December 3, 2007 - Issue #285

From the Desk of Cindy, Lee, & LinnieGayl:

Beyond the Top 100 - A Look into the Larger Picture

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After posting the Top 100, your AAR pollsters avidly followed the discussion on the boards about the results (and at times participated in the discussion as well). Several things became clear over the course of the first few days. Many new-to-romance readers use the results of the poll as a valuable resource for books to read. Many long-time romance readers participated in the poll and also participated in the ATBF discussions. Some of these long-time readers, however, well-versed in the titles that appeared in the Top 100, expressed a desire for information about potential “buried treasures,” hidden deep in the poll results.

What we’re not going to do is provide a list of all 4,975 of the titles voted for by at least one reader. 2,783 of the titles appeared on only one ballot, and another 720 appeared on only two ballots. Instead, we’ve decided to look a little more thoroughly at the titles and authors in places 101-500. While these titles (and authors) didn’t have enough votes to land in the top 100, they were dearly loved by a large number of readers, and they rank among your top 10 percent of romance novels.

First, looking beyond the Top 100 to the titles in 101-500, we discovered that a lot of the authors with titles in your top 100 also have titles in places 101-500.

Please use our reviews database search module at the bottom left of the page and/or our Freefind search module on the bottom right of the page to find reviews for the authors listed below (reviews database) or interviews/articles with those authors. Due to LLB's illness, there was no time to add links within the column itself.

Authors from the Top 100 on the Extended List
Author
# of Titles Ranked 101-500
# of Titles in Top 100
J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts
20
5
Mary Balogh
19
5
Linda Howard
16
8
Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick
15
1
Georgette Heyer
13
3
Mary Jo Putney
10
4
Julia Quinn
10
4
Suzanne Brockmann
8
3
Laura Kinsale
7
3
Jennifer Crusie
7
3
Julie Garwood
6
6
Rachel Gibson
6
1
Judith Ivory
6
2
Lisa Kleypas
6
8
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
6
8
Loretta Chase
5
4
Gaelen Foley
4
1
Connie Brockway
3
3
Diana Gabaldon
3
3
Adele Ashworth
2
1
Jane Austen
2
2
Patricia Gaffney
2
1
Judith McNaught
2
7
Robin Schone
2
1
Nalini Singh
2
1
LaVyrle Spencer
2
1
Jude Deveraux
1
1
Elizabeth Hoyt
1
2
Stephanie Laurens
1
1
Laura London
1
1
J.R. Ward
1
4
 

However, a number of different authors also appeared in the places 101-500. In this list are many of the authors mentioned in the ATBF discussion board, with cries of, “But where is [fill in author’s name here]?” You'll find many much-loved books here. Many of these books place at or near the top of the Favorite Books by Favorite Authors listing for those authors. Those with multiple listings in places 101-500 are:

