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2007_2006 « H E » email posted Friday, 23 February 2007 (For 2006 releases)


Best Romance Novels Best Romance Characters Worst of the Year Accompanying ATBF Column Winners…pick up your awards here Interim Results Please comment directly on this page about the individual results Please comment on the ATBF Message Board about the column (analysis and author responses)


(If there are multiple honorable mentions, they are listed in vote order unless they are a tie)


Best 2006 Romance Novels

Best Romance
   Honorable Mention

Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward
   Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase


Favorite Funny
   Honorable Mention

Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase
   Drop Dead Gorgeous, Linda Howard      


Most-Hanky Read
   Honorable Mention

Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward
   Simply Love, Mary Balogh


Most Luscious Love Story
   Honorable Mention

The Raven Prince, Elizabeth Hoyt
   Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas

Best Erotic Romance All U Can Eat, Emma Holly   Best Cabin/Road Romance Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase  

Best New Author

Elizabeth Hoyt


Best Buried Treasure
   Honorable Mentions

Jacob, Jacquelyn Frank
   Beauty and the Spy, Julie Anne Long
   The Raven Prince, Elizabeth Hoyt

Guiltiest Pleasure
   Honorable Mention All U Can Eat, Emma Holly
   Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas

Author Most Glommed

J.R. Ward


Best Medieval

The Silver Rose, Susan Carroll

Best European Historical
   Honorable Mention Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas
   Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase   Best Amer Hist/Frontier tie A Reason To Live, Maureen McKade
The Rogue’s Return, Jo Beverley (partially set in Canadian frontier) Best Contemporary
   Honorable Mentions Drop Dead Gorgeous, Linda Howard
   Angels Fall, Nora Roberts
   Sex, Lies, and Online Dating, Rachel Gibson Best Series (Category) Family at Stake, Molly O’Keefe  

Best Romantic Suspense
   Honorable Mention

Cold as Ice, Anne Stuart
   Angels Fall, Nora Roberts

  Best Paranormal Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward  

Best Chick Lit/Wom Fict
   Honorable Mention

Hot Dish, Connie Brockway
   Summer at Willow Lake, Susan Wiggs

  Short Story
   Honorable Mention Hot Toy (Santa, Baby), Jennifer Crusie
   The Warlord Wants Forever (Playing Easy To Get), Kresley Cole     Best 2006 Characters Most Tortured Hero Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward Zsadist

Strongest Heroine
   Honorable Mentions

Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward
   Memory in Death, J.D. Robb
   Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase

   Eve Dallas
   Bathsheba Wingate

Best Hero Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas Sebastian (St. Vincent)

Best Heroine
   Honorable Mentions

Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas
   Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase
   Drop Dead Gorgeous, Linda Howard

Evie Jenner
   Bathsheba Wingate
   Blair Mallory

Best Couple
   Honorable Mentions

Lord Perfect, Loretta Chase
   Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas
   Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward     Bathsheba/Benedict
   Bella/Zsadist Best Villain Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward (unnamed to avoid spoilers)     Worst of the Year for 2006 Most Annoying Lead Drop Dead Gorgeous, Linda Howard Blair Mallory

Author You Gave Up On
   Dishonorable Mentions

Christina Dodd
   Nora Roberts
   Julia Quinn


Most Disappointing Read

On the Way To the Wedding, Julia Quinn

  Worst Read On the Way To the Wedding, Julia Quinn   Purple-est Prose
   Dishonorable Mention Prince of Ice, Emma Holly
   Mistral’s Kiss, Laurell K. Hamilton  


Post on this page about the 2007 AAR Reader Awards Post about the analysis and/or the author comments on our ATBF Message Board Interim Results



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comments (48)

1. Laurie Gold left… Monday, 26 February 2007 3:02 pm

This is a sample comment…you are not required to “subscribe” with blog-city to post.

Not only does this page have direct commenting ability, you may also comment on our ATBF Message Board. The poll results page provides a different kind of information about the results than the column, which features analysis and author comments. The hope is…two different venues…two different discussions. But I don’t want anyone to worry about posting in the “wrong” place; try to make the proper discernment, but don’t feel as though you’ll be chided if you don’t. TTFN, LLB
2. LeeB. left… Monday, 26 February 2007 5:57 pm

Well, I’m a bit shocked at some of the results, specifically Most Disappointing and Worst Read. To me, Julia Quinn is always readable and enjoyable.

3. C left… Monday, 26 February 2007 6:51 pm

Laurie, in your column you comment on how great an increase you have had in people voting this year in the poll and cited percentage increases over previous years but you didn’t say how *many* people voted. What was the overall number? Thanks

4. Trish left… Monday, 26 February 2007 7:35 pm

I’m not as surprised as I usually am by the results this year. I’m okay with Lord Perfect and Lover Awakened kind of dominating as I really enjoyed both books. I am surprised at how well The Devil in Winter did as it was only a B read for me, certainly not one of the best books I read this past year. I was hoping Vanquished would take the buried treasure award, but alas, it was not to be . . .

