When AAR conducted its first Annual Reader Poll for the best in romances published in 1996 things were a lot different on the web. AAR was one of the few online sites devoted to romance readers’ views, and one of the only sites to offer reviews written by readers. Facebook was limited, there was no Twitter, there were no blogs devoted to romance, there was no goodreads, Amazon was in its infancy, there were no eBooks, and romance authors had yet to take to the web in full force. All of this limited the information – the buzz – available to romance readers, meaning the readers who voted in the first AAR Annual polls were exposed to a more limited set of romances. My how times have changed.
Over the past few years as we’ve tallied the votes in the Annual Reader polls we’ve noticed more and more books nominated in each category, often making it difficult to name a “winner.” Many readers have expressed problems filling out their ballots over the past few years, and have commented in the forums, in emails and private messages to us, and in comments in the actual ballots that they wish we would provide a list of nominations.
Before the 20th Annual Poll began some of us at AAR talked about the need for changes in future polls, feeling the format might no longer be viable. But because we felt the 20th Annual Poll was such a major milestone, we decided to put off any decisions until later this year. Unfortunately, the trends we’ve seen in recent years became even more exacerbated this year, and we are unable to name a winner in any of the categories!
What? No winners? Well, no winners in the Poll that closed on Sunday, February 7. If anything, the number of titles and characters selected in most categories increased exponentially from last year. We were left with no clear winners. So, we’ve decided to do what many readers have asked for all along: we are going to have a runoff vote.
We’ve tallied all of the votes you submitted – removing the obvious ineligibles such as books published first before 2015 and books that do not fit into a category (because no matter how much you love one of J.D. Robb’s In Death books, it’s not an European Historical). Once we arrived at a list of valid votes, we arrived at the titles – or characters – that received at least 5% of the votes in each category and have placed them as “nominees” in a final runoff ballot. Instead of an open-ended format, the runoff ballot simply lists the top nominees (rather like the Academy Awards). When you go to the ballot you will be able to vote for one of the nominees. This time there’s no pressure to vote in a certain number of categories; you may vote in one, two, or all categories. It’s completely up to you.
Thanks to all of you who voted in the first round. We hope the runoff format will make it easier for people to vote, and will generate some great selections. The runoff poll will be open until March 17th at midnight.
A few things to note:
(1) The “nominees” in each category garnered approximately 5% of all votes in a category (in some cases much higher than 5%).
(2) The number of “nominees” varies across categories. A few categories (category romance comes immediately to mind) had very few votes. Other categories had a lot of votes, with numerous titles or characters getting a substantial number.
(3) Lee discovered that Lucy Parker (LinnieGayl’s definite choice for “debuting author) had previously published another another name (Elle Pierson) and had a book with a 2014 publication date, making her ineligible for debuting author. Otherwise, she would definitely be on the ballot (see here: http://www.amazon.com/Elle-
Ready to vote? Click here and head to the final ballot.
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
I’ve just realised that you’re going to have this same problem in the next Top 100 (I love your Top 100!). Or perhaps it does not matter because the 20% of the votes are not required to be in that list?
I would like to add my vote to A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles. An entertaining, unique novel and quite different from my normal reading. It is great to find something different. Gets my vote.
Sadly, and I truly am sad about this, I didn’t vote this year and I can’t remember if I did last year. I only read ebooks these days and most of them are either self-published or published by small e-publishers. The main publishing houses charge WAAAYYY too much for big name authors, in many cases charging MORE for an ebook than a print book. To add insult to injury, they also charge more to purchase a book from Amazon.ca and it does say that prices are set by the publisher. Something else that infuriates me is they will have some books on sale at Amazon.com but when I go to Amazon.ca they are still charging full price. So I’m not reading the Hoyt’s, the Durans, the Gibsons etc. And this does bug me – having to say goodbye to so many of those authors because of publishers greed.
This means many of the books I read and love don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of even getting mentioned let alone winning. If I thought they stood a chance I would vote but they don’t. I have no idea of how to solve this dilemma. I would LOVE for some of the lesser known authors to have their names and works with a higher profile.
Of those who made it to the run off, I’ve read very few of the books that were nominated
Radiance – Grace Draven
Rise – Karina Bliss
The Highwayman – Kerrigan Byrne
Dark Horse – Michelle Diener
Suddenly One Summer – Julie James
This Gun for Hire – Jo Goodman
So I don’t really feel like I’ve read enough main stream books to vote in. I really miss voting but I don’t know a solution.
Maybe I’m being simplistic but just vote! I guess it depends what you get out of the poll, but I think most of us like seeing new-to-us books in the results to get reccs and if everyone reads and votes for the same books that will never happen.
Judging by the shortlisted nominations most people are reading a range of self-published, small press and big publishers so your vote would be as valid as anyone else’s. Most people have match rate of one or two between their vote and the poll results, so you are not unusual.
I can understand now we have a shortlist that you might want to read all or most of a category before voting. I had read about ten of the books on the shortlist so I’ve prioritised a couple of categories and borrowed most of the rest from the library.
I also have a rule of thumb that as I read so few B+/ A grade books that if I’ve read one I’ll vote for it even if I haven’t read the others because it’s very unlikely I’ll prefer another book.
I hope you find a strategy that works for you, because the more the merrier!
I would like to vote for A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles; it is historical and powerful and gets my vote!
I much prefer to choose between a list of titles than to make an open-ended nomination. However when I voted earlier today I was very pleased to see the diversity of the titles and authors in the list, and I now realise that this is probably due to the nomination system. I was all set to praise AAR for including LGBTQ titles and authors, but instead I should praise those who nominated them!
