As you just might have heard, this week RWA announced its finalists in the RITA and the Golden Heart awards! (The RWA website says “The purpose of the RITA contest is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.” The Golden Heart does the same for unpublished manuscripts). You may also have heard the Riskies and their friends did pretty well (because we’ve been shouting it out to anyone who will stand still and listen!). We thought these books deserved another look.

Deb Marlowe, whose Annalise and the Scandalous Rake from The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, is up for Best Novella was not even at home when The Call came. “Actually, I spent the day playing hookey!” she says. “I took the day off from writing and went shopping. My friend and critique partner Sabrina Jeffries needed something snazzy for a photo shoot. Since neither of us makes a move fashion-wise without the incredible savvy advice of Claudia Dain, the three of us spent the day shopping and having lunch. We had a productive and fun day, and as we were leaving we decided this was how we needed to spend every RITA day–instead of sitting and waiting for the phone to ring.

“Then I got home to a firestorm! There was a message from the lovely Trish Milburn–and I started to shake, because I knew what that meant. I called her back and blabbered like a fool. Then I got online to slew of messages. I didn’t get to break the news to anybody–everybody already knew! Diane and Amanda were wondering where the heck I was. My mailbox was full of so many lovely congratulatory emails. It was wonderful and truly–I feel like I already won! I was especially happy to see Amanda’s name along with mine, and that my other c.p. Liz Carlyle was nominated as well. A truly great day all around.”

Annalise and the Scandalous Rake–House party guest Ned Milford can see the inner passion and beauty that Annalise Fitzmanning hides. But how close should they become when his reason for being at Welbourne Manor would prompt a society scandal, not a society wedding!

Amanda’s Call (for Charlotte and the Wicked Lord from, you guessed it, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor!) went somewhat differently. I had just stumbled out of bed and was trying to make my morning tea (because I can’t really talk until after at least one cup of tea, preferably 2) when the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and thought “I don’t know anyone in Nashville.” Then I remembered–RITA day! I snatched up the phone and babbled something at the poor lady on the other line (Trish Milburn, who I’m sure heard many incoherent people that day!). Then I got off the phone, jumped around while my pets stared at me like I was insane, and plopped down in front of the computer to see who else was a finalist and share the news. The day was pretty much a waste from then on as far as any useful work went, because I was constantly on Twitter and email! This is my 3rd nomination–maybe third is the charm? LOL. Like Deb, it feels like I already won. And now I have to go out and shop for a new dress.

Charlotte and the Wicked Lord–Charlotte may be the youngest Fitzmanning girl, but she knows her own mind–and she wants Lord Andrew Bassington! Drew requires an eminently proper bride, something free-spirited Charlotte has never been. So how can she make him see the beautiful woman she has become…?

(On another note, there are also more Welbourne stories in the future! Amanda has a Christmas novella, Mistletoe and Folly, about Mary Bassington and her old flame Lord Amesby, coming out in October, plus just turned in Nicholas’s book! Deb’s turned in her book about Stephen, too, so there will be lots more about this family soon…)

Risky Carolyn Jewel has not one but two nominations to her name! Look for Scandal in the Regency Historical category and My Forbidden Desire in Paranormal.

Scandal–The Earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction–she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt’s feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever–and for more than an illicit affair. Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage–her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is temped to indulge in the torrid affair she’s always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt’s seduction–or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs…

Carolyn will have to pop in on comments and let us know her call story! ๐Ÿ™‚

My Forbidden Desire–Alexandrine Marit is a witch in mortal danger. An evil mage craves the powerful, mysterious talisman that supplies her magic, and the only person who can keep her safe is a dark and dangerous fiend called Xia. With his fierce animosity toward witches, he’s hardly the ideal bodyguard. Yet as days turn into nights, she can’t deny the white-hot passion between them. Xia hates witches. They enslave and mercilessly kill his kind. But he’s been ordered to protect Alexandrine who to his surprise has a spirit he admires and a body he longs to possess. With the mage and his henchmen closing in, Alexandrine and her protector must trust the passion that unite them–or risk losing everything to the enemies who can destroy them both…

Frequent Riskies visitor and resident Medieval/Victorian expert Michelle Willingham is also a finalist, in the Historical Romance category with Taming Her Irish Warrior! Like Deb, she was not at home at the time the calls were going out. “I knew the phone calls were going out for the RITA finalists, but I couldn’t stand the pressure,” she says. “Instead I chose to leave the house and go get my car fixed at the dealership. I knew if I were home, I’d start obsessing over it and get no writing done, and well…I’ve never been a finalist in a romance contest in my life.

“Even so, I used the free wireless at the dealership and worked on my new ‘Undone’ novella, thinking well, it’s not going to happen, so just get over it and get some work done. The names of the finalists started rolling in, and as I saw more and more historical authors listed, I thought–great! I’ll have to try those books. But it’ll never be me. Then a close friend of mine, Larissa Ione, emailed me with a huge congratulations. She didn’t even tell me why, just wrote in all caps, CONGRATULATIONS I KNEW IT! My hands started shaking, and it was a miracle I even managed to type the web address of RWA to see who the latest finalists were. When I saw my name up there, I wanted to start bawling in the dealership. Do you know how hard it was to keep those emotions bottled up??? I wanted to scream at everyone there, “Oh my gosh, I’m a RITA finalist!! Can you believe it?!” Then they would have thrown Styrofoam coffee cups at me, I know it.

“So I emailed my editor and agent in all caps, and I’m not even sure what I typed. Maybe something like Gilbwerious aweroui OMG werepiogh RITA finalist werararar. I don’t know. But there were 4 messages on my phone when I got home–2 from the RWA Board and 2 from the person trying to contact me, confirming that yes my wildest dream had indeed come true.”

Taming Her Irish Warrior–When did Ewan MacEgan grow to be so overwhelmingly strong and disarmingly sexy? He intends to wed Honora St. Leger’s demure sister–but why should that matter to her? Honora would rather wield a sword than a mending needle, and as a widow she knows there is little pleasure in the marriage bed… Ewan MacEgan has set his sights on a wealthy bride, but tantalizingly he finds himself drawn to the forbidden Honora! One touch and he is longing to awaken her sensuality, for he suspects she will be as passionate in bed as she is on the battlefield!

You can see a full list of the finalists (and there are so many great ones!) here at the RWA National site

(I also have to mention a friend of mine, Donnell Epperson, who is a Golden Heart finalist in the Paranormal category with Glorious Misfortune. Donnell sadly passed away last month after a valiant battle with breast cancer, but she never lost her great love for the art and craft of writing romance. I am so proud of her!)