5. Amanda left… Monday, 26 February 2007 7:45 pm

I was also surprised that Julia Quinn was slammed so hard. I read several books this past year that were terrible reads–sure you might have been disappointed by OTWTTW, but it was hardly the worst thing that got published this past year. I suspect she was scapegoated because so few people were willing to vote in the worst read category it.

I also have to say I was surprised that Lover Awakened did as well as it did. It was a B read for me. A fun read but not the best thing I read all year.
6. LLB left… Monday, 26 February 2007 8:06 pm

We’ve never given out the number of people who voted…just the percentage increase over the previous year. For several years, though, we DID indicate the total number of votes counted. For the poll of 2002 releases, for instance, we counted 3,500 votes, and for the poll of 2003 releases, we counted nearly 4,000 votes. That means of all the ballots received for the poll three years ago, we were able to count almost 4,000 “votes” in the various categories.

We stopped reporting on that when Shelley Dodge ended her stint as AAR’s pollster and I began to tabulate ballots. I WILL say that this year we counted almost 7,500 votes. TTFN, LLB
7. LLB left… Monday, 26 February 2007 9:28 pm

I too was surprised at the vehemence against Julia Quinn. I wonder if some of it might be a backlash against “Avonization”, because that is almost always associated w/her.

8. Rosario left… Monday, 26 February 2007 9:53 pm :: http://rosario.blogspot.com

Oh, what fun! Thanks AAR for running this poll, I always love voting and finding out the results. I still have to digest them, but here are my first reactions:

I voted for the winners in only 5 categories: Fave Funny, Most Tortured Hero, Debut Author, Cabin or Road Romance and Medieval or Renaissance. The rest I missed, including one category in which I voted for Lover Awakened and it didn’t win *g* For most of the categories, I more or less agreed with the results. Maybe the winner wasn’t the one I voted for, but they had usually at least been in the running (if I’d read the book, that is, and I’m very proud of myself that I’ve read most of the books mentioned). Of course, there were a few categories in which I disagree, with varying degrees of vehemence: – Strongest romance heroine: Bella? One thing I wouldn’t call Ward’s heroines is particularly strong. – Best hero and Best heroine: Sebastian and Evie, both from Devil in Winter. I liked the book, but like Trish above, it was a B read, no more, and though I liked the characters well enough, I just don’t think they were *that* good. – Best European Historical: What I just said. No way DIW was better than Lord Perfect. Or The Rules of Seduction. Or Two Little Lies, for that matter. I had a million other candidates there that I liked more. – Villain. The winners actually tend to bore me. In LA, especially, I kept wishing for the action to move back to Bella and Zsadist. Finally, on the Quinn book being voted as “worst”: what they said above. I haven’t read it yet, but when I do, I’ll be very surprised if it’s bad enough to be considered the worst book published in 2006. LLB, you might well be right with your “Avonization” theory. PS – Er, I can’t help but see there aren’t that many comments yet, and I wonder if that might not be because this comments format doesn’t really lend itself very well to discussion? Not as well as the message board, in any case, and I think the juiciest discussion would be the one based on the results.
9. Laurie Gold left… Monday, 26 February 2007 10:17 pm

Rosario –

I think discussion is going to happen in both formats…at least, I hope so. ;) I think it’s telling that you “only” voted for five of the winners. I think that’s a lot, myself. I figure if I match more than a couple of times, I’m in good shape. Had I allowed straight-ticket voting, you’d have been scratching your head at a lot more of the results than simply the strongest heroine. The showing of Devil in Winter surprised me somewhat, but not as much as you. It was a B+ read for me, and since I didn’t have any 2006-DIK’s for the year, it earned my vote as Best Eur Hist. Rules of Seduction and Two Little Lies tied for eighth place in the Eur Hist category. For every ten votes earned by Devil in Winter, they only earned two apiece. I’m glad you think my “Avonization” theory may prove correct…it just came to me when I was answering the earlier post. It makes a lot of sense. TTFN, LLB
10. Laurie Gold left… Monday, 26 February 2007 10:30 pm

I think that Vanquish did rather well given that it was published outside the mainstream. It came in fourth place in the buried treasure category.

11. Rosario left… Monday, 26 February 2007 10:58 pm :: http://rosario.blogspot.com

I hope so, too!

And heh, if you’d allowed straight-ticket voting, would Lover Awaken have won Best European Historical? ;-)
12. Trish left… Monday, 26 February 2007 11:22 pm

I’m glad to hear that Vanquished did so well in the buried treasure category. Fourth ain’t so bad! But I had even higher hopes for this book and it was my choice for best Eur historical – for me it was that good.

