Paranormal Romance Rita Finalists, 2016

The Romance Writers of America have announced the finalists in the 2016 Rita contest for best romance writing of the year. Congratulations to all the finalists!

You can see the full list of finalists here, but as an author of science fiction romance, I’d like to focus on the Paranormal Romance category (which is where RWA pigeonholes SFR).

Here are the PNR finalists. After the list, I note a few observations.


Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert

Harlequin, Nocturne

Ann Leslie Tuttle, Editor


The Beast by J R Ward

New American Library

Kara Welsh, editor


The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant


Mary Moran, editor


Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood

Harlequin, Nocturne

Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor


Ghost Gifts
 by Laura Spinella

Montlake Publishing

Alison Dasho, editor


The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre


Sasha Knight, editor


The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Kensington Publishing Corp.

Peter Senftleben, editor


Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper

Pocket Books

Abby Zidle, editor


Off the top of my head, here are a few observations:

  • SFR — Although SFR is just a sub-category, it’s powerfully represented. Susan Grant and Ann Aguirre are known by many SFR fans, and they’ve both appeared on finalists (and winners!) lists before. Both are faves of mine.
  • Self-publishing — Two of the eight finalists are self-published.  Which two? The SFR books by Grant and Aguirre. I think I detect a pattern! Both of these authors started in traditional publishing, but now get to keep all the profit, as opposed to the relative pittance publishing companies give.
  • Covers — As you might expect, all of these covers feature dark or subdued palettes. Nary a rose petal or bright red in the bunch. Lots of male chests and closeups of faces, though.
  • Familiar names — In addition to Grant and Aguirre, even I, who doesn’t follow paranormal, am familiar with authors on the list such as JR Ward, Jeffe Kennedy,Molly Harper, and others.
  • Bestsellers — When I looked at these books on Amazon, I noticed that the majority had somewhere around 40-50 reviews, which probably means they sold well, but not wildly, fantastically well. The Ritas reward quality, not notoriety.
  • Other SFR finalists — Hywela Lyn’s Beloved Enemy is shortlisted for the RoNAs, a UK equivalent of the Ritas. Janet Halpin’s Beryl Blue is a Golden Heart Finalist for best unpublished SFR.
  • My personal thanks — I read Grant’s Champion of Baresh while seriously ill last fall. I am profoundly grateful when a book helps me get through horrible circumstances like this. Thanks, Ms Grant!

What about you? Have you read any of the finalists? Do you plan to read any now that you know they’re finalists?



  1. Well done, Ed. I always enjoy your take on what’s going on in the ‘biz’. As for me, I just keep writing along, singing my song, day by day. Best always.

    1. That middle sentence has a lilt to it, almost like lyrics. Oh duh — wake up, wake up you sleepy head (pounds self upside the head). They are lyrics, except for the substitution of ‘writing’. 😉

    1. I’m glad you considered it worth sharing with your readers, Laurie.

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