What is this ‘RITA’ thing? It’s basically what you get when you hold an Academy Awards for romance writing and women’s fiction.
I’m not going to talk about everyone in every category. Yes, I’m familiar with a lot of the authors, and have read many of the books, but there’s one category I’m overjoyed about this year: Romantic Suspense.
Romantic Suspense is the best genre and the worst genre. There’s no other subgenre where the stakes are so high for the characters. When it’s good, there’s nothing better. When it’s bad, it makes you want to cry. Authors have to be willing to do a lot of research or rely on a lot of contacts to fill in facts in order to get stuff right. It’s murder mystery or military suspense combined with romance. You have to be able to write both the romantic and suspense themes realistically, running at the same time.
And I’m going to be honest and say some past RITA nominees have been guilty of writing uninformed, ridiculously incorrect books, where everyone will drop everything for a few chapters of sex in the craziest places. Not all that long ago I thought about writing off the RITAs as a joke for including such poorly-researched, incorrect, lovey-dovey-even-though-the-terrorists-are-chasing-us books on their list of award nominees.
But this year… oh boy. This year is a FANTASTIC year for romantic suspense RITA nominees. Every author deserves to win.
Here they are:
Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb
Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she’s managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda, a film based on one of her famous cases. It’s a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks almost like her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody – drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director’s luxury building.
Talented but rude, and widely disliked, K. T. Harris had made an embarrassing scene during dinner. Now she’s at the centre of a crime scene – and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster, to step into the role she was born to play: cop.
Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works on the edge of the NSW outback are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She’s often alone and she likes it that way – until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.
Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Matheson knows organised crime and gang violence from the inside out. He’s so good at undercover work that his colleagues aren’t sure which side he’s really on. His posting to the north-western NSW district of Strathnairn is supposed to be an uneventful return to normal duties but the murder victim in the campground is only the first of Jo’s discoveries.
As Jo and Nick uncover drugs and illegal weapons stashed in the wilderness, the evidence points towards locals – young, rural men already on the wrong side of the law. But as far as Nick’s concerned, something doesn’t add up. When the bodies start mounting – each brutally punished before death – he becomes convinced that one person is behind the killings, one person is manipulating the lads to commit horrific crimes, forming them into his own private drug-dealing cartel.
Jo has seen the man’s face, and now she’s his next target. Nick’s determined to protect her, but trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by experienced shooters who can’t afford to fail, they’ll need all their skills and knowledge to survive.
Don’t Cry for Me by Sharon Sala
A SOLDIER’S HOMECOMING
Mariah Conrad has come home. Badly wounded on active duty in Afghanistan and finally released Stateside, she has no family to call on and nowhere to go-until Quinn Walker arrives at her bedside. Quinn…her brother-in-arms, ex-lover and now maybe her future.
Quinn brings Mariah to his log cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky to rest and recuperate both physically and emotionally. While she’s incredibly grateful, Mariah is also confused and frustrated. She’s always stood on her own two feet, but now even that can literally be torture. She’s having flashbacks and blackouts, hearing helicopter noises in the night. She wants to push Quinn away-and hold him closer than ever.
But will she get the chance? Those helicopters are more than just post-traumatic stress; they’re real-and dangerous. Bad things are happening on the mountain. Suddenly there’s a battle to be fought on the home front, and no guarantee of survival.
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions. But her recent dream feels too real to ignore: a commercial airliner is hijacked, and a handsome passenger is shot dead. Beth hasn’t met the mystery man in her dream; she would never forget a gorgeous face like his. But she can’t deny the bizarre connection she feels. Now awake, and unable to allow for the violence she’s convinced is impending, she races to the airport…and comes face to face with the man of her dreams.
Zane Winters lives for his job, using his uncanny psychic powers to carry out missions for elite SEAL Team 7. Yet the constant adrenaline highs can’t drown out the numbness seeping into his life as he yearns to find a woman he can trust. All that changes when he meets a beautiful stranger who sets his soul on fire—and somehow knows he’s about to die.
