June 19, 2006 - Issue #229

For Whom the Voters Poll:

Our Adventures in Updating the Favorite Books by Favorite Authors Poll

The Beginning (Lee Brewer)

The Favorite Books by Favorite Authors feature has been one of my favorite features at All About Romance since its inception. So I was pleased when Laurie asked for volunteers to conduct new polls for 2006. Cindy, LinnieGayl, and I had numerous discussions on which authors to poll/re-poll for, and posted on the Potpourri Message Board to solicit readers’ input in narrowing down the selection. The only requirement we had was that each author had to have published at least five books. Along with contemporary and historical authors, old and new, we added authors from many sub-genres and tried for diversity. By the end we had added polls for 39 authors, and set over a hundred to re-poll.

March 6 - Our Poll Was in Business...Or So We Thought (Cindy Smith)

After setting up our spreadsheets, the start date was finally upon us and we opened our e-mail accounts to find them overflowing with ballots. Woo hoo - we were ready! Or so we thought.

We soon realized that we hadn’t thought to contact the authors on the first week’s ballot to put word out that their books were going to be polled for at AAR. LinnieGayl was the first to realize this, and by Wednesday we e-mailed the next week's authors because we knew we were too late for the first week. Oops. Okay, a small error in preparation. We were good.

In that first week we also discovered that, despite our best efforts, we hadn’t made the directions for voting quite clear enough. Some readers thought that they were being asked to pick their favorite author from among those being balloted rather than picking their favorite books for each of the authors. In other words, instead of ranking their favorite Jennifer Crusie or Jo Beverley titles, they ranked the authors, along with comments such as "Jennifer Crusie is #1 with me, Jo Beverley is #2..." After tweaking the ballot page's written instructions, we began to send emails to the readers that simply ranked the authors, to give them another chance to recommend titles for their favorite authors.

Jennifer Crusie
#1 Bet Me
#5 Welcome to Temptation
Anne Stuart
#2 Nightfall
#4 A Rose at Midnight
Jo Beverley
#3 Devilish
We also received ballots with only twelve titles in all split among the authors up for the week. For example, someone would send in a ballot like this one to the left. Again, we e-mailed the readers who voted this way to let them know that they could pick twelve books for each author. I got a few "oh thank goodness!" responses because they obviously loved many of the authors' works but had interpreted our instructions differently. Luckily by week five this almost stopped completely.

It wasn’t until the following week that we discovered, again, that we hadn’t covered all our bases. Two things became quite clear. Number one, we had a title up for Karen Templeton that she had to tell us she hadn’t written. Big oops and many apologies! Number two, a book that made an author’s top twelve wasn’t yet available to the public. Ouch. How in the heck? Turns out that a number of people who visit AAR get advanced reader copies (ARCs) and they voted for those titles on their ballots. Completely understandable, but a complete error on our part for not realizing this might happen.

The iron gate of intense scrutiny had now been invoked. There wasn’t going to be another error when it came to titles and publication dates! We became instantly connected to the web sites of the authors being polled. If a title came in that we didn’t recognize, we immediately began searching for proof that this book existed.

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I have to admit that readers of Mary Balogh really had me going at one point. I began to suspect that y’all were messing with my mind. Every time I thought I had all her titles accounted for, a new ballot would come in with another title I had yet to find.  You’ve got to be kidding me! From what I understand though, LinnieGayl ended up having the author with the most titles. Nora Roberts clocked in with at least one vote for each of 94 titles!

This brings us to anthologies. I know that Lee was surprised when people started voting for short stories because she hadn’t thought of voting for those on her ballots. Suddenly a whole new world opened up for her. Too bad it also opened a new world of “find the short story anthology it belongs to” game. Actually, it was quite fun to try to find out which anthology a story had come from. I do have to give kudos to those readers who not only knew the name of the story but also the anthology. That was impressive and I have to admit that sometimes I was lazy – uh – patient enough to wait for one of those readers to send in a ballot. So yeah, sometimes Sunday night was a fun time to go looking for the anthology titles I had missed over the week.

