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Rita Awards

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The Rita Awards have been presented annually by the members of the Romance Writers of America [RWA] to romance novels receiving the highest scores by a panel of romance-author judges. Originally known from 1982 to 1989 simply as The Golden Medallion Awards, the name was changed in 1990 to honor Rita Clay Estrada, the first president of RWA. Over the years, both the structure of the awards, and the categories in which the awards have been presented have frequently changed. In 2008, a major restructuring of the categories occured, with several “new” categories seemingly replacing long-standing older categories. Currently, there are between ten and twelve categories in which Ritas are presented. Additional information about the Ritas can be found at A History of the Rita Awards. Information about Nebraska chapters of RWA is also available on-line. Although many of the individual Rita Award-winning novels are not owned by the Lincoln City Libraries, those titles in this list which are “hotlinked” to the library’s catalog are currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries. The remaining titles are provided for the sake of historical accuracy. In many cases, the Lincoln City Libraries owns other titles by most of these award-winning authors.

Best Single Title Contemporary Romance

2016 – (Mid-Length) Sarina Brown and Elle Kennedy – Him
2016 – (Long) Masey Yates – Brokedown Cowboy
2015 – (Mid-Length) Jill Shalvis – One in a Million
2015 – (Long) Jane Graves – Baby, It’s You
2014 – Molly O’Keefe – Crazy Thing Called Love
2013 – Barbara Freethy – The Way Back Home
2012 – Fiona Lowe – Boomerang Bride
2011 – Jill Shalvis – Simply Irresistible
2010 – Kristan Higgins – Too Good to Be True
2009 – Rachel Gibson – Not Another Bad Date
2008 – Kristan Higgins – Catch of the Day
2007 – Caridad Ferrer – Adios to My Old Life
2006 – Susan Wiggs – Lakeside Cottage
2005 – Jennifer Crusie – Bet Me
2004 – Nora Roberts – Birthright
2003 – Barbara Samuels – No Place Like Home
2002 – Rachel Gibson – True Confessions
2001 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – First Lady
2000 – Suzanne Brockmann – Bodyguard
1999 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Dream a Little Dream
1998 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Nobody’s Baby But Mine
1997 – Barbara Freethy – Daniel’s Gift
1996 – Nora Roberts – Born in Ice
1995 – Kathleen Gilles Seidel – Again
1994 – Nora Roberts – Private Scandals
1993 – Kathleen Eagle – This Time Forever
1992 – Eileen Dreyer – A Man to Die For

Best Short Contemporary Series Romance

[category first appeared in 2008 as Best Contemporary Series Romance, through 2012, then changed to Best Short Contemporary Series Romance]

2016 – Sarah Anderson – The Nanny Plan
2015 – Caro Carson – A Texas Rescue Christmas
2014 – Leah Ashton – Why Resist a Rebel?
2013 – Sarah Morgan – A Night of No Return
2012 – Sarah Morgan – Doukakis’s Apprentice
2011 – Karen Templeton – Welcome Home, Cowboy
2010 – Beth Andrews – A Not So Perfect Past
2009 – Karen Templeton – A Mother’s Wish
2008 – Janice Johnson – Snowbound

Best Paranormal Romance

[Includes novels with strong Paranormal, Fantasy or Science Fiction themes]