…and of course AAR for including a category for them. What pleased me especially was seeing them in the categories not reserved for them.
I was really pleased as well to see at least two LGBTQ in non-LGBTQ categories (one of which I voted for). It’s a great advantage of the open-ended system so I hope AAR keeps the open first round voting, even though I know its probably a lot more work.
Now I have to go away and read more books!
I thought that Dukes Prefer Blondes was considered a 2016 book, therefore I didn’t vote for it in the original poll, where it would have received my vote in several categories. I couldn’t find the post that gave that information when I looked just now.
I asked that question on the forum and was told it could not be counted because of the publication date. But then it did actually appear in the run-off, and so I went ahead and voted for it there and hope the vote counts.
My policy is that if the Amazon date says 2015, it’s a 2015 book. The industry has changed so much that the old ways we categorized books don’t work well.
I think though, Dabney, that the point is that AAR’s Lee responded on the discussion forum that Loretta Chase’s book did not qualify because it was published too late. Therefore many readers, including myself, did not initially vote for it in any category because we were told not to. Hope that clarifies.
OK. Thanks for clarifying.
Can we have a list of the nominees on the ballot? I would like to have a longer look at the books which made the list to see which books I still have to read.
If you click on the link to the ballot you will be able to see the full list of nominees which you then should either be able to print or copy to another program.
But I already finished the ballot and can’t see it again… I was too quick…
Oops. Okay. I don’t think it will let me copy things here but I’ll give it a try. if rejected, I’ll post them on the Forum. 3. Best Romance Radiance by Grace Draven Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh Mistress Firebrand by Donna Thorland Rise by Karina Bliss Seduction Game by Pamela Clare A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Ann Long It Started With a Scandal by Julie Anne Long 4. Favorite Funny Romance My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis Suddenly One Summer by Julie James When A Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan Truth or Beard by Penny Reid Rock Hard by Nalini Singh Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase Act Like It by Lucy Parker 5. Favorite Tear-Jerker Romance Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh 6. Most Luscious Love Story (Mainstream romance with the best love scenes) Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh Love in the Time of Scandal by Caroline Linden Rock Hard by Nalini Singh 7. Best Erotica / Romantica Romance Harlot by Victoria Dahl Intimate Geography by Tamsen Parker For Real by Alexis Hall The Muse by Anne Calhoun 8. Most Tortured Romance Hero Noah St John in Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh Ralph Stockwood in Only a Promise by Mary Balogh Dorian Blackwell in The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne Dominic Frey in A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles 9. Best Kick-Ass Heroine Veronica Speedwell in A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn Calico Nash in This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman Kate Daniels in Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews Holly Bradshaw in Seduction Game by Pamela Clare Zaira in Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh 10. Best Romance Hero Gabriel Bishop from Rock Hard by Nalini Singh Nick O’Shea from Luck Be a Lady by Meredith Duran Aden from Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh Lyon Redmond from The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long 11. Best Romance Heroine Clara Fairfax from Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase Elise from It Started with a Scandal by Julie Ann Long Charlotte Baird from Rock Hard by Nalini Singh Minerva Dodger from Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath 12. Best Romance Couple Gabriel Bishop and Charlotte Baird in Rock Hard by Nalini Singh Aden and Zaira in Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh Phillippe & Elise in It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long Olivia Eversea and Lyon Redmond in The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long Nick and Holly in Seduction Game by Pamela Clare Brishen and Ildiko in Radiance by Grace Draven Calico Nash and Quill McKenna in This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman 13. Best Paranormal Romance (NOTE: For purposes of this poll, your favorite Paranormal Romance includes ghosts, witches, weres, vamps, shapeshifters) Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James Magic Shifts by Illona Andrews Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs 14. Best Fantasy Romance (NOTE: For purposes of this poll, think fairy tales so the category includes such things as genies, fairies, dragons, and elves) Radiance by Grace Draven Uprooted by Naomi Novik Burned by Karen Marie Moning Feel the Burn by G.A. Aiken 15. Best Science Fiction Romance (NOTE: For purposes of this poll, Science Fiction Romance includes other planets, aliens, futuristics, dystopian, and genetic mutations) Dark Horse by Michelle Diener Sirens Call by Jayne Castle 16. Best Historical Romance set in the U.K. It Started With a Scandal by Julie Anne Long Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan The Duke’s Disaster by Grace Burrowes The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Ann Long A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly Only A Kiss by Mary Balogh Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran 17. Best Historical Romance set outside the U.K. Bitter Springs by Laura Stone Mistress Firebrand by Donna Thorland This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman 18. Best Contemporary Romance If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins Rise by Karina Bliss The One in My Heart by Sherry Thomas Act Like It by Lucy Parker Suddenly One Summer by Julie James For Real by… Read more »
Thanks for doing this!
Thanks for including the list. Please note that each time you enter, the order of the different books change, so perhaps if you wanted to vote for instance A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber in category #26, it could not be the first one in your ballot.
At least that happened to me, that I copy the ballot and printed it in order to think calmly about my vote, and then when I put my votes on line, the order changed.
Thank you very much!
Only a few of the books I voted for made the run off ballot, but that’s not unusual.
I think two of mine made the final ballot :)
Five books I voted for made the shortlist in nine categories, which is really nice to see! I usually only have a match rate of one or two with the final poll.
I like being able to see the shortlist a lot – now to go away and read all the other books I haven’t read yet!
Thank-you so much for all your hard work to get us to this point!
I admit to being too much of a coward to attempt the Annual Poll but will definitely participate in the run-off. Thanks for narrowing an overwhelming number of choices :-)