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The Rita Awards have been presented annually by the members of the Romance Writers of America [RWA] to romance novels receiving the highest scores by a panel of romance-author judges. Originally known from 1982 to 1989 simply as The Golden Medallion Awards, the name was changed in 1990 to honor Rita Clay Estrada, the first president of RWA. Over the years, both the structure of the awards, and the categories in which the awards have been presented have occasionally changed. In 2008, a major restructuring of the categories occured, with several "new" categories seemingly replacing long-standing older categories. Currently, there are twelve categories in which Ritas are presented. Additional information about the Ritas can be found at A History of the Rita Awards. Information about Nebraska chapters of RWA is also available on-line. Although many of the individual Rita Award-winning novels are not owned by the Lincoln City Libraries, those titles in this list which are "hotlinked" to the library's catalog are currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries. The remaining titles are provided for the sake of historical accuracy. In many cases, the Lincoln City Libraries owns other titles by most of these award-winning authors.

Rita Winners for Best Novel

Best Contemporary Series Romance
[category first appeared in 2008]
2012   Sarah Morgan Doukakis's Apprentice
2011   Karen Templeton Welcome Home, Cowboy
2010   Beth Andrews A Not So Perfect Past
2009   Karen Templeton A Mother's Wish
2008   Janice Johnson Snowbound

Best Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure
[category first appeared in 2008]
2012   CIndy Dees Soldier's Last Stand
2011   Helen Brenna The Moon That Night
2010   Cindy Dees The Soldier's Secret Daughter
2009   Kathleen Creighton Danger Signals
2008   Helen Brenna Treasure

Best Paranormal Romance
[Includes novels with strong Paranormal, Fantasy or Science Fiction themes]
2012   Thea Harrison Dragon Bound
2011   Sharon Ashwood Unchained: The Dark Forgotten
2010   Kresley Cole Kiss of a Demon King
2009   Gwyn Cready Seducing Mr. Darcy
2008   J.R. Ward Lover Revealed
2007   Kresley Cole A Hunger Like no Other
2006   Linnea Sinclair Gabriel's Ghost
2005   Lori Handeland Blue Moon
2004 Linda Fallon Shades of Midnight
2003 Susan Grant Contact
2002 Robin D. Owens Heart Mate
2001 Karen Marie Moning The Highlander's Touch
2000 Jeanette Baker Nell
1999 Susan Carroll The Bride Finder
1998 Justine Dare FireHawk
1997 Lynn Kurland Stardust of Yesterday
1996 Modean Moon The Covenant
1995 Justine Davis Lord of the Storm
1994 Anne Stuart Falling Angel
1993   Antoinette Stockenberg   Emily's Ghost
1992 Justine Davis Angel for Hire

Best Inspirational Romance
[Novels featuring a strong religious or spiritual theme]
2012   Serena Miller The Measure of Katie Calloway
2011   Irene Hannon In Harm's Way
2010   Tamera Alexander The Inheritance
2009   Susan May Warren Finding Stefanie
2008   Linda Goodnight A Touch of Grace
2007   Tamera Alexander Revealed
2006   Beth Pattillo Heavens to Betsy
2005   Shelley Bates Grounds to Believe
2004 Gayle Roper Autumn Dreams
2003 Irene Hannon Never Say Goodbye
2002 Deborah Raney Beneath a Southern Sky
2001   Robin Lee Hatcher   The Shepherd's Voice
2000 Dee Henderson Danger in the Shadows
1999 Robin Lee Hatcher Patterns of Love
1998 Melody Carlson Homeward
1997 Francine Rivers The Scarlet Thread
1996 Francine Rivers As Sure as the Dawn
1995 Francine Rivers An Echo in the Darkness
1986 Kathleen Karr From This Day Forward
1985 Charlotte Nichols For the Love of Mike

Best Romantic Novella
[Shorter works, often appearing in magazines or anthologies]
2012   Caroline Linden I Love the Earl [stand-alone publication - both ebook and print]
2011   Virginia Kantra "Shifting Sea" from Burning Up
2010   Stephanie Laurens "The Christmas Eve Promise" from The Night Before Christmas
2009   Stephanie Laurens "The Fall of Rogue Gerard" from It Happened One Night
2008   Jennifer Greene "Born in My Heart" from Like Mother, Like Daughter
2007   Roxanne St. Claire "Tis the Silly Season" from A NASCAR Holiday
2006   Alesia Holliday "The Naked Truth About Guys" from The Naked Truth
2005   Maggie Shayne "Her Best Enemy" from Night's Edge
2004   Gayle Wilson   "Prisoner of the Tower" from The Wedding Chase
2003 Lynn Kurland "To Kiss in Shadows"
2002 Lisa Kleypas "I Will" from Wish List
2001   Merlene Lovelace   "Final Approach to Forever" from Once Upon a Dream
2000 Marianne Willman "Starry, Starry Night"

