Speaking of Audiobooks: 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll

iStock_000001294672SmallAsk just about any romance listener to choose their favorite romance audiobooks and it’s highly likely they will choose a book from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, J.D. Robb’s In Death, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series.  And never has that been more obvious than with our Speaking of Audiobooks 2011 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll where all three were big winners.

So this year, it’s a new take on favorites with only a few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?  We’re taking a beyond the winners approach and admitting our runaway winners last year were just that – first place winners.  Two narrators are included in that solid first place category as well – Anna Fields and Phil Gigante.

With the first three categories in our 2012 poll, we’re looking beyond those highly popular choices to discover what other favorite romance books, series, and narrators we hold in high regard.  You’ll also see twelve new categories as we talk not only about favorites but aspects of performance and the nature of audiobooks in our every day lives.

In addition, our results will include more than the first, second, and third place winners if there are enough votes to support a mention.  You will also see that most categories allow for you to vote for two or three favorites rather than just one.  We want our listeners to have a long list of solid romance recommendations when we publish the results in July.

Although we are asking for your favorite romance audiobooks, series, authors, and narrators, when it comes down to it, we’re talking about narrators.  I’m reminded of the title of the first Speaking of Audiobooks column I wrote more than three years ago – It’s All About the Narrator.  An author can write a fantastic tale but when it comes to audio, it’s the narrator’s duty to deliver.  I like to think of our Favorites Poll as a tribute to those narrators who work tirelessly to deliver romance just the way we want to hear it.

Here’s a look at our 2012 Poll and a bit of description you won’t find on the ballot.

Beyond the Winners


1. Granting that your favorite romances in audio may include books in Gabaldon’s Outlander, Robb’s In Death, and Phillips’ Chicago Stars series, what are three of your other favorite audiobook romances?

2. Once again, acknowledging that Anna Fields and Phil Gigante swept the Favorite Romance Narrator categories last year, who are three of your favorite romance narrators besides Fields and Gigante?

3. Looking at our favorite romance authors in audio last year, the winners were once again Phillips, Robb, and Gabaldon.  Who are three of your other favorite romance audio authors?

Your 2011 Choice


4. What is your favorite 2011 romance audiobook?

To avoid confusion, we’ll use Audible’s or Amazon’s release date since the release of the hard copy may differ slightly from the release of the digital version.  If either lists a release date of 2011, it qualifies.

Print to Audio


5. What is a print romance book that you found better in audio?

This represents a time when a book you read in print was even a better experience when you listened to the audio version.

5. What is the your biggest fail of a favorite romance print book in audio?

Again, you have read the print version, but upon listening to the audio version, the audio doesn’t begin to live up to your expectations.

The Narrators


6. Name the two most impressive romance narrators you have discovered since 1/01/11?

This isn’t a category for new-to-the-industry narrators although it may include such.  This is your chance to tell us your personal discoveries of any impressive romance narrator since the beginning of 2011.

7. Do you prefer a man or woman’s narration if both perform male and female characters well?

8. Who is a narrator to whom you gave a second chance and you’re glad you did?

This is a version of last year’s “Narrator You Learned to Like” category.  This narrator may not have wowed you on your first listen, but after listening to a second or third, you discovered there was a lot to like.


9. Name two narrators who are especially good at performing love scenes.

Love scenes aren’t always easy to listen to and are challenging for narrators as well.  Who delivers those scenes with the right intensity and style for your comfort level?

Audio Favorites of Favorite Authors


Several authors deserve credit for their large number of unabridged audiobooks and their continued popularity among romance listeners.  All 19 of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books are available in audio.  Lisa Kleypas has 27 (including one hard-to-find) audio releases and 32 of Linda Howard’s titles are in audio format.  And we can’t forget Nora Roberts with around 100 audios to her name.  All of these authors’ books are effective as stand-alones and we often receive requests for audio recommendations of their work.

