Friday, July 22, 2016

The RITA Goes to....

Last Saturday night, Romance Writers of America wrapped up their national conference with the announcement of the 2016 RITA® and Golden Heart® award winners. For those of us who weren't able to travel to San Diego, RWA provided a live stream of the event. Granted, it was a bit late for us East Coast readers (11:00 pm starting time) but, determined to stay awake while my travel companions slept, I curled up in a chair in my dark hotel room in Virginia, popped in my ear buds and (mostly) silently cheered for my favorites for the next couple hours. I may have squealed when Julie Anne Long's name was called and I admit to stunned silence with tears streaming down my face when she mentioned Janga and me in her acceptance speech. Never in a million years would I have ever expected to be acknowledged in someone's RITA® acceptance! Listed below are the winners of this year's RITA®.


Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been your future self. 

It's Callie's seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she's eagerly awaiting her vision -- a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they're meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist. 

Or in Callie's case, a criminal. 

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in prison. The only person who can help is her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn't spoken to in five years. 

Logan breaks her free, but can she trust him? He's almost the same boy she remembers, but now he's a whole lot hotter. And he's got his own past to deal with. Callie's falling for him, fast, but she soon learns he has secrets of his own. Secrets that mean they can never be together.

Now, Callie's on the run not only from the government, but also from her fate. If she wants any hope of a future with Logan, she must find a way to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all -- herself.


Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates

There are lines best friends shouldn't cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much… 
If practice makes perfect, Connor Garrett should be world champion of being alone. Since losing his wife he's concentrated exclusively on his family's ranch. Until Felicity Foster needs a place to stay and Connor invites her to move in temporarily. That's what friends do. What friends don't do? Start fantasizing about each other in their underwear. Or out of it… 
Since high school, Liss has kept her raging crush in check. But helping Connor rebuild his life only reinforces how much she longs to be a part of it. One explosive encounter, and she'll discover that getting what you always wanted can feel better than you ever dreamed…
There are lines best friends shouldn't cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much… 


Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

They don't play for the same team. Or do they?  
Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley's biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he'll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever. 

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions-- can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself. 


The Nanny Plan by Sarah M. Anderson

This billionaire bachelor has a baby challenge… 
Being a father to his orphaned infant niece is out of this tech billionaire's comfort zone. Lucky for Nate Longmire, Trish Hunter is a natural at motherhood, and she's agreed to be his temporary nanny. But long glances, slow kisses and not-so-innocent touches are strictly off-limits… 
Trish's goal is to help Nate in exchange for a big donation to her charity for Lakota kids. Falling for her bachelor boss—and his adorable baby girl—is not part of the plan. But when the month is up, will she be able to walk away?


For Real: A Spires Story by Alexis Hall

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission. 

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being. 

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love. 

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have — no matter how right it feels — can’t last. It can’t mean anything. 

It can’t be real. 


Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

In each of her Chicago World's Fair books, Deeanne Gist has created a sense of time and place that draws me into the world of her characters as if I'm traveling their journey with them. Her research is impeccable and it shows in the details sprinkled throughout. The characters are true to their time and I appreciate the intimate glimpses into their daily lives that show us how people actually lived in 1893 New York City. Another by-product of all that research. The secondary characters run the gamut from Flossie's parents to her co-workers at Tiffany's to angry, male strikers to her fellow boarders. Gist's method of revealing details about each of the boarders is clever and gives us insight into each of them without having to employ an "info dump." I found it delightful and wished Flossie had a question for me. Real people and fictional characters are interwoven seamlessly in this book, with the fictional characters being so well developed and realistic that, at times, I forgot which was which. Not mere window dressing, many of the secondary characters contribute significantly to the story and move the plot forward.

While we can't travel through time to visit the 1893 World's Fair, we can do the next best thing and experience it through the wonderful pages of Tiffany Girl as well as the two previous books in this series, It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play (stand-alone books). I highly recommend them all.


It Started With a Scandal by Julie Anne Long

I admit to being a Julie Anne Long fan from her debut book on and to waiting impatiently for the next Pennyroyal Green book since I read the first one in the series. But It Started with a Scandal exceeded even my high expectations. It is an extraordinary book. Lavay in this book, wounded in body and spirit, is a more complex and substantive character than a reader encountering him as a handsome charmer with a dangerous edge in I Kissed an Earl would have guessed. Elise is the kind of strong heroine I most admire, one whose strength stems from her growth, her tenacity, and her ability to prevail against the odds. Long has a gift for capturing her reader’s interest in a few words that offer a compelling invitation to discover more about the characters, and she uses that gift to its full potential in this book.  Lavay is “not so much rough-hewn as sleek and hard as a rock polished over and over by wave after wave of time and experience.” Elise’s life as housekeeper and mother is “stitched together by an intricate network of barters and favors of time and skill and knowledge, of baked goods and canned goods, unused bolts of cloth and hand-me-downs, and herbs and cheeses and books and advice and tutoring.” If Lavay and Elise are fascinating as individuals, they are even more so as a couple. This book could serve as a textbook for aspiring romance writers who need to study how to maintain sexual tension. The pages almost smoke although consummation scenes are few.

