The finalists for the Australian Romance Readers Awards for 2011 have been announced, and they include Nalini Singh, Nora Roberts (in various guises), and more. There are nine awards given every year (you can browse previous winners here) in various categories: paranormal romance, sci-fi/urban fantasy/futuristic romance, short romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, erotic romance, romantic suspense, favourite romantic continuing series, and finally, members’ favourite Australian romance author. (No cyberpunk romances this year, alas.)
Here are some of the finalists (in various categories):
Shattered sky / Helene Young.
“On a routine surveillance flight east of the Australian coast, Captain Lauren Bennett’s crew pick up a mayday call. A yacht is under fire. For the international smugglers operating below the radar of the navy and Border Watch, sinking a pleasure craft is just part of their day s work. Lauren has other ideas. As she pursues the men into the isolated country of Cape York, she ll need all the help she can get. That will mean joining forces with the cynical navy officer Callam Granger, who’s already shown his contempt for her. What will it take to convince him she’s right this time? Can they put aside their old animosities to outwit, outrun and ultimately out-fly the traffickers? Or will another death shatter Lauren’s life completely?” (Global Books)
River marked / Patricia Briggs.
“Car mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy Thompson senses that an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River – one that her father’s people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help.” (Syndetics summary)
Archangel’s blade / Nalini Singh.
“In the intensely dark, violent, and romantic fourth Guild Hunter novel (after Archangel’s Consort), Singh focuses on the 1,000-year-old vampire Dmitri, lieutenant to the archangel Raphael, and Guild Hunter Honor, still recovering after a rogue vampire kidnapped and tortured her for two months. Assigned by the Guild to work with Dmitri toward solving the strange murder of a young vampire, Honor must confront the conflicting emotions he inspires, which intensify when the investigation bleeds into her past abduction and Dmitri vows revenge on her attackers. Their relationship develops explosively and becomes one of equals despite the centuries of age difference. Singh’s vampires, angels, hunters, and archangels engage in global power struggles within a complex larger story that new readers will find challenging. An engrossing narrative, vivid characters, and a well-imagined world mitigate those difficulties, resulting in a heart-pounding and strongly emotional read.” (Publishers Weekly)
Prince of Scandal / by Annie West.
“Prince… Ruling prince Raul, Prince of Maritz, is furious that an archaic law is forcing him to wed. But scandal and unrest has dogged this prince for years, and a marriage to recently discovered princess Luisa Hardwicke will help bring stability to the monarchy. Reluctant princess… Only Luisa is an outspoken, mud-splattered farm-girl, who isn’t going to come quietly! Even as she’s reluctantly transformed into polished perfection, Luisa challenges Raul at every turn – and he finds himself anticipating their wedding night with an excitement he never imagined he’d feel… ” (Amazon.co.uk)
The next always / Nora Roberts.
“Beckett has no trouble whatsoever talking to women. It’s just Claire who has him at a loss for words. It all began when Beckett fell hard and fast for Claire in high school, but Claire wound up marrying Beckett’s best friend, Clint. Now, more than a decade later, Claire, a war widow, is back in Boonsboro, building a new life for herself and her sons as the owner of the town’s bookstore. Even though renovating the local inn keeps Beckett busy, he still manages to bump into Claire at least once a day, and he still finds himself surprisingly tongue-tied. Finally, when Beckett offers Claire an early tour of the inn, it leads to an unexpected kiss. With the first impeccably written and richly emotional installment in her new contemporary romantic trilogy, Roberts delivers all the elements her readers enjoy, including a perfectly matched pair of protagonists and a plot spiced with danger, a touch of the paranormal, and deliciously tart humor. Readers will also relish the autobiographical dimension. The novel is set in Roberts’ hometown, Boonsboro, Maryland, in which she owns a restored inn and is the proprietor of Turn the Page bookstore.” (Booklist)
Magic slays / Ilona Andrews.
“Kate Daniels has quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but starting her own business isn’t easy. So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead asks for help with a vampire, Kate jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, this is one case where Kate should have looked before she leapt. Original.” (Syndetics summary)