As for Julia Quinn, I must admit I have yet to even read OTWTTW because the buzz has been so negative. But I have my doubts that it could possibly be the worst book of the year. She’s too good of a writer for that. I really have to think that readers confuse “disappointed” with “worst”. That they vote a book “worst” mainly because they are disappointed in a perhaps long awaited or last in a series book that did not live up to expectations. Not because that book was not badly written or poorly potted or lacking in character development. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!
13. fiona left… Monday, 26 February 2007 11:35 pm

I voted for the first time this year and was pleased to see some of my favourites achieving “Best in..” and “Hon Mentions”. I liked the darker and more edgy characters and storylines. Lover Awakened, Devil in Winter and Simply Love are DIKs for me.

However, I’m puzzled to see Cold As Ice win best suspense because I found it a very disappointing read. Despite featuring an interesting hero, I found the story unconvincing and “cartoony”. As far as Julia Quinn’s “disappointing” award, I can see why she got it (although I didn’t nominate her in this category. Her book wasn’t bad, it was just bland and easily forgotten. I felt that the Bridgerton series had run out of steam and that she had repeated some ideas from earlier. Perhaps she needs to explore slightly darker themes (When He Was Wicked did this) if she is to regain her form.
14. seton left… Monday, 26 February 2007 11:47 pm :: http://lindaseton.wordpress.com/

Can we change “Best Romance” back to “Favorite Romance”? Lover Awakened was an okay read but it doesnt exactly wow with its prose.

I am not surprised OTWTTW was voted “Most Disappointing” since that deals with expectations and most readers would expect the last book to a popular series like the Bridgertons to be great. “Worst Book”, on the other hand, was kinda harsh. I have read every interim book that was on the final list in this category and every other book was easily worse than OTWTTW.
15. Amanda left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 12:49 am

There could be some truth in the theory that Julia Quinn is being blamed for “Avonization” but I think that blame would be better placed on Stephanie Laurens. Not to be nasty, but Quinn’s heroes are at least distinguishable from one another.

As far as track records go I voted for seven of the winners, though not necessarily in the categories they won for. I suppose that’s not bad. I did hope Vanquished would win, but fourth in Buried Treasure is respectable. I was also disappointed that Julie Anne Long’s Beauty and the Spy didn’t place, though it did get an hon mention. It was one of my top ten of last year.
16. CindyS left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 1:37 am :: http://www.cindyl.blogspot.com/

Six of my choices won in their categories but I figured those would ;) Lover Awakened for Best Romance/Tortured Hero, Devil In Winter for Best Hero/Best Historical Romance and Cold As Ice for Best Romantic Suspense.

I don’t get the love for Kleypas’ other book Lord Perfect but then I don’t like kids in my books so that is just one of the reasons I loved DIW more than LP. In the case of LP I also had a hard time with the H/H falling in love and having sex while their kids are missing – hard for me to suspend my disbelief – so maybe this is why others didn’t like it as much either. Gah, then there was the convenient ending with the treasure – yeah, I had a few issues with LP but I’m different that way ;) I graded it a B-. As for Strongest heroine – Genevieve from Cold As Ice would destroy Bella with a look ;) The thing about Ward’s books is that the story is about the hero more than about the heroine so even though I’m loving the romance, the book is much more than that and in the end the heroine tends to get lost. I’m surprised by the votes for Julia Quinn but it could also be that readers are saying they are tired of the series – end it already. I’m also surprised by Best Contemporary – I guess I don’t really see Howard’s Blair series as romantic. Linda Howard was the author I gave up on this year. I’m looking forward to trying some of the books that showed up in some of the categories. My ballot had a few more paranormal romances on it than I realized! CindyS
17. Jennifer Spiller left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 2:00 am

On the whole Julia Quinn Thing… She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I reread the Bridgerton books repeatedly. That said, I hated On The Way to The Wedding. Was it the worst book of 2006? I doubt it, but because my expectations for her are so high it was definitely my most disappointing read in a long, long time. I doubt I would read anything that might truly be considered the “Worst” because I thoroughly screen the books I’m willing to buy, and there is almost no chance of my finding a romance in my (terrible) local library. I could do interlibrary loan, but that is a lot of effort for something I was so unsure of I didn’t want to spend the money on in the first place. Maybe there should be a distinction between “The” worst and “Worst book I read.”

