Top Ten Short Stories
|1. The Mad Earl´s Bride, Loretta Chase, Three Weddings and Kiss
2. The Demon´s Mistress, Jo Beverley, In Praise of Younger Men
3. Gretna Green, Julia Quinn – Scottish Brides
4. Miracles, Judith McNaught – Simple Gifts / A Holiday of Love
5. Make a Joyful Noise, Carla Kelly – A Regency Christmas Carol
6. The Christmas Ornament, Carla Kelly – A Regency Christmas VIII
7. The Wassail Bowl, Mary Balogh – A Regency Christmas Feast
8. The Warlord Wants Forever, Kresley Cole – Playing Easy to Get
9. A Lady’s Pleasure, Robin Schone – Captivated
A Tale of Two Sisters, Julia Quinn – Where’s My Hero?
First, a big thank you to all of you that filled out a ballot. We know this one was a bit harder, but your thoughts and votes were very much appreciated!
It became clear during the balloting process that picking a favorite short story was easier than naming a favorite anthology. A few of our voters mentioned how they bought anthologies to try new authors while others admitted to only partial reading of an anthology, specifically for one or two stories. And because for most readers anthologies often feature varying qualities of writing, many of the ballots listed just a few anthologies. In fact, fewer than half the ballots submitted had an equal number of short stories and anthologies ranked.
The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase from Three Weddings and A Kiss found first place in the 2001 poll and maintained its ranking with ease six years later. Although the premise of a “mad” earl forced to confront his possible death and his need to provide an heir sounds dark and unsettling, the story itself is both sweet and powerful. Both this novella and Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels were published in 2005.
Jo Beverley’s The Demon’s Mistress lands in second place and was published in 2001. The AAR reviewer graded this Regency- set historical short story an A- and classified it as ‘hot’ in sensuality.
Gretna Green by Julia Quinn from the Scottish Brides anthology is the second title to have appeared both in the results of the 2001 poll and this newer poll. Originally it placed second; this time the 1999-published story lands in the third slot. In Laurie’s B+ review of this story, she wrote that it was “whimsical, silly, and altogether delightful”.
Like Gretna Green, Judith McNaught’s Miracles dropped one position from the 2001 poll, moving from third to fourth place this time around. It was first released in 2001 in the anthology Simple Gifts and re-issued in 2005’s A Holiday in Love. The 2001 anthology, featuring two stories by McNaught (one historical, one contemporary) and two by Jude Deveraux (both contemporary), was reviewed at AAR and earned a B+ grade.
In our earlier poll, Shelley Dodge mentioned that while Regency anthologies were submitted on many ballots, none of the short stories to make the top ten were trads. This time around, though, three titles are from Regency anthologies, the first of which is Carla Kelly’s Make a Joyful Noise, from A Regency Christmas Carol. It lands in the fifth slot, just one point below Miracles. Originally published in 1997, the story remains a favorite for readers even a decade after it was released.
Carla Kelly’s A Christmas Ornament, from A Regency Christmas VIII was published a year after Make a Joyful Noise. It lands in sixth place. The earlier anthology was not reviewed at AAR, but this one was. Kelly’s novella earned an A grade and was the only stand-out for Blythe Barnhill out of five short stories.
Mary Balogh’s The Wassail Bowl from A Regency Christmas Feast , in the seventh spot, ends the run of trad Regency short stories published by Signet.
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole from the anthology Playing Easy to Get nearly nudged out Balogh’s seventh place novella; instead it landed in eighth place. It is the first non-historical on the list. This paranormal romance is the most recently published novella to land in our top ten – it was published last year.
Robin Schone’s A Lady’s Pleasure (Captivated) ties Julia Quinn’s Two Sisters, (Where’s My Hero?) for ninth place. Schone’s contribution to the Captivatedanthology was the only one to earn a good grade at AAR. The book as a whole garnered a grade of D while Schone’s novella earned a B+. This erotic romance was published in 1999. Where’s My Hero? fared better on the whole; it earned a B-. Quinn’s Regency-set novella earned an A-