• Jen

An Annotated 2019 RITA Ballot

According to RWA, the purpose of the RITAS is to "promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published novels and novellas."

I read 60 out of 65 books in 11 categories (I did not read books in Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance or Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements). As a quick overview before the RITAs, I have assigned a code to each book summarizing my overall verdict. These aren’t predictions of what I think will win; they’re my opinion about whether the book qualified as an “outstanding” romance.

  • outstanding: a romance that deserves to win.

  • good: a strong romance that might win.

  • meh: a competent romance.

  • no: this romance should not win.

  • no*: something about this book is so problematic it should have been disqualified.

  • dnr: I did not read this book.

And because no one likes a waffler, I put my pick (of the ones I read) for each category in bold.

Best First Book

The Last Wolf by Maria Vale (outstanding)

Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne (meh)

A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy (meh)

With Love in Sight by Christina Britton (meh)

Celebrity Spin Doctor by Celia Mulder (no*)

Contemporary Romance: Long

Luck of the Draw by Kate Clayborn (outstanding)

Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn (outstanding)

Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London (good)

The Heartless Boyfriend by Erika Kelly (no)

Melt for You by J. T. Geissinger (no)

A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates (no)


Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan (dnr)

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

Loving a Warrior by Melanie Hansen (good)

Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susannah Nix (good)

Sleepover by Serena Bell (good)

Give and Take by L

ee Kilraine (meh)

Knocked-Up Cinderella by Julie Hammerle (meh)

Part-Time Husband by Noelle Adams (meh)

Lennon Reborn by Scarlett Cole (no)

Relay by Layla Reyne (no)

Sergeant Sexypants by Tawna Fenske (no)

Celebrity Spin Doctor by Celia Mulder (no*)

Contemporary Romance: Short

The Captains’ Vegas Vows by Caro Carson (outstanding)

A Baby to Bind His Bride by Caitlin Crews (good)

Fair Game by Amy Andrews (good)

The Bachelor's Baby Surprise by Teri Wilson (meh)

A Safe Place to Land by Dee Ernst (meh)

A Fool and His Manny by Amy Lane (no)


Claim Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates (dnr)

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas (dnr)

Tanner's Promise by Kaylie Newell (dnr)

Erotic Romance

Three-Way Split by Elia Winters (outstanding)

Picture Perfect Cowboy by Tiffany Reisz (outstanding)

Sinful Games by Shelly Alexander (no)

Total Exposure by JA Huss (no)

Historical Romance: Long

A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe (outstanding)

An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden (outstanding)

Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne (meh)

A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy (meh)

Historical Romance: Short

What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie (good)

A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen (good)

Hell's Belle by Annabelle Anders (meh)

Never Dare a Wicked Earl by Renee Ann Miller (meh)

With Love in Sight by Christina Britton (meh)

The Devil to Pay by K. C. Bateman (no*)

Paranormal Romance

The Last Wolf by Maria Vale (outstanding)

Out of Body by Suzanne Brockmann (good)

To Catch a Rogue by Bec McMaster (meh)

Haunted Hearts by Kimberly Dean (meh)

Dearest Ivie by J. R. Ward (no)

Debriefing the Dead by Kerry Blaisdell (no)

Wretched by Cara Crescent (no)

Romance Novella

Dragon Lord by Dana Marton (outstanding)

Loving the Secret Billionaire by Adriana Anders (outstanding)

Bad Blood by M. Malone (good)

"Lead Counsel" by Aurora Rey (good)

Catching Irish by Katy Regnery (meh)

Saved by the Cowboy by A. J. Pine (no)


"The Dragons of Summer" by Jeffe Kennedy (dnr)

Romantic Suspense

The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Robert (good)

Fearless by Elizabeth Dyer (good)

Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer (meh)

Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak (no)

Consumed by J. R. Ward (no)

Cut and Run by Mary Burton (no)

Reckless Honor by Tonya Burrows (no*)

Young Adult Romance

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma (outstanding)

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter (good)

Cry Baby by Ginger Scott (no*)

Detailed explanation for each ranking is available on Twitter @JenRitas or on the following spreadsheet.

Several gold statues of a woman writing. The RITA awards

Image credit: Barbara Samuel

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