10. What are your two favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips audiobooks?

11. What are your two favorite Linda Howard audiobooks?

12. What are your two favorite Lisa Kleypas audiobooks?

13. What are your two favorite Nora Roberts audiobooks?

And the Wish List


14. Name three romance authors’ backlist you most want to see in audio.

Your Life and Audio


15. How do you find new romance audio releases?

Do you find notification of new releases through retailers such as Audible or Amazon, Goodreads, friends, or through features such as our monthly New Releases here at Speaking of Audiobooks?

16. What are your favorite activities when listening (driving, walking, cleaning the kitchen, etc.)?

What are you usually doing while you listen?  Feel free to list several of your favorite activities conducive to listening.

17. Have you listened to any of the 2012 Audie Romance finalists?  If so, what are they?  The finalists are The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, Notorious by Nicola Cornick, The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter, New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb, and Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews.

Now for the 2012 Ballot

Our ballot can be found here.

The poll will run for two weeks ending Monday, July 2nd at midnight.  You may choose an Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, or Sci Fi audiobook if it contains a romance thread.  Although there are seventeen categories, you are only required to complete six for the ballot to be valid.

Last year we made a statement to the industry with our poll results as the voice of romance audio.  Our voice is even stronger this year so let’s make your favorites known as we let the audiobook industry know the excellence we appreciate in romance audio!

- Lea Hensley

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19 Responses to Speaking of Audiobooks: 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll

  1. LouiseAAR says:

    I was wondering, why weren’t there any separate categories created for different genres? I think that comparing the Historical/Contemporary romances to other genres (Paranormal Romance and Fantasy Romance) leaves the others at a disadvantage based on sheer volume.

  2. Karen White says:

    Great new ideas! Let your voices be heard!

  3. Lea AAR says:

    Louise – we are trying to run a totally different poll this year (for the most part) and we chose favorites by sub-genre last year. I imagine we will choose those again next year. Since we ask our listeners to choose absolute favorites from all their listening history, it seemed a little redundant to ask for those favorites again after only a year.

    This poll differs from AAR’s other polls (in addition to audio rather than print) in that it is not an annual poll in the same style as the AAR Annual Poll nor a favorites poll as the AAR Top 100 Romances. It’s sort of a blend of the two.

    I also hope that by asking for three of a listener’s favorites and then publishing an extensive list of those results, we will see a good number of all sub-genres.

  4. Jo-Ann W. says:

    I love this innovative poll and am looking forward to filling it out. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have something other than the usual “best” of blah, blah, blah. I hope we get results that will influence audio producers and introduce little known narrators and overlooked books. Thanks, Lea.

  5. Brenda says:

    I’ll echo Jo-Ann’s comments – love the different approach with the Beyond the Winners theme of this years best in audiobooks poll.

    I’m looking forward to finding some real treasures in the results!

  6. Xe Sands says:

    Just love that you folks do this. It doesn’t matter to me who comes out on top – I’m just blown away by how much your community cares about audio, about what we do, and the tremendous support you offer to the genre, audiobooks in general, and narrators in particular. Your passion really is an inspiration for narrators – to stretch, to grow, and to deliver.

    Thanks you.

  7. LouiseAAR says:

    Thanks for the reply Lea – I hope so! :)

  8. Brenda says:

    @ Xe – Thanks for recognizing the romance community’s rabid involvement / interest in the audiobook industry. It’s great to see that interest returned by publishers and narrators both.l

    Tantor was on the ball and had Higgin’s Catch of the Day up at Audible asap today, great!

    I noticed a couple of days ago that your going to be narrating 6 more of Jacquelyn Frank’s books in the next three months!

    If you had any doubts that you rocked with Jacob, Gideon, Elijah, Damien, Noah and Adam they’ve been firmly put to rest. :)

    Welcome back to the romance world! I haven’t read any from these other series by Frank but I’ll be listening.

