Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spotlight on History, Romance, and More RITA FINALISTS

It's almost time, folks. The lovely Rita will be awarded in a week's time during Romance Writers of America's gala celebration in Orlando. I'm a finalist in one of the categories, and while I've won in the past and would love to win again, I truly believe the old saw, "It's an honor to be nominated." I've made the finals a good number of times. RWA awards silver Rita pins to the finalists, and I have a very nice collection. But the gold is the goal, and we await the announcements with baited breath.

Before that moment arrives, we're touting as many categories as we can squeeze in before the conference, and today I give you my first love, Historical Romance. I contacted the finalists with congratulations and three questions. Here we go:


Since a true-love marriage seems impossible, Zoƫ has accepted -- no, embraced -- her role as society's most incomparable flirt and mischief maker...until in one reckless, vulnerable moment, her future is shattered.

KE: What do you think the judges really really really liked about this book?

LC: I hope they liked the fact that the heroine, Zoe, is such a flawed character, because she has done a lot of those rash, self-destructive things young people are apt to do when they are angry and struggling to grow up, and must now take responsibility for her actions. But it was probably just the hot sex.

KE: What makes a "Liz Carlyle" book?

LC: I hope there is no one thing, and that all my books are sufficiently different that readers never quite know what to expect. That said, I hope they deliver a consistently good story with a heartfelt HEA.

KE: Other than your own, what's your favorite historical romance? (And let’s stick with the RWA era.)

LC: I have been absorbed in Claudia Dain's Courtesan series, which is just one big, sexy romp.


When Daisy Merrick is sacked from yet another job, the feisty and outspoken miss comes up with a plan that could give her a future beyond her wildest dreams. There's only one problem. Her success depends on Sebastian Grant, Earl of Avermore, England's most infamous author.

KE: What do you think the judges loved about this book?

LLG: To be honest, I don’t know what makes the judges like a book. Tastes vary so much. But I do think that with my entry, WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND, the judges might have related to the hero and heroine, who are both writers.

KE: What makes a "Laura Lee Guhrke" book?

LLG: I have no idea what makes a Laura Lee Guhrke book. I suppose my strength is in the characters. And I always make the romance the center point of the story. I hope that’s a good answer, because I never know what to say when people ask me that!

KE: Other than your own, what's your favorite RWA era historical romance?

LLG: If I absolutely had to pick one and only one historical romance as my favorite, I’d say SHADOW AND THE STAR, by Laura Kinsale.

Elizabeth Hoyt, TO BEGUILE A BEAST

Hoyt works her own brand of literary magic on the classic Beauty and the Beast story in the exquisitely romantic, superbly sensual third addition to her extraordinary Georgian-set Legend of Four Soldiers series.” --Booklist

KE: What do you think the judges especially liked about this book?

EH: My hero, Sir Alistair Munroe, is a scarred, surly guy hanging out in a falling down castle all by himself when the heroin

e shows up and turns his world upside down. I think "Beauty and the Beast" stories are perennial favorites.

KE: What makes an " Elizabeth Hoyt" book?

EH: Strong, emotionally complex characters and a sensual, compelling love story.

KE: Other than yours (which are obviously terrific) what's your favorite historical romance? (And let's stick with the RWA era.)

EH: DEVIL'S BRIDE by Stephanie Laurens

Betina Krahn, MAKE ME YOURS

Mariah Eller was only trying to save her inn from being trashed. So how did the widow manage to attract the unwanted-and erotic-attention of the Prince of Wales? Not that being desired by royalty is necessarily bad... Only, Mariah much prefers the prince's best friend....

KE: What do you think the judges especially liked about this book?

BK: I can’t say what the judges might have liked—just what I liked—which was that this was a very different kind of story. Not the typical storyline, not the typical length, not the typical source for historicals. It’s kind of a modern story—that just happens to have occurred throughout all of the ages of humankind: a woman beset by powerful men and having to make her way in the world. A woman getting the best of a situation, a man, and a life. . . and finding happiness and fulfillment in love along the way. The fact that there were very historical aspects of the story probably didn’t hurt. Lots of research in this one. AND I’d like to think the way the words went together—the humor and wordplay—were a factor. Gosh. Sounds like I’m bragging. Well, if I ever wanted to brag about a story, it would be this one. I was kind of surprised myself at how pleased I was with it.