I give It Started with a Scandal my highest recommendation. It is one of the best books in one of the best series in historical romance fiction. If you enjoy historical romance with characters who jump off the page and into your mind and heart and story lines that demand your investment, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I plan to reread it just as soon as I add it to my short list of the Best of 2015.


A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned. 

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.


Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles

Trapped in the wrong time, she needs a knight in shining armor, but this damsel in distress might be the real savior.

A damsel in distress...

With a day planner attached to her hip, the last thing Katy Tolson wants is a romance that threatens her well-ordered life. She's set to marry the safe--but bland--guy, but something's not quite...right. A careless wish thrusts her through time into medieval Wales and into the arms of...

A knight in somewhat shining armor...

Sir Robert Beucol, half-Norman and half-Welsh, lives with the shame of his father's treason and vows to reclaim his family's holdings and thereby his honor. To prove himself to his king, he must be more Norman than a full-blooded Norman. What better way to show loyalty than to fight his mother's people? He has no desire to be sidetracked by the mysterious wench with pink toenails, peculiar habits, and passion smoldering behind her cool, collected exterior.

A rebellion that challenges both...

The Welsh uprising fits perfectly into Robert's plans. Katy's on the other hand? That's a no. As they embark on a perilous journey through the heart of Wales, each passionate encounter pulls them closer together, but farther from their goals. When everything they value is at stake, can they save each other and their love?


Nice Girls Don't Ride by Roni Loren

Natalie Bourne thinks she has the perfect night planned for her twenty-first birthday. But when her car breaks down and her boyfriend bails on her, she's left stranded in an auto shop dealing with a way too cocky, way too hot mechanic, who seems to be intent on pushing every button she has.

Monroe Hawkins knows he shouldn't be messing with a girl from the uppity private college. Especially when he can tell she sees him as the help. But he's having trouble resisting the redhead with the smart mouth and the killer legs. So when Natalie's night goes from bad to worse, there's no way he's letting her spend her birthday alone. He makes her a deal--he'll take her home but not until the sun comes up.

Ten hours, one motorcycle, and the city of Austin at their fingertips...things are about to take a major detour. And soon, there may be no U-turn in sight.


Flash Fire by Dana Marton

Dana Marton is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. I know when I pick up one of her books that I'm about to be treated to a compelling, fast-paced story that will keep my heart in my throat and my nerves on edge. Clara Roberts, the heroine of FLASH FIRE is a character I cheered for from beginning to end. A buttoned-up former accountant now working to retrieve American citizens lost, kidnapped, or imprisoned abroad, her world is turned upside down with a single phone call that sends her into the Mexican jungle with ruthless former SEAL, Light Walker. ::Sigh:: What can I say about Walker. He's a tortured soul, bent on revenge, and not about to let anyone get in his way, least of all Clara. With determination as solid as his rock-hard body, it's difficult to believe there's even a kernel of softness remaining within him but, slowly, without trying, our heroine burrows her way into his heart and soul. Will it be enough to save him from his course of destruction? 

Buckle up and get ready for another wild ride from Dana Marton's FLASH FIRE. I highly recommend it!   


The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.
Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

And that's a wrap!

Did you watch the live stream of this year's ceremony? 

Did your favorites win?

Will you be giving any of the winning books a try? 
(several are currently available at a discounted price)

I have a package of books for one person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, July 23, 2016. (U.S. only) 


  1. Welcome back! How was your vacation? I would like to try Brokedown Cowboy and Flash Fire and am open to the others too. I didnt'know they were broadcasting the awards it would have been nice to see. I would have been hopping up and down too. That was nice that Julie Anne Long mentioned you and Janga. I would be excited too.

    1. Thanks for the welcome back! I had a good vacation. We were in Virginia for a national dance competition. The granddaughter of my heart was dancing with her studio for the final time before heading off to college next month. A bit bittersweet but, as always, so much fun.

      I'm hoping the video of the awards ceremony will show up on Youtube one of these days. RWA has posted previous year's ceremonies there. If it does, I'll give y'all a heads up in the News & Notes.

