AAR Mini-Polls: Top Tens

SF/Fantasy & Futuristic Romances | Paranormal & Time Travel Romances

May 9, 2007

Top Ten SF/Fantasy & Futuristic Romances

Naked in Death (1995)J.D. Robb
Contact (2002)Susan Grant
Warprize (2005)Elizabeth Vaughan
Lord of the Storm (1994)Justine Davis
Games of Command (2007)
Knight of a Trillion Stars (1995)
Linnea Sinclair
Dara Joy
Skypirate (1995)Justine Davis
Glory in Death (1995)J.D. Robb
Jane’s Warlord (2004)Angela Knight
Innocent in Death (2007)J.D. Robb
Almost every ballot submitted in this round of mini-polls included votes in this category. More than 200 titles appeared on your ballots for the Top Ten SF/Fantasy and Futuristic Romances.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb easily won first place; it earned greater than 50% more votes than the book in second place, and greater than 90% more votes than the third place finisher.

Robb is clearly a fan favorite as three of her titles landed in your top ten.

Naked in Death was published in 1995 and introduced readers to a futuristic New York and Eve Dallas, a tough as nails homicide cop, and Roarke, a self-made Irishman billionaire.

Eve and Roarke have won Best Couple five times and been honorably mentioned three times in AAR’s annual reader polls. In fact, 2005 stands as the only year that Eve and/or Roarke did not appear in the final results for Best Hero, Best Heroine, or Best Couple. Naked in Death was also voted onto each of the three Top 100 Romance polls we’ve conducted; in the most recent poll (2004), they landed in 34th position. Considering that Robb is often shelved elsewhere than Romance, this is quite a coup.


Glory in Death, the second in the series, placed seventh and Innocent in Death, which was just released in February, landed in ninth place, proving that well over twenty books into the series, Eve, Roarke, and several other returning characters have yet to wear out their welcome. Btw, Naked in Death and Glory in Death earned DIK status; Innocent in Death earned a grade of B+.

Susan Grant’s Contact, which earned DIK status, earned second place. Given that brick and mortar sales were severely restricted after Wal-Mart refused to carry the book, its final placement is surprising, although it did win as Best Alternate Reality Romance in our 2003 poll. Click Susan Grant’s link in the results table for more surrounding the book’s controversy, as well as a 2006 interview.Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan won third place and is pure fantasy with some romantic elements. Former AAR editor/reviewer Jennifer Keirans praised the book in her DIK review: “although Warprize is set in a totally imaginary world, it doesn’t feature any magic at all. The plot stems from realistic characters and their different cultures, not from sorcery.” Strangely enough, although Warprize didn’t win or earn honorable mention in the Alternate Reality category for the year in which it was released, it did earn honorable mention in the Best Medieval/Renaissance category, presumably because like many fantasy novels, it is set in a magical Medieval world.

Lord of the Storm by Justine Dare (aka Justine Davis) placed fourth and its sequel, Skypirate, placed eighth, giving the author a distinction belonging otherwise to J.D. Robb as having earned more than one slot in this poll. The books were published in the middle 1990s and can be found on both our Two Hanky Read andAlternate Reality [Special Title] Lists. These two futuristic romances feature heroes and heroines who learned to befriend, trust, and love somebody from the enemy side in a war. The Romance Reader’s Susan Scribner wrote DIK reviews for both books.

Linnea Sinclair’s Games of Command is another 2007 release to land on our list; it tied for fifth place among your top ten. The book is a hybrid between SF and romance. One of our new reviewers, Rike Horstmann, writes that the book “was one of the sweetest love stories I have read in recent months, with a hero who is both incredibly strong and deeply vulnerable and a heroine who is equally tough and charming.”

Knight of a Trillion Stars earned DIK status at AAR years ago; Dara Joy’s star-making book tied with Linnea Sinclair’s for fifth place. Click Dara Joy’s link in the results table for a 1997 interview in whick she discusses becoming an overnight success and whether she planned at that time to incorporate humor and steamy sex scenes in her book. Due to a dispute with her publisher, she resorted to self-publishing her last book, resulting in reader dissatisfaction because of shipping problems…and more.

Angela Knight’s Jane’s Warlord earned straight B and rounds out our top ten list. Though reviewer Jane Jorgenson classified the book as a Time Travel Romance, it has strong SF overtones in that the time travel was planned and executed by the “Temporal Enforcement Agency”. Then too, a talking wolf sidekick lends a fantasy air as well.

The Best of The Rest

  • A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Archangel by Sharon Shinn
  • Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop
  • Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Mine To Take by Dara Joy
  • Born in Death by J. D. Robb
  • Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
  • Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
  • After Dark by Jayne Castle
  • Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

There was a far tighter point spread for titles 11 through 20 than there were for your top ten. 128 points differentiated Naked in Death from Innocent in Death; there were just eighteen points between A Civil Campaign and Gabriel’s Ghost. Lois McMaster Bujold’s 1999 release, A Civil Campaign, placed 11th while Sharon Shinn landed in the twelfth spot with Archangel. Two titles from Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy ende up in this second set of ten: Queen of the Darkness earned the thirteenth slot and Daughter of the Blood came in 17th. Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle also had two titles in the second set of ten –Sweet Starfire from – believe it or not – 1986, and After Dark, published in 2000. A fourth J.D. Robb title, Born in Death, slid into the fifteenth slot – it is the second to most recent release in the series, proving yet again that her long-running series continues to please her fans. J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened, which as a vampire romance truly belongs in poll results for paranormal romances, ended up in eighteenth position…perhaps some readers felt the Scribe Virgin put the book in the fantasy realm. Rounding out the top twenty is Linnea Sinclair’s Gabriel’s Ghost, giving her two slots in the top twenty (she came in fifth for Games of Command, if you’ll recall).