A Book By Any Other Name (Lee)

Several books have been re-published under different titles. I was happily entering ballots for a particular author when one voter listed a title with another title in parentheses right next to it. I thought “Uh oh” because I had been tallying votes for both titles. So I went back to the author’s web site and sure enough, she had a few books with two different titles. And in the same week, still another author had at least two or three books that were released under different names. Aargh! But our diligent searching has paid off as we have had no more “oopsies.”  (Knock on wood.)

Authors Who Got the Message Out & How Their Fans Responded (Cindy)

As mentioned above, LinnieGayl was the one who had the light bulb moment of contacting authors to help spread the word that we were polling for the best of their books. We weren’t sure if it would help, but we knew it wouldn’t hurt. The number of authors who responded personally to our e-mails wasn’t enormous, but whenever one contacted us we were thrilled! I even had an author e-mail me to tell me she wished that she could help but that she out-sourced her web work so she couldn’t announce it to her fans.

For me, Gaelen Foley was the first author to respond to one of my e-mails and she was excited to put the information in her newsletter. I swear there wasn’t a ballot that week that didn’t have her name on it! (Okay, maybe a few didn’t but, I was thrilled with the turnout!) But the author holding the record for highest “turnout” was Jessica Bird/JR Ward, with 155 ballots. It was clear that Bird/Ward had sent out word that her books were up for polling and I was excited to see so many ballots come in. Not only that, I noticed that JR Ward voted that week for some of her favorite authors' books, and no, she didn’t rank her books on her ballot.  I’m sure she loves them all equally. <g>

The Votes Start Pouring In (LinnieGayl)

Votes did pour in. While the number of ballots varied from week to week, all told we received over 1700 ballots over the course of the three month polling cycle. As the weeks went by, I began to recognize some of the regular voters. I’m in awe of the reading breadth displayed by certain readers, with some voting every week for four or more different authors, spread across a wide variety of genres (yes Lee, you’re one of those voters). Other readers voted in only a few of the cycles, while still other people voted only one time, for only one author (yep, that’d be Cindy). I received nice emails from a number of authors, including Angela Knight, Julia London, and Kat Martin, letting me know that they were alerting their fans to the voting process.

To understand some of the numbers we are about to throw at you, you’ll need to know a bit more about the process. Quite simply, there could only be twelve books for one author on any given ballot. Therefore we assigned a value to each slot and really, when Laurie explained how she'd worked it out, it just seemed so simple. The title in first place would receive twelve points, the second title would get 11, the third ten points, and so on until the title in last place, which received one point. Some ballots only ever had a first-place title while others had as many as every title ever printed by the author – we just couldn’t go beyond the first twelve. There were some titles that never received a single vote and rounds where the top three books were so close in value that just one ballot changed the entire ranking.

Some authors had one book that turned out to be an overwhelming favorite among voters. Notably, Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas (653 points), with nearly twice as many points as the title readers voted into second place (clearly, readers still love Derek Craven). Similarly, Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride earned twice as many points as her second place titles (A Secret Love and A Rake’s Vow). In contrast, Angela Knight’s Jane’s Warlord (528 points) and Master of the Moon (521 points) finished with nearly identical totals. And only on the last few days of voting did Linda Howard’s Mr. Perfect (522 points) move ahead of Mackenzie’s Mountain (489 points).

Some authors had a large number of titles, and no clear favorites among the readers. For example, 55 of Heather Graham’s titles received at least one mention on a ballot, but there was only a 35-point difference between her 1st place title (One Wore Blue) and her 12th place title (Slow Burn). And while Madeline Hunter has published far fewer titles, her top three titles (By Arrangement, By Possession, and By Design) finished within eight points of each other.

Votes & More Votes (Lee)

As mentioned above, LinnieGayl, Cindy, and I split authors. Usually Cindy took the beginning of the alphabet, LinnieGayl had the middle, and I took the end. Some weeks were busier than others for each of us individually.