  9. Anne Flosnik says:

    Kudos to the talented Romance team! Love that you are broadening the scope of this important pole, by asking questions that go far deeper than “Best Of” questions. This thoughtfulness I think, causes a deeper look at what Romance Listeners most want to hear, and I for one will be acting, (no pun intended:)) on what comes up. Warmest thanks for all you contribute to this ever growing dynamic industry, which is made better by the spotlight you shine on it, by provoking careful thought concerning what it is, that really makes a listen a satisfying experience or not, as the case may be. May as well aim be delivering what is most desired, I feel. Thank you for providing this service to Romance, which makes all the difference, and I feel this will be so more and more. Congratulations on making such a POSITIVE difference :)

  10. Xe Sands says:

    First, can I just say, “Yeah – what Anne said!”

    @Brenda – Well thank you! But I think I’m only doing 3 – The Gatherers (Hunting Julian & Stealing Kathryn), and perhaps on in the late fall.

  11. Brenda says:

    @ Xe – Interesting, I did see Kirsten Potters name as the narrator of the first in one of the series and wondered why they would have her only narrate the first and then switch out to another so it makes more sense that it was a typo.

    Regardless, loving Catch of the Day – flawless delivery – walking around with a big smile on my face and happy I don’t have close neighbors that think I’ve lost my mind because of it. :D

  12. Xe Sands says:

    @Brenda – yes, Kirsten Potter is the narrator for Shadowdwellers and I am positive that she will knock it out of the park! And I’m so glad that you’re enjoying Catch of the Day – such a blast to narrate :)

  13. Kurac says:

    madafakaaaa jebem vam mater englesku :P

  14. Cindy W says:

    Just voted! Can’t wait to see the results… however I’m already having a tough time picking my next audio book!

  15. Kaetrin says:

    How to choose?? I’m going to be away next week so I have to get my ballot in this week – which means I can’t masticate on it for very long. Will have to scour my Goodreads for the last year and think very hard to put my votes to the best use! :)

  16. Christina says:

    I went to the poll to attempt to fill it out, and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to. I had several problems but probably the main one is that I listen to books all the time, but most of them are not romance. When I look at my Goodreads list all of my very favorite ones are not romance- aside from the ones I wasn’t supposed to consider in my votes! I guess I still read more romance than listen to it.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      Christina: I went to the poll to attempt to fill it out, and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to. I had several problems but probably the main one is that I listen to books all the time, but most of them are not romance. When I look at my Goodreads list all of my very favorite ones are not romance- aside from the ones I wasn’t supposed to consider in my votes! I guess I still read more romance than listen to it.

      Sorry to hear Christina. Did you see that you only need to answer six questions to complete your ballot? And one of those asks for the romance author you most want to see in audio.

      Something to think about…

      And hope to see you around as you listen to more romance. We’re here to give recommendations should you need.

  17. Vic says:

    You never realize how hard some of those questions are until you have to narrow it down to just a few narrators or books. Thankfully I could create smart playlists in iTunes for books added in 2011 to help remember the new books from last year! :)

    I found myself thinking of the same audiobook for biggest fail and favorite from last year. Slave to Sensation was the first Psy/Changling audiobook out and I had such high hopes for it. I had loved Angela Dawe on many other audio but her narration was SO subtle in this series that it was underwhelming on first listen. But this series is an absolute favorite and I have re-listened to it many times now. I can now catch her subtle differences more and while I think it would have been better to give more life to the humans and changling characters in the books it’s become a favorite re-listen.

    @ narrators – it must be a mutual love affair because we love what you guys do so much. I spend so much of my time with ear buds in that you all become such an important part of my every day. I think it says something when I no longer JUST look for new books by author but by narrator as well! I spend a lot of time re-listening to favorites when I can’t focus all my attention on a new audiobook.

  18. Lea Hensley says:

    It’s the last weekend before the Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll ends at midnight on Monday (7/02).

    So, it’s the perfect time to vote and tell us your favorites. No worries if you can’t complete all 18 categories – it only takes 6 to complete a ballot.


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