February 23, 2009

13th Annual Reader Poll Results

The results in our 13th Annual Reader Poll are in!

First and foremost, we would like to thank all the AAR readers who participated in this year’s poll. We know filling out the ballot can be time consuming and response this year was great. We also appreciate the feedback we received on the new streamlined ballot and will certainly consider your suggestions for next year’s poll.

Seven different authors received multiple wins and Honorable Mentions this year. The authors are a mix of long-time AAR reader favorites, as well authors enjoying a first time win at AAR. A stand-alone win – with no Honorable Mention – is awarded when no other entry wins at least 80 % of the votes in the category.

Without a doubt, 2008 was the year of the historical romance for AAR readers. Historical romances won in virtually every category in which they were eligible. In most cases where there was a stand-alone win by an historical romance, the second, third, and often fourth place finishers were also historicals.

This year’s break out winner was The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. It was the overwhelming winner for Best Romance, earning a stand-alone win. In addition to Best romance, Ms. Bourne won Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K., Best Heroine, and Best Couple, also recieving an Honorable Mention for Best Hero. Ms. Bourne’s My Lord and Spymaster also received votes in a number of categories, so she is definitely an author enjoying a meteoric rise.

Lisa Kleypas, last year’s winner for Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction, had three wins this year. Her non-historical novel Blue-Eyed Devil won for Best Contemporary Romance, Biggest Tearjerker, and Best Hero.

Long-time favorite Loretta Chase won for Best Historical Romance Set Outside the U.K.and Best Love Scenes (in a tie) for Your Scandalous Ways.

Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Seduce a Sinner won for Best Love Scenes (in a tie). This is the third year in a row that Ms. Hoyt has won in this category (previously titled Most Luscious Love Story). Ms. Hoyt’s To Taste Temptation received an Honorable Mention in the same category.

New to the AAR Reader Poll is Sherry Thomas, who won for Best New Author. She also received an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Set in the UK for her book Private Arrangements.

Also new to the winner’s circle is Kristan Higgins, whose Just One of the Guys won for Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction, and received an Honorable Mention for Funniest Romance.

J.R. Ward’s Lover Enshrined is the winner of Best Paranormal Romance for 2008, but alas, Ms. Ward was also the top vote-getter for Author You Gave Up On and Worst Book of the year. Lover Enshrined also won for Guiltiest Pleasure Romance, a title she won for the second straight year.

Looking at the ballots reinforces just how diverse the reading interests of AAR readers are. Every one of the top books in the Best Romance category also had at least a few votes for Worst – and vice versa.

It’s also interesting to look at the patterns of voting across categories. Most readers (95%) voted in the Best Romance category and over 80% voted in the Best Romance Set in the U.K., Best Hero, Best Couple, and Best Heroine categories. Participation in some of the other categories was lower, with only about 40% of readers naming a Best Romance Short Story, a Best Series Romance, and a Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction.

While many AAR readers read romances in electronic format, it would appear that most of us read books electronically that are also available in print. Less than 10% of all ballots received included a vote for Best E-Book, so we’re unable to report any results for the category. We hesitate to retire it in the future, however, as more people seem to be buying e-devices every day.

This year, voting was open for the Annual Poll for five weeks. Based on our experience and learning, we intend to shorten the voting period next year. Because we know many of you like to do some last minute reading in preparation for the poll, we’ll be doing a heads-up about the poll in early December, including the categories that will be included. We’ll do at least one additional reminder a few weeks before voting begins.

Without further ado, and with big congratulations to the winners, you can see the results below and a complete listing of the winners here.

Multiple Award Winners

Joanna Bourne

Four wins and one HM for The Spymaster’s Lady

(AAR Grade: A)

Best Romance
Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K.
Best Heroine
Best Couple
Best Hero (HM)

“I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. When I think of people reading my Annique and Grey and liking them, it is beyond wonderful. Thank you so much.”

“Thank you so much to the readers whose kindness and support has resulted in this wonderful news! I am thrilled and also deeply touched. I can’t think of a better genre than romance to explore the issues that the characters of Haven Travis and Hardy Cates face. . . because love is the source of all healing, and the risk of love is always worth taking. And unlike the cynics, we romance readers know that happy endings are possible in real life! Again, my sincere thanks to all of you, no matter how you voted, because the enthusiasm of romance readers and authors will carry publishing through these difficult times. Love to everyone!”

Lisa Kleypas

Three wins for Blue-Eyed Devil

(AAR Grade: B+)

Best Contemporary Romance
Biggest Tearjerker
Best Hero

Loretta Chase

Two wins for Your Scandalous Ways

(AAR Grade: A)

Best Historical Romance Set Outside the U.K.
Best Love Scenes (Tie)

“My thanks to AAR readers for taking my jaded spy and unrepentant courtesan to their hearts. I can¹t remember whether it was Byron¹s Venice that originally inspired the characters or I felt that this was the only place for them, but I do know I loved telling their story in this setting. I¹m delighted that readers were not only willing to travel there with me but gave the journey top honors. As to Best Love Scenes: Love scenes are a challenge to get right, so this is an important You Got It Right from readers. Then again, Venice was and is romantic: gondolas, beautiful marble palaces, and, of course, the Campanile . . .”

(AAR Grade: A-)

Best Love Scenes (Tie)

To Taste Temptation

Elizabeth Hoyt

Two wins for two books

“I’m honored to have tied with Loretta Chase in the Best Love Scene Category. I don’t know about Loretta, but I spend many nights lying awake wondering if I’ve used the word “cock” too many times in a love scene. Again. It’s wonderful to be acknowledged.”

