Looking for 2013 Category Romance Recommendations

suddenly you For years one of the more difficult categories in the AAR Annual Reader Poll was the Best Category Romance. It was never a certain thing that we would be able to announce a winner. Why? Because readers split their votes among a lot of different titles. Not surprising given how many category romances get published in a year. Last year, we were delighted when the category not only wasn’t a problem but was included on many readers’ ballots. We’re hoping things stay that way for the 2013 poll as well.

We pollsters (Cindy, LeeB, and myself) figured out that one of the problems with the category was that on the ballot (prior to last year’s poll) it had been labeled “Best Series Romance.” Well, many readers voted for things like the In Death series by JD Robb, and JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and….you get the idea. No, this category in the Annual Poll is designed to feature the best of category romance; series category books published by Harlequin, Mills & Boon, Entangled, etc. So we changed the name on the ballot last year with a brief definition and believe that helped.

But we don’t think it was just the change in title that helped. It seemed as if a whole flurry of category romance authors caught the attention of AAR’s readers last year, chief among them Sarah Mayberry. Not only was Ms. Mayberry the ultimate winner in the category for Suddenly You, but two of her other titles – Within Reach and Her Best Worst Mistake – also received numerous votes. We’re hoping the trend in increased voting for this category continues in the Annual Poll for 2013 romances that opens on January 13. A power search at AAR under the Book Type “Series Romance” reveals that 11 titles published in 2013 received a grade of B or higher:

* An Invitation to Sin by Sarah Morgan (A)

* A Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss (A-)

* The First Move by Jennifer Lohmann (A-)

* Must Like Kids by Jackie Braun (B+)

* Deadly Contact by Lara Lacombe (B)

* In From the Cold by Mary Sullivan (B)

* The Paris Assignment by Addison Fox (B)

* Tactical Advantage by Julie Miller (B)

* Platinum Promises by Zuri Day (B)

* The One that Got Away by Kelly Hunter (B)

* Relentless Seduction by Jillian Burns (B)

I’ve read several of these and really enjoyed them, but there are so many category romances published each year that AAR can only review a small percentage. Now I’m wondering if I’ve missed out on even better category romances. Have you read any great 2013 category romances that don’t appear on the above list? If so, I’d love to hear about them, because truthfully, I can read a great category romance in a day and would hate to miss out on a potential winner for the 2013 Best Category Romance.

– LinnieGayl Kimmel

20 Responses to “Looking for 2013 Category Romance Recommendations”

  1. LeeB. says:

    And another category romance, Carla Kelly’s Her Hesitant Heart, from the Harlequin Historical imprint, received a DIK review. http://www.likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=9472

  2. CarolineAAR says:

    Jeannie Lin had a DIK (A) with her Harlequin Historical The Sword Dancer (http://likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=9546)

    The Lotus Palace, also by Jeannie Lin, was a B+, but I’m not familiar with Harlequin HQN so I’m not sure if that’s a category or not. (http://likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=9721)

  3. Julie M. says:

    I really enjoyed Sarah Morgan’s Lost to the Desert Warrior. Just started reading her books last year and I find her consistently excellent!

  4. Eliza says:

    I’m confess I’m fairly new to categories but it seems to me they may fill a need for westerns perhaps not always filled by single titles. How about caegories from Cheryl St John, Maureen McKade, Carolyn Davidson, Jenna Kernan, or Lauri Robinson for example? If not this year, maybe they could be reviewed next year by a western-interested reviewer?

    Harlequin Historical seems like one good source, and I noticed the books reviewed above are contemps. Do more series readers tend to go for contemps than historicals, do you know?

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Eliza, I tend to go for contemporaries in category romances, but I think many of my AAR colleagues go for the historicals as well. And that’s an interesting point about a place for westerns.