2016 – Angela Quarles – Must Love Chainmail
2015 – Kristen Callihan – Evernight
2014 – Susannah Kearsley – The Firebird
2013 – Kresley Cole – Shadow’s Claim
2012 – Thea Harrison – Dragon Bound
2011 – Sharon Ashwood – Unchained: The Dark Forgotten
2010 – Kresley Cole – Kiss of a Demon King
2009 – Gwyn Cready – Seducing Mr. Darcy
2008 – J.R. Ward – Lover Revealed
2007 – Kresley Cole – A Hunger Like No Other
2006 – Linnea Sinclair – Gabriel’s Ghost
2005 – Lori Handeland – Blue Moon
2004 – Linda Fallon – Shades of Midnight
2003 – Susan Grant – Contact
2002 – Robin D. Owens – Heartmate
2001 – Karen Marie Moning – The Highlander’s Touch
2000 – Jeanette Baker – Nell
1999 – Susan Carroll – The Bride Finder
1998 – Justine Dare – FireHawk
1997 – Lynn Kurland – Stardust of Yesterday
1996 – Modean Moon – The Covenant
1995 – Justine Davis – Lord of the Storm
1994 – Anne Stuart – Falling Angel
1993 – Antoinette Stockenberg – Emily’s Ghost
1992 – Justine Davis – Angel for Hire

Best Inspirational Romance

[Novels featuring a strong religious or spiritual theme]

2016 – Kristi Ann Hunter – A Noble Masquerade
2015 – Irene Hannon – Deceived
2014 – Carla Laureano – Five Days in Skye
2013
– Elizabeth Camden – Against the Tide
2012 – Serena Miller – The Measure of Katie Calloway
2011 – Irene Hannon – In Harm’s Way
2010 – Tamera Alexander – The Inheritance
2009 – Susan May Warren – Finding Stefanie
2008 – Linda Goodnight – A Touch of Grace
2007 – Tamera Alexander – Revealed
2006 – Beth Pattillo – Heavens to Betsy
2005 – Shelley Bates – Grounds to Believe
2004 – Gayle Roper – Autumn Dreams
2003 – Irene Hannon – Never Say Goodbye
2002 – Deborah Raney – Beneath a Southern Sky
2001 – Robin Lee Hatcher – The Shepherd’s Voice
2000 – Dee Henderson – Danger in the Shadows
1999 – Robin Lee Hatcher – Patterns of Love
1998 – Melody Carlson – Homeward
1997 – Francine Rivers – The Scarlet Thread
1996 – Francine Rivers – As Sure as the Dawn
1995 – Francine Rivers – An Echo in the Darkness
1986 – Kathleen Karr – From This Day Forward
1985 – Charlotte Nichols – For the Love of Mike

Best Romantic Novella

[Shorter works, often appearing in magazines or anthologies]

2016 – Roni Loren – Nice Girls Don’t Ride
2015 – Anna Richland – His Road Home
2014 – Jane Porter – Take Me, Cowboy
2013 – Eloisa James – “Seduced by a Pirate”
2012 – Caroline Linden – I Love the Earl [stand-alone publication – both ebook and print] 2011 – Virginia Kantra – “Shifting Sea” from Burning Up
2010 – Stephanie Laurens – “The Christmas Eve Promise” from The Night Before Christmas
2009 – Stephanie Laurens – “The Fall of Rogue Gerard” from It Happened One Night
2008 – Jennifer Greene – “Born in My Heart” from Like Mother, Like Daughter
2007 – Roxanne St. Claire – “Tis the Silly Season” from A NASCAR Holiday
2006 – Alesia Holliday – “The Naked Truth About Guys” from The Naked Truth
2005 – Maggie Shayne – “Her Best Enemy” from Night’s Edge
2004 – Gayle Wilson – “Prisoner of the Tower” from The Wedding Chase
2003 – Lynn Kurland – “To Kiss in Shadows”
2002 – Lisa Kleypas – “I Will” from Wish List
2001 – Merlene Lovelace – “Final Approach to Forever” from Once Upon a Dream
2000 – Marianne Willman – “Starry, Starry Night”