18. Samantha left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 2:34 am

I’ve been reading Laurie’s various pages for what seems like forever (1997 or even 6, if I recall correctly) and this is the first time I’ve ever voted. I’ve often not read enough romances published in the voting year to feel like I have enough knowledge to have an opinion. This year I felt that I had. Despite that I think I only had 8 different books on my entire voting list. I got some of my votes in line with what other people felt and some were out in left field I guess but I don’t feel like those votes were wrong, just different. If we all agreed it would be very boring and the publishing world would become disturbingly homogenious because only one kind of story would sell. I’ve put several of these books on my to be purchased list and a few more on my library request list. But I have a confession: I tried so hard to read Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible. I couldn’t get into it. I’m going to give Lord Perfect a shot but I don’t look at the results from last year and think “oh.. they got it so wrong” or “silly fan girls” I just think “oh, maybe I need to try again” or “different strokes for different folks.” I couldn’t vote for worst so I voted for most disappointing and that book didn’t show up on the list. Choosing a worst is hard. Why is it the worst? Does it have one of your personal pet peeves? Is it poorly written? Is the plot ill conceived? Do you dislike the author? Did you feel the need to rip it up and use it as lining for the bottom of your bird cage? When I used to read exclusively historicals, and then when I used to read mainly modern suspense I wonder if my reaction to a paranormal winning would have been eye rolling. It’s hard to say. I hope not.

19. Malvina left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 5:10 am

I was amazed to discover I’d picked 5 winners, and two of my other choices had Honorable Mentions. Yay! From reading the winners, I really really *really* need to go and read Loretta Chase! :) Congratulations to the winners.

20. Gemini left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 5:14 am

As a very sparing reader of paranormal, I might be surprised by the many categories J R Ward won, but not having read the book, I really can’t. But, with such an overwhelming response to it, it looks like I will be looking for it to check it out.

Of the rest, I had 7 wins match my picks, and about that many honorable mentions, so I can’t be surprised by or disappointed by the results since it reflects my assessment in many categories. DIW wins surprised me a little. Have been reading (and enjoying) Lisa Kleypas for almost 20 years, but DIW was really a B+ read for me, too, although it knocked the socks off SIS. And, regarding JQ, doubtless Avonization plays into it. You can read Julia Quinn now every time you pick up an Avon release, even if you would rather not. But, Quinn has always been a very hit and miss author for me (about 1 1/2 misses for every hit). I did not vote for OTWTTW for most disappointing, because, well, my expectations were not that high based on the above. And, as for worst read, I do believe that the category really means just that and not “worst published in 2006”. I am reasonably sure that no one would by any stretch imply that OTWTTW was the worst book available—that is absurd. Since I limited my reading of 2006 releases to about 10 authors who I have found generally pleased in the past, I wasn’t reading debut authors and picking books based on the synopsis, and I was looking more at reviews here and at other sites I’ve come to trust. By doing this, I generally had a very good reading year. OTWTTW was purchased in spite of the lackluster reviews, simply because I wanted to finish the series regardless. So, OTWTTW did end up being my worst read of 2006, just because it suffered immensely by comparison with several stellar ones and for no other reason.
21. LLB left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 3:16 pm

Cindy –

Just wanted to correct you…Kleypas did not write Lord Perfect. That was Loretta Chase. Gemini – The only of Ward’s books I’ve read is her upcoming one, which I read as an arc a while back. But to understand the whole thing, here’s a little story: I was visiting a friend at the hospital during the fall and saw two women reading Ward’s books. I talked to them. Neither were romance readers…but they loved these books. Which is why in the column I said the Ward juggernaut reminded me of the year Brockmann broke through. It’s gone beyond romance. And, btw, while I didn’t LOVE the upcoming book, I can see why the series is addictive. TTFN, LLB
22. Sheila left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 3:18 pm

Lover Awakened Best paranormal YES..Best romance NO way!

23. Laurie Gold left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 3:43 pm

Now, Sheila…apparently it was the best romance of those who voted. ;)

I can see that one Sheila did vote in the poll, and her best romance was Lord Perfect. Was that you? I mentioned on aarfamily’s private email loop that many Lord Perfect fans weighed in pretty late, and they failed to materialize, the results would have been pretty different (which you can tell in that LP won in three categories and earned four honorable mentions). Had they, in fact, not shown up in earnest in the nth hour, Lover Awakened would have won best romance as a stand-alone win. TTFN, LLB
24. Aoife left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 4:43 pm

When I saw the results, I was surprised at first at how many of my picks were either winners or honorable mentions, but then I realized that so much of my romance reading now is chosen based on the reviews and reader recommendations at AAR, that I shouldn’t be surprised. This is my first year voting, and it was a real chore, let me tell you. I don’t keep records of what I have read, and I don’t finish any book that is a C- or less, so recalling what I had read and loved from 2006 took me a while, and even then I wasn’t able to vote in every category. The memory, the memory… I have started to keep records of my reading this year so I never have to go through *that* again. Thanks, Rosario, for sharing your spreadsheet! My biggest surprise from the winners was Brockway’s Hot Dish, a book that I had a hard time finishing, much as I usually love her voice.