Top Ten Paranormal & Time Travel Romances
Lover Awakened (2006)J.R. Ward
Son of the Morning (1997)Linda Howard
Dark Lover (2005)J.R. Ward
Outlander (1992)Diana Gabaldon
Lover Eternal (2006)J.R. Ward
Lover Revealed (2007)J.R. Ward
A Hunger Like No Other (2006)Kresley Cole
Slave to Sensation (2006)Nalini Singh
Dance with the Devil (2003)Sherrilyn Kenyon
Bitten (2001)Kelley Armstrong
You voted for more than 200 titles for the Top Ten Paranormal/Time Travel Romances. Your top ten featured a mix of time travels, vampire romances, and other alternate reality selections, and had publication dates going back as far as 1992. Four were published last year and eight of the ten were published since 2000.

Lover Awakened, JR Ward’s 2006 hit – and third in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, easily topped the list of your favorites.

This result is not surprising given that the book also proved a powerhouse in this year’s annual reader poll, capturing wins for Best Romance, Most Hanky Read, Best Paranormal, Strongest Heroine (Bella), Most Tortured Hero (Zsadist), and Best Villain.

The second through fifth place titles were incredibly close together in terms of the number of points they earned in this ranked poll – the second place finisher earned fewer than 10% more points than the fifth place finisher. And while the second place finisher – Linda Howard’s Son of the Morning – earned just 66% of the number of points earned by Lover Awakened, it only earned 10% more votes than the third place finisher, J. R. Ward’s Dark Lover. While obviously popular among fans of time travel, Son of the Morning proved less popular among Ms. Howard’s other titles, finishing seventh among Ms. Howard’s titles in our poll of her top ten books.

Ward’s Dark Lover, published in 2005, was the first in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and tells the story of Wrath and Beth, as well as introducing us to many other characters AAR readers have come to love. The book earned DIK status at AAR and won for Best Alternate Reality/Paranormal in our annual poll for books published in 2005. With two other books in the top ten – Lover Eternal (fifth place) and Lover Revealed (sixth place) – Ward definitely proved to be a powerhouse in this category.

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, the first in her time traveling series about Claire and Jamie finished in fourth place, just two points behind Dark Lover. Outlander, originally published in 1992, has been a perennial favorite of many AAR readers, and placed seventh in our most recent Top 100 Romances Poll. Claire and Jamie finished second behind Eve and Roarke in last year’s Favorite Couples mini-poll.Five – or six – of your top ten titles were vampire romances. They include all four of Ward’s books, one by Kresley Cole, and depending on your outlook, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dance with the Devil, which features vampire-esque characters although AAR lists the book as fantasy romance. Two time travel titles (Howard’s and Gabaldon’s) made the list, and earning just one title each were Nalini Singh’s alternate reality romance and a shapeshifter novel by Kelley Armstrong.

The Best of The Rest

In this particular poll, just one point separated the book in 11th place – A Knight in Shining Armor – from the book that came in tenth. Joining Jude Deveraux as the best of the rest are these books:

  • A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux (TT – 1990)
  • Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning (TT – 2001)
  • Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (TT – 1993)
  • The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning (TT – 2005)
  • Dark Desire by Christine Feehan (Vampire – 1999)
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (TT – 1993)
  • Killing Time by Linda Howard (TT – 2005)
  • Stardust of Yesterday by Lynn Kurland (TT – 1996)
  • Charming the Highlander by Janet Chapman (TT – 2003)
  • Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter/vampire-esque – 2004)

This second set of titles includes books published as far back as 1990 and as current as last year. In a major reversal from the top ten, which featured mostly vampire romances, nearly all of this second set are time travel romances. Given the increase in popularity of shapeshifter romances, it’s surprising that just one title appears in the top twenty – Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, in the tenth spot.


We invite you to consider these questions and post about these poll results:

  • Which of these results are most surprising, and why?
  • If we had conducted these two polls a couple of years ago, how do you think the results would have differed?
  • Given all the recent emphasis on hybrids of romance and SF/F, were you surprised that only four of the top ten titles in the poll were published in the last three years?
  • Do you think the vampire romances that dominate the results for paranormal/time travel will stand the test of time, or if we were to do this poll in two years, would we see a drastically different result?
  • As for that same list…where, oh where, have all the shapeshifters gone?
  • Are you surprised that no Sookie Stackhouse or Anita Blake books broke into the top 20?

Lee Brewer, LinnieGayl, and Cindy Smith

Post to the Potpourri Forum