AAR 2004 annual reader poll

>> Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The results of AAR's 9th annual reader poll were published today, and I had great fun looking at the results and reading the accompanying analysis column. Since I voted this year (as I have for the past few years since I started keeping a reader journal), here's my comparison between my ballot and the results:

- Best romance: Yay! I voted for Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me, and it was the winner! I loved Bet Me and gave it an A. It was by far my favourite read this year.

- Favourite Funny: That was definitely Bet Me for me, too. This is the type of smart, witty humour, complete with wonderful banter, that I adore. I also liked the book which got an honourable mention, MaryJanice Davidson's Undead and Unwed and thought it was really funny, though I might have burnt out a bit on MJD after reading too many of her books in a row.

- Most Hanky read: Yet another category in which I picked the winner, When He Was Wicked, by Julia Quinn. I'm so proud of myself, but I've no idea why, since this is in no way an achievement of mine. I guess it's nice to have one's taste validated ;-) Anyway, I liked this "new" direction of JQ's. The first part of the book, especially, was heart-wrenching.

- Most Luscious Love Story: Ah, here is the first I sort of don't agree with. I did read the winner, Adele Ashworth's Duke of Sin, but while I did like it and thought it was an improvement on her latest couple of books, I wasn't crazy about it. As for its "lusciousness"... hmmm, ok, it was a sexy book, but I've read a few others which were much more so. My pick was actually a short story, Night Owl, by Emma Holly, published in the Hot Blooded anthology. That one was burn-your-fingers hot! My close runner-up in this category was the book that won the honorable mention at the poll, Shadowheart, by Laura Kinsale. Those love scenes really did work for me, which means I'm probably "adventurous", as LLB says in her column ;-)

- Best Cabin / Road romance: I left this category blank in my ballot, because after thinking and thinking, I hadn't read any books I'd enjoyed that fit the bill. That's actually weird, since it's a theme I enjoy. I have already procured a copy of the winner, My Seduction, by Brockway, so I'll be getting to it as soon as it gets here.

- Best New Author: I confess I haven't read many new authors this year. I voted for Robin D. Owens, one of the only 2 or 3 new authors I've read from 2004. As in the last category, I've got the winner, Marianne Stillings' first book, on its way.

- Best Buried Treasure: I haven't read the winner here either, Under a Lucky Star, by Diane Farr, though it's in my Wish List. My vote went to Fair Play, by Deirdre Martin, which I guess could count as a buried treasure, even though it did get a bit of buzz.

- Guiltiest Pleasure: I didn't read Night Play, but Sherrilyn Kenyon. I did read the first in that series and liked it, but I never did continue. I might, even if I find Kenyon / MacGregor's heroes way too tortured, crossing the line into over-the-top. My vote here went to Heart Duel, by my favourite new author, Robin D. Owens.

- Author Most Glommed: Mine was an author I really got into late in the year, Susan Napier. I've started collecting her extensive backlist.

- Best Medieval: I voted for the winner in this one: Shadowheart, by Laura Kinsale. I didn't read many 2004 medievals, and this one was so good it was head and shoulders above anything in the field.

- Best European Historical: I meant to read the one which won, Slightly Dangerous, by Mary Balogh before voting, but I was advised to read at least the previous couple of books in the series before, and I never did get around to it, though I have them all in my TBR. I voted for Liz Carlyle's A Deal With the Devil, which barely edged out my favourite most-hanky read, When He Was Wicked, by Julia Quinn.

- Best Traditional Regency: The winner in this category, Nonnie St. George's Courting Trouble was actually the only 2004 Trad I read, so technically, it was my best of the year. I didn't like it at all, though, so I left this category blank.

- Best American Historical / Frontier: Yet another category I left blank. I'm just not into these genres very much, and I didn't read any book here.

- Best Contemp: Oh, yes, definitely Bet Me. I know some people try to vote for different books in the "best romance" category and in the genre it belongs to, to spread their votes around, but I figure if a contemp was my favourite book of the year, I should vote for it as best romance and best contemp.