(AAR Grade: A-)

Best Love Scenes (HM)

Sherry Thomas

Two wins for Private Arrangements

(AAR Grade: A-)

Best New Author
Best Historical Set in the U.K. (HM)

“Thank you to all the voracious readers who love romance. I totally owe Joanna Bourne, for having published her debut book twenty years back – or I wouldn’t stand a chance this year. :-) And last, but most certainly not least, to everyone at AAR, for maintaining this great online community. I’m deeply honored and delighted.”

“Thank you so much for this wonderful honor! I’m thrilled to my toes and will walk around in a happy fog for many days to come.”

Kristan Higgins

Two wins for Just One of the Guys


(AAR Grade: A/C+)

Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction
Funniest Romance (HM)

J.R. Ward

Two wins
Two negative wins for Lover Enshrined

(AAR Grade: B-)

Best Paranormal Romance
Guiltiest Pleasure
Author You Gave Up On
Worst Romance

Julia Quinn

One win, two negative win for two books

The Lost Duke of Wyndham

(AAR Grade: A-)

Funniest Romance (HM)

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume

(AAR Grade: B-)

Worst Romance (Dis-HM)
Author You Gave Up On (Dis-HM)

Continue on to Individual Winners

Individual Award Winners

Linda Howard

Death Angel
(AAR Grade: A)

Best Romantic Suspense

“This is great! It’s especially great because Death Angel definitely walked on the dark side, and took me places I hadn’t been before. When we talked in San Francisco, I remember telling you [Sandy] that I didn’t realize until after the book was finished and turned in that I had written a book about a whore and a hitman. At the time I was writing it, I was focused on telling Drea’s story and nothing else really registered – tunnel vision at work. Afterward, I thought the book would tank. I think I was the most surprised person on the planet when it didn’t. So – my goodness, thank you, readers!”

Kresley Cole

Dark Desires after Dusk
(AAR Grade: B)

Best Paranormal Romance (HM)

“Thank you to everyone who voted for Mine to Possess! It’s a wonderful pleasure to receive a placing in such a great poll. Thank you also to everyone behind the scenes – you make AAR the wonderful place it is on the Web.”

Nalini Singh

Mine to Possess
(AAR Grade: A)

Best Paranormal Romance (HM)

Julie Anne Long

Like No Other Lover
(AAR Grade: B+)

Funniest Romance (HM)

“It’s such an honor to be recognized by a reader community as passionate about romance as AAR, and I’m delighted readers had as much fun reading Like No Other Lover as as I had writing it. My thanks to everyone who voted, and here’s a cyber-toast from me to ALL the authors who entertain us with love, laughter and emotional intensity.”

“Thanks to everyone who read and voted for Wicked Burn in the AAR poll. It’s a huge thrill for me to know that people enjoyed reading this story, which is very close to my own heart.”

Beth Kery

Wicked Burn
(AAR Grade: B-)

Best Erotica


Candice Hern

From This Moment On
(AAR Grade: A)

Best Romance Short Story

“I am thrilled that my novella did so well in this poll. Huge thanks to everyone who voted for it! The story was special to me for two reasons. First, I loved the anthology idea suggested by Mary Balogh. She was determined to prove that no two writers would ever truly write the same story, even when using the same plot premise. So, four of us wrote our stories based on the same basic plot. I believe Mary proved her point: each story was very different. Many thanks, also, to the other four superstar authors who allowed me to participate in an anthology with them (Mary Balogh, Stephanie Laurens, and Jacquie D’Alessandro). And thanks, again, to all the voters. I am honored and humbled by your support.”

“Wow, thanks so much. It is such a nice surprise to receive an award from AAR, especially one voted on by readers. It’s always wonderful to receive recognition from the people who read my books and like them enough to take the time out of their lives to vote. Knowing that I’ve made people laugh, or maybe just smile a bit, is important to me. It means I’ve done my job. Thanks to AAR and to all the readers who made the effort to vote for Not Another Bad Date. You are awesome.”


Rachel Gibson

Not Another Bad Date
(AAR Grade: B)

Funniest Romance


Judith James

Broken Wing
(AAR Grade: A)

Biggest Tearjerker (HM)

“Thanks to AAR and its readers for selecting A Most Unconventional Match as Favorite Series Romance for 2008! To be singled out from among the hundreds of great books published each year is an enormous honor. Hal Waterman has been a favorite of mine since he debuted in my very first novel, so I couldn’t be happier that this accolade was given for his book. Thanks again!”


Julia Justiss

A Most Unconventional Match
(AAR Grade: A-)

Best Series Romance

“I’m thrilled and delighted by the news of Queen of Babble‘s Honorable Mention! Thanks so much to everyone who supported Lizzie – AAR would be one of her favorite sites if she were a real person!”


Meg Cabot

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched
(AAR Grade: B)

Best Chick Lit (HM)


Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me?
(AAR Grade: B)

Best Chick Lit (HM)

“Thanks to my wonderful readers who love Nick and Charity as much as I do.”


Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Secrets
(AAR Grade: B)

Best Erotica (HM)


Mary Balogh

(AAR Grade: B+)

Best Romance Short Story (HM)

“How lovely to know that readers have enjoyed a story so much that they are willing to vote for it in a readers’ poll. Thank you to all who voted for Spellbound.”