Last week, the Romance Writers of America
announced the nominees for the 2011 RITA Awards. (The full list can be found here
.) As always happens, I find myself reading the list, amazed at how many of the books I haven't read; some I haven't even heard of.
But, I'm also pleased when novels I very much like are nominated.
The Best First Book category was especially happy-making for me, as it featured three books that I really, really enjoyed. They were three very different books in three different genres: Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts, which is a "chick-lit mystery" (the publisher's description, not mine); When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer, which is a Regency-set historical; and The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, which is a young-adult novel with a romantic plot thread, though I wouldn't exactly call it a romance novel.
Wanna Get Lucky? I mentioned in my last post, but it deserves mentioning again. I don't want to say too much, especially about the characters. Part of the joy in reading this book, at least for me, was the way Ms. Coonts managed to avoid slipping into cliché or caricature in her depiction of less-than-mainstream character types.
When Harry Met Molly I picked out of the crowd because of the cover. The heroine is looking straight at the reader with that mischievous expression on her face, and you can't help but hope that she's as smart and cheeky as she looks. Well, she is. The premise is fairly ridiculous, but Kramer really makes it work. There's no big drama and no deep, dark secrets, and that's perfectly fine. Sometimes, all I want from a romance novel is a bit of light-hearted escapism, and I now have another author to add to the list of those who deliver precisely that.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is a completely different animal than the other two and not just because it's YA. It's definitely the most serious of the three books, despite the beach-y cover. The romantic relationship is sweet and well-developed, but it's surrounded by drama and angst and insecurity. It's completely and utterly worth reading, but I don't want anyone to be misled by a cover that implies a light and airy summer romp.
I think I'm going to set myself a personal goal of reading most, if not all, of the Best First Book nominees this year. Judging by those I've already read, it's a list of authors worth discovering.