Meet GT’s favorite 2016 RITA and Golden Heart nominees #RWA16 #BookAwards
The RITA Awards are the Romance Writers of America (RWA) equivalent of the Oscars. For romance books. Actually, the RITAs are more akin to the SAG Awards since only authors can choose the finalists and vote on the winners. But “SAG equivalent” sounds a lot less cool, and there’s really no Oscar equivalent, so let’s go with that. The awards for the RITAs and the Golden Hearts are given out at a big, fancy ceremony every July at RWA’s national convention.
This year, GraveTells is going. And I am SO EXCITED I can hardly stand it! Before I crow about some of my absolute favorite books from 2015 that made the Finalist lists, here’s a little more insight into the RITA Awards and what makes them so special. From RWA’s 2016 nominee announcement post:
The RITA — the highest award of distinction in romance fiction — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.
Up to 2,000 romance novels are entered in the RITA competition each year. 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.
Here are the nominees I’ve featured on GraveTells and am most excited about!
HIM by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Nominated for: (RITA) Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length
HIM was the GraveTells Book of the Year in 2015. I devoured both this first novel and its follow-up story, US, and am still thinking about them both months later. Hopefully I can snag some interview time with authors Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy while I’m at RWA, see what Wes and Jamie think about all this fuss!
If you haven’t yet fallen in love with Jamie and Wes, check out the GraveTells reviews of their story above!
Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Maria Bradley
Nominated for: (RITA) Best First Book, (RITA) Paranormal Romance
That’s right. Debut author Asa Maria Bradley is up for two RITA Awards for her first published romance. I discovered Viking Warrior Rising just before I left for Coastal Magic 2016, from a cover quote by Rebecca Zanetti. If you’ve been a GT subscriber for a few years, you’ve probably seen all of my reader-love for Ms. Zanetti. So naturally, anything she raved about, I was all over. Totally worth it. I finished Viking on the plane to #CMCon16 and was so moved by the story that I wrote (and posted!) the entire review right there in my seat. I never do that! I let reviews sit for days, weeks, to be sure I’m giving the absolute most honest opinion. To be sure the scores I give can hold up against other “must read” books. By happy coincidence, I learned that Ms. Bradley would be at #CMCon16. So, of course, I practically stalked her. Okay, not really, but I did make a point to meet her—she is a doll, completely cracked me up!—and we developed a friendship that I’m excited to continue at RWA16. (This is why you should go to the smaller, reader-organized cons like Coastal Magic, peeps!) Anyway, even if I’d never met Asa, I’d still be thrilled about this double nomination for the RITA. Viking Warrior Rising is a true standout in the paranormal romance genre.
GraveTells review: Viking Warrior Rising
Pssst! One of my favorite secondary characters from Viking will get her book this coming fall. Asa has agreed to let me interview the Viking vixen at RWA, so stay tuned for that!
For Real: A Spires Story by Alexis Hall
Nominated for: (RITA) Erotic Romance
I know what you’re thinking. “Sue, I haven’t seen that book on GraveTells.” That’s right. I’ve been a lazy bum and haven’t gotten around to posting even a quarter of the reviews I’ve made notes for. But I have read For Real, and it’s good. It’s also risky, which is part of what I loved about it. This is one of those books I almost quit early on, but kept on because there was a thread of promise layered in the foundation of the story. And boy does that thread deliver. For Real is a story about a young sadist (nineteen) and an older masochist, and the book is studded with the angst, push, and pull you’d expect from a couple with such a disparate age gap. And considering that the dominant of the pair is the younger one, you can imagine how complicated this story becomes. Mr. Hall did a fabulous job of balancing emotional maturity with life experience and pitting sexual expertise against the need to submit. The ebb and flow of the power dynamic between these two men is unique: I have never read anything like it.
Congratulations and good luck to ALL the RITA and Golden Heart nominees in 2016!
Click here to see the full list of nominees. Have a favorite? Comment below and let’s chat! I’m always looking for stellar new books to read and review!