Week #7 looked to be extremely busy for me as three of my authors (Judith McNaught, Amanda Quick, and Nora Roberts) are extremely popular and/or had a lengthy backlist. Knowing how overwhelming it could be to tally certain authors’ ballots, LinnieGayl offered to tally Roberts, Cindy took charge of Quick’s ballots, and I worked on McNaught’s votes. When emailing our results to Laurie the following Monday, Cindy exclaimed in her message, “I never want to see the word ‘Ravished’ again!”

Of all my authors, the top vote getter was Julia Quinn. I’m not sure if she sent out an email newsletter or communicated to her readers about the poll, but she’s so popular that she probably didn’t need to do so.

My next highest vote getter, just a few ballots shy of Ms. Quinn, was Katie MacAlister. I’m on Ms. MacAlister’s mailing list, so I received her email newsletter wherein she mentioned the poll. I was overwhelmed with ballots by her fans, some of whom voted for her books exclusively. There are a lot of vampire-loving books fans out there!

Other authors who sent out email newsletters or posted on their web sites and had their fans respond were Francis Ray, Anne Stuart, Tina St. John, Lisa Marie Rice, Maggie Shayne, and Elizabeth Thornton.

We emailed as many authors as possible, but sometimes we couldn’t find a “contact me” link on an author's web site Still other authors don’t have web sites or haven’t updated them recently. But I, too, was pleased to receive several author replies to my emails. One author emailed me the week after the poll for her books had closed. She had been on deadline, but was extremely pleased to have had been included in the poll.

Yep, More Votes (Cindy)

Ravished. Ouch. I was dead serious at the end of that week let me tell you. It wasn’t just that Ravished came in first, it seemed to come in on every single ballot! The final tally for Amanda Quick’s Ravished was 513 points with the next title Scandal coming in at 348 points. Her top twelve titles remained almost exactly the same except for the addition of The Paid Companion, which was published in 2005 and received a grade of B- at AAR. I think in Quick’s case I can safely say that if you try one of the twelve books listed, you will have tried the absolute best of her work.

I also had the pleasure of tallying MaryJanice Davidson’s books and since I’m a fangirl I was intrigued to see how the votes would fall. Undead and Unwed was the clear winner but I was definitely surprised by Derik’s Bane holding such a high place of honor, not to mention The Royal Treatment. Neither of these books felt like romances to me when I read them, but others obviously knew and loved what they were getting. Fair enough.

I can’t end this without mentioning Jessica Bird/JR Ward. I was uneducated, to say the least. I just discovered JR Ward. Her Black Dagger Brotherhood books are keepers and I impatiently await the third book in the series. What I didn’t know was that she also wrote as Jessica Bird... I’ve got a backlist to dig up! Dark Lover clocked in at 1,702 points! I’ll give you a minute. Lover Eternal 1,634 points! Let’s just say the ballots came in like gangbusters and I was grateful that Ward’s fans maybe hadn’t discovered her other pseudonym either. Don’t get me wrong, all her titles were voted for, but DL vs. LE was definitely the endgame. I myself think LE was better but, just by a hair.

Personal Thoughts on Favorite Books & How Well They Did in the Polls

Changing Favorites (LinnieGayl)

We had originally questioned whether we should poll only for new authors, or also re-poll for those already on the list. While some authors had published numerous books since the original polls in 2000-02 (need we mention Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb?), others had only had a few, if any books published since then. For example, some of us questioned whether we should actually bother to re-poll for someone like Georgette Heyer.  After all, she died in 1974.

We decided to go ahead and re-poll for authors already on the feature. While some authors’ lists remained virtually the same from the original polls (Lorraine Heath’s top six titles remained the same), other authors’ lists changed drastically. And not all of these changes resulted from newer books replacing older books in the readers’ ballots. 

For example, while the top two books for Nora Roberts (Sea Swept and Born in Fire) remained the same, other books shifted dramatically. Two of her newer titles moved into the top twelve (Birthright at #10 and Northern Lights at #12), while Tears of the Moon – one of my personal favorites – dropped from sixth place to 22nd. More surprisingly, one of her older titles – Montana Sky, published in 1996 – actually moved up from tenth to fifth place.

