Poll Results – Top 100 Romances


AAR first conducted a Top 100 Romances poll in 1996, and polled a second time in 2000. We thought it was time to poll our readers again to see how things may have changed and so, this summer Shelley Dodge once again polled readers for their top 100 romances. No restrictions were made in terms of which titles could be included (short stories as well as full novels were accepted) in any reader’s ballot; the only requirements were that readers rank their choices and that they submit no more than 100 titles. Because we asked for rankings, this is a weighted poll that considers both the number of votes received by book and its ranking by voters.

Generally we provide links to reviews we’ve done, but as we’ll be taking the new site design/reviews database live quite soon, adding review links that will eventually be obsolete seemed foolish. Instead, you’ll find our “Freefind” internal search engine on the full poll results page – a link will be provided at the end of this column – which will be replaced by our “review search” as soon as possible, so you can check for reviews, and we do have Desert Isle Keeper reviews for 88 of the 100 titles. That, btw, is a substantial increase over our last top 100 romances poll for which “only” two-thirds of the titles had DIK reviews.

Twenty authors make at least two appearances on our list. Six authors have two titles on the list; another four have three titles. Two authors make the list four times and two more appear five times. Three authors are on the list with six titles; another three appear seven times – they are Julie Garwood, Mary Jo Putney, and Suzanne Brockmann. These twenty authors account for more than 80% of the list’s titles.

# of Titles Authors with Multiple Titles in Poll 7 Suzanne Brockmann 7 Julie Garwood 7 Mary Jo Putney 6 Mary Balogh (a) 6 Linda Howard 6 Susan Elizabeth Phillips 5 Judith McNaught 5 Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb (b) 4 Georgette Heyer 4 Carla Kelly 3 Connie Brockway (c) 3 Judith Ivory 3 Laura Kinsale 3 Julia Quinn 2 Adele Ashworth 2 Loretta Chase 2 Jennifer Crusie (d) 2 Patricia Gaffney 2 Lisa Kleypas 2 Jayne Anne Krentz/Amanda Quick

(a) Four of the six Mary Balogh titles in our top 100 were for European Historical Romances; two were for traditional Regencies
(b) While in our annual reader polls J.D. Robb generally bests Nora Roberts, in this poll four of the five Roberts titles were under her “Roberts” name.
(c) Two out of the three of Connie Brockway’s top 100 titles made the top ten.
(d) Both of Jennifer Crusie’s top 100 titles cracked the top ten.

More than a third of the titles you voted for are European Historical Romances and just about one in four are Contemporary Romances. Eight percent are Medieval Romances; the remainder of categories are all under six percent, including traditional Regencies (Georgette Heyer’s four titles are listed as Classic Fiction) and Romantic Suspense. And in our last poll six series titles were included in the top 100; this time there are only two. In 2000 a series title was ranked #3; this time that same book turned up in the #19 position. The highest ranked book in our first poll moved down to the 16th slot in 2000 and the 37th position this time around.

* These categories add up to 95% – other genres/sub-genres together provide the remaining 5%.

Break-out by Genre/Sub-Genre * European Historical Romance 38% Contemporary Romance 24% Medieval Romance 8% Classic Fiction 6% Regency Romance 6% Romantic Suspense 4% American Historical Romance 3% Historical Romance 2% Series Romance 2% Time Travel Romance 2%

A total of 5,141 votes were cast; the top 100 titles received 1,343 of them. On average each ballot contained 66 titles. A total number of 2,150 titles received votes. For comparative purposes, in our first poll, in 1998, 1,733 titles were submitted and 3,346 individual votes received. In 2000, 1,300 titles were submitted and more than 5,000 individual votes were cast.

I thought it might be helpful to illustrate the top ten titles for each of our three polls; the first thing I noticed was that the top choice in 1998 fell to the number sixteen slot in 2000, and to #37 this time around. Only four of 1998’s top ten titles made it into the top ten in 2000; only two cracked 2004’s top ten. Only four from 2000’s top ten were included in 2004’s top ten. Of the remaining six titles from 2004’s top ten, three had been published prior to 2000 (two in 1997, one in 1998), which means they grew into their favorite slot several years after being published.

