Congratulations to all the nominees and the RITA® winners! And big huge thanks to everyone who participated in the 2013 RITA® Reader Challenge. Here are the winning books in each category, with the reviews for those books from the reader challenge.
Short Contemporary Series Romance:
Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan
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.
Reviewed by Kylie, Grade: A-.
Long Contemporary Series Romance:
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.
Reviewed by Kay, Grade: B
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements AND Best First Book:
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
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 deperate 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, whereshe came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?
Reviewed by Julian Griffith, Grade: B+.
Reviewed by Jamarleo, Grade: B.
Reviewed by Jane, Grade B-.
Reviewed by Deanna, Grade A-.
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
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.
Reviewed by Sassy Outwater, Grade: A.
Scorched by Laura Griffin
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.
Reviewed by Kerry, Grade: B.
Reviewed by Megan S, Grade: B.
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!
Reviewed by Jess B, Grade: B.
Contemporary Single Title Romance
The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy
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?
Reviewed by Elizabeth, Grade: B.
A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
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.
Reviewed by Rayvyn2k, Grade: A
Reviewed by Jess M, Grade: A
Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole
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.
Reviewed by Sybylla18, Grade: C-.
Reviewed by Pam, Grade: C.
Young Adult Romance
The Farm by Emily McKay
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…
Reviewed by Emily A, Grade: B+.
Reviewed by Amanda, Grade: A-.
Thank you again to everyone who made the RITA® Reader Challenge possible!
Are you thinking of trying one of the winning books? Do you have one you recommend? Which ones?