Carla Kelly’s titles also had some major shifts. With This Ring dropped from first place to sixth place, while Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand moved up from second to first place.

In the 2000 poll, Jennifer Cruisie’s Crazy for You was her top title, while Welcome to Temptation was second. This time, Welcome to Temptation moved into the top slot with 605 points, edging out 2004's Bet Me in the second slot (579 points). Crazy for You dropped to third, receiving only half as many points as the first two. And Sizzle, twelfth in the 2000 poll, did not receive a single vote this time.

In the 2000 poll for Linda Howard, her top rated book was Dream Man, with Mackenzie’s Mountain in second place. In our recent polls, Mr. Perfect (a 2001 release), moved into the top spot, and Mackenzie’s Mountain fell to second place. Even with that drop, Howard's “classic” series title earned nearly 150 more points than Dream Man, which ended up in third place. Two of her recent releases - To Die For (2005) and Cry No More (2004) - moved into the fifth and ninth slots respectively. And yes, while not in the top twelve, the often controversial Sarah’s Child did receive nearly 90 points, finishing at #23 among the 39 titles receiving at least one mention.

Lisa Kleypas’ titles shifted substantially from the original poll in 2001 to our current poll. While the aforementioned Dreaming of You overwhelmingly retained its #1 ranking, Then Came You dropped from second to seventh place, Someone to Watch Over Me from fourth to eight, and Where Dreams Begin from third to ninth. Her recently released Wallflowers books moved into the fifth, sixth, and tenth slots (Devil in Winter, It Happened One Autumn, and Secrets of a Summer Night, respectively).

AAR originally polled for JoAnn Ross in November of 2001. In the original poll, two of my personal favorites, A Woman’s Heart and Homeplace, topped the poll. This time the former dropped to the 11th spot and the latter ended up in the tenth position. Some of her more recent titles replaced older works, with Blue Bayou (published in 2002) topping the new list. In fact, seven of her top twelve titles in the most recent poll were published after the last voting took place.

Even Georgette Heyer’s books shifted. Although Devil’s Cub remained number one, it edged out The Grand Sophy (fifth in the previous poll) by one point on the last ballot (244 to 243). Cotillion (#10) and The Unknown Ajax (#12) moved into her top twelve titles.  Friday’s Child dropped from 11th in the previous poll to 21st in this poll.

Changing Favorites (Lee)

My favorite romance, The Windflower by Laura London (Sharon and Tom Curtis), somehow came in second place to Sunshine and Shadow in the 2002 poll. I’ve always wondered how that happened! Fortunately, four years later, voters didn’t let that result stand. The Windflower handily (and rightly) beat Sunshine and Shadow - by 72 points!

LinnieGayl was quite surprised to see Susan Elizabeth Phillips' This Heart of Mine ascend to the top, because in 2001 it was in 7th place (“Not because I didn’t like it, Lee,” LinnieGayl pipes in, “but because I remember all the controversy on the AAR boards when the book came out.”). I don’t know why voters placed it in the top spot, but This Heart of Mine finished 88 points ahead of the second place title, It Had To Be You, the first in SEP's extraordinarily popular football series.

I found it interesting that a few authors’ most recent books polled the highest while other authors’ older titles outscored the newbies. For instance, Anne Stuart’s 2005 title, Black Ice handily outscored her next title, To Love a Dark Lord (Ms. Stuart’s top title in 2000) by a nearly two-to-one margin. Among the authors I polled, Ms. Stuart had the most titles (49) named on ballots.

Jo Goodman’s 2005 title, A Season to be Sinful was her top vote-getter though she’s been writing for many years. The four Compass Club books, all published in the last few years, all finished within ten points of each other in slots two through five.

Three authors whose latest (at the time of the poll) books didn’t score well at all were Judith McNaught’s Every Breath You Take, Barbara Samuels' Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas, and J.D. Robb’s Memory in Death. I’m not sure if it was because these books were published in hardcover or readers just didn’t like them. The titles that did come in first place for those authors (Paradise, A Bed of Spices, and Naked in Death, respectively) were all published at least a decade ago. Wow.