Best First Book

2016 – Pintip Dunn – Forget Tomorrow
2015 – Clara Kensie – Run to You
2014 – Laura Drake – The Sweet Spot
2013 – Simone St. James – The Haunting of Maddy Clare
2012 – Darynda Jones – First Grave on the Right
2011 – Kaki Warner – Pieces of Sky
2010 – Kate Brady – One Scream Away
2009 – Tera Lynn Childs – Oh. My. Gods.
2008 – Terri Garey – Dead Girls Are Easy
2007 – Tracy Anne Warren – The Husband Trap
2006 – Stephanie Feagan – Show Her the Money
2005 – Lani Diane Rich – Time Off for Good Behavior
2004 – Susan Crandall – Back Roads
2003 – Wendy Lindstrom – Shades of Honor
2002 – Elizabeth English – The Border Bride
2001 – Fay Robinson – A Man Like Mac
2000 – Isolde Martyn – The Maiden and the Unicorn
1999 – Adele Ashworth – My Darling Caroline
1998 – Elizabeth Boyle – Brazen Angel
1997 – Lynn Kurland – Stardust of Yesterday
1996 – Elizabeth Elliot – The Warlord
1995 – Angie Ray – Ghostly Enchantment
1994 – Megan Chance – A Candle in the Dark
1993 – Jeane Renick – Trust Me
1992 – Christina Dodd – Candle in the Window
1991 – Dee Holmes – Black Horse Island
1990 – Alaina Hawthorne – Out of the Blue

Best Short Historical Romance

2016 – Julie Anne Long – It Started With a Scandal
2015 – Tessa Dare – Romancing the Duke
2007 – Betina Krahn – The Book of True Desires
2006 – Jodi Thomas – The Texan’s Reward
2005 – Susan Kay Law – A Wanted Man
2004 – Lisa Kleypas – Worth Any Price
2003 – Cheryl Reavis – The Bride Fair
2002 – Barbara Dawson Smith – Tempt Me Twice
2001 – Susan Wiggs – The Mistress
2000 – Judith Ivory – The Proposition
1999 – Patricia Coughlin – Merely Married
1998 – Barbara Samuel – The Heart of a Knight
1997 – Lorraine Heath – Always to Remember
1996 – Loretta Chase – Lord of Scoundrels

Best Long Historical Romance

2016 – Deeanne Gist – Tiffany Girl
2015 – Meredith Duran – Fool Me Twice
2007 – Julia Quinn – On the Way to the Wedding
2006 – Liz Carlyle – The Devil to Pay
2005 – Laura Kinsale – Shadow Heart
2004 – Kathleen Givens – The Destiny
2003 – Madeline Hunter – Stealing Heaven
2002 – Connie Brockway – The Bridal Season
2001 – Jo Beverley – Devilish
2000 – Patricia Ryan – Silken Threads
1999 – Connie Brockway – My Dearest Enemy
1998 – Maggie Osborne – The Promise of Jenny Jones
1997 – Laura Lee Guhrke – Conor’s Way
1996 – Pamela Morsi – Something Shady
1995 – Mary Jo Putney – Dancing on the Wind

Best Romantic Suspense

2016 – Dana Marton – Flash Fire
2015 – J.D. Robb – Concealed in Death
2014 – Carolyn Crane – Off the Edge
2013 – Laura Griffin – Scorched
2012 – J.D. Robb – New York to Dallas
2011 – Karen Rose – Silent Scream
2010 – Laura Griffin – Whisper of Warning
2009 – Cindy Gerard – Take No Prisoners
2008 – Anne Stuart – Ice Blue
2007 – Annie Solomon – Blackout
2006 – J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) – Survivor in Death
2005 – Karen Rose – I’m Watching You
2004 – Nora Roberts – Remember When — Part 1
2003 – Nora Roberts – Three Fates
2002 – Tess Gerritsen – The Surgeon
2001 – Nora Roberts – Carolina Moon
2000 – Gayle Wilson – The Bride’s Protector
1999 – Theresa Weir – Cool Shade
1998 – Ingrid Weaver – On the Way to a Wedding
1997 – Bethany Campbell – See How They Run
1996 – Anne Stuart – Winter’s Edge
1995 – Nora Roberts – Hidden Riches
1994 – Nora Roberts – Nightshade
1993 – Nora Roberts – Divine Evil
1992 – Nora Roberts – Night Shift
1991 – Karen Keast – Night Spice
1990 – Kathleen Korbel – Perchance to Dream
1989 – Nora Roberts – Brazen Virtue