Top Ten from 2004 Top Ten from 2000 Top Ten from 1998 Lord of Scoundrels Lord of Scoundrels A Knight in Shining Armor Flowers From the Storm Outlander The Secret Welcome to Temptation Mackenzie’s Mountain Nobody’s Baby But Mine As You Desire Flowers from the Storm Outlander Bet Me Devil’s Bride Dream Man Dreaming of You Dreaming of You Heaven, Texas Outlander It Had to be You Lord of Scoundrels Over the Edge Heaven, Texas The Gift All Through the Night Shattered Rainbows Whitney, My Love Sea Swept The Shadow and the Star It Had to be You

As always, it’s not only the authors who appear on this list that are of interest – it’s also fascinating to see which authors did not make the cut. For some it seems “out of sight, out of mind;” either they’ve not had a recent release or their last one or two books weren’t well-received. And some major authors who have changed their focus don’t appear at all – or for their work following this change.

A myriad of authors who received votes for multiple titles seem to cancel themselves out, something you can see from the table below. Note that Jo Beverley’s 63 votes, for example, were spread among twenty titles. By contrast, Judith Ivory, who received a similar amount of votes, had far fewer titles submitted – eight to Beverley’s twenty. Ivory ended up with three titles in the top 100; Beverley had none.

Looking at this phenomenon from the top points to the same conclusion: authors with the most titles submitted tend to cancel themselves out. Nora Roberts, who earned 80 more votes than Mary Balogh, had those votes spread out across many more books (89 for Roberts and 52 for Balogh). In the end Roberts/Robb had five titles in the top 100. Balogh had six. Brockmann, Garwood, and Putney, who received – at most – half the votes of Roberts, had far, far fewer titles across which to spread those votes. Each of these authors earned seven slots in the top 100.

Here is a listing of those authors who received the most votes (we made the cut-off 30 or more votes):

Author Votes Titles Top 100 Titles Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb 273 89 5 Mary Balogh 194 52 6 Linda Howard 166 30 6 Georgette Heyer 146 39 4 JAK/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle 144 40 2 Suzanne Brockmann 143 24 7 Julie Garwood 128 19 7 Mary Jo Putney 120 24 7 Susan Elizabeth Phillips 105 16 6 Judith McNaught 97 13 5 Jennifer Crusie 84 13 2 Carla Kelly 83 13 4 Connie Brockway 80 9 3 Laura Kinsale 79 10 3 Loretta Chase 77 11 2 Lisa Kleypas 74 11 2 Julia Quinn 72 15 3 Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas 67 8 3 Jo Beverley 63 20 0 LaVyrle Spencer 60 14 1 Patricia Gaffney 46 8 2 Anne Stuart 43 23 0 Joan Wolf 43 22 0 Madeline Hunter 41 11 1 Diana Gabaldon 40 5 1 Lorraine Heath 40 13 1 Elizabeth Lowell 39 20 0 Stephanie Laurens 39 12 1 Rachel Gibson 38 8 1 Jude Deveraux 36 19 1 Johanna Lindsey 35 16 0 Liz Carlyle 32 7 0

When we last conducted this poll, we broke out votes and titles for Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and JAK/Amanda Quick. Reconciling them for that earlier poll and showing the adjusted order of the top several vote getters shows us some interesting things:

Author Multiple Vote Rank 2004 Multiple Vote Rank 2000 Difference Roberts/Robb 1 1 0 Balogh 2 6 +4 Howard 3 3 0 Georgette Heyer 4 8 +4 Krentz/Quick 5 2 -3 Brockmann 6 10 +4 Garwood 7 5 -2 MJP 8 4 -4 SEP 9 7 -2 McNaught 10 9 -1

Each of the top ten authors from 2000 when comparing apples to apples remained in the top ten in 2004, but there was significant movement between some of the ten. Nora Roberts received the most votes, and by a very substantial amount. Roberts also earned the most votes in 2000, and by nearly the same margin, but to a different author. And while Mary Balogh earned the second highest number of votes altogether this time, she was behind JAK/Quick, Howard, Putney, and Garwood in 2000.