iStock_000001294672SmallAsk just about any romance listener to choose their favorite romance audiobooks and it’s highly likely they will choose a book from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, J.D. Robb’s In Death, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series.  And never has that been more obvious than with our Speaking of Audiobooks 2011 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll where all three were big winners.

So this year, it’s a new take on favorites with only a few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?  We’re taking a beyond the winners approach and admitting our runaway winners last year were just that – first place winners.  Two narrators are included in that solid first place category as well – Anna Fields and Phil Gigante.

With the first three categories in our 2012 poll, we’re looking beyond those highly popular choices to discover what other favorite romance books, series, and narrators we hold in high regard.  You’ll also see twelve new categories as we talk not only about favorites but aspects of performance and the nature of audiobooks in our every day lives.

In addition, our results will include more than the first, second, and third place winners if there are enough votes to support a mention.  You will also see that most categories allow for you to vote for two or three favorites rather than just one.  We want our listeners to have a long list of solid romance recommendations when we publish the results in July.

Although we are asking for your favorite romance audiobooks, series, authors, and narrators, when it comes down to it, we’re talking about narrators.  I’m reminded of the title of the first Speaking of Audiobooks column I wrote more than three years ago – It’s All About the Narrator.  An author can write a fantastic tale but when it comes to audio, it’s the narrator’s duty to deliver.  I like to think of our Favorites Poll as a tribute to those narrators who work tirelessly to deliver romance just the way we want to hear it.

Here’s a look at our 2012 Poll and a bit of description you won’t find on the ballot.

Beyond the Winners


1. Granting that your favorite romances in audio may include books in Gabaldon’s Outlander, Robb’s In Death, and Phillips’ Chicago Stars series, what are three of your other favorite audiobook romances?

2. Once again, acknowledging that Anna Fields and Phil Gigante swept the Favorite Romance Narrator categories last year, who are three of your favorite romance narrators besides Fields and Gigante?

3. Looking at our favorite romance authors in audio last year, the winners were once again Phillips, Robb, and Gabaldon.  Who are three of your other favorite romance audio authors?

Your 2011 Choice


4. What is your favorite 2011 romance audiobook?

To avoid confusion, we’ll use Audible’s or Amazon’s release date since the release of the hard copy may differ slightly from the release of the digital version.  If either lists a release date of 2011, it qualifies.

Print to Audio


5. What is a print romance book that you found better in audio?

This represents a time when a book you read in print was even a better experience when you listened to the audio version.

5. What is the your biggest fail of a favorite romance print book in audio?

Again, you have read the print version, but upon listening to the audio version, the audio doesn’t begin to live up to your expectations.

The Narrators


6. Name the two most impressive romance narrators you have discovered since 1/01/11?

This isn’t a category for new-to-the-industry narrators although it may include such.  This is your chance to tell us your personal discoveries of any impressive romance narrator since the beginning of 2011.

7. Do you prefer a man or woman’s narration if both perform male and female characters well?

8. Who is a narrator to whom you gave a second chance and you’re glad you did?

This is a version of last year’s “Narrator You Learned to Like” category.  This narrator may not have wowed you on your first listen, but after listening to a second or third, you discovered there was a lot to like.


9. Name two narrators who are especially good at performing love scenes.

Love scenes aren’t always easy to listen to and are challenging for narrators as well.  Who delivers those scenes with the right intensity and style for your comfort level?

Audio Favorites of Favorite Authors


Several authors deserve credit for their large number of unabridged audiobooks and their continued popularity among romance listeners.  All 19 of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books are available in audio.  Lisa Kleypas has 27 (including one hard-to-find) audio releases and 32 of Linda Howard’s titles are in audio format.  And we can’t forget Nora Roberts with around 100 audios to her name.  All of these authors’ books are effective as stand-alones and we often receive requests for audio recommendations of their work.

10. What are your two favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips audiobooks?

11. What are your two favorite Linda Howard audiobooks?

12. What are your two favorite Lisa Kleypas audiobooks?

13. What are your two favorite Nora Roberts audiobooks?

And the Wish List


14. Name three romance authors’ backlist you most want to see in audio.

Your Life and Audio


15. How do you find new romance audio releases?

Do you find notification of new releases through retailers such as Audible or Amazon, Goodreads, friends, or through features such as our monthly New Releases here at Speaking of Audiobooks?

16. What are your favorite activities when listening (driving, walking, cleaning the kitchen, etc.)?

What are you usually doing while you listen?  Feel free to list several of your favorite activities conducive to listening.

17. Have you listened to any of the 2012 Audie Romance finalists?  If so, what are they?  The finalists are The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, Notorious by Nicola Cornick, The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter, New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb, and Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews.

Now for the 2012 Ballot

Our ballot can be found here.

The poll will run for two weeks ending Monday, July 2nd at midnight.  You may choose an Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, or Sci Fi audiobook if it contains a romance thread.  Although there are seventeen categories, you are only required to complete six for the ballot to be valid.

Last year we made a statement to the industry with our poll results as the voice of romance audio.  Our voice is even stronger this year so let’s make your favorites known as we let the audiobook industry know the excellence we appreciate in romance audio!

– Lea Hensley

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