KE: What makes a "Betina Krahn" book?

BK: I know what I try to put in. . . characters that are likeable from the start. I don’t do “brooding” well. Or horribly damaged and vengeful. I tend to go for people with problems that are more manageable. And I think most readers like the humor I try to lace through the dialogue, the descriptions, and the events. And finally, I think there is a personal POV of mine that comes through in most of my books: that love between two people doesn’t just fulfill two people, it affects the world around them. Love not only brings grace and peace to individuals, but to families, to friendships, and ultimately to communities.

KE: Other than your own, what's your favorite RWA era historical romance?

BK: It’s cruel, Kathy, to make me single out just ONE book! There are several that have had a big impact on me. Judith Merkle Riley’s “A Vision Of Light” has to be one of my all-time favorites. Again, not the usual historical romance; some might even say it wasn’t a romance at all—except that it WAS. Kathleen Woodiwiss’s “ Shanna” and “The Wolf and the Dove” sort of blur together in terms of impact—I read them close together and they inspired me to start writing myself. AND they hold up well over time.

Margaret Mallory, KNIGHT OF PLEASURE

Sir Stephen Carleton enjoys his many female admirers-until he dedicates himself to winning the lovely Isobel. So when a threat against the king leads Isobel into mortal danger, Stephen has a chance to prove that he is more than a knight of pleasure...and that love can conquer all.

just received more good news! KNIGHT OF PLEASURE is also a finalist for the Georgia Romance Writers "Maggie" Award. She'll send a signed copy of the book to one of our weekend commenters (U.S. or Canada).

KE: What do you think the judges really really really liked about this book?

MM: Without a doubt, what they liked best was my hero, Sir Stephen Carleton.

My heroes in this series are medieval knights, so they are all alpha men with a strong sense of honor and a heady air of danger about them. But Stephen Carleton is also a charmer. At the beginning of the book, he is drinking too much, sleeping with all the wrong women, and at risk of becoming less than the man he was meant to be. You want to save him. He hides it well, but beneath all that charm beats a hero’s heart.

KE: What makes a "Margaret Mallory" book?

MM: I write dramatic stories with a good deal of adventure and intrigue, as well as a host of funny or interesting secondary characters, including real historical figures. I like to force my characters into situations in which they must choose between conflicting loyalties or duties. My books tend to have themes of honor and loyalty, though there is humor as well. All my heroines are strong—as are most of my female characters, from grandmothers to serving maids.

KE: Other that your (which are obviously terrific) what's your favorite historical romance? (And let's stick with the RWA era.)

MM: Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander is still at the top of my list. I also love the old Judith MacNaught and Julie Garwood historicals. Thanks so much for having me! I’d love to answer questions or respond to comments.


Three days after arriving in Galveston, newly widowed Sage McMurray finds herself taken hostage in a robbery. She fears she may never see Whispering Mountain again when the outlaws decide to auction their pretty captive off to the highest bidder, until a tall stranger offers twice the highest bid.

KE: What do you think the judges liked best about this book?

JT: I'm not sure, maybe the humor. Also they've followed these two characters for three books watching them grow up.

KE: What makes a “Jodi Thomasbook?

JT: I think as long as a writer writes heartwarming characters, readers will read.

KE: Other than your own wonderful books, what's your favorite RWA-era historical romance?

JT: Ask me in a week. I'm reading all the finalists' books now and so far they are all great.


Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her during their brief marriage, but he won’t rest until he’s delivered an urgent message from her sister—and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them—or their rekindling passion?

KE: What do you think the judges loved about this book?
NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is angst on acid. There is so much angst in this book that even I am barely woman enough for it--and I am a card-carrying member of the Angst Lovers Club.

