Romance readers, take note! The Romance Writers of America (RWA) has announced the 2019 RITA Award winners, a.k.a. the best of what romance fiction has to offer. Whether you like sweet romances or sexy vampires, there's something for you on the list below.
Since 1982, the RITA Awards have honored the best of the best in romance writing. Today, the RWA hands out RITA Awards in 13 categories, including YA romance and religious romance. In addition to the RITAs, the RWA also recognizes "outstanding manuscripts from never-before-published Romance Writers of America members" with the Golden Heart Awards, and hands out Lifetime Achievement Awards to romance writers who have been published for 15 years or more. The RWA is not honoring any writer with a Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
If you're not a romance reader, but have been intrigued about the genre, the RITA Award winners make for perfect introductory material. Whatever you think a "romance novel" is, there's a book just like it on the list below, and 12 more that will challenge all your expectations. Whether you want to read an intense love story, or are just looking for cheap thrills, you'll find something for you among the 2019 RITA winners.
Paranormal Romance: 'Dearest Ivie' by J.R. Ward
A biker's daughter meets an Old Country vampire in this paranormal romance novella. She's not in his class, not even close, but there's something there between them, even if they can only be together for a short while.
Contemporary Romance, Long: 'Long Shot' by Kennedy Ryan
The heroine of Kennedy Ryan's Long Shot hasn't been lucky in life. Iris meets NBA player August while she's in a relationship with Caleb, an NBA star on the rise, and a violent abuser. Can Iris escape Caleb to find happiness with August, or will their relationship be doomed by her evil soon-to-be ex's presence?
Young Adult Romance: 'My So-Called Bollywood Life' by Nisha Sharma
Winnie's got a prophecy for her future husband to fulfill, and Raj checked all the boxes, right up to the point that he started cheating on her. Dev doesn't fit what was foretold about Winnie's love life, and he wants her to look beyond clairvoyance and find what she truly wants, prophecy or no prophecy.
Historical Romance, Short: 'A Duke in the Night' by Kelly Bowen
Ten years after their romance ended, mild-mannered Clara and her rapacious duke, August, are thrown together once more. Clara can't imagine that August has anything more than business conquest on the brain, but she might not be the best judge of his character, after all.
Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length: 'Advanced Physical Chemistry' by Susannah Nix
Chemical engineer Penny has sworn off romantic attachments, but a super-hot barista might throw a wrench into her plans. Her last four boyfriends have cheated on her, and what develops with coffee-slinger Caleb is supposed to be just a fling. Penny thinks that her no-attachments plan will keep her heart from being broken again... but it won't keep her from developing feelings for her new friend with benefits.
Romantic Suspense: 'Fearless' by Elizabeth Dyer
Thrown together after a year of captivity and a complicated backstabbing, Will and Cooper may need each other in order to survive. But their stories are more connected than either of them realizes, and they may find that they make better enemies than friends.
Erotic Romance: 'Three-Way Split' by Elia Winters
The owner of a sex shop hatches a plan to break her own dry spell in this fun romance. Hannah wants to hop in bed with Mitchell, but she's worried about a tryst ruining his relationship with his roommate, Ben. If she could just have them both, maybe everything would turn out fine, but that's not the way it works... or is it?
Romance Novella: 'Bad Blood' by M. Malone
When his best friend's kid sister needs help fleeing the altar, Jamie obliges, but he can't have sex with Georgie, even though that's what she really, really wants. Jamie has the best intentions for all involved... but he's just starting to realize that Georgie might mean more to him than his friendship with her brother.
Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance: 'How to Keep a Secret' by Sarah Morgan
In the wake of a tragedy, four estranged family members come together in Martha's Vineyard in this novel from One Summer in Paris author Sarah Morgan. Nancy wants desperately to connect with her two adult daughters, Jenna and Lauren. But with one of them struggling with infertility, and the other raising a difficult, teenage daughter, can she ever explain to them the choices she made?
Historical Romance, Long: 'A Wicked Kind of Husband' by Mia Vincy
It has been two years since the DeWitts married, and they haven't seen each other again. Forbidden from visiting London by her badly behaved husband, Cassandra makes it a point to live there instead. But when she unexpectedly meets Mr. DeWitt in the city, sparks — of all kinds — will fly.
Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements: 'The Saturday Night Supper Club' by Carla Laureano
After a critical editorial opens the door for her restaurateur partners to destroy her dream career, Rachel Bishop receives an offer to help from an unlikely source — Alex Kanin, the man who wrote the hit piece. As she begins to rebuild her career with Alex's help, Rachel discovers that her dreams may not need to come true, after all.
Contemporary Romance, Short: 'The Bachelor’s Baby Surprise' by Teri Wilson
Still recovering from a messy breakup, Evangeline's life begins to look up when she lands a new job and has a steamy one-night stand. But when she discovers that her fling is also her new boss, and that she's pregnant with his baby, Evangeline discovers that life can always get more complicated.
Best First Book: 'Lady in Waiting' by Marie Tremayne
An heir looking for a marriage of convenience meets an heiress in disguise in this debut romance from Marie Tremayne. With her employer falling deeper in love with her maid persona, can Clara afford to reveal her true self to him — and risk being found by the awful fiance she ran away from?