25. Gemini left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 4:50 pm

To Laurie:

It would be interesting to know what the two women read besides this series, if not romance, in order to better understand what the appeal is to readers outside the romance genre, don’t you think? I’m not sure why I am so blase about paranormal. From age 10 to about 15, I just loved, loved, loved fantasy, ghost stories, reincarnation stories, and I do still love Gabaldon’s Outlander series. But, I’ve tried repeatedly to “get into” some of the paranormals available, like Moning, Rice, Joy and several others, and I just can’t seem to do it. Some of them I’ve enjoyed marginally, others not at all. I did read Medeiros’ last two releases which were vampire and found that I was more receptive to them than I expected, which was a surprise. Maybe reading so much paranormal so early in life simply burned me out on it. But, maybe if Ward’s books seem to break out of the mold, I will have better luck, who knows? And, these sound like they might be good ones to share with my youngest sister, who also really does not like romance much, but seems willing to try it when I recommend something that seems to appeal more universally. So far, due to my diligence, I’m slowly converting her by feeding her small doses of the better ones I find :~).
26. LeslieQ left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 4:52 pm

Sheila, I am a _huge, huge_ fan of JR Ward’s series, but I must agree – though is was the Best Paranormal I read (and the best in many other categories for me), it really wasn’t the Best Romance for me either.

27. Laurie Gold left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 5:43 pm

To spread things out even more than they already are, I just posted extended results on the ATBF MB in a series of four posts. The thread is called “some additional information”, and you all may find it interesting.

28. Kristie(J) left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 5:44 pm

I haven’t read the JR Ward book (although I have it tbr – but I’m not in any hurry to read it – despite the many wins it got) but I knew from the buzz in the online community it was going to be a big winner this year. As a romance reader for many years now, I’m getting pretty tired of European historicals although there is still the exception such as Hoyt’s The Raven Prince, so they didn’t get many of my votes either. There were a couple of books though that blew me away. Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee was a book that originally came out in E form. I read it and loved it – so much so that I also bought it in print form so I could have a copy to actually hold. It figured heavily into my votes. I don’t have my ballot in front of my but I did vote for it for best hanky, most tortured hero and a few others. The other one that got more than one vote from me was A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade. It got best Western/Frontier, Strongest heroine, and Road or Cabin Romance.

29. Janet left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 6:30 pm

The results are interesting but I think that many authors who have their books published in hardback lose out. I can never vote for those books I enjoy eg Breath of Snow and Ashes because I am a year behind as I can only afford to buy paperbacks, so I don’t bother to vote. I will check out J R Ward though.

30. Laurie Gold left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 7:15 pm

Janet –

Many a hardcover book has done extremely well in our poll. Lots of readers check hardcovers out at the library…have you considered doing that yourself? Gemini – The point I was trying to make about those two women is that, regardless of what else they read, Ward has attracted mainstream readers as well as romance readers. Does that make senses? TTFN, LLB
31. Trish left… Tuesday, 27 February 2007 11:26 pm

I’m going to horn in on the JRWard discussion. I resisted these books for a while because I don’t read all that many paranormals to begin with. I also assumed from what I had heard that they would not appeal to me. The sort of goth/rap/tattooed urban world she created shouldn’t have interested me. But somehow it did. At first, reading Dark Lover, I wasn’t impressed. But about halfway through the book I was sucked in and read Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened immediately after.

I think these books are beyond the central romances in each story. It’s also about the bond these men have with one another. The way they interact, support, fight and, yes, love each other is kind of fascinating to me. She’s also created some really interesting characters. I still can’t figure out what is up with Rhevenge and all his physical (and mental) issues but I’m sure his book is coming. Vishous with his visions is intriguing. And of course all of us hooked suckers are wondering if Butch is something more than merely human. If you really want to get freaked surf the message boards at her website! This series is almost an event that people want to experience. Her fans call themselves Cellies and bring to mind Trekies! The best description of this series that I’ve seen is from a Publisher’s Weekly review of Lover Revealed that said the series was “frightening addicitive”. That about says it for me!
32. JennR left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 12:21 am

Okay, while JR Ward is definitely NOT my cup of tea, I understand that she would win for best Paranormal. But best overall novel? Personally, a series that denegrates women and treats them as little better than chattel loses a few points for me. I’m just picky that way. And the idea of Belle as strongest heroine?! Maybe she beats out a Barbie doll, but I’m not sure, at least Barbie hasn’t subjected herself to a life of cloisture!

I actually spent time thoughtfully going through the list of books that were polling the best and compared things like writing styles, language and originality. Silly me.
33. sula left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 12:37 am

Hmm, I don’t remember Bella subjecting herself to a life of cloister. In fact, if I recall correctly, she chose to break out and live independently of her family. She survived weeks of mental and physical torture. And after all of that, she had enough strength to rehabilitate a broken soul like Zsadist. While I didn’t vote for her myself, I wouldn’t denigrate another reader’s choice of her for a strong heroine.