KE: What makes a Sherry Thomas book?
1. The hero will always refuse to have sex with the heroine at some point. (I like a man who has enough self-control to turn down free nookie.)
2. Disillusionment. I think, when we first fall in love, we are really viewing the other person as extensions of ourselves. We are subsequently cruelly disabused of that idea. Only when my characters are clearly seeing the other person for who and what they are, and not who and what they'd like them to be, only then will I believe in the possibility of true love.

KE: Other that your books (which are outstanding) what's your
favorite RWA-era historical romance?

ST: Because I can't find it at home, which makes me miss it extra, I am going to say my favorite historical romance is Judith Ivory's BEAST. My first Ivory book and it has left an indelible impression. It is the book that set the bar for me and for the rest of my career I will be reaching--mostly likely in vain--for that level of amazingness.


Ewan MacEgan has set his sights on a wealthy bride but, tantalizingly, he finds himself drawn to his intended bride’s sister, Honora, who is both widow and warrior. One touch and he is longing to awaken her sensuality, for he suspects she will be as passionate in bed as she is on the battlefield!

Heads up! Michelle will send an advance copy of her next book, SURRENDER TO AN IRISH WARRIOR (on sale in September) to one of our lucky weekend commenters.

KE: What do you think the judges liked best about this book?

MW: To me, the hero Ewan MacEgan was an underdog, a man who always wanted to be the ultimate warrior, but lacked natural talent. I had fun writing a character who clashed with the heroine Honora, who was a natural athlete but didn’t believe in herself as a woman. I tried to include some of the elements of a large family of brothers, some of the humor, and a lot of passionate, forbidden heat.

KE: What makes a “Michelle Willinghambook?

MW: Intense emotion, really sexy heroes (with hot love scenes), and a bit of real life humor thrown in, when it’s appropriate.

KE: Other than your own beautiful babies, what's your favorite RWA-era historical romance?

MW: MORNING GLORY by LaVyrle Spencer is my favorite historical romance of all time, hands-down. To me, she was a master of characterization, and I absolutely loved every book she wrote. I keep holding out hope that she’ll return to writing some day.

I'll send another commenter a signed copy of my own Rita finalist, IN CARE OF SAM BEAUDRY. (I'll draw names for all the giveaways Sunday night, announce Monday, and for this time we'll stick with U.S. and Canadian addresses. But please don't let that stop our other friends from chiming in!)

o comment away! What Romance novels are unforgettable for you? Do you shop for RITA winning books? Do you look for RITA winning authors? If you're not a member, have you heard of the award or of RWA?


Helen Brenna said...

These all sound like such marvelous stories. Best of luck to all of you! To me, the RITA - even a nomination - is a high water mark. I know I'll be getting a great story.

PJ said...

Wonderful books and all very deserving of being RITA finalists! I'm looking forward to cheering for all of you next Saturday night in Orlando.

Julie Garwood's "Saving Grace" is my favorite historical comfort read. It never fails to sweep me away and leave me with a smile on my face and happiness in my soul.

I try to read as many of the RITA books as I can each year. Many I've already read before the finalists are announced but some of the authors are new finds for me. I love discovering new-to-me authors!

Aislinn said...

I've read several of these, and they're all worthy! Thanks to the authors for the hours I got lost in your stories.

Anthea Lawson said...

What a great, tantalizing round-up of finalists! I've read a lot of these books (and have added the others to my TBR pile). Every single one deserves to win, in my opinion. Have a great time at Nationals, all you finalists -- wish I could be there to cheer you on!

Thanks for the interviews, Kathleen~

runner10 said...

I just finished Nora Roberts 3rd book on the bride series. I can't stop thinking about it. Such excitement. I can't wait til the 4th book comes out.
I've learned about the RWA and RITAs through the blogs. I have spotted several new-to-me authors that I want to check out.

Virginia said...

These are some wonderful books and I am sure they all deserve to win!

Romance noval that are unforgettable for me would be Gone With the Wind, Pieces of Sky and Open Country by Kaki Warner and Elaine Levine's Rachel and the Hired Gun, Audrey and the Maveric. All of these were wonderful books. Yes I do look forward to RITA winning authors.

