February 23, 2015

19th Annual Reader Poll Results

We’re pleased to announce the results of AAR’s Annual Reader Poll for Romance Books Published in 2014. This poll only works if readers vote and they did. So, a big thanks to everyone who entered a ballot. (Please note: Honorable Mentions (HM) are awarded when a second (or third) place title receives within 20% of the votes cast for the winner.)

Julie James

It Happened One Wedding

(AAR Grade: A/A-)

    Best Romance
Best Contemporary Romance
Funniest Romance
Best Love Scenes (Tie)
Best Romance Couple

“What an incredible honor! I’m so delighted that readers enjoyed It Happened One Wedding. Writing the book was an interesting experience because it took me several drafts to get where I wanted with the story – and, yes, there was always that tiny bit of panic over whether it would all come together in the end. But, that only makes this distinction that much sweeter! Thank you to everyone who voted for the book, and also for Vaughn and Sidney. This absolutely made my day!”

“Well, thank you so much. Awards are always extra-special when they come directly from readers. I am thoroughly enjoying writing stories for the seven variously wounded members of the Survivors’ Club and am delighted to know that they are resonating with readers. Only Enchanting is the one in the middle–three books before it and three still to come! Thank you again.”

Mary Balogh

Only Enchanting

Only Enchanting by Mary Bologh

(AAR Grade: A)

Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K.
Most Tortured Hero (HM)

Jayne Ann Krentz

River Road

(AAR Grade: B+)

        Best Romantic Suspense

“I am very honored and excited that the romance reading community at All About Romance chose River Road as the winner in the Best Romantic Suspense category. I have always loved romantic suspense, both as a reader and as a writer so this award has very special meaning to me. Thank you.”

Nalini Singh

Shield of Winter

(AAR Grade: B+)

    Best Paranormal Romance

“I’m absolutely delighted that AAR readers loved Shield of Winter. Vasic waited a long time for his happy ever after, and it was a joy to write it. As soon as I met Ivy, I knew she was the only woman who could thaw this Arrow’s heart. I’m so glad that readers feel the same way.”

“I’m also really excited that Rock Addiction received an Honorable Mention for Best Loves Scenes in a Mainstream Romance. Rock Addiction was my first single title contemporary – it’s wonderful to see it on this list! Thank you to all the readers who voted for my books!”

Nalini Singh

Rock Addiction

Best Love Scenes in
a Mainstream Romance (HM)

“Thank you SO much to the staff of AAR, and a million times more to the readers. I’m thrilled that so many readers enjoyed this crazy adventure. The new format was an experiment for me, and one that required me to change up my writing process, so I was peeking through my fingers as each installment came out. Now I’m just waving my hands in the air and dancing. Thank you!”

Meljean Brook

The Kraken King

Best Science Fiction Romance

C.L. Wilson

The Winter King

(AAR Grade: B)

       Best Fantasy Romance

“Thank you so much for this incredible honor. I am beyond thrilled that Wynter and Khamsinss story found a place in your heart. The award is even dearer to me because The Winter King is the first full length novel I’ve released since the Tairen Soul series. It’s a book, like all of my books, that has been years in the making. And to be able to come back and finish it at last, then to receive such a wonderful recognition by the avid romance reading community of AAR feels a lot like what I imagine winning a Academy Award must feel like. So thank you, AAR, and all the fabulous readers who voted. Thank you so very much. I hope to keep writing fantasy romance for a long time yet to come, and I hope there will always be wonderful readers like you willing and eager to join me on those magical adventures.”

Sherry Thomas

My Beautiful Enemy

(AAR Grade: A-)

Best Historical Romance Set Outside
the U.K.
Best Tear-Jerker Romance
Best Kick-Ass Heroine (HM)

“Outside UK win: I am most grateful that AAR has this category to recognize historicals that fall somewhat outside the mainstream of the genre. The portion of the Silk Road that wends between the Heavenly Mountains and the Taklamakan Desert has always fascinated me and I was thrilled to have a chance to set a tale against that vast, harsh, yet extraordinarily beautiful land.”

“Tearjerker win: In China, genre fiction does not guarantee a happy ending. I think partly it is because there has been so much turmoil and tragedy in recent Chinese history, that our collective psyche finds it difficult to believe in lasting happiness.”

“I do believe in the possibility of lifelong happiness, but from the very beginning of this duology–The Hidden Blade + My Beautiful Enemy–because of its Chinese setting, I knew that H/H would have to first come through fire and a forest of swords. I have written angsty stories before, but never have I scared myself. Part of this story scares me, but then I guess that’s what gives it its power.”

