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2012 RITA finalists for Young Adult Romance

March 26, 2012

It wasn’t too long ago that there weren’t enough YA Romance entrants for the RITA Awards to qualify as a category. Remember when Caridad Ferrer’s Adiós to My Old Life won the RITA Award for best contemporary single title romance and some people complained that a YA book didn’t belong in the category? The only reason Adiós to My Old Life was even up for best contemporary single title romance in the first place was because the YA category was cancelled for lack of entrants.

Now look. For, I believe, the fifth year in a row, there’s a YA category

  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Feiwel & Friends)
  • Flawless by Lara Chapman (Bloomsbury)
  • Hourglass by Myra McEntire (Egmont USA)
  • I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler (Sourcebooks Fire)
  • Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep (Kensington Teen)
  • Warped by Maurissa Guibord (Delacorte)

and YA books are represented in the Best First Book category (YA titles bolded)

  • Beautiful Disaster by Laura Spinella (Berkley)
  • The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell (Berkley)
  • The Devil in Disguise by Stefanie Sloane (Ballantine)
  • First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (St. Martin’s)
  • Hourglass by Myra McEntire (Egmont USA)
  • How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreilling (Forever)
  • I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler (Sourcebooks Fire)
  • Warped by Maurissa Guibord (Delacorte)

Say what you will about whether or not the RITAs really honor the most outstanding romance fiction, I think it’s more interesting to note how it reflects the growing stature of YA fiction.

A couple of things that stood out to me (I guess I’m all about the bullet points today):

  • Nice variety in the YA category. Not just in genre, but also publishers represented. Six finalists, six different publishing houses. A couple of Big Six/Seven publishers (Macmillan and Random), but mostly smaller houses, and three relatively new YA imprints (although Sourcebooks and Kensington have previously had success publishing adult romance).
  • Didn’t Darynda Jones’s First Grave on the Right win a Golden Heart a couple of years ago? In any case, and continuing the trend of adult romance writers also writing YA, she’s got a YA book coming out this fall, Death and the Girl Next Door.
  • I think Jill Sorenson has said she has no plans to write YA. Which makes me sad, since she is the one romance author I’d love to see writing YA, based on her single title romances, which feature teenaged characters in important roles. (I think Sorenson’s The Edge of Night is a great for Perfect Chemistry fans also reading adult romances, but without the over-the-top epilogues.) This year, her Stranded with Her Ex is a finalist in contemporary series romance. But I have to say, of the five of her books that I’ve read (and I cannot wait to read Caught in the Act!), Stranded with Her Ex is probably my least favorite.
  • I thought I was pretty bad last year, having only read five of the finalists in all categories at the time of the finalists’ announcement. This year? Four.

And, as always, congratulations to all the finalists!

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