The 2016 RITA winners are:

Best First Book

Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

(From School Library Journal)

Dunn’s brisk-paced debut dystopian novel begins with Callie and her friends anxiously awaiting their 17th birthday, on which they will receive a memory from the future. This important vision will affect their lives, their careers, and all aspects of their destiny. Callie’s day finally arrives, and she finds out that her future self will one day stab her clairvoyant little sister. Horrified at seeing herself kill the person she’s closest to, Callie turns to Logan, a friend from long ago, who helps her escape. Trying to avoid a future in which she’s imprisoned for her whole life by a government organization, Callie follows Logan to a community in the woods where others like her live to keep their tragic visions from happening. Feelings between the two spark. Callie must decide if she is in charge of her fate or if her fate is in charge of her. The premise is a good one, and those who enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium” trilogy (HarperCollins) will be fans of this tale. Dunn includes likable characters, the obligatory evil leaders, and an oppressive government. There is a twist ending that will catch most readers off-guard, which will thrill some and frustrate others.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $5.99

Contemporary Romance: Long

Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates

(from Amazon)

There are lines best friends shouldn’t cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much…

If practice makes perfect, Connor Garrett should be world champion of being alone. Since losing his wife he’s concentrated exclusively on his family’s ranch. Until Felicity Foster needs a place to stay and Connor invites her to move in temporarily. That’s what friends do. What friends don’t do? Start fantasizing about each other in their underwear. Or out of it…

Since high school, Liss has kept her raging crush in check. But helping Connor rebuild his life only reinforces how much she longs to be a part of it. One explosive encounter, and she’ll discover that getting what you always wanted can feel better than you ever dreamed…

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $6.99

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

(from the AAR review)

At the beginning of the book the two men are due to meet for a game, and so we learn a little of the background to their friendship. Whilst they were children, they used to meet every summer at a hockey camp called Elites, where they were roommates and became best friends. During their last summer at the camp as young teens, a bet between them ended up with a sexual act, which cause a separation between them. Wes knew he was gay and adored his best friend – who as far as he knew was straight. We learn that he felt he had coerced Jamie in some way and the shame of this made him cut all contact for years.

As a plot device to separate the two main protagonists, this is a good one. I doubt they were the first, or last, friends to experiment with each other sexually, and handling the situation badly goes along with the territory of being a young teen. When they meet up again as adults, the sexual tension between them is very well written and quite erotic. Jamie has a girlfriend, Holly, who is also well written as a character and thankfully, the author avoids the awful bitter female trope, when it is revealed that Jamie is Bi. There are relationship and career conflicts to endure and resolve for Wes and Jamie, and the path through these is an enjoyable romantic read with excellent secondary characters. I particularly liked Jamie’s family as an exaggerated juxtaposition to Wes’ which works well.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $4.99

Contemporary Romance: Short

The Nanny Plan by Sarah M. Anderson

(from Amazon)

Being a father to his orphaned infant niece is out of this tech billionaire’s comfort zone. Lucky for Nate Longmire, Trish Hunter is a natural at motherhood, and she’s agreed to be his temporary nanny. But long glances, slow kisses and not-so-innocent touches are strictly off-limits…Trish’s goal is to help Nate in exchange for a big donation to her charity for Lakota kids. Falling for her bachelor boss—and his adorable baby girl—is not part of the plan. But when the month is up, will she be able to walk away?

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $3.99

Erotic Romance

For Real by Alexis Hall

(from the DIK AAR Review)

Alexis Hall uses the disparities between the main characters to illustrate how we judge others based on preconceived notions about the world, and those who inhabit it – blind to the harm we cause.

D/s (Dominance and submission) is at the heart of this novel, and although Laurie is a sexual submissive, the most erotic, loving and important aspect is that he chooses to whom he gives his submission. He chooses to give Toby his submission and love. Laurie gives Toby what they both desire, and it is so pleasing to see Toby embrace his dominance. This is true love – with or without the BDSM element – to give your partner the things they need to soar, is one of the most beautiful aspects of love and life.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $6.99

Historical Romance: Long

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

(from the AAR Review)

Flossie Jayne is an aspiring painter who finds herself in need of money to pay for art school. She does the unthinkable for a middle class girl of her time and accepts a job! She works as a Tiffany Girl, one of the artists who contributed to the mosaic chapel made entirely of stained glass which Louis Tiffany unveiled at the 1893 World Fair. Flossie has loads of adventures as she moves into a boarding house, meets some fascinating characters, and falls in love.

