AAR Mini-Polls: Top Tens

Top Ten Short Stories | Top Ten Anthologies

June 29, 2007

(Top Ten Short Stories & Anthologies poll from 2001)

Top Ten Short Stories
1. The Mad Earl´s Bride, Loretta Chase, Three Weddings and Kiss
2. The Demon´s Mistress, Jo Beverley, In Praise of Younger Men
3. Gretna Green, Julia Quinn - Scottish Brides
4. Miracles, Judith McNaught - Simple Gifts / A Holiday of Love
5. Make a Joyful Noise, Carla Kelly - A Regency Christmas Carol
6. The Christmas Ornament, Carla Kelly - A Regency Christmas VIII
7. The Wassail Bowl, Mary Balogh - A Regency Christmas Feast
8. The Warlord Wants Forever, Kresley Cole - Playing Easy to Get
9. A Lady's Pleasure, Robin Schone - Captivated
    A Tale of Two Sisters, Julia Quinn - Where's My Hero?

First, a big thank you to all of you that filled out a ballot. We know this one was a bit harder, but your thoughts and votes were very much appreciated!

It became clear during the balloting process that picking a favorite short story was easier than naming a favorite anthology. A few of our voters mentioned how they bought anthologies to try new authors while others admitted to only partial reading of an anthology, specifically for one or two stories. And because for most readers anthologies often feature varying qualities of writing, many of the ballots listed just a few anthologies. In fact, fewer than half the ballots submitted had an equal number of short stories and anthologies ranked.

The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase from Three Weddings and A Kiss found first place in the 2001 poll and maintained its ranking with ease six years later. Although the premise of a "mad" earl forced to confront his possible death and his need to provide an heir sounds dark and unsettling, the story itself is both sweet and powerful. Both this novella and Chase's Lord of Scoundrels were published in 2005.

Jo Beverley's The Demon’s Mistress lands in second place and was published in 2001. The AAR reviewer graded this Regency- set historical short story an A- and classified it as ‘hot’ in sensuality.

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Gretna Green by Julia Quinn from the Scottish Brides anthology is the second title to have appeared both in the results of the 2001 poll and this newer poll. Originally it placed second; this time the 1999-published story lands in the third slot. In Laurie's B+ review of this story, she wrote that it was "whimsical, silly, and altogether delightful".

Like Gretna Green, Judith McNaught's Miracles dropped one position from the 2001 poll, moving from third to fourth place this time around. It was first released in 2001 in the anthology Simple Gifts and re-issued in 2005's A Holiday in Love. The 2001 anthology, featuring two stories by McNaught (one historical, one contemporary) and two by Jude Deveraux (both contemporary), was reviewed at AAR and earned a B+ grade.

In our earlier poll, Shelley Dodge mentioned that while Regency anthologies were submitted on many ballots, none of the short stories to make the top ten were trads. This time around, though, three titles are from Regency anthologies, the first of which is Carla Kelly's Make a Joyful Noise, from A Regency Christmas Carol. It lands in the fifth slot, just one point below Miracles. Originally published in 1997, the story remains a favorite for readers even a decade after it was released.

Carla Kelly’s A Christmas Ornament, from A Regency Christmas VIII was published a year after Make a Joyful Noise. It lands in sixth place. The earlier anthology was not reviewed at AAR, but this one was. Kelly's novella earned an A grade and was the only stand-out for Blythe Barnhill out of five short stories.

Mary Balogh’s The Wassail Bowl from A Regency Christmas Feast , in the seventh spot, ends the run of trad Regency short stories published by Signet.

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole from the anthology Playing Easy to Get nearly nudged out Balogh's seventh place novella; instead it landed in eighth place. It is the first non-historical on the list. This paranormal romance is the most recently published novella to land in our top ten - it was published last year.