Some Books Finished Within Points of Each Other

  • Betina Krahn’s The Marriage Test beat The Husband Test by just one point
  • LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird flitted ahead of Morning Glory by one point
  • Elizabeth Thornton’s Princess Charming outshone Almost a Princess by just five points
  • Tina St. John’s Black Lion’s Bride outcolored White Lion’s Lady by only six points

Some Books Walloped Their "Competition"

  • J.D. Robb’s Naked in Death cruised to an easy victory, 244 points ahead of Immortal in Death
  • Laura Lee Guhrke’s Guilty Pleasures finished 135 points ahead of The Marriage Bed
  • Kinley MacGregor’s Born in Sin finished 79 points ahead of Master of Desire
  • Lisa Marie Rice’s Midnight Man ran ahead of its competition, Midnight Run, by 75 points
  • Theresa Weir’s Cool Shade shaded its nearest competitor, Some Kind of Magic, by 59 points
  • Kayla Perrin’s Gimme an O finished 48 points ahead of Getting Even

And Some Authors' Rankings Stayed Consistent With the Earlier Poll

  • Dinah McCall’s Jackson Rule, Tallchief and Dreamcatcher finished 1-2-3 both in 2001 and this year.
  • Gayle Wilson’s Anne’s Perfect Husband and The Heart’s Desire finished 1-2 both in 2002 and this year.
  • Katherine Sutcliffe’s Darkling I Listen and Dream Fever finished 1-2 both in 2002 and this year, though only separated this year by four points.
  • Mary Jo Putney’s top five books in 2001 also finished in the top five this year, though in a slightly different order:

    2001
    2006
    One Perfect Rose Shattered Rainbows
    Shattered Rainbows The Rake
    The Rake Thunder and Roses
    Thunder and Roses One Perfect Rose
    Angel Rogue Angel Rogue

Some of my favorite books that I was quite happy to see in the top spot were Suzanne Brockmann’s Over the Edge, Megan Chance’s The Portrait, and Lynn Kerstan’s The Golden Leopard.

Changing Favorites (Cindy)

I only cast one ballot during the polling process and it was for Anne Stuart. I am very grateful to those of you who took the time to sit and rank your favorite books because that one ballot took me an hour to figure out. Maybe I over-thought the entire process, but realized quickly that I didn’t have time to cast ballots and tally them. I also realized I am not as well read in romance as I thought. I did not tally Anne Stuart votes so I had no idea that most of the titles I carefully plotted would not make it to the final twelve. I was shocked at the twelve titles to say the least and yet, it makes perfect sense. I had put in some of her oldest works (sorry, Lee) but the ones that placed were her single title books, which are much more readily available.

Suzanne Brockmann’s final list however, had her single titles and her category books well mixed, although how Flashpoint made it on there I will never know. Some of her categories have been re-released, so those who might have missed Prince Joe in its first printing in June 1996, were able to easily pick it up in the last few years. It turns out that every category that made it on her list has been re-printed, so that might explain how they showed up - all except The Admiral’s Bride - which was re-released at roughly the same time as we conducted our Brockmann re-poll.

Mary Balogh’s top twelve books changed in epic style. By the time the dust settled I realized that six titles from the 2002 poll had fallen to the wayside and wow, some really fell. Dark Angel is now is 41st place, while Tempting Harriet is currently ranked at 31. The first four titles to make the new list were not on the 2002 list, so I had to do some checking to see why this may have occurred. Both A Summer To Remember and Slightly Dangerous were published after the first poll, and both earned DIK status here at AAR (as did More than a Mistress and A Secret Pearl, the other two of those top four titles ). More than a Mistress and A Secret Pearl, however, had been published at the time of Balogh's first poll. MTAM was published in 2001. ASP was originally published in 1991 and just reissued this spring, which probably explains why a fifteen year old book received such a high place of honor in the rankings. The fact that five of the new titles on Balogh’s list were published since 2001 suggests to me that Mary Balogh has continued to create highly crafted works that her readers are more than eager for. For a career that began at her kitchen table in 1983, I am in awe.