Best First Book
2012   Darynda Jones First Grave on the Right
2011   Kaki Warner Pieces of Sky
2010   Kate Brady One Scream Away
2009   Tera Lynn Childs Oh. My. Gods.
2008   Terri Garey Dead Girls Are Easy
2007   Tracy Anne Warren The Husband Trap
2006   Stephanie Feagan Show Her the Money
2005   Lani Diane Rich Time Off for Good Behavior
2004 Susan Crandall Back Roads
2003 Wendy Lindstrom Shades of Honor
2002 Elizabeth English The Border Bride
2001 Fay Robinson A Man Like Mac
2000 Isolde Martyn The Maiden and the Unicorn
1999 Adele Ashworth My Darling Caroline
1998 Elizabeth Boyle Brazen Angel
1997 Lynn Kurland Stardust of Yesterday
1996 Elizabeth Elliot The Warlord
1995 Angie Ray Ghostly Enchantment
1994 Megan Chance A Candle in the Dark
1993 Jeane Renick Trust Me
1992 Christina Dodd Candle in the Window
1991 Dee Holmes Black Horse Island
1990   Alaina Hawthorne   Out of the Blue

Best Regency Historical Romance
2012   Tessa Dare A Night to Surrender
2011   Lauren Willig The Mischief of the Mistletoe
2010   Julia Quinn What Happens in London
2009   Joanna Bourne My Lord and Spymaster
2008   Julia Quinn The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever
2006   Diana Gaston A Reputable Rake
2005   Sophia Nash A Passionate Endeavor
2004 Nancy Butler Prospero's Daughter
2003 Barbara Metzger A Debt to Delia
2002 Jessica Benson Much Obliged
2001 Emma Jensen A Grand Design
2000 Nancy Butler The Rake's Retreat
1999 Emma Jenson His Grace Endures
1998 Jean R. Ewing Love's Reward
1997 Carla Kelly The Lady's Companion
1996   Lynn Kerstan & Alicia Rasley   Gwen's Christmas Ghost
1995 Carla Kelly Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand
1994 Jo Beverley Deidre and Don Juan
1993 Jo Beverley An Unwilling Bride
1992 Jo Beverley Emily and the Dark Angel
1991 Loretta Chase The Sandalwood Princess
1990 Mary Jo Putney The Rake and the Reformer
1989 Susan Carroll Brighton Road
1988 Susan Carroll Sugar Rose
1987 Amanda Scott Lord Abberley's Nemesis
1986 Monette Cummings The Beauty's Daughter
1985 Kasey Michaels The Lurid Lady of Lockport

Best Historical Romance
[category first appeared in 2008]
2012   Joanna Bourne The Black Hawk
2011   Sherry Thomas His at Night
2010   Sherry Thomas Not Quite a Husband
2009   Pam Rosenthal The Edge of Impropriety
2008   Madeline Hunter Lessons of Desire

Best Romantic Suspense
2012   J.D. Robb New York to Dallas
2011   Karen Rose Silent Scream
2010 Laura Griffin Whisper of Warning
2009   Cindy Gerard Take No Prisoners
2008   Anne Stuart Ice Blue
2007   Annie Solomon Blackout
2006   J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) Survivor in Death
2005   Karen Rose I'm Watching You
2004 Nora Roberts Remember When -- Part 1
2003 Nora Roberts Three Fates
2002 Tess Gerritsen The Surgeon
2001 Nora Roberts Carolina Moon
2000 Gayle Wilson The Bride's Protector
1999 Theresa Weir Cool Shade
1998 Ingrid Weaver On the Way to a Wedding
1997   Bethany Campbell   See How They Run
1996 Anne Stuart Winter's Edge
1995 Nora Roberts Hidden Riches
1994 Nora Roberts Nightshade
1993 Nora Roberts Divine Evil
1992 Nora Roberts Night Shift
1991 Karen Keast Night Spice
1990 Kathleen Korbel Perchance to Dream
1989 Nora Roberts Brazen Virtue

Best Single Title Contemporary Romance
2012   Fiona Lowe Boomerang Bride
2011   Jill Shalvis Simply Irresistible
2010   Kristan Higgins Too Good to Be True
2009   Rachel Gibson Not Another Bad Date
2008   Kristan Higgins Catch of the Day
2007 Caridad Ferrer Adios to My Old Life
2006   Susan Wiggs Lakeside Cottage
2005   Jennifer Crusie Bet Me
2004 Nora Roberts Birthright
2003 Barbara Samuels No Place Like Home
2002 Rachel Gibson True Confessions
2001   Susan Elizabeth Phillips   First Lady
2000 Suzanne Brockmann Bodyguard
1999 Susan Elizabeth Phillips Dream a Little Dream
1998 Susan Elizabeth Phillips Nobody's Baby But Mine
1997 Barbara Freethy Daniel's Gift
1996 Nora Roberts Born in Ice
1995 Kathleen Gilles Seidel Again
1994 Nora Roberts Private Scandals
1993 Kathleen Eagle This Time Forever
1992 Eileen Dreyer A Man to Die For

Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements
2012   Barbara O'Neal How to Bake a Perfect Life
2011   Jodi Thomas Welcome to Harmony
2010   Barbara O'Neal The Lost Recipe for Happiness
2009   Nora Roberts Tribute
2008   Deanna Raybourn Silent in the Grave
2007   Laurien Gardner (a.k.a. Jennifer Ashley) A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
2006   Barbara Samuel Lady Luck's Map of Vegas
2005   Evelyn Vaughn A.K.A. Goddess
2004 Kristin Hannah Between Sisters

Young Adult
[category was not used 1997-2007]
2012   Ann Aguierre Enclave
2011   Julie Kagawa The Iron King
2010   Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry
2009   Rosemary Clement-Moore Hell Week
2008 Melissa Marr Wicked Lovely
1996 Cheryl Zach Runaway
1995 Arleynn Presser Second to None
1994 Wendy Corsi Staub Summer Lightning
1993 Sherry Garland Song of the Buffalo Boy
1992 Lurlene McDaniel Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
1991 [no award] [no award]
1990 Vivian Schurfranz Renee
1989 Eileen Charbonneau The Ghosts of Stony Cove
1988 Arlene Erlbach Does Your Nose Get in the Way, Too?
1987 Kathleen Garvey Video Fever
1986 Cheryl Zach Waiting for Amanda
1985 Cheryl Zach The Frog Princess
1984   Barbara Bartholomew   Julie's Magic Moment
1983 Jo Stewart Andrea

The remaining Rita Award categories listed below have been used in past years, either once or several times, but have been phased out in favor of the twelve categories listed above. They are provided here for historical context.


Best Short Historical Romance
2007   Betina Krahn The Book of True Desires
2006   Jodi Thomas The Texan's Reward
2005   Susan Kay Law A Wanted Man
2004 Lisa Kleypas Worth Any Price
2003 Cheryl Reavis The Bride Fair
2002   Barbara Dawson Smith   Tempt Me Twice
2001 Susan Wiggs The Mistress
2000 Judith Ivory The Proposition
1999 Patricia Coughlin Merely Married
1998 Barbara Samuel The Heart of a Knight
1997 Lorraine Heath Always to Remember
1996 Loretta Chase Lord of Scoundrels

Best Long Historical Romance
2007   Julia Quinn On the Way to the Wedding
2006   Liz Carlyle The Devil to Pay
2005   Laura Kinsale Shadow Heart
2004 Kathleen Givens The Destiny
2003 Madeline Hunter Stealing Heaven
2002 Connie Brockway The Bridal Season
2001 Jo Beverley Devilish
2000 Patricia Ryan Silken Threads
1999 Connie Brockway My Dearest Enemy
1998 Maggie Osborne The Promise of Jenny Jones
1997   Laura Lee Guhrke   Conor's Way
1996 Pamela Morsi Something Shady
1995 Mary Jo Putney Dancing on the Wind

Best Short Contemporary Romance
[Originally identified as a contemporary novel of under 65,000 words]
2007   Jessica Bird From the First
2006   Liz Fielding The Marriage Miracle
2005   Barbara McCauley Miss Pruitt's Private Life [library only owns Spanish language edition]
2004   Nicole Burnham The Knight's Kiss
2003   Cindy Kay Gerard Taming the Outlaw [library only owns Spanish languge edition]
2002 Barbara Daly A Long, Hot Christmas
2001 Stephanie Bond It Takes a Rebel
2000 Anne McAllister The Stardust Cowboy
1999 Caroline Cross The Notorious Groom
1998 Jennifer Greene Nobody's Princess
1997 Anne McAllister Cowboy Pride
1996 Jennifer Greene Single Dad
1995 Jennifer Crusie Getting Rid of Bradley
1994 Glenna McReynolds   Avenging Angel
1993 Helen R. Myers Navarrone
1992 Glenda Sanders A Human Touch
1991 Jan Hudson Step Into My Parlor
1990 Jennifer Greene Night of the Hunter
1989 Kathleen Creighton Winter's Daughter
1988 Terri Herrington Stolen Moments
1987 Kathleen Creighton Still Waters
1986 Joan Hohl Much Needed Holiday
1985 Nora Roberts Opposites Attract
1984 Eileen Bryan Memory and Desire