What makes the book controversial is that Flossie’s love interest, Reeve Wilder, expresses sexual interest in her. Not overtly but there is a scene where the two are kissing and he would very much like to take it to the next level. Since he is a fellow boarder at the rooming house she is in, the two happen to be standing in his bedroom while these passionate kisses are exchanged. Reeve pushes Flossie out the door before anything untoward can happen but alas! the damage has been done in some readers’ minds. Then Ms. Gist goes for the gusto and invites us into the opening sequence of Flossie’s wedding night.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $10.99

Historical Romance: Short

It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long

(from the DIK AAR Review)

The romance is a delicious slow-burn, full of sexual tension and wonderfully witty banter which, I readily admit, is my drug of choice when it comes to romance reading. But the book is so more than that – even as Lavay and Elise trade quips, they are becoming attuned to each other so that they learn almost as much about each other from what they don’t say as what they do. Their conversations are as laced with poignancy as with wit, which is one of the things that elevates this story from being a mere “feelgood” romance with lots of great, sexually-charged banter to being something far deeper. One particular moment pin-pointed this for me – a conversation about home which shows the importance of such a thing to both characters. Eloise lost hers when her parents disowned her and Philippe lost his in a much more violent way, but eventually they both come to see that home really IS where the heart is.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $1.99

Inspirational Romance

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

(from the AAR Review)

Lady Miranda Hawthorne has been receiving lessons on how to act the proper lady for as long as she’s been alive. As sister to a duke the standards set for her are high. The problem is she isn’t naturally a model of perfect deportment and manners. Her personality lends itself more towards the daring and carefree. She maintains the façade she must have but the struggle gets harder every year. The situation is not helped by the fact that she is now entering her fourth Season and in the eyes of society and her mother, approaching spinsterhood.

Miranda’s boisterous spirits and sincere heart will let her contemplate nothing but a love match, but despite her many charms so far the only men offering for her are more interested in her brother’s wealth and connections than her person.Because she has no confidante in her family – none of them really “get” her – she pours her innermost feelings out in (never to be mailed) letters to her brother’s old school friend, Ryland Montgomery, the Duke of Marshington.

When he stumbles across a letter she has written to him, he pretends to mail it. Then several days later he sends her an answer by post. Miranda, initially crushed by the sending of the note is made ecstatic by the response. But does she truly love him or is she simply infatuated with his title and money?

Buy at Amazon for $3.99, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $5.99

Paranormal Romance

Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles

(from Amazon)

With a day planner attached to her hip, the last thing Katy Tolson wants is a romance that threatens her well-ordered life. She’s set to marry the safe–but bland–guy, but something’s not quite…right. A careless wish thrusts her through time into medieval Wales and into the arms of…A knight in somewhat shining armor…Sir Robert Beucol, half-Norman and half-Welsh, lives with the shame of his father’s treason and vows to reclaim his family’s holdings and thereby his honor. To prove himself to his king, he must be more Norman than a full-blooded Norman. What better way to show loyalty than to fight his mother’s people? He has no desire to be sidetracked by the mysterious wench with pink toenails, peculiar habits, and passion smoldering behind her cool, collected exterior.The Welsh uprising fits perfectly into Robert’s plans. Katy’s on the other hand? That’s a no. As they embark on a perilous journey through the heart of Wales, each passionate encounter pulls them closer together, but farther from their goals. When everything they value is at stake, can they save each other and their love?

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $0.99

Romance Novella

Nice Girls Don’t Ride by Roni Loren

(from Amazon)

Natalie Bourne thinks she has the perfect night planned for her twenty-first birthday. But when her car breaks down and her boyfriend bails on her, she’s left stranded in an auto shop dealing with a way too cocky, way too hot mechanic, who seems to be intent on pushing every button she has.

Monroe Hawkins knows he shouldn’t be messing with a girl from the uppity private college. Especially when he can tell she sees him as the help. But he’s having trouble resisting the redhead with the smart mouth and the killer legs. So when Natalie’s night goes from bad to worse, there’s no way he’s letting her spend her birthday alone. He makes her a deal–he’ll take her home but not until the sun comes up.

Ten hours, one motorcycle, and the city of Austin at their fingertips…things are about to take a major detour. And soon, there may be no U-turn in sight.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $1.99

Romantic Suspense

Flash Fire by Dana Marton

(from Amazon)

When an American teenager disappears abroad, Clara Roberts, a by-the-book investigator on a secret mission, joins forces with Light Walker, an ex-SEAL turned lawless mercenary, to save her. The sparks they generate–and the trouble they stir up–threaten to set the jungle ablaze.Nothing is what it seems in this fast-paced romantic thriller. As attraction grows into love, looming danger turns into all-out war. Clara and Walker must hold on to each other and race against time to survive.

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $0.99

Young Adult

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

(from Amazon)

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

Buy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $9.99

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