RITAs Honor Romance's Best and Brightest | RWA 2019

The 38th annual RITA® Awards were presented on July 26 at the New York Marriott Marquis during the Romance Writers of America® (RWA) annual conference, held July 24-27, in midtown Manhattan. 

Recognizing excellence in romance fiction in published novels and novellas across the category’s various subgenres, the 38th annual RITA® Awards were presented on July 26 at the New York Marriott Marquis during the Romance Writers of America® (RWA) annual conference, held July 24–27, in midtown Manhattan. 

This was the year of “bold, brilliant, and inclusive stories,” began New York Times best-selling author and ceremony host Sarah MacLean, joined by genre trailblazers and speakers Sandra Kitt, Radclyffe, HelenKay Dimon, Carolyn Jewel, and LaQuette, whose presentations throughout the program touched on the milestones of the genre over the past 40 years, romance’s unique ability to break down barriers and promote hope, and the path forward to ensure all voices are represented. As Radclyffe expressed with heartfelt gratitude, “lesbian romances literally saved my life.” This resonated with LaQuette’s clarion call for stories that “reach a new generation of readers for which diversity is natural.”

Notably, authors Kennedy Ryan and M. Malone became the first African American writers to win a RITA®, for Long Shot and Bad Blood, respectively, both of which were self-published. Accepting her award, Ryan reflected, "this moment is so much bigger than me,” dedicating her award to the survivors of domestic abuse who helped her write her book as well as those who have gone through the darkest chapters of life and eventually found their Happily Ever After (HEA).

RWA first-timer Susannah Nix celebrated her unexpected win for Advanced Physical Chemistry, also self-published, while the equally surprised Elizabeth Dyer (Fearless) attributed her triumph to fellow writers and mentors who helped her along the hard-won journey. An ecstatic Elia Winters, taking home the golden statuette for her erotic romance, Three-Way Split, remarked that “when the world is filled with despair, love is a radical act.”

Indeed, reminded MacLean, "as romance novelists tread the path forward, we also look back to authors of the past who ensured that HEA became our revolutionary rule...because romance has always been about living in hope, happiness, and love.”  And...as a mirthful Kristan Higgins stated simply, “we can all agree that books are better when there’s kissing in them,” to which the audience erupted with applause. 

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Paranormal Romance

J.R. Ward, Dearest Ivie (Ballantine Bantam Dell)

Long Shot coverContemporary Romance: Long

Kennedy Ryan, Long Shot (self-published)

Young Adult Romance

Nisha Sharma, My So-Called Bollywood Life (Crown Books for Young Readers)

Historical Romance: Short

Kelly Bowen, A Duke in the Night (Forever: Grand Central)

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

Susannah Nix, Advanced Physical Chemistry (self-published)

Romantic Suspense

Elizabeth Dyer, Fearless (self-published)

Erotic Romance

Elie Winters, Three-Way Split (Scorched: Entangled Publishing)

Romance Novella

M. Malone, Bad Blood (self-published)

Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance

Sarah Morgan, How To Keep a Secret (HQN: Harlequin; LJ 7/18)

Historical Romance: Long

Mia Vincy, A Wicked Kind of Husband (self-published)

Saturday Night Supper Club coverRomance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

Carla Laureano, The Saturday Night Supper Club (Tyndale House; LJ 2/1/18)

Contemporary Romance: Short

Teri Wilson, The Bachelor’s Baby Surprise (Harlequin Special Edition)

Best First Book

Marie Tremayne, Lady in Waiting (Avon Impulse: HarperCollins)

Author Image
Annalisa Pešek

Annalisa Pešek (apesek@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Reviews
[photograph by John Sarsgard]

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Kristin Ramsdell

Nice write up, Annalisa!

Posted : Aug 07, 2019 07:00

Tester Nine

Thanks, Kristin. Sorry I missed you on Saturday. I heard it was AMAZING.

Posted : Aug 07, 2019 07:00


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