Meanwhile, Jo Beverley’s list just had a wee scramble. Except for the top three spots. They stayed the same, lock, stock and smoking barrel. While the readers at AAR are very sure about their love of Devilish, My Lady Notorious and Something Wicked in that exact order (thank you very much), they were also able to add three new titles to Beverley’s top twelve. Yes, they were all published since the last poll with A Most Unsuitable Man being one of her most recent titles from 2005. Keep in mind if you’re heading to the bookstore that six of her older single titles were just re-issued in January of this year so tracking down these favorites shouldn’t be too hard.

Christina Dodd’s list also remained quite static except for the additions of 2002's My Favorite Bride, which earned DIK status from LLB, 2003's One Kiss From You - which received an F review (ouch) - another 2003 release, Just The Way You Are earned a solid B, and Rules of Attraction from 2001 also earned DIK status. Once again, the results indicate that readers are just as happy with this author’s newer works as her harder to find titles.

Jane Feather’s list completely changed, with only five of the original titles from the 2000 poll making it through to this round. Okay, the first place winner stayed the same, but everything else was gently stirred. The Widow’s Kiss from 2002 received an A- grade at AAR while To Kiss a Spy from the same year was graded a C. The Bachelor List, The Bride Hunt and The Wedding Game were all published in 2004 with grades of B-, B and B respectively. Almost half of the ballots received had a mix of old and new titles, while less than a third had only her earlier works listed. Clearly Jane Feather’s fans are quite happy with the choices that she has made in writing and this poll reflects that with the showing of "the oldies" and "the new kids on the block".

Connie Brockway’s list had new inductees. Her newest trilogy - My Pleasure, My Surrender, My Seduction - which received an A-, A- and a B+ respectively at AAR, fell into the sixth, seventh, and ninth place spots. The Bridal Season, published in 2001, hit number 5 and garnered an B review while Bridal Favors, which came out a year later and earned DIK status, landed in fourth place in the ratings. With that said, it was her older titles, As You Desire and All Through the Night, both published in 1997, and 1998's My Dearest Enemy that re-staked their claim on the top three spots.

What I learned from Catherine Coulter’s results is that most of her readers prefer her earlier works since only three titles changed - two of which were published before the last poll. Neither The Wild Baron, published in 1997, or Fire Song (originally published in 1985 but reissued in 2001), showed up on first list, but this time around the former hit third place while the latter squeezed into twelfth place. Meanwhile, 2001's The Scottish Bride was the only newly published book to make the top twelve - it landed in ninth place. The point is that eleven of Ms. Coulter’s top twelve favorites were written before the year 2000. Since the year 2000 Catherine Coulter has published twelve books and having only one enter the top twelve favorites strongly indicates that most romance readers prefer her earlier works, something reinforced by annual reader poll results; Coulter has been the author readers gave up on three times in the past decade.

Kathleen Korbel/Eileen Dreyer results were not what I would have expected. In this round of polling not one title published under Eileen Dreyer showed in the results while the first poll in 2002 featured three of her titles. The good news is that readers still like Korbel’s voice - her last Silhouette Intimate Moments from 2003 garnered first place. What was surprising is seeing books published in 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990 knock books off the list that were published later. It looks like if you read the top four books of Kathleen Korbel, you will have read her best work according to her fans. I have not read Eileen Dreyer but it looks like her books are medical/forensic suspense books which I’m sure have their own fan base but it looks as though romance readers did not follow her into a new genre.

Catherine Anderson’s end result was more like a snow globe. For the most part, the titles picked were the same as the first poll in 2002. The only difference was that the last three books in the 2002 poll - Coming Up Roses, Comanche Moon and Comanche Magic - which were her oldest books, were replaced by Always in My Heart (5th place), Blue Skies (6th place) , and Summer Breeze (this January 2006 release landed in 12th place).

