually controlled Lucas could generate such a primitive, powerful—and entirely inappropriate—reaction.

Long Contemporary Series

Description: Romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, are greater than 60,000 words in length, and are issued under a common category line/series name with publisher predetermined word counts and basic content guidelines. These books are often numbered sequentially and released at regular intervals.

Winner: A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton
Harlequin, Special Edition
Gail Chasan, editor
Paperback, 224 pages
Available as paperback

The Book: Hiring Patrick Shaughnessy to landscape her new inn was strictly a business arrangement. Until April Ross got to know the war-scarred single father …and his irrepressible little girl. Patrick made it clear he wasn’t looking for romance. Neither was April. But could she make him see that some risks were worth taking? The lively, widowed blonde might be the most tempting woman Patrick had ever known, but the returning vet knew a happy ending wasn’t in the cards. Still, that was before April started working her magic on his daughter …and on him. Maybe this Christmas was a time for new beginnings — if Patrick had the courage to go with the powerful feelings April had awakened in him….

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

Description: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.

Winner: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Penguin Group USA, New American Library
Ellen Edwards, editor
Paperback, 318 pages
Available as paperback, large-print hardcover, e-book and audio
ALSO “BEST FIRST BOOK” WINNER

The Book: Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis–rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts–has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah’s task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy’s ghost is real, she’s angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair’s assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?

Inspirational

Description: Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship.

Winner: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Baker Publishing Group, Bethany House Publishers
Raela Schoenherr, editor
Paperback, 362 pages
Available as paperback, large-print hardcover, e-book and audio

The Book: As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she’s finally carved out a perfect life for herself–a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy. However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or “Bane,” a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head. Just as Bane’s charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia’s part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend. 

Romantic Suspense

Description: Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.

Winner: Scorched by Laura Griffin
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star Books
Abby Zidle, editor
Paperback, 387 pages
Available as paperback and e-book

The Book: Kelsey Quinn set out to trace a murder victim. Now she may become one. The dead don’t speak, but Kelsey knows their secrets. As a forensic anthropologist at the Delphi Center crime lab, Kelsey makes it her mission to identify bodies using no more than shards of bone, and her find at a remote Philippines dig hints at a sinister story. When Kelsey’s search for answers puts her at the scene of her ex-fiancé’s murder, only one man can help her. The same man who broke her heart just months before, and who is also a prime suspect. Faced with an ultimatum – Kelsey or his job – Gage Brewer did the only thing a Navy SEAL could…but that doesn’t mean he stopped wanting Kelsey. Now Kelsey is running for her life and Gage is her last line of defense. As the threats escalate, Kelsey realizes this conspiracy goes deeper and higher than they could have guessed. With the clock ticking down on a madman’s plot, the slightest misstep will have unthinkable consequences….

Novella

Description: Novellas that focus primarily on the romantic relationship.

Winner: Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James
HarperCollins, Avon Impulse
Carrie Feron, editor
100 pages
Available as e-book

The Book: Sir Griffin Barry leapt out of the bedchamber window at age seventeen after a very disappointing wedding night, drank a bit too much at the pub and woke to find that he’d joined the crew of a pirate ship! Years later, he has become one of the most feared pirates on the high seas, piloting the Flying Poppy, a ship he named after the wife whom he fondly (if vaguely) remembers. What happens when a pirate decides to come home to his wife — if she is his wife — given that the marriage was never consummated? And what happens when that pirate strolls through his front door and is met by… well, that’s a surprise.

Contemporary Single Title

Description: Romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles.

Winner: The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Micki Nuding, editor
Paperback, 384 pages
Available as paperback, large-print hardcover and e-book

The Book: In the small California town of River Rock, the river is always there—sometimes unpredictable and wild, sometimes a source of comfort, always a part of life. Bestselling author Barbara Freethy will capture your heart with an emotional story about love, family . . . and fighting for what matters most. Ex-Marine Gabe Ryder is fulfilling the last request of his best friend, Rob, who was killed in a firefight during their final days of service. He promised to help Rob’s family— especially Rob’s twin sister, Alicia—with their struggling river rafting business. Gabe has a hidden past with Alicia, though. She’s the woman who taught him that love might exist, yet he walked away from her. Alicia has more than enough on her plate with her brother’s death, her father’s injury from a tragic rafting accident, the entire town turning against them, and a series of dangerous attacks on her business. She doesn’t need this rugged loner who broke her heart. But passion flares between them, and this time, they can’t walk away. Alicia can’t help wondering: did Rob really send Gabe to watch over her—or did he want her to show Gabe the way home?

Historical

Description: Romance novels set in any historical time period.

Winner: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Carrie Feron, editor
Paperback, 386 pages
Available as paperback, large-print hardcover, e-book and audio

The Book: What a scoundrel wants, a scoundrel gets… A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury. A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures. Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them… even her heart.

Paranormal

Description: Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world or paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot.

Winner: Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Lauren McKenna, editor
Paperback, 448 pages
Available as paperback, e-book and audio

The Book: #1 New York Times bestseller Kresley Cole introduces The Dacians: Realm of Blood and Mist, a new paranormal series following the royal bloodline of Dacia, a vampire kingdom hidden within the Lore of the Immortals After Dark. Shadow’s Claim features Prince Trehan, a ruthless master assassin who will do anything to possess Bettina, his beautiful sorceress mate, even compete for her hand in a blood-sport tournament— to the death. HE WON’T BE DENIED: Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people—striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself—until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains. SHE’S BOUND TO ANOTHER: Desperate to earn her guardians’ approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails—even though she’s lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure. A BATTLE FOR HER BODY AND SOUL: Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina’s heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium’s worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away—or stoke Bettina’s own desires to a fever pitch. . .

Young Adult

Description: Romance novels geared toward young adult readers.

Winner:The Farm by Emily McKay
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Publishing Group
Michelle Vega, editor
Paperback, 420 pages
Available as paperback and e-book

The Book: Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other… And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible. Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help… Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

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One Response to A Guide to Those 2013 RITA Winners

  1. Thanks for the concise all-in-one-place summary of the winners, John!

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