To thwart the global crisis the hijacking will unleash, Beth and Zane join forces. But even amid the danger, they can’t deny the powerful force drawing them together. Is it merely attraction…or destiny?
Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard
The final ‘powerfully intense’ (Romantic Times) Black Ops, Inc. novel from New York Times bestseller Cindy Gerard, featuring a covert private security team and electrifying romantic suspense.
Black Ops, Inc. operative Joe Green is determined to bring to justice the man responsible for former team member Bryan Tompkins’s death. He’s convinced the ambush that killed Bryan was no coincidence, but a setup. Unsure of the consequences of the battle he’s about to start, Joe distances himself from both his Black Ops, Inc. team members and the woman he loves, Bryan’s sister, Stephanie Tompkins. But Stephanie knows there must be some reason Joe broke it off, and when she hears Joe’s charged with a murder in Sierra Leone, she wastes no time in breaking him out of prison. Then they must unravel the mystery behind the ambush, and bring resolution to a long-ago betrayal…
Scorched by Laura Griffin
The sixth gripping novel in the series that is ‘the perfect mix of suspense and romance’ (Booklist).
Kelsey Quinn has travelled the world unearthing heartbreaking secrets, but nothing prepares her for the trauma of her latest discovery. While on a human rights dig in the Philippines, the forensic anthropologist uncovers a set of human remains, touching off a chain of deadly events back on American soil. After a terrifying attack, Kelsey goes into hiding while she tries to unravel the mystery of two seemingly unconnected murders. The odds are stacked against her, but Kelsey has the help of her colleagues at the Delphi Center crime lab.and the unexpected protection of the only man she ever loved.
Navy SEAL Gage Brewer knows his relationship with Kelsey is over and done. But when he learns she’s being targeted by a killer, he risks everything – including his career as a spec ops warrior – to keep her safe. Gage tracks down Kelsey and believes he’s accomplished his goal. But as the threats against her escalate, it becomes clear that the enemy they’re fighting is more lethal than anyone ever imagined. And their most dangerous mission is only beginning.
Twisted by Laura Griffin
The fifth thrilling Tracers novel from bestselling author Laura Griffin features ‘the perfect mix of suspense and romance that made Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, and Tami Hoag popular with both women and men’ (Booklist).
Rookie detective Allison Doyle only has room in her life for one goal: to prove to everyone that she is every bit as capable as the men in her small-town Texas police department. But when a vicious murder sends shockwaves through her community, Allison finds herself at the epicentre of a bigger challenge than she ever imagined. Legendary FBI profiler Mark Wolfe arrives to consult on the case and puts forth a startling new theory – that the crime is not the handiwork of the police’s prime suspect, but of an elusive psychopath Mark has been hunting for more than a decade.
Teaming up with Mark puts Allison’s professional reputation – and her heart – in jeopardy, but she shoves these risks aside so she can tap into one of the FBI’s best assets. With Mark’s help, as well as the elite group of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, Allison uncovers the killer’s true identity. Or does she? As the net tightens around a psychopath, Allison begins to wonder if she and Mark have trapped a killer or become ensnared themselves…
Vortex by Cherry Adair
The thrid book in Cherry Adair’s Cutter Cay series plunges into a Vortex of high-sea adventure and romance, where a long-lost treasure is a deadly lure – and love is the most dangerous current of all…
Searching for a sunken ship off the coast of Peru, treasure hunter Logan Cutter manages to pull a very different kind of prize from the sea – beautiful gallery owner Daniela Rosada. Dani claims she was thrown overboard by ruthless pirates and begs for his protection. But Logan is no stranger to a woman’s lies, and something about her story doesn’t add up.
IN TOO DEEP
With her knowledge of Peruvian artifacts, Dani offers to help Logan translate an ancient map that will lead them to a shipwrecked treasure – and into a carefully laid trap. But the closer they get, the deeper she falls for him, not realizing that Logan is hiding a secret of his own. By the time she learns the truth about his boat, his brothers – and his blood feud with pirates – it’s too late. By falling in love, they’ve set a course for disaster…