Lou said...

The Nocturne line books (from Harlequin) are unforgettable for me. So unforgettable, I sometimes add the plots (by accident) to my own work subconsciously. I only realize what I did AFTER reread it.

I don't actively shop or look for them, but if I find one then fantastic. I've heard of both, want to join but I have no money.

Kathleen Eagle said...

It's so interesting to hear--see-- readers' comments about the RITA. Years ago I served as the published authors' liaison to the RWA board, and one of our concerns back then was getting the word out to readers that this recognition is given to books deemed outstanding by the people who write them. Everybody knows about the Oscars and Emmys because they're televised. We actually tried to find a way to televise RITA awards night.

We concluded that the best way to make RITA known to our readers was through the books. Get the publishers to put a flasher or a statuette on book covers. It's difficult because the RITA is awarded for last year's books. RWA experimented with posters for bookstores, but I don't think they do that anymore.

It's good to know that the word is getting out through the blogs!

Margaret Mallory said...

Kathleen, a big thank you for recognizing us here!

I bought my dress for the big event yesterday. Floor length formal--I never expected to wear one of those again!


LilMissMolly said...

I love the finalists this year for the Ritas! I always like it when there is a new author or two. I recently discovered Margaret Mallory because her book was nominated. I'm now a devoted fan! Historical Romance is my favorite genre.

When RWA was going to be in Nashville, I had planned on attending this year because I can drive there. But, since it's now in Florida, I just can't swing the cost of flying there. I'm so bummed.

catslady said...

They all sound so wonderful and congratulations to all the finalists. A Rita definitely makes a big impression on me as a reader!

LSUReader said...

There are some wonderful books on this list. Those I haven't read are getting my full attention now...oh, my ever-expanding TBR list. I've so enjoyed these RITA-spotlight columns. For favorite historical, today I will say Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels. Tomorrow--who knows?

Kathleen Eagle said...

Hi, Margaret! You'll be the true princess in you floor-length formal. What fun!

LSU, "Lord of Scoundrels" pops up on so many lists of favorites, and I haven't read it. Shame on me. I'm moving it to the top of my TBR stack.

Sherry mentioned one of my favorite authors, Judith Ivory aka Judy Cuevas. I've loved everything she's written. LaVyrle is an all-time favorite, too, especially the early historicals. I think "Twice Loved" is my favorite of hers.

And I've been reading our own Betina Krahn for years. Her books are never cookie cutters, always rich in humor, pathos, sexual tension and historical detail.

michellewillingham said...

I enjoyed hearing about everyone's favorite historicals. A VISION OF LIGHT was also a favorite of mine, as was BEAST by Judith Ivory. I've read both multiple times!

Just bought my RITA dress today, and am going through those phases of alternating excitement and holy-cow-did-this-really-happen-to-me. It's almost cruel that they're hosting a dinner beforehand because I either won't be able to eat at all from nerves or I'll be desperately reaching for dessert!

heidi C. Dahlquist said...

Good luck with the RITA awards, Michelle. I'm rooting for you.

Heidi C. Dahlquist

Barbara E. said...

I've read some really outstanding romance novels - many by Lynn Kurland, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas are on the list. I will pick up books that I know have won a RITA, because I know they're outstanding, as well as RITA winning authors. I'm not a member, but yes, I've heard a lot about RWA and the RITA. I equate it quite a bit to the Oscars.

I'd love to see Sherry Thomas or Margaret Mallory win this year, their books are fabulous.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Michelle, it's really happening to you, so enjoy every minute, even the jittery ones.

The last time I saw Judy Cuevas she was dealing with chronic pain, and I know it's been a struggle for her. I just looked her up on Wikipedia and found a very personal description of her life and work. She has a book in the works, which is good news. The bad news is that she's still struggling with back problems. Like the rest of her many fans, I'll keep looking for that book. I discovered her years ago with "Black Silk," which Avon re-published under Judith Ivory with some editing--mainly for length, I think. But don't miss the Judy Cuevas books. I loved "Bliss," with its tortured hero.

