The time has finally come for our first annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll and it’s one I’ve been waiting for with great anticipation. When I first envisioned this poll two years ago in the first days of our Speaking of Audiobooks column, I merely thought of it as a comprehensive list of our favorite romance audiobooks, narrators, and audio authors for our own reference as listeners. Now I believe it has a second purpose as well. As a group we can proclaim to the audiobook industry the types of romance audiobooks we prefer and what we want to see in the future.
The poll is much more than simply voting for your favorite audiobook (a difficult task for most) and, staying true to AAR’s style of polling, we have multiple favorite categories. And since we know narrators “make or break an audiobook,” seven of the 25 categories are dedicated purely to various aspects of narration.
Starting June 14th and ending Tuesday, June 28th at midnight, you have two weeks to submit your ballots at AAR’s main site. Just follow this link. If you don’t have a choice for a particular category, please don’t let that discourage you. Just keep in mind that you must enter at least six titles/authors for your ballot to be valid. Once you submit your ballot, you will be redirected to a thank you page. We’ll publish the results in our July column. I don’t know of a comparable audiobook poll so let’s join in, have fun, and make a statement! We look forward to seeing the results as much as you do!
In keeping with our dedication to the romance genre, this is purely a romance poll. We have included Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, and Sci Fi categories but all choices in these categories must include a romance thread. Now let’s take a look at the categories.
First – the Absolute Favorite Categories
Favorite Romance Audiobook
The romance audiobook standard when you consider narration, writing, and pure “I didn’t want to stop listening” involvement. We will also be voting by sub-genre so you’ll have the opportunity to list more than one favorite.
Favorite Romance Narrator
The narrator who comes closest to perfection in your mind when narrating a romance audiobook. Once again, there are a number of other categories for narrators.
Favorite Romance Author in Audio
What author do you prefer above all others in audio? Favorite audio author doesn’t always equal favorite print author even if both formats are available.
Favorite Romance Audiobook Series
This doesn’t mean you have read every book in the series but you’ve read enough to know it’s your favorite.
Favorite Abridged Romance Audiobook
Not everyone is a fan of abridged but if you have tried a few, you probably discovered one you’d recommend.
Favorite Audio Romance Hero
Who is the audio hero that most appeals to you? In audio not only does it mean you appreciate the hero as written but also as performed.
Favorite Romance Heroine
Ditto the Hero – a heroine you may have liked in print but you adore in audio!
Favorite Audio Romance Couple
What couple works best for you? You may have loved them in print but the narrator’s sense of timing and expression in delivering their lines to one another as well as an understanding of their relationship moves this couple into the top audio spot.
Below you will find the sub-genre categories complete with definitions and sample authors who write in that particular sub-genre. With the exception of Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, and Science Fiction, I have borrowed the definitions from the Romance Writers of America (RWA).
Favorite Contemporary Romance Audiobook
Romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles, not as part of a series and set after 1945. (for purposes of this poll, we are including Series Romance). Examples of contemporary authors in audio are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, and Robyn Carr.
Favorite Romantic Suspense Audiobook
Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. Authors who write Romantic Suspense include Anne Stuart, Linda Howard, and Sandra Brown.
Favorite Paranormal Romance Audiobook
Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are an integral part of the plot. We’re including vampire, shapeshifters, and the like in this category. A few paranormal authors you see in audio are J.R Ward, Christine Feehan, and Nalini Singh.
Favorite Historical Romance Audiobook
Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location. Lisa Kleypas, Diana Gabaldon, and Judith Ivory are included in this category.
Favorite Urban Fantasy with Romance Thread
Set primarily in a city with elements of fantasy and usually a contemporary or futuristic timeframe. Examples of urban fantasy include Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, and Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series.
Favorite Fantasy or Sci Fi with Romance Thread
Fantasy – Usually takes place in a fictional world with magic as a primary element of the plot. Fantasy authors who include a thread of romance in their books are C.L. Wilson and Lois McMaster Bujold.
Science Fiction – Usually set in the future, imagined innovations in science or technology is integral to the central story. Examples of science fiction writing with romance threads include Linnea Sinclair and Catherine Asaro.
Favorite Female Romance Narrator
She may be your overall favorite narrator or you may want to recognize another of your favorite narrators.
Favorite Male Romance Narrator
Again, he may be your overall favorite narrator or simply a vote for another of your favorite narrators of the male variety.
Favorite Debut Romance Narrator
Narrators who have debuted since January 1, 2010. To make it easy, check Audible.com for the production dates by narrator. Let’s give credit to the dynamic new narrators we are seeing.
Best Male/Female Dual Romance Narration
Who made the best team for you?
Most Disappointing Narration of a Highly Anticipated Romance Audiobook
You were excited to see this one in audio but upon listening, you felt deflated, cheated, or wanted to cry.
Romance Narrator You Learned to Like
We’ve talked about training our ear to appreciate a narrator just for the sake of listening to a book you wanted to hear. What narrator eventually worked for you?
Other Favorites to Ponder
Favorite 2010 Romance Audiobook
A romance audiobook released in 2010. However, the print version’s publication date may be before 2010.
Favorite Funny Romance Audiobook
Can you recall tears in your eyes from laughing or one that simply made you chuckle over and over again?
Best “Keep you on the Edge of Your Seat” Romance Audiobook
Be it Romantic Suspense, Paranormal, or a Fantasy, the combination of writing and narration made you wonder in excitement just what in heck would happen next.
Let’s Let the Audiobook Industry Know…
Romance Author Whose Backlist I Listen to the Most
What author’s audio backlist do you return to again and again or buy/borrow consistently with each new release?
Author’s Romance Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio
We talk about it all the time. Now it is time to make a statement. What romance author do you most want to see in audio who has little or no audio backlist at this time?
I want to give a special thanks to Brenda for brainstorming with me in preparation for this poll. Brenda is a silent support for many of the features you see here at Speaking of Audiobooks and her ideas are invaluable to me. Thanks Brenda!
Now, it’s time to complete your ballot! Let us know your favorites!
Jacquelyn Frank Audio Giveaway in Our Next Column
In honor of Audiobook Month (the month of June), there will be a giveaway of Jacquelyn Frank’s Nightwalker series books in our next Speaking of Audiobooks column. The first of five in the series, Jacob, is scheduled for release June 27th with the release of the remaining series over the following three months.
Time for Your Thoughts
Do you need further explanation of any category?
Can you offer assistance in determining the debut of a particular narrator?
Have you read Frank’s Nightwalker series or are you planning on listening to it in audio?
What are the latest additions to your audio library?
And, as always, what are your latest audio successes or failures?
Thanks to CindyS, one of AAR’s pollsters, for formatting our poll ballot.
We now have a list of all our Mini Reviews from our Speaking of Audiobooks columns over at our Goodreads group. You don’t have to be a Goodreads member to view this list so check it out.
If you’re considering joining our 2011 Listening Challenge, we have a quick start up guide for you. It’s not too late.
Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 123 members! It’s easy to join and it’s a great place for discussion in between our columns.
I look forward to seeing your ballot for our Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll!
Enjoy your listening!
– Lea Hensley