Best Long Contemporary Romance
[Originally identified as a contemporary novel of 65,00-80,000 words]
2007   Lori Handeland The Mommy Quest
2006   Dianna Love Snell Worth Every Risk
2005   Inglath Cooper John Riley's Girl
2004   Kathleen Creighton The Top Gun's Return
2003   Catherine Mann Taking Cover
2002 Fay Robinson Coming Home to You
2001 Marilyn Pappano Rogue's Reform
2000 Suzanne Brockmann   Undercover Princess
1999 Ruth Wind Meant to be Married
1998 Ruth Wind Reckless
1997 Naomi Horton Wild Blood
1996 Justine Davis The Morning Side of Dawn
1995 Kathleen Korbel A Soldier's Heart
1994 Emilie Richards Dragonslayer
1993 Karen Young The Silence of Midnight
1992 Kathleen Korbel A Rose for Maggie
1991 Cheryl Reavis Patrick Gallagher's Widow
1990 Kathleen Korbel The Ice Cream Man
1989 Cheryl Reavis A Crime of the Heart
1988 Kathleen Creighton In Defense of Love
1987 Nora Roberts One Summer
1986 Georgia Bockoven Today, Tomorrow and Always
1985 Nora Roberts A Matter of Choice
1984 Deirdre Mardon Destiny's Sweet Errand [tie]
1984 Nora Roberts This Magic Moment [tie]

Best Traditional Romance
2007   Barbara Hannay Claiming His Family
2006   Marion Lennox Princess of Convenience
2005   Jessica Hart Christmas Eve Marriage
2004   Marion Lennox Her Royal Baby
2003   Debbie Macomber The Christmas Basket
2002 Sandra Steffen Quinn's Complete Seduction
2001 Liz Fielding The Best Man and the Bridesmaid
2000 Kristin Gabriel Annie, Get Your Groom
1999 Kristin Gabriel Monday Man
1998 Lucy Gordon His Brother's Child
1997 Lauryn Chandler Her Very Own Husband
1996 Elizabeth Sites Stranger in Her Arms
1995 Lauryn Chandler Oh, Baby!
1994 Lindsay Longford Annie and the Wise Men
1993 Marie Ferrarella Father Goose
1992 Bethany Campbell   Every Kind of Heaven
1991 Lucy Gordon Song of the Lorelei
1990 Mona Van Wieren Rhapsody in Bloom
1989 Bethany Campbell Flirtation River
1988 Rita Rainville It Takes a Thief
1987 Sandy Dengler Opal Fire
1986 Doreen Malek The Crystal Unicorn
1985 Brittany Young The Karas Cup
1984 Nora Roberts Untamed

Category Contemporary
1982   Brooke Hastings   Winner Take All

Mainstream Contemporary
1983 Lynda Trent Opal Fires
1982   Barbara Faith   The Sun Dancers

Contemporary Sensual
1983   Nora Roberts   The Heart's Victory

Contemporary Sweet
1983   Dixie Browning   Renegade Player

Category Historical
1984 Julie Jeffries The Clergyman's Daughter
1983 Mara Seger Defiant Love
1982   Constance Ravenlock   Rendezvous at Gramercy

Historical
1995 Jodi Thomas To Tame a Texan's Heart
1989 Jill Marie Landis Sunflower
1988   LaVyrle Spencer   The Gamble
1987 Robyn Carr By Right of Arms
1986 Francine Rivers Not So Wild a Dream
1985 LaVyrle Spencer Twice Loved
1984 LaVyrle Spencer Hummingbird

Mainstream Historical
1983   LaVyrle Spencer   The Endearment
1982 Anna James Day Beyond Destiny

Series Historical
1994 Jo Beverley My Lady Notorious
1993 Cheryl Reavis The Prisoner
1992 Jodi Thomas The Tender Texan
1991   Penelope Williamson   A Wild Yearning
1990 Patricia Gardner Silver Noose

Single Title Historical
1994 Elizabeth Lowell Untamed
1993   Penelope Williamson   Keeper of the Dream
1992 Pamela Morsi Courting Miss Hattie
1991 Elizabeth Stuart Where Love Dwells
1990 Julie Garwood The Bride

Mainstream
1985   Kathleen Gilles Seidel   After All These Years

Single Title Release
1990 Diane Chamberlain Private Relations
1989 Linda Barlow Leaves of Fortune
1988 Barbara Delinsky Twilight Whispers
1987   Tom and Sharon Curtis   Sunshine and Shadow
1986 Anne Stuart Banish Misfortune

Best Romance of [previous publishing year]
1995   Susan Elizabeth Phillips   It Had To Be You
1994 Susan Wiggs Lord of the Night
1993 Jill Marie Landis Come Spring
1992 Diana Gabaldon Outlander
1991 Laura Kinsale The Prince of Midnight
1990 LaVyrle Spencer Morning Glory

RWA's Favorite Book of [previous publishing year]
1998   Susan Elizabeth Phillips   Nobody's Baby But Mine

Last Updated October 2012 sdc

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