“Kickass heroine: Someday I’d like to see a kickass heroine tournament. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

“YA romance: I am so happy the readers of AAR have tried my YA fantasy. I keep telling everyone that it is an epic romance, I guess I wasn’t completely talking to myself. :-)”

Sherry Thomas

The Perilous Sea

Best Young Adult Romance (HM)

Jackie Ashenden

Having Her

    Best Erotica/Romantica

“To say I’m absolutely THRILLED Having Her got so much reader love is a massive understatement. Basically there aren’t enough exclamation points in the entire world to fully encompass how stoked I am about this so I’ll just leave it with two: !! Anyway, thank you so much All About Romance and all the lovely AAR readers for voting. I’ve never won an award before so I feel very honored. Kara and Vin’s story was a tough one to write since the pair of them had quite a long journey to their HEA, but it’s one of my favorites (I could have written about them forever) and I’m just over the moon everyone felt the same way. Thank you! (okay, 3 exclamation points).”

“Oh, wow. This is such a huge surprise! The Hook Up was a pure joy to write, but I was nervous about delving into a new genre. It’s out in the world because of beta readers urging me to publish the book. So to have readers name it the Best New Adult Romance means so much to me, I can’t even properly express it. I am so, so honored! Thank you, AAR readers! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

Kristen Callihan

The Hook Up

      Best New Adult Romance

Anna Lee Huber

A Grave Matter

(AAR Grade: A-)

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

“I am completely thrilled! I actually shrieked when I received word that A Grave Matter had won the NWSRE category and startled my 11-month-old. I am a long-time fan of AAR, and receiving a DIK review and now this wonderful honor is so incredible. I have the most amazing readers in the world, and I am so grateful for their enthusiasm and support. From the beginning, they have embraced Kiera and Gage and rooted for their relationship and burgeoning romance through all of its twists and turns. With A Grave Matter I was so happy to finally be able to give them the happily-ever-after they’ve been anxious for. Thanks and blessings to AAR and all of my readers!!”

Mr (Not Quite) Perfect is a special book for me. Not only is it my 60th category romance and the one closest to my heart, it is also my last, so I am triply thrilled that it has received such an accolade from All About Romance! This is a story that very much reflects what I feel about romance, real and fictional, and I’m absolutely delighted that AAR readers have responded to it so generously. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for Mr (Not Quite) Perfect: there’s no ‘quite’ about it: this wonderful award feels completely perfect to me! “

Jessica Hart

Mr. (Not Quite) Perfect

    Best Erotica/Romantica

Cecilia Grant

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong

 (AAR Grade: B)

Best Short Story

“Bless you, AAR voters who still read historical romance! Between the waning popularity of my subgenre, my own lack of visibility (17 months between releases, anyone?), and the fact that my novella only had 27 days of 2014 availability, I really, really was not expecting this.”

“But I loved writing the skirmish between stern, buttoned-up Andrew and impulsive, adventure-craving Lucy, and I’m so glad their love story struck a chord with readers, too. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. “

“I’m delighted to learn that All About Romance readers have voted Think of England the best LGBT romance. Delighted and startled, because I’ve read so many terrific queer romances this year and could name a dozen that I think deserved to win. It’s brilliant that LGBT romance is claiming its rightful place as an integral part of the romance genre, with so many strong writers and stories coming through, and I’m really proud to be part of that. And, of course, ludicrously happy to see Think of England up here in AAR’s poll. I never imagined that my riff on Edwardian pulp fiction, of all things, would strike such a chord with readers, and I’m absolutely thrilled by this. Thank you.”


KJ Charles

Think of England

Best LGBT Romance

Best Debut Author

“”Good Lord, are you sure?” is what Mili would say. And the girl would have a point. To see Mili and Samir’s off the wall story so loved by readers makes me incredulous. When I wrote A Bollywood Affair I was insanely optimistic in the face of all the warnings to manage my expectations given the “limited readership for diverse stories.” But nothing about the love readers have shown my story has been limited and I could never articulate how humbled I am by this honor and how hopeful I feel as a reader who yearns to visit new worlds. Thank you. A million times over, thank you!”

“I am extremely disappointed that Alastair has been rewarded for his bad behavior. JUST KIDDING. This is absolutely lovely news! Alastair’s story started in a very dark place, and I occasionally felt anxious that he was pushing the heroine’s (and the reader’s, and the author’s) boundaries too far. I’m over the moon about this award, then, and very grateful to readers for their kindness, patience, and empathy in tolerating his shenanigans while he struggled back to the light. As for the wonderful compliment to the love scenes, I suppose we know now why Olivia put up with him… Ha! In fact, these two characters felt so perfectly equipped to get under each other’s skin — and, ultimately, to rescue each other — that the love scenes practically wrote themselves. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that readers appreciated Olivia and Alastair’s chemistry as much as I hoped they would. Thank you!”

Meredith Duran

Fool Me Twice

(AAR Grade: B+)

Most Tortured Hero
Best Love Scenes
in a Mainstream Romance (Tie)

Sarah MacLean

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

Best Romance Hero
Best Romance Heroine (HM)
Best Kick-Ass Heroine (HM)

“What a lovely surprise! I’m so thrilled that Duncan’s long road to love struck as much a chord with readers as it did with me…though I know that, in truth, it’s his swimming pool that won them over! “

“I’m so delighted that people enjoyed Free as a heroine. I’m honored once again by the recognition, and I’m glad she was as fun for you all to read as she was for me to write.”