Best Erotic Romance

[category first appeared in 2014]

2016 – Alexis Hall – For Real: A Spires Story
2015 – Tiffany Reisz – The Saint
2014 – J. Kenner – Claim Me

Young Adult

[category was not used 1997-2007]

2016 – Jenn Bennett – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
2015 – Juliana Stone – Boys Like You
2013 – Emily McKay – The Farm
2012 – Ann Aguirre – Enclave
2011 – Julie Kagawa – The Iron King
2010 – Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry
2009 – Rosemary Clement-Moore – Hell Week
2008 – Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely
1996 – Cheryl Zach – Runaway
1995 – Arleynn Presser – Second to None
1994 – Wendy Corsi Staub – Summer Lightning
1993 – Sherry Garland – Song of the Buffalo Boy
1992 – Lurlene McDaniel – Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
1991 – [no award] – [no award] 1990 – Vivian Schurfranz – Renee
1989 – Eileen Charbonneau – The Ghosts of Stony Cove
1988 – Arlene Erlbach – Does Your Nose Get in the Way, Too?
1987 – Kathleen Garvey – Video Fever
1986 – Cheryl Zach – Waiting for Amanda
1985 – Cheryl Zach – The Frog Princess
1984 – Barbara Bartholomew – Julie’s Magic Moment
1983 – Jo Stewart – Andrea


Past categories


The remaining Rita Award categories listed below have been used in past years, either once or several times, but have been phased out in favor of the categories listed above. They are provided here for historical context.

Best Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure

[category first appeared in 2008, last appeared in 2012]

2012 – CIndy Dees – Soldier’s Last Stand
2011 – Helen Brenna – The Moon That Night
2010 – Cindy Dees – The Soldier’s Secret Daughter
2009 – Kathleen Creighton – Danger Signals
2008 – Helen Brenna – Treasure

Best Regency Historical Romance

2012 – Tessa Dare – A Night to Surrender
2011 – Lauren Willig – The Mischief of the Mistletoe
2010 – Julia Quinn – What Happens in London
2009 – Joanna Bourne – My Lord and Spymaster
2008 – Julia Quinn – The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever
2006 – Diana Gaston – A Reputable Rake
2005 – Sophia Nash – A Passionate Endeavor
2004 – Nancy Butler – Prospero’s Daughter
2003 – Barbara Metzger – A Debt to Delia
2002 – Jessica Benson – Much Obliged
2001 – Emma Jensen – A Grand Design
2000 – Nancy Butler – The Rake’s Retreat
1999 – Emma Jensen – His Grace Endures
1998 – Jean R. Ewing – Love’s Reward
1997 – Carla Kelly – The Lady’s Companion
1996 – Lynn Kerstan & Alicia Rasley – Gwen’s Christmas Ghost
1995 – Carla Kelly – Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand
1994 – Jo Beverley – Deidre and Don Juan
1993 – Jo Beverley – An Unwilling Bride
1992 – Jo Beverley – Emily and the Dark Angel
1991 – Loretta Chase – The Sandalwood Princess
1990 – Mary Jo Putney – The Rake and the Reformer
1989 – Susan Carroll – Brighton Road
1988 – Susan Carroll – Sugar Rose
1987 – Amanda Scott – Lord Abberley’s Nemesis
1986 – Monette Cummings – The Beauty’s Daughter
1985 – Kasey Michaels – The Lurid Lady of Lockport

Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements

2013 – Simone St. James – The Haunting of Maddy Clare
2012 – Barbara O’Neal – How to Bake a Perfect Life
2011 – Jodi Thomas – Welcome to Harmony
2010 – Barbara O’Neal – The Lost Recipe for Happiness
2009 – Nora Roberts – Tribute
2008 – Deanna Raybourn – Silent in the Grave
2007 – Laurien Gardner (a.k.a. Jennifer Ashley) – A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
2006 – Barbara Samuel – Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas
2005 – Evelyn Vaughn – A.K.A. Goddess
2004 – Kristin Hannah – Between Sisters

Best Long Contemporary Series Romance

[category first appeared in 2013]

2013 – Karin Templeton – A Gift for All Seasons

Best Historical Romance

[category first appeared in 2008]

2014 – Sarah MacLean – No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
2013 – Sarah MacLean – A Rogue by Any Other Name
2012 – Joanna Bourne – The Black Hawk
2011 – Sherry Thomas – His at Night
2010 – Sherry Thomas – Not Quite a Husband
2009 – Pam Rosenthal – The Edge of Impropriety
2008 – Madeline Hunter – Lessons of Desire

Best Short Contemporary Romance

[Originally identified as a contemporary novel of under 65,000 words]

2007 – Jessica Bird – From the First
2006 – Liz Fielding – The Marriage Miracle
2005 – Barbara McCauley – Miss Pruitt’s Private Life [library only owns Spanish language edition] 2004 – Nicole Burnham – The Knight’s Kiss
2003 – Cindy Kay Gerard – Taming the Outlaw [library only owns Spanish languge edition] 2002 – Barbara Daly – A Long, Hot Christmas
2001 – Stephanie Bond – It Takes a Rebel
2000 – Anne McAllister – The Stardust Cowboy
1999 – Caroline Cross – The Notorious Groom
1998 – Jennifer Greene – Nobody’s Princess
1997 – Anne McAllister – Cowboy Pride
1996 – Jennifer Greene – Single Dad
1995 – Jennifer Crusie – Getting Rid of Bradley
1994 – Glenna McReynolds – Avenging Angel
1993 – Helen R. Myers – Navarrone
1992 – Glenda Sanders – A Human Touch
1991 – Jan Hudson – Step Into My Parlor
1990 – Jennifer Greene – Night of the Hunter
1989 – Kathleen Creighton – Winter’s Daughter
1988 – Terri Herrington – Stolen Moments
1987 – Kathleen Creighton – Still Waters
1986 – Joan Hohl – Much Needed Holiday
1985 – Nora Roberts – Opposites Attract
1984 – Eileen Bryan – Memory and Desire

Best Long Contemporary Romance

[Originally identified as a contemporary novel of 65,00-80,000 words]

2007 – Lori Handeland – The Mommy Quest
2006 – Dianna Love Snell – Worth Every Risk
2005 – Inglath Cooper – John Riley’s Girl
2004 – Kathleen Creighton – The Top Gun’s Return
2003 – Catherine Mann – Taking Cover
2002 – Fay Robinson – Coming Home to You
2001 – Marilyn Pappano – Rogue’s Reform
2000 – Suzanne Brockmann – Undercover Princess
1999 – Ruth Wind – Meant to be Married
1998 – Ruth Wind – Reckless
1997 – Naomi Horton – Wild Blood
1996 – Justine Davis – The Morning Side of Dawn
1995 – Kathleen Korbel – A Soldier’s Heart
1994 – Emilie Richards – Dragonslayer
1993 – Karen Young – The Silence of Midnight
1992 – Kathleen Korbel – A Rose for Maggie
1991 – Cheryl Reavis – Patrick Gallagher’s Widow
1990 – Kathleen Korbel – The Ice Cream Man
1989 – Cheryl Reavis – A Crime of the Heart
1988 – Kathleen Creighton – In Defense of Love
1987 – Nora Roberts – One Summer
1986 – Georgia Bockoven – Today, Tomorrow and Always
1985 – Nora Roberts – A Matter of Choice
1984 – Deirdre Mardon – Destiny’s Sweet Errand [tie] 1984 – Nora Roberts – This Magic Moment [tie]