KatherineT said...

I always shop for Rita nominated and Rita winning authors. I love when the Rita finalists or any award finalist for that matter are announced. It's exciting and I feel personally invested if a book I've read has been nominated. I can only imagine how truly wonderful the feeling is for the authors!

Congratulations to all the truly wonderful Rita finalists!

Michelle, it's been a long, long wait for Trahern's story ... so glad release day is coming soon!

MarthaE said...

These are some wonderful books!I don't always see the RITA results right away but I am glad to see them as you post them here. Yes, I look for books by the RITA winning authors.
A new romance that I thought was wonderful is Ravished by a Highlander by Paula Quinn.
So nice to have some giveaway books too. I have read Knights of Pleasure so no need to enter me for that. But I would love to win In Care of Sam Beaudry.

Sky Robinson said...

I should have never read I'm going to have to do some shopping. Several titles that I need to have:)

Sheree said...

Wow, such great books! Congrats to all the nominees! And good luck!

I do look more closely at book that are nominated or have won when I'm at the bookstore or hanging out at blogs like this one.


Susan said...

I don't know how the judges can decide who wins - all of these authors are so good!

I have really enjoyed the Irish Warrior series from Michelle Willingham. She is one of my (recently discovered) favorites.

Other historical authors I enjoy are Lynn Kurland, Julia Quinn, and Gaelen Foley. There are too many others to be able to list them all!

Anonymous said...

there are many 'unforgetable' novels that i have read...i have read several 'rita award' winners...congratulations to everyone :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Kathleen Eagle said...

I completely get Katherine's comment about feeling invested in the outcome when I've read the book. I always think they should choose the best of those I've read--or with the Oscars, those I've seen.

But then the winners are announced, and I have to go get the ones I haven't read, even the genres I don't normally read.

Laney4 said...

I had never heard of the RITAs until I started to blog a year ago. Up till then I just went to the shelf, read the back blurb of certain publications (like SSE, Desire, etc.), and put the books in my cart. Now that I blog, though, I keep a detailed list of possible books to read. I "listen" to what others say online (both readers and authors), I enjoy excerpts, and I still read those back cover blurbs.
Winning an award doesn't really matter to me, as I've learned there are books I love and others feel so-so about them, and vice-versa. There are so many facets to a book that one tiny thing (like a baby, horse, countryside, city landmarks, etc.) can make it special for different people. My particular enjoyment comes from the witty dialogues and internal thoughts of the H/h and even supporting characters.

robynl said...

What Romance novels are unforgettable for you? I loved the Sandra Brown 'Texas Trilogy' and re-read it.

Do you shop for RITA winning books? not necessarily

Do you look for RITA winning authors? not necessarily

If you're not a member, have you heard of the award or of RWA? as a reader I have heard of RITA and RWA but visiting authors' blogs and at chats.


Kathleen Eagle said...

Laney, thanks so much for your thoughts. It's so interesting to watch the interest in blogs community of bloggers grow among readers.

And I hear you about awards not necessarily hitting the mark for my taste. I'm always looking for something fresh and surprising in my reading. Awards don't tell you WHY, but other readers do.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Robynl, Sandra Brown is an all-time favorite for me. I loved her 2 Western historicals--Sunset something--before she started writing suspense. Her series books are still some of my favorites.

Stephenia said...

Unforgettable romances are those whose characters linger in your mind long after you've read the book.

I do check out award winning books from the past year - sometimes I find new to me authors that way. quilter892ataoldotcom

MaryG said...

I've always enjoyed Western historicals and anything by Lynn Kerstan. the "Golden Leopard" was great.

I do shop for Rita nominees and winners. I think it helps keep you up to date.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Absolutely, Steph. For me, it's ALL about character.

Mary, I'm with you on the Westerns. The only thing better than cowboys and Indians is an Indian cowboy.

Nora said...

Congratulations to all those nominated and good luck!!