I would consider myself something of a “combo” reader, going by the definition LLB mentioned in the column. I generally read historicals, often regencies, and I don’t often spring for a paranormal (excepting Outlander but I don’t think that really counts because it deserves its own category). That said, I was completely drawn into the world that JR Ward has created and will be buying the next in the series as soon as I can get my hands on it. For some reason, her world-building really works for me. It has enough reality mixed with fantasy to come off as believable. Like Trish said, the stories are definitely about more than the h/h, the interaction between the brotherhood is really what makes it come alive, imo. Actually, although I’ve mentioned this on the RTR board, I voted for Lover Eternal over Lover Awakened in many of the categories. Of the three books so far, I’ve liked Rhage’s story the best. Zsadist is without question the most tortured hero, but other than that I don’t think I actually voted for LA in another category. Like her or not, I don’t think that one can be surprised that Ward’s books did well in the poll. For those that DO read and enjoy her writing, it seems that she makes a strong and lasting impression. When you read a book that makes you go wow and then you find yourself thinking about those characters long after you put the book down…it’s not surprising that you might just vote for that book as the best you’ve read that year. But what do I know…I’m just a reader who votes for what she enjoys reading. In other categories, I was very happy to see Elizabeth Hoyt recognized. The Raven Prince was a refreshing read and I am looking forward to reading more of her work. I don’t remember voting for Lord Perfect although I think that had more to do with an error in my spreadsheet (forgetting that I had read it). I remember enjoying it although I didn’t much like the heroine, so maybe I wouldn’t have voted for it after all. I read it in a Loretta Chase glom right after Lord of Scoundrels and imo there is really no comparison between them. LOS beats LP in all ways. Overall, I think the results from the categories I voted in match my own votes pretty well. Even if I didn’t vote for the winner, it would have been a runner-up in my own personal list.
34. Laurie Gold left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 1:25 am

JennR –

I wish your post hadn’t come across as so very condescending to those readers who love the Ward series. As I wrote in my ATBF column at the end of January (Issue #253), there are an almost infinite number of reasons people use in filling out their ballots, and their choices are as valid to them as yours are to you. I’m sure many of them believe Ward’s books are extremely original, and find her writing style lively. It’s okay that you may not, but your comments could easily lead others to believe that not only did you disagree with their choices, but that theirs were not as good as yours. TTFN, LLB
35. JennR left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 2:29 am


I believe that you could say the same thing about any “F” review. Some people like “F” novels, that doesn’t make them right or the novel good. I shouldn’t have added the last line, which I admit, was condescending. I was just blown away by Belle’s pick as ‘strongest heroine.’ I just find this definition for her to be completely ridiculous. It smacks of fan girls run amok. ‘Favorite Heroine’ is ok. I disagree, but it’s ok. Strongest is just completely out of left field. These JR Ward books really appall me and the fact that they are so popular gives me pause about being a romance reader in general. However, I am a romance novel reader. And I defend the genre all of the time to my ‘more sophisticated’ friends. (Namely, ALL of them.) However, I am also a woman who works in a male dominated field and I have been affected by blatant chauvinism aimed at my firm, my boss and myself. To see blatant male chauvinism celebrated in such a manner really concerns me. And the appeal of such a way of living frightens me. By Cloisture, I meant the house that all of those guys and their wives inhabit where the women…do what exactly? Exist apparantly in a vacuum. The stories are ‘entertaining’ so that shouldn’t matter, it is overlooked and conveniently ignored. This isn’t the first time I have posted my thoughts and comments about this series. I went out and bought it because it was so highly recommended here and was just flabergasted that a woman would create such a world that is so incredibly demeaning to women, giving them few rights and no respect. They are mere vessels to their men, who may have multiple partners if it suits, and an entire race of women seemingly exist to be ‘used’ by these warriors. These women are DISAPPOINTED that they haven’t been called into service. Yuck. Yuck. And more yuck. Laurie, while this is the first time I have been so vehement about a particular novel or series, I have posted on AAR off and on for years about the way women are depicted in romance novels. Particularly women who are NOT the heroine. It is the treatment of these women that oftentimes infuriates me, because it is a cop out to demean other women in order for our heroine to be somehow ‘better’ or ‘special.’ I admit that I could have been a bit more temporate in my remarks, but I do feel passionately about these novels.
36. Laurie Gold left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 3:19 am

JennR –

The only J.R. Ward book I’ve read is the one that comes out next month, but I can’t accept your conclusion that the fangirls stole the strongest heroine category. If you will recall, I indicated that I went through each ballot pain-stakingly, item by item, and just for the hell of it, looked at the ballots just now that featured votes Lover Awakened as Strongest Heroine. These were not straight-ticket ballots. Each ballot that I counted featured votes for at least four different authors in the positive categories (I discounted, for this post’s purposes, votes for Lover Eternal to further discount any Ward “fangirl”ism), and most featured far more, with votes for up to ten authors. Even more telling is that fewer than 10% of these same ballots featured votes for Ward across the board in all four positive lead character categories. While you didn’t find the heroine to be strong, apparently others did…in some way. I can see why it might be difficult for you to accept, but you’ve also got to realize that what we read and discover in our fantasy lives doesn’t always match up with how we live our real lives. TTFN, LLB
37. JennR left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 3:24 am


I appreciate your due diligence, and I definitely accept the outcome as legitimate. It just stuns me for this particular category.
38. Trish left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 3:29 am

At the risk of turning this board into a JRW brawl, I just wanted to say a few things. LLB if you want to cut this off now, feel free to delete my post.

