A week of posts about results from WRL’s ABBC continues today with a look at the romance category. ABBC stands for All-the-Best-Books Compilation, and it’s a spreadsheet that compiles the results from many best-of-the-year lists and awards for the books published in the previous year. We count the number of mentions each book receives and document which sources mentioned each title. You’re welcome to download the spreadsheet and use it for yourself or to help other readers find great books. We do ask is that you cite Williamsburg Regional Library and Blogging for a Good Book if you republish any part of the results.
Romance fiction doesn’t get much attention in the end-of-the-year lists, and sometimes the groups that do give out romance awards can be so inclusive that almost every author published by a major house gets some form of recognition. Others don’t publish their results until after our compilation is typically finished, so it’s harder to identify clear favorites in this genre. Finding more votes for the books in this category requires digging into romance-focused blogs, and I haven’t drilled quite that deep into the list in this year’s compilation yet. I’ll annotate the top four so far, but you may want to check back with later editions of the ABBC, which won’t be fully compiled until the end of the month. Still, the four books mentioned here should offer something to most romance fans, as they come from four different corners of the genre.
Tops so far with four mentions is one of romance writing’s most familiar names, Nora Roberts. Her 200th (!) book, The Witness, was reviewed here at BFGB by Christine back in May. This time she sets her story in the Arkansas Ozarks, and follows Abigail, a woman who runs a computer security firm and tries to maintain the lowest profile she can, as she’s created a new identity after a run-in with the Russian mafia. A well-meaning sheriff named Brooks tries to draw her out of her shell, and part of her wants to give in to his pursuit, but he doesn’t understand that becoming part of the community will endanger her life. Christine praised the book’s creation of community, sense of place, and the clever interaction of the central couple, and it appears that other reviewers agree with her judgment.
To date there’s a three-way tie for second with books of three mentions each. Kresley Cole’s Lothaire is the latest in her paranormal romance series, Immortals after Dark. As usual, this tale pits different factions and powers among the creatures of The Lore against each other, and this book focuses on the ruthless and half-mad Lothaire. Lothaire captures Ellie Pierce, an Appalachian girl possessed by an evil spirit. He intends to sacrifice her to gain power for himself, but instead finds that something about her soothes his tormented soul. What’s a vampire to do? This is the 12th in a series that started back with The Warlord Wants Forever, part of a compilation, Playing Easy to Get, published back in 2006. Lothaire has figured into the stories before, so you might want to gobble down some of the earlier titles before you launch into Cole’s latest.
Tessa Dare brings us A Week to Be Wicked, the follow up to A Night to Surrender in her Spindle Cove series. This is a historical romance in which a rake, Colin, and a scientist spinster, Minerva, fake an elopement. He wants to escape financial difficulties by marrying Minerva’s more vulnerable sister, so she makes a deal with him. If he’ll accompany her to Scotland so she can collect a prize from the Royal Geographic Society, she’ll give him the prize money, as long as he leaves little sister alone. She’s cerebral, but awkward; he’s the ultimate ladies man. But as the novel progresses, both begin to unlock hidden sides. Opposites proceed to attract as they have many adventures on their 400-mile road trip, and the differences between the two lead to humorous situations and lots of fun banter.
The final member of the second-place tie is Sophie Kinsella’s latest bit of contemporary chicklit fun, I’ve Got Your Number. The setup is that Poppy Wyatt loses her engagement ring and her phone in a hotel fire drill and its aftermath. The ring is an heirloom of her fiancee Magnus Tavish’s snobby family, and since they’re already trying to stop the marriage, Poppy can’t really confess that she lost it. When she finds another phone in the chaos, she takes it, with the intention of having the hotel call her when the ring is located. Businessman Sam Roxton isn’t thrilled to find out that his phone has been appropriated, and the two wage a comic battle through email, text messages, and other means, upending each others’ lives at every turn. In the process of leading each other on a merry chase, a relationship begins to form between the two, and soon Poppy has to decide between the man she once thought was the perfect catch and the one who came into her life by surprise.
I’ll be back with one more post about the ABBC results tomorrow here at BFGB. Watch here afterwards for the final editions of this year’s compilation to get the final vote totals as we search for the best books of 2012. I’ll also be sharing results from some of the other categories at my other blogging home, Book Group Buzz, such as in this post about the results among short story collections.
Click on the individual book title links to go to the WRL catalog.