Robin Schone's A Lady’s Pleasure (Captivated) ties Julia Quinn's Two Sisters, (Where's My Hero?) for ninth place. Schone's contribution to the Captivated anthology was the only one to earn a good grade at AAR. The book as a whole garnered a grade of D while Schone's novella earned a B+. This erotic romance was published in 1999. Where's My Hero? fared better on the whole; it earned a B-. Quinn's Regency-set novella earned an A-

Top Ten Anthologies
1. Three Weddings and a Kiss - Chase, Woodiwiss, Kleypas, Anderson
2. Regency Christmas Carol - Balogh, Barbour, Fairchild, Kelly, Layton
3. Where's My Hero? - Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, and Kinley MacGregor
4. Scottish Brides - Julia Quinn, Christina Dodd, Stephanie Laurens, Karen Ranney
    The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown - Quinn, Enoch, Hawkins, Ryan
6. Tapestry - Hunter, Kenyon, Kurland, Moning
7. Regency Christmas II - Balogh, Kelly, Putney, Mills, Walsh
8. Here's to the Ladies: Stories of the Frontier Army - Carla Kelly
    Under The Mistletoe - Mary Balogh
10. Lady Whistledown Strikes Back - Quinn, Enoch, Hawkins, Ryan

Half of your top ten anthologies featured a novella that made it onto your top ten short stories. Just three of the anthologies from our earlier poll in 2001 remained in this year's top ten.

Three Weddings and A Kiss tied for 10th place in the 2001 poll but landed squarely in the top spot this year. When the anthology was released in 1995, Woodiwss was the draw. Her story was disappointingly short, though. Woodiwiss' star was just beginning to wane at the same time as the other authors who participated were on the rise. Not only did Loretta Chase hit it big in 1995 with Lord of Scoundrels; with the release the year before of Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas had truly begun to capture the imagination of readers. And Catherine Anderson's true "breakthrough" romance, Annie's Song, was released the following year.

1997's A Regency Christmas Carol is the second anthology to have landed in the top ten of both the 2001 poll and this poll. It moves up five slots, from seventh to second place this time around. The Regency anthologies were submitted on many ballots; it's obvious from the number of anthologies published in this series that there are many readers who are captivated find the Regency Christmas a romantic time in history.

Where’s My Hero? landed in third position. It was published in 2003, earned an overall grade of B- (Quinn's contribution was graded A-), and was an overall recommendation in Pandora's Box as well.

Scottish Brides falls from first place in the earlier poll to tie for fourth place this year. It was published in 1999 and earned a B at AAR. Two of the anthology's novellas earned a spot in the 2001 poll of short stories, but Laurens' Rose in Bloom didn't make the cut this year. Julia Quinn's heretofore mentioned Gretna Greene did. Four anthologies featuring Julia Quinn made your top ten, including The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown, which grew out of the popularity of a character she created in her long-running Bridgerton series. Scottish Brides and The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown tied for fourth place.

Tapestry is the only Medieval anthology to make your top ten. It lands in sixth place and earned a B from AAR when it was published in 2002.

A Regency Christmas II is the second Regency series anthology to make the list. It comes in at number seven. No short stories from this book made it into this year's top ten, though.

Two anthologies featuring short stories from one author each create a tie for eighth place. Carla Kelly, whose short stories are featured in three of your top ten anthologies, ties with Mary Balogh in more ways than one. Not only do they tie for books comprised of their short stories - Here's to the Ladies: Stories of the Frontier Army and Under the Mistletoe, respectively - both make three appearances in this top ten list, second only to Julia Quinn. Kelly’s anthology, was published by a small press in 2003, earned DIK status at AAR and is a unique collection of romantic short stories set in the American West Frontier after the Civil War. Balogh’s anthology was also published in 2003, but is a collection of four previously issued short stories plus one new one. It's overall grade at AAR was a B- (The Best Gift, originally a part of the 1994 Regency Christmas anthology, earned an A-) .

The fourth anthology to which Julia Quinn contributed is the sequel to the anthology in fourth place; Lady Whistledown Strikes Back faired well at AAR with a B- review and fills out the final spot in your top ten.

Lee Brewer, LinnieGayl, and Cindy Smith

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