While I do concede some points JennR made (though I really didn’t care for her tone), I also disagree that these women are demeaned, devalued or disrespected. I’ve commented before that in many ways this series is very retro. Very old fashioned ideas of the roles of men and women. If anything, the women in these books are put on pedestals, cherished, protected by their men. I agree that they are, to a degree “cloistered” in that they live dorm-style and do not have careers or outside interests that we know of (at least this seems to be true of Beth, Mary and Bella). But Wellsie, who lived outside the compound seemed to live a full life apart from her mate. I’d love to see the other mates branch out, and perhaps they will, but you also need to understand that they now will live the life of their mates (if they want happy unions), meaning that their day is now the night. Not a lot of career opportunities for the overnight. It’s a challenge that, hopefully, JRW can work out. They also have been in danger, so that’s another reason for the cloistering. As for the women who “are DISAPPOINTED that they haven’t been called into service”, those were not regular females, but sort of priestesses of their (FEMALE I might add) deity and part of their job is to provide sustenance to unmated warriors. So far they have happened to be female because up to now, all of the warriors are male. Perhaps when the female warrior comes along (and she will be I understand), there’ll be a male priest to service her. Frankly, on a certain level it’s the men who are weak in this series. They’re all broken in one way or another. Wrath is blind. Phury’s a junkie for all intents and purposes. For heaven’s sake Z was kept as a slave and used by a WOMAN for centuries. He was terrified of Bella at the beginning. I thought Bella was a perfectly fine heroine and strong for many of the reasons that sula put forth. As for the males being chauvinists, again I have to disagree. Chauvinsim is the “prejudiced belief in the superiority of one’s own group”. I have never gotten the impression that these men think they are superior to their women (except perhaps physically which in most cases is true). They do not think their women are stupid or useless or inherently inferior just because they are female. I don’t work in a male dominated field, so perhaps I don’t experience the things JennR does. I also do not take these books as anything other than fantasy and entertainment. It does not cause me to value myself or my gender any less. Would I want to live like these women? No, not everyday, but it might be nice to be protected, provided for, cherished and put on a pedestal for a little while. That’s a part of the fantasy these books provide. Perhaps it’s not for you, but many readers fantasize about things they might never want in real life and not just romance readers.
39. JennR left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 5:08 am

I don’t want to hijack this board either for all of the authors who want to come and bask in their win. I will respond privately to any additional comments.

40. Janet left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 5:43 pm

Laurie Thanks for suggestion about the library. Although I have previously used my local library I have found that they have a limited romance section. I was however inspired to go and check it out again. With the wonders of modern electronics I was able to register and can now check book availability and reserve books from all local libraries from my own home. I was impressed to find that they now stock some of my favourite authors including the most recent J D Robb/Nora Roberts and Linda Howard books. They have however barely discovered Mary Balogh or Suzanne Brockmann and they have certainly never heard of J R Ward. However this is England and many romances are imports. Now a UK company called Piatkus is taking on more romance authors this may improve. Here’s to next year’s vote.

41. LLB left… Wednesday, 28 February 2007 10:13 pm

Ward’s new book is not yet out, and it’s the only boko by her I’ve read. I mention it because the heroine, Marissa, is one of those women totally sheltered her whole life, but she finds incredibly strength when forced out of her comfort zone…not that she was ever comfortable while cloistered.

I’m very intrigued by the idea that it is the “men” who are damaged. Certainly the hero of the upcoming book, Butch, is damaged in the extreme, and in that the two as a couple are well-suited. Marissa may seem the fragile flower, but she’s like the Southern magnolia, with a steel spine. TTFN, LLB
42. Trish left… Thursday, 1 March 2007 1:01 am

I think the fact that these males need their respective females to be whole and complete is the ongoing theme. From what I recall none of the heroines particularly needed the male in her life until he is sort of thrust into her’s. Sure, they had issues, but they were dealing with them on their own until the heroes came along. These guys may be physically tough and imposing, but they are not particularly strong emotionally or spiritually. They deal with their problems largely by self-medicating with booze and drugs. Bottom line, they’re not happy until they meet their mates. Would I like to see the women with a little more umph, sure, but I don’t think they are all that lacking to begin with. Strength and substance come in many forms and may not always be obvious.