Well-Favored Authors Whose Books Did Not Place in the Top 100
Author
# Titles in 101-500
Author’s Top Title in Places 101 - 500
Sub-Genre
Jo Beverley
10
Devilish European Historical
Anne Stuart
9
Black Ice Romantic Suspense
Liz Carlyle
8
The Devil You Know European Historical
Madeline Hunter
8
By Possession Medieval
Carla Kelly
8
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand Trad Regency
Johanna Lindsey
7
Gentle Rogue Historical
Elizabeth Lowell
7
Untamed Medieval
Karen Marie Moning
7
Kiss of the Highlander Time Travel
Sherrilyn Kenyon
5
Night Play Fantasy Romance
Kathleen Woodiwiss
5
The Flame and the Flower Historical
Christine Feehan
4
Dark Desire Vampire Romance
Laura Lee Guhrke
4
And Then He Kissed Her European Historical
Teresa Medeiros
4
Yours Until Dawn European Historical
Linnea Sinclair
4
Games of Command SF Romance
Sandra Brown
3
Slow Heat in Heaven Contemporary
Marsha Canham
3
Across a Moonlit Sea Historical
Suzanne Enoch
3
London’s Perfect Scoundrel European Historical
Anne Gracie
3
The Perfect Rake European Historical
Lorraine Heath
3
Texas Destiny Frontier / Western
Emma Holly
3
Menage Erotica
Eloisa James
3
Much Ado About You European Historical
Dara Joy
3
Knight of a Trillion Stars Paranormal
Lynn Kurland
3
This is All I Ask Medieval
Stephanie Meyer
3
Twilight Young Adult / Paranormal
Pamela Morsi
3
Simple Jess Americana
Penelope Williamson
3
Keeper of the Dream Medieval
Catherine Anderson
2
Annie’s Song Historical
Meljean Brook
2
Demon Angel Paranormal
Susan Carroll
2
The Bride Finder Paranormal Historical
P.C. Cast
2
Goddess of the Rose Fantasy Romance
Catherine Coulter
2
The Sherbrooke Bride European Historical
Christina Dodd
2
Candle in the Window Medieval
Elizabeth Elliott
2
Warlord Historical
Lori Foster
2
Too Much Temptation Contemporary
Jo Goodman
2
A Season to be Sinful European Historical
Eva Ibbotson
2
A Countess Below Stairs European Historical
Sabrina Jeffries
2
To Pleasure a Prince European Historical
Laura Leone
2
Fall From Grace Contemporary
Shannon McKenna
2
Behind Closed Doors Contemporary
Candice Proctor
2
Night in Eden Historical
Karen Ranney
2
After the Kiss European Historical
Julia Ross
2
The Seduction European Historical
Deborah Simmons
2
The Vicar’s Daughter European Historical
Katherine Sutcliffe
2
Dream Fever Australian Frontier

The list above seems to be well rounded in both authors and genres compared to the Top 100. With this broader array of works, new readers and older ones for that matter may find some new gems to add to their keeper collections. Authors like Linnea Sinclair, Stephany Meyer and Laura Leone may not be household names but clearly they have written books that romance readers are not only aware of but were good enough to be listed as one of their favorite books of all time.

Not only that but there are authors on the list that are fairly new to the genre and some that are just on the outskirts of what we would think of as a traditional romance. P.C. Cast is an author who explores fantasy romance (the heroine of Goddess of the Rose is a centaur), while Emma Holly's title, Menage, is erotica rather than erotic romance.

Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey and Catherine Coulter are definitely keepers of the old guard and those of us who started with these authors in the 1980’s have an affection for their stories that have stood the test of time. Then there are the authors who seem to have come and gone. Deborah Simmons, Katherine Sutcliffe and Dara Joy were authors whose names appeared frequently on the bulletin boards at AAR but who now seem to have faded into the background. Good news for readers of Simmons, though; as we posted on one of our forums in October, she's signed with Harlequin Historicals for another romance.

This list is a good place to start if you're looking for good books that didn't make the Top 100 list but are still very popular with AAR's readers. Some beloved authors didn't make the Top 100 list because so many of their books are favorites that readers "split" their votes for these authors. This list can help new readers by being a guide to these authors.

But we’re in search of buried treasures, so we decided to go a bit further. One definition of a buried treasure might be that it appeared in the top ten on at least one person’s ballot. Using that definition, there were 1,233 “buried treasures” within all the titles receiving at least one vote. Of course, among those were the actual Top 100, as well as numerous titles written by the Top 100 authors. When we delete those titles, we’re left with 860 titles. Of those 860 titles, 41 appeared on at least five different readers’ ballots. Hopefully, this list will provide a buried treasure for you:

Titles Outside of the Top 100 That Were Ranked in the Top Ten by Multiple Readers
# of Ballots in Top Ten
Author
Title
Genre
15
Margaret Mitchell Gone With the Wind Classic
13
Paulina Simmons The Bronze Horseman Historical Fiction
12
Kathleen Woodiwiss The Flame and the Flower Historical
10
Jo Beverley Devilish European Historical
10
Carla Kelly Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand Trad Regency
9
Kelley Armstrong Bitten Paranormal
9
Stephanie Meyer Twilight Young Adult / Paranormal
8
Audrey Niffenegger The Time Traveler’s Wife Fiction
8
Penelope Williamson Keeper of the Dream Medieval
8
Ruth Wind In the Midnight Rain Women’s Fiction
7
Shana Abe The Smoke Thief Fantasy Romance
7
Catherine Anderson Annie’s Song Historical
7
Catherine Coulter The Sherbrooke Bride European Historical
7
Beverly Jenkins Topaz Frontier / Western
7
Dara Joy Mine to Take Paranormal
6
Jo Beverley My Lady Notorious Historical
6
Pamela Clare Ride the Fire American Frontier
6
Dorothy Dunnett Checkmate Historical Fiction
6
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South Classic Fiction
6
Tracy Grant Daughter of the Game European Historical
6
Laura Lee Guhrke And Then He Kissed her European Historical
6
Lorraine Heath Texas Destiny Frontier / Western
6
Madeline Hunter The Rules of Seduction European Historical
6
Sherrilyn Kenyon Night Play Fantasy Romance
6
Lynn Kurland This is All I Ask Medieval
6
Johanna Lindsey Gentle Rogue Historical
6
Teresa Medeiros Yours Until Dawn European Historical
6
Karen Marie Moning Kiss of the Highlander Time-Travel
6
Candice Proctor Night in Eden Historical
6
Anne Stuart Black Ice Romantic Suspense
6
Anne Stuart A Rose at Midnight European Historical
6
Kathleen Woodiwiss The Wolf and the Dove Medieval
5
Liz Carlyle A Woman Scorned European Historical
5
P.C. Cast Goddess of the Rose Fantasy Romance
5
Christine Feehan Dark Desire Vampire Romance
5
Madeline Hunter The Romantic European Historical
5
Sophie Kinsella Can You Keep a Secret Chick-Lit
5
Kinley MacGregor Born in Sin Medieval
5
Karen Marie Moning The Dark Highlander Time-Travel
5
Karen Marie Moning The Spell of the Highlander Time-Travel
5
Kathleen Woodiwiss A Rose in Winter European Historical

Interestingly enough, there are only two contemporary romances that made the list and even then, they are romantic suspense books. Even looking at the original Top 100 one can see that contemporary romance books have taken a hit. Contemporary books made up 18% of the total Top 100 titles but it was Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts who held 72% of those slots. The rest were held by long time authors Linda Howard, Judith McNaught, and Jennifer Crusie. (Rachel Gibson rounded out the list) I have seen the conversations mourning the loss of historical romance but it seems plain that contemporaries are the ones that have truly fallen from our sight.

Also notable are the presence of books that were not originally marketed as romance. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell is a story set during the Civil War in America and does not have a true HEA. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell was originally published in 1854, and Dorothy Dunnett's Checkmate was the last book in the Lymond Chronicles, which started with The Game of Kings, originally published in 1961. Other intriguing titles are The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simmons, which leaves only a glimmer of hope for a HEA, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, considered straight fiction and an emotional read, and Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, where the romance was just a small part of the story.

While most of those titles are familiar to us pollsters, and maybe to a lot of AAR’s readers, hopefully some newbies to the romance genre will pick up a new title or two, or investigate the authors whose names didn’t make it into the Top 100.

Don’t forget though that the AAR Annual Reader Poll (for 2007 titles) will begin early next year. Readers will have a chance to vote for their favorite buried treasure released this year.

Questions for discussion:

Is your buried treasure listed above?

If not, what buried treasure(s) did you include on your ballot?

After looking at the Top 100 results and the titles listed above, do you think your ballot was truly indicative of your favorite books? Or, did you send in your ballot and realize “Oh my gosh, how could I have forgotten [book title]?”

With all the discussion about historicals receiving so many votes (vs. contemporaries), are you surprised that chick lit didn't make much of a dent in the voting?

Are you surprised to see how many people voted for Gone With the Wind, or do you think of it as a romance novel?

When you look at the Top 100 and the extended list, are you surprised at how few contemporary romances appear, or do you think that there are not enough historicals in the list?

Do these lists have authors you have never read or heard of? Which, if any, will be added to your TBB list?

Looking at the extended list, are you more in line with AAR reading tastes now or do you feel more eclectic or even more unique in your reading?

How much does genre play a part in your reading? If you see contemporary romance would you be upset if it was more on the romantic suspense side?

Cindy, Lee, & LinnieGayl

 

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