Best Traditional Romance

2007 – Barbara Hannay – Claiming His Family
2006 – Marion Lennox – Princess of Convenience
2005 – Jessica Hart – Christmas Eve Marriage
2004 – Marion Lennox – Her Royal Baby
2003 – Debbie Macomber – The Christmas Basket
2002 – Sandra Steffen – Quinn’s Complete Seduction
2001 – Liz Fielding – The Best Man and the Bridesmaid
2000 – Kristin Gabriel – Annie, Get Your Groom
1999 – Kristin Gabriel – Monday Man
1998 – Lucy Gordon – His Brother’s Child
1997 – Lauryn Chandler – Her Very Own Husband
1996 – Elizabeth Sites – Stranger in Her Arms
1995 – Lauryn Chandler – Oh, Baby!
1994 – Lindsay Longford – Annie and the Wise Men
1993 – Marie Ferrarella – Father Goose
1992 – Bethany Campbell – Every Kind of Heaven
1991 – Lucy Gordon – Song of the Lorelei
1990 – Mona Van Wieren – Rhapsody in Bloom
1989 – Bethany Campbell – Flirtation River
1988 – Rita Rainville – It Takes a Thief
1987 – Sandy Dengler – Opal Fire
1986 – Doreen Malek – The Crystal Unicorn
1985 – Brittany Young – The Karas Cup
1984 – Nora Roberts – Untamed

Category Contemporary

1982 – Brooke Hastings – Winner Take All

Mainstream Contemporary

1983 – Lynda Trent – Opal Fires
1982 – Barbara Faith – The Sun Dancers

Contemporary Sensual

1983 – Nora Roberts – The Heart’s Victory

Contemporary Sweet

1983 – Dixie Browning – Renegade Player

Category Historical

1984 – Julie Jeffries – The Clergyman’s Daughter
1983 – Mara Seger – Defiant Love
1982 – Constance Ravenlock – Rendezvous at Gramercy

Historical

1995 – Jodi Thomas – To Tame a Texan’s Heart
1989 – Jill Marie Landis – Sunflower
1988 – LaVyrle Spencer – The Gamble
1987 – Robyn Carr – By Right of Arms
1986 – Francine Rivers – Not So Wild a Dream
1985 – LaVyrle Spencer – Twice Loved
1984 – LaVyrle Spencer – Hummingbird

Mainstream Historical

1983 – LaVyrle Spencer – The Endearment
1982 – Anna James – Day Beyond Destiny

Series Historical

1994 – Jo Beverley – My Lady Notorious
1993 – Cheryl Reavis – The Prisoner
1992 – Jodi Thomas – The Tender Texan
1991 – Penelope Williamson – A Wild Yearning
1990 – Patricia Gardner – Silver Noose

Single Title Historical

1994 – Elizabeth Lowell – Untamed
1993 – Penelope Williamson – Keeper of the Dream
1992 – Pamela Morsi – Courting Miss Hattie
1991 – Elizabeth Stuart – Where Love Dwells
1990 – Julie Garwood – The Bride

Mainstream

1985 – Kathleen Gilles Seidel – After All These Years

Single Title Release

1990 – Diane Chamberlain – Private Relations
1989 – Linda Barlow – Leaves of Fortune
1988 – Barbara Delinsky – Twilight Whispers
1987 – Tom and Sharon Curtis – Sunshine and Shadow
1986 – Anne Stuart – Banish Misfortune

Best Romance of [previous publishing year]

1995 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – It Had To Be You
1994 – Susan Wiggs – Lord of the Night
1993 – Jill Marie Landis – Come Spring
1992 – Diana Gabaldon – Outlander
1991 – Laura Kinsale – The Prince of Midnight
1990 – LaVyrle Spencer – Morning Glory

RWA’s Favorite Book of [previous publishing year]

1998 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Nobody’s Baby But Mine

Last Updated February 2017 sdc

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