What’s interesting to me is the sort of historical romance aspect JRW has included. The class structure and society is reminiscent of, say, a Regency with an aristocrisy in the glymera which could double for the Ton. Aristrocratic females like Marissa and Bella are expected to behave certain ways and basically live like a titled young woman in the old days. In the opening chapters of LR Marissa is attending a BALL for heaven’s sake. She’s ostracized for basically being the cast-off wife of the king! Sooooo early 1800’s!
43. JennR left… Thursday, 1 March 2007 3:37 am


I do agree that this appears to model the Regency. For me, I think if these books were actually SET in the regency time period, I wouldn’t be so bothered by them. It’s the fact that they’re set in the present, yet the women are still as subjugated as ‘humans’ hundreds of years ago. That freaks me out. I’m thrilled that I get to Vote. I’m thrilled that the sexual revolution occured and women entered the work force. Women worked hard and died to earn that right for me. I can’t imagine envisioning a future or alternate world where none of that occured. Why didn’t these Vampire women burn their bras? Why did Marissa allow herself to be so demeaned for hundreds of years? I cannot see this woman as anything other than a doormat, even if she may show some gumption in the next novel. HUNDREDS of YEARS passed with her being a doormat. She’s never been laid! Geez louise. That’s just sad. (And again, it speaks to my least favorite thing about the romance novel genre, which has been improving in the past 5-years or so, and that’s the virgin/whore thing.)
44. Aoife left… Thursday, 1 March 2007 11:06 am

For Jenn R

I think the key here is that you view the Ward books as being set in the present, and to me, they are clearly set in a world that has no real relationship to the true here and now. They have no more contact with reality than the Sookie Stackhouse books, and I have been able to enjoy them as pure fantasy. Obviously, some of the world building didn’t work for you, and frankly, I was amazed that any of it worked for me, since I usually avoid vampire paranormals like the plague. What I find interesting about the Ward books is that in spite of their quirks (the names, the faux urban language, the archaic view of women and servants) so many people have enjoyed them. Ward has obviously tapped in some pretty powerful fantasies. I have had Lover Revealed sitting on my kitchen counter for the last few days, and am almost afraid to start it.
45. Trish left… Thursday, 1 March 2007 5:12 pm

Aoife, I couldn’t agree more. Just like with historicals or even stories set amongst other cultures today, it’s important not to impose or project one’s own ideals/values onto another time or place. Why do millions of women in today’s world still allow themselves to be subjugated by men? Perhaps not so much in Western cultures, but there are MILLIONS of women who are covering their bodies head to toe, not allowed to work outside the home or even drive living in our world right now. Heck, even in the US the polygamy sects exploit women and girls every day. Why do they not “burn their bras”? Their culture or faith may not make sense to us, but nor does ours to them. To them, Western women have allowed themselves to be demeaned and devalued and on a certain level they may be right. One look at Paris, Britney and Lindsey and one could very well wonder.

Like Aoife, I’m a bit amazed that I’m enjoying these books, as the world she has built and the culture she has created really should not appeal to me either. But somehow I’ve become invested, interested and I want to see what happens next.
46. LinnieGayl left… Thursday, 1 March 2007 10:41 pm

I personally loved Lord Perfect, and voted for it in a number of categories. However, I was really surprised that it won in the Favorite Funny category….that just never occured to me. It’s been months since I read the book, so obviously I’ve managed to forget the humor in the book.

47. Kass left… Friday, 2 March 2007 4:43 pm

I disagree with those who don’t think On the Way to the Wedding was the worst of 2006. I love Julia Quinn’s work, I really do. But On the Way to the Wedding was truly dreadful. To put it bluntly, if a hero seduced the heroine the night before he got married, then married someone else, he’d be a cad. I don’t see how it’s different when the heroine does the same thing. It was anti-romantic.

The secondary romance was better than the primary romance. I’d rather have read about Richard and Hermione than Gregory and Lucy, because what Hyacinth said about her (ironically) is true. Lucy is weak and doesn’t deserve Gregory. In order to have a believable romance, one must believe the hero and heroine belong together. In this one, Julia Quinn completely fails. It’s not because “people got tired of the Bridgertons.” It’s not “Avonization,” whatever that is. I’d love to read fifty more Bridgerton books like every other one in the series OTHER than this one. But this one fails as a romance! I think it deserved an F on here, and it got an F from me as well. It wasn’t a romance, and all I was thinking at the end of the book is “okay, so the next time she has problems, Lucy will cheat on Gregory. Nice.” I have never thought this about any other Julia Quinn I have read. Dancing at Midnight was delightful. All the other Bridgerton books are wonderful. But this one was the worst of the year. It deserved its “win,” and yes, I voted for it as the worst of the year.
48. Patti left… Friday, 2 March 2007 6:20 pm

I completely disagree with the choice for worst read. I actually voted for On The Way to the Wedding for most disappointing read. I think people have such high expectations for Julia Quinn that they were dissapointed that this didn’t live up to her other books. The worst read is one I can’t remember or stopped reading after a few chapters.

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