- Best Series novel: My vote went to Darkness Calls, by Caridad Piñeiro, a wonderful, gritty, vampire book. The Winner, AKA Goddess, by Evelyn Vaughn, is yet another book that is on its way here. The winner of the honourable mention isn't one I'm too interested in, since I believe Catherine Mann writes military romance, right? And I didn't much like the book of hers that I've read.

- Best Romantic Suspense: I voted for Northern Lights, by Nora Robers. Wonderful book! I haven't read Howard's Kiss Me While I Sleep yet (you guessed it, it's currently on its way here), but I did read the winner of the honourable mention, Brockmann's Flashpoint and I liked it.

- Best Alternate Reality: I liked Divided in Death, by JD Robb a bit better than I liked the book which won here, Undead and Unwed, by MaryJanice Davidson.

- Best Chick Lit / Women's Fiction: Like LLB, I didn't consider Bet Me chick lit, but I do understand why people voted for it here, since it did contain my favourite elements from chick lit. My choice was Can You Keep a Secret?, by Sophie Kinsella, which I read just in time to vote. I meant to wait for my copy to get here (thanks Máili for sending it!), but my 2004 chick lit reading had been so sparce that I couldn't resist it when a friend mentioned she had a copy.

- Best short story: I didn't read the winner here, my vote went to the story which won my vote for most luscious love story: Night Owl, by Emma Holly, from the Hot Blooded anthology.

- Most Tortured Hero: For some reason, I never even thought of Allegretto when time came to make my choice in this category, but he does deserve the title. I voted for Robert Carroway, from Suzanne Enoch's England's Perfect Hero, a book which started out well but basically went down a cliff in the second half. Still, Robert was pretty tortured, even in the most literal sense of the word.

- Strongest Heroine: As I said, I haven't yet read the book which won here, and the winner of the honourable mention is also on its way here, after it came out in paperback. I voted for Meg Galloway, from Northern Lights, by Nora Roberts, a really kick-ass heroine!

- Best Hero: I loved Cal and Nate, and I haven't yet met the others, but I can't think they can beat my choice, Julian Hampton, from Madeline Hunter's The Romantic, truly one of the most wonderful, amazing and yes, romantic heroes I've ever read.

- Best Heroine: My favourite was also my strongest heroine, Meg Galloway, from Northern Lights, though I liked Min, the winner, too.

- Best Couple: I picked the winners here, Min and Cal, from Crusie's Bet Me. They were truly wonderful together!

- Best Villain: I never know whether to vote for the most scary, disgusting, horrible villain, or for my favourite. I chose the latter option this year, and voted for the one from The Legend of Banzai Maguire, by Susan Grant. I hadn't read Brockmann's Flashpoint at the time of voting, but if I had, I would have been tempted to vote for the truly terrifying Padma Bashir. That guy really did make my skin crawl.

- Most Annoying Lead: Oh, the winner, Aline Marsden, from Kleypas' Again the Magic really was annoying, but I thought Declan MacDonald, from The Sexiest Dead Man Alive, by Jane Blackwood was even worse. I hate whiny little boys. Of the dishonourable mentions, I actually liked Theresa Falconetti, from Deirdre Martin's Fair Play!

- Author You Gave Up On: I left this category blank, as I don't think I really gave up on anyone this year.

- Author Others Love That You Don't: Oh, I'm one of the people who love the "winners" here, Nora Roberts and Suzanne Brockmann! My choice was Christine Feehan, after (if I remember correctly) several years of voting for Julie Garwood.

- Most Disappointing Read: I haven't read the winner and don't plan to, from everything I've heard about it. My vote went for Married to the Viscount, by Sabrina Jeffries. I chose it because I had previously enjoyed everything I'd read by Jeffries, so I was really expecting something much better.

- Worst Read: Oh, dear, I'm planning to read The Real Deal! Let's hope I like it better than most people! My vote here went to The Spare, by Carolyn Jewel. I've often left this category blank in the past, because my worst books of the year were just "not that good", not truly awful, but I truly disliked The Spare.

- Purple-est Prose: Definitely Christine Feehan's short story in the Hot Blooded anthology. I don't read Nicole Jordan, and this doesn't tempt me to do so, either!

My thanks to LLB and everyone who helped with this at AAR, I look forward to this every year!


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