Courtney Milan

The Suffragette Scandal

(AAR Grade: A)

    Best Romance Heroine
Best Kick-Ass Heroine

19th Annual Reader Poll Analysis

Thanks yet again to all the voters for taking part in AAR’s Annual Reader Poll. We appreciate all who posted on their websites, on Facebook, on Twitter or other social media, or just told friends, co-workers and family about the poll.


Julie James is now officially the go-to author for readers looking for a great contemporary romance, winning the Best Contemporary Romance category outright for the 5th straight year. For the first time since 2007, a Contemporary Romance – Ms. James’ It Happened One Wedding – captures a win in the Best Romance category. Mary Balogh makes a comeback after a five year absence with her title Only Enchanting winning Best Historical Set in the UK. And Jayne Ann Krentz makes her first appearance in AAR’s Annual Poll since 2001 by winning for Best Romantic Suspense.

Honorable Mentions were awarded in seven competitive categories; this happens when a second (or third) place title receives within 20% of the votes cast for the winner.)

Several of this year’s winners have won in the past, as recently as last year, but we also have a few new winners.

The winner for Best Romance Book of 2014 is Julie James’s It Happened One Wedding. Since 2011, Ms. James has dominated the Best Contemporary Romance category, but this year she also takes home the wins for Favorite Funny and Best Romance Couple while tying Meredith Duran’s Fool Me Twice for Best Love Scenes (in a mainstream romance).

Sherry Thomas (who won last year for Best Historical Romance Set in the UK) picked up the win for Best Historical Romance Set Outside the UK and Favorite Tearjerker for My Beautiful Enemy. She also received Honorable Mentions for Best Kick-Ass Heroine (Catherine Blade in My Beautiful Enemy) and Best Young Adult Romance for The Perilous Sea.

Courtney Milan continues to be a favorite of AAR readers. She wins Best Romance Heroine and Best Kick-Ass Heroine for the character of Frederica “Free” Marshall in The Suffragette Scandal. That book also wins an Honorable Mention for Best Romance Set in the UK.

Nalini Singh wins Best Paranormal for Shield of Winter which adds to her previous wins for Best Paranormal in 2010 for Branded by Fire and 2014 for Heart of Obsidian. Ms. Singh also wins an Honorable Mention for Best Love Scenes (in a mainstream romance) for Rock Addiction, the first entry in her new contemporary romance series.

Meljean Brook’s The Kraken King is definitely a Steampunk romance but many readers felt the setting best fit the Science Fiction category in this poll and in the end it won straight up for Best Science Fiction Romance. Ms. Brook is not new to AAR readers as she won for Best Paranormal and an HM for Best Romance in 2011 for The Iron Duke and an HM for Best Paranormal Romance in 2013 for Riveted.

Sarah MacLean wins Best Romance Hero for Duncan West in Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover. Her female character in the same book, Lady Georgiana Pearson, wins Honorable Mentions for Best Kick-Ass Heroine and Favorite Heroine.

Mary Balogh wins the battle for the very competitive Best Historical Romance Set in the UK for Only Enchanting. Ms. Balogh also won an Honorable Mention for Most Tortured Romance Hero for her character Flavian Arnott.

Meredith Duran wins for Best Love Scenes in a Mainstream Romance for Fool Me Twice as well as Best Tortured Romance Hero for the character of Alaistair de Grey.

Veteran author Jayne Ann Krentz’s River Road wins the Best Romantic Suspense category. Ms. Krentz (aka Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle) has been around and well known since the late 1980s but this is the first time in over 14 years that she has been recognized in the Annual Reader Poll.

Cecilia Grant won Best Debut Author in the 2013 poll and this year her title A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong wins for Best Short Story/Novella.

Standalone winners were Jessica Hart’s Mr. (Not Quite) Perfect for Best Category Romance; Jackie Ashenden’s Having Her for Best Erotica/Romantica; Kristen Callihan’s The Hook Up for Best New Adult Romance; K.J. Charles’s Think of England for Best LGBT Romance; Anna Lee Huber’s A Grave Matter for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements; C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King for Best Fantasy Romance; and Stephanie Perkins’s Isla and The Happily Ever After for Best Young Adult Romance. Congratulations also to Sonali Dev who won for Best Debut Author.

Honorable mentions are no small stuff either and Eloisa James won two such honors for Three Weeks with Lady X for Favorite Historical Set in the UK and Best Romance Hero (for Thorn Dautry). Standalone Honorable mentions were received by Joanna Bourne (Favorite Historical Romance set in the U.K. for Rogue Spy) and Ilona Andrews (Best Kick-Ass Heroine for Kate Daniels in Magic Breaks).

As in years past, we look forward to reading your comments about the winners in the AAR Forums. Here are some questions to get the conversations rolling: Did the wins by any titles or characters surprise you? Did any of your choices win? Will you read any winning titles if you haven’t already done so? Were you happy with the new separate categories of Paranormal, Fantasy and Science Fiction?

AAR’s Pollsters – LinnieGayl, LeeB, and CindyS

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