  5. Wendy says:

    I read a lot of categories, and it’s still a drop in the bucket of what is published every month. Good stories I read that rated a B or higher from me that were published in 2013 were:

    Expecting a Bolton Baby by Sarah M. Anders (HD)
    The Beauty Within and Rumors That Ruined a Lady by Marguerite Kaye (HH)
    The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin (HH)
    To Sin With a Viking by Michelle Willingham (HH)
    Wish Me Tomorrow by Karen Rock (HQ Heartwarming)
    Must Like Kids by Jackie Braun (Kiss)
    Sold to the Enemy by Sarah Morgan (HP)
    Forged in the Desert Heat by Maisey Yates (HP)
    The Man Behind the Pinstripes by Melissa McClone (HR)
    A Cadence Creek Christmas and A Cowboy to Come Home To by Donna Alward (HR)
    His Uptown Girl by Liz Talley (HSR)
    Roping the Wrangler and Return of the Cowboy Doctor by Lacy Williams (Love Inspired Historical)

  6. Ros says:

    My favourite category romances of 2013:
    Sarah Morgan’s Lost to the Desert Warrior
    Annie West’s Imprisoned by a Vow
    Lucy Monroe’s Prince of Secrets
    Kelly Hunter’s What the Bride Didn’t Know
    Noelle Adams’ Married For Christmas
    Lucy Monroe’s Million Dollar Christmas Proposal
    Sarah Morgan’s Ripped
    Shoma Narayanan’s The One She Was Warned About
    Sofia Harper’s Hot Knight in Paradise

  7. Kim says:

    I didn’t read many this year, but I enjoyed Imprisoned By a Vow by Annie West

  8. Mervi says:

    My favorite category romance from 2013 is Master of Her Virtue by Miranda Lee.

  9. Sandlynn says:

    In light of all the e-publishing going on now, I’m confused about these categories — pardon the term. For instance, in the column above, it’s mentioned that many readers voted for Mayberry’s Her Best Worst Mistake for best category. The story has never been published in hard copy, as far as I can tell. (I’ve looked to see if it has time and again, because I would’ve really liked to have read it.) I noted that it’s only 155 pages long, which is shorter than most categories and I’m not even sure who the publisher is. I mean, I can see the name of the publisher, but have no idea who they are.

    So, how do we know what is a category romance, what is a novella, and what about stories which are self-published but still sold on Amazon, etc.?

    • willaful says:

      You’re right Sandlynn — _Her Best Worst Mistake_ was self-published. It undoubtedly made it onto the list because Mayberry is a Harlequin author and it was a sequel to a Blaze.

      Categories are specific publishing lines that come out regularly. In addition to Harlequin books, Entangled now has a line of category ebooks.

      I voted for Sold to the Enemy, also Sarah Morgan!

  10. LinnieGayl says:

    Thanks for all the recommendations. And I agree with all the e-publishing making the category confusing as well. I’m actually reading her Best Worst Mistake right now and am loving it.

    I’m seeing a lot of Sarah Morgan recommendations here. I’ve read some of her books and enjoyed them in the past. I’ll have to check her 2013 titles out. Thanks!

  11. gingko-girl says:

    I have enjoyed books by Natalie Anderson. She has published two this year for with Harlequin Kiss: “The Right Mr. Wrong” and “Whose Bed is it Anyway?”

  12. Joane says:

    I’d add two category novels that I find interesting:
    - Amy Andrews: ‘Girl Least Likely to Marry’ (#25 – Harlequin KISS)
    - Jeannie Lin: ‘The Sword Dancer’ (#1142 – Harlequin Historical; #1431 – Mills & Boon Historical)
    I think that polls or awards ‘the best of…’ are specially useful when you come to category novels, because there are so many of them out there and too many are so worthless… I feel completely lost. I only read category novels with good reviews or distinguished in any form.

    • nikki says:

      Definitely agree on the historical category. I’d put my two cents in for Bronwyn Scott’s 2013 release A Lady Risks All, about a woman playing billiards in 19th century England–awesome setting 4.5 stars from RT and a box-breaker sort of book for category/series.

  13. Lenore Jago says:

    Jeannie Lin can’t write a bad book and has single-handedly made Tang era China a wonderful setting for historical romance. I’m not a category girl, but she and Carla Kelly are my exceptions.

  14. Paola says:

    Thanks to those who mentioned Annie West. Never heard of her, but she looks like my cup of tea.

  15. Kay Webb Harrison says:

    Harlequin Romantic Suspense:

    Marilyn Pappano: Copper Lake Confidential (4/13) [wonderful beta hero]
    Copper Lake Encounter (8/13) [sequel to Scandal in
    Copper Lake]


  16. […] books from publishers like Harlequin, Entangled and Mills & Boon), we published this blog: Looking for 2013 Category Romance Recommendations […]

    • nikki says:

      Get those harlequin historicals in here to be included–gals like Bronwyn Scott and Jeannie Lin and Margaret Kaye.