      I was shocked when Julie Anne Long said our names. Shocked and so incredibly touched.

  2. Oh, it must be a wonderful time. I've been reading posts and seeing pics from various sites. I'm especially interested in the historicals, suspense and paranormals but I bet they're all wonderful reads! Thanks for putting them up with covers and the write-ups, I've not seen that anywhere else!

    1. You're welcome, catslady! I'm looking forward to checking out some of them. I've only read three so far: Long's It Started With a Scandal (currently on sale in e-book for only $1.99!), Gist's Tiffany Girl, and Marton's Flash Fire (currently $3.99 in e-book). I thought all three were outstanding.

  3. I didn't watch the live feed, however, I am happy with the results. "Tiffany Girl" was an absolute favorite of mine and I couldn't be more delighted for Deeanne Gist. I also read and enjoyed "A Noble Masquerade." I do look forward got reading more of the RITA winning books and send a huge congratulations to the winners. We all know that a lot of fabulous books were considered as well.

    I'm so happy you got a chance to attend again. I love hearing your insider information about the gathering. I bet it's so much fun!

    Thanks for the delightful giveaway. I have my fingers crossed big time.

    1. I loved Tiffany Girl too, Connie! Glad to hear you enjoyed A Noble Masquerade. I have that one on my list to check out.

      I wasn't able to attend this year's conference. Sure did miss seeing everyone in San Diego. :( I do plan to be in Orlando next year! And you're right, it is a lot of fun! :) ~PJ

  4. I just got an email letting me know that Flash Fire by Dana Marton will be on sale in e-book format at $0.99 from 7/25 - 7/31.

  5. Just wanted to let you know that you put A Noble Masquerade's description for Must Love Chainmail, too. Ooops! :-D

    I was happy to hear that Julie Ann Long won. I loved that entire series. I want to read Tiffany Girl and Flash Fire for sure, and maybe a couple of the others.

    1. Well, snap! I totally missed that. Thanks, Cheryl!

  6. Victorian Romance looks like a beautiful read. I would love to see if I could finish it in a few days!

  7. I am entranced with these wonderful books. Forget Tomorrow would be fascinating. Thanks.

  8. The historicals are captivating and special. I would enjoy them all this summer.

  9. Hope you had an awesome vacation, PJ! Surprisingly, I haven't read any of this year's winners although I own most of the historicals - they're just still on my TBR pile. I'll likely be acquiring the ones I don't own.

  10. Welcome back! I downloaded one of the winners--Kristi Ann Hunter's A Noble Masquerade--to my tablet this morning. I loved Julie Anne Long's book and am glad she won. The Deeanne Gist book looks interesting. Most, though, are out of my areas of interest, so I'll pass.

  11. I've read three of the winners--It Started with a Scandal, Tiffany Girl, and The Nanny Plan--all got high marks from me. I was delighted with JAL's win, a much-deserved recognition, and, like you, PJ, touched and honored by the mention.

    As for the other winners, I've been meaning to try a Maisey Yates book, and her Rita winner might be a good place to start. The Inspy sounds good too,

  12. Welcome back. Unfortunately we had guest so no I didn't watch it. I see that some of the authors I read won, so that is great. I've read Nice Girls Don't Ride and Flash Fire.

  13. I didn't know there was a live stream, so missed it. I only know a few of these authors so I'll have to check out the others.

  14. I missed the live stream. I like the reviews of Tiffany Girl and It Started with a Scandal, I think I will try them both. I hate to admit I have not read any of the winners. I read all the time. What is wrong with me?

  15. I of course loved Tiffany Girl and was so thrilled it won; and you know how I feel about Julie Anne Long's books. *swoon* So YES, thrilled freaking crazy it won. After looking at the RITA list last week, I picked up some Maisey Yates books from the library to glom; and I bought the paranormal winner too. I'm excited about new to me winners. :)

  16. You're back! Sadly I didn't watch the ceremony. I totally forgot and didn't find out about the winners until the next day but I was seriously cheering for Must Love Chain Mail and Tiffany Girl. I was really happy when I heard they won!
    And I can only imagine your surprise when JAL mentioned your names in her speech. How amazing was that?! I'm a fan of hers and I think I would have passed out if that happened to me ;)

  17. I was so pleased to see Tiffany Girl had one the RITA. That book is on my BTB list along with Fair Play. The only book by this author that I have read is It Happened at the Fair and I loved it. Looking forward to reading more of her work.

  18. I wasn't able to watch the live stream. Brokedown Cowboy and It Started With a Scandal are on my TBR, but I want to read both series in order. The Nanny Plan might be something I would read, too!