Elizabeth Bevarly’s results show that her move into single title romance was a great idea. Only four titles from the 2001 poll made it to this round and the top three titles remained exactly the same. My Man Pendleton, Her Man Friday, and How to Trap a Tycoon are her fan's obvious favorites. After that, the list is completely different and except for two titles are all recent releases. I would say that Ms. Bevarly’s fans are quite happy with new releases like The Thing About Men (a 2004 title that received a B- grade at AAR), 2005's B graded Just Like a Man, and You've Got Male, also from 2005.

Sandra Hill is not only prolific, having as many as three books published in one year (2004), she is also well loved by her fans. Only five titles remained from the original poll and the titles that replaced them were all published after 2003. Let’s just say her Cajuns and Vikings are tearing up the charts. Tall, Dark and Cajun topped the list and was published in 2003 while The Cajun Cowboy, A Tale of Two Vikings and Wet & Wild followed in 2004. For the most part, Sandra Hill’s titles have garnered solid B grades, so she is definitely doing right by her readers.

I’m obviously in a weird camp when it comes to Loretta Chase. I loved Mr. Impossible but it was trounced by Lord of Scoundrels, which held onto its’ first place standing. I guess I better be happy with a second place slot. Lord Perfect, which earned DIK status, found its place at third, and is the author's most recent book. Miss Wonderful was graded a B- and landed in the fourth place spot, which has me scratching my head, but once again, I understand I’m in a minority.

Final Thoughts (Cindy)

Although volunteering to help with something for Laurie and the staff of AAR was intimidating, it turned into a wonderful experience and I look forward to being able to help out with other projects in the future. I know that LinnieGayl and Lee are already hard at work getting ready to re-introduce mini-polls. Their enthusiasm for this project and the one they are about to embark upon has been a true joy to be a part of. Keep in mind that volunteering was definitely a step out of one of my own personal boxes and I know there are many who visit here and would like to get involved but have been afraid to do so. Let me tell you that this has been a great experience. Laurie and the AAR staff will not leave you floundering about all alone. Laurie stayed in touch with LinnieGayl, Lee, and I for the first few weeks and when she realized that we were comfortable with what we were doing, she let us have free reign. Therefore, the little day to day stuff that we ran across didn’t have to become something overwhelming because we were able to bounce ideas off of each other.

I look forward to getting back to reading, and now that we have updated the lists, I know the first place to look when I head out to the bookstore for a new find.

Final Thoughts (Lee)

When Laurie asked on the Potpourri Board for volunteers to conduct this poll, I was the only one to respond. I was more than willing to try to tackle this project alone, as Shelley Dodge did between 2000 and 2002. But I was very relieved when, after reading Laurie’s blog, LinnieGayl and Cindy came on board. I have since become even more thankful when I realize what a huge undertaking this turned out to be. Not only did we tally votes, but we prepared letters to email to authors each week, and filled out our spreadsheets with titles, columns, and formulas.

Once we got past the third or fourth week though, LinnieGayl, Cindy, and I became pros (or so we like to think). We would email each other about the upcoming week’s authors, speculating on which author would get the most votes, and which authors had vampire titles in their oeuvre. I am so glad I volunteered to do this project, and as Cindy mentions above, LinnieGayl and I are all ready to poll for anything and everything to do with romance books.

Final Thoughts (LinnieGayl)

This has truly been a fun project in so many ways. Getting to know Cindy and Lee through nearly daily (early on, nearly hourly) emails has been one of the best parts of the experience. Added to that, I have been introduced to lots of new authors, and now have an even larger than before TBR pile. Early in the voting, I went on a huge glom of some AA authors. Through that process, I have now added to my auto-buy list any romantic suspense novel that Beverly Jenkins writes, as well as books by the fabulous Donna Hill and Kayla Perrin.

At numerous points in the voting, I would send an email out to Cindy and Lee, saying something like, “Who is this [insert one of the many authors I’d never heard of here]? Why are so many people voting for her?” Either Lee or Cindy would then kindly respond, letting me know that yes indeed, the author in question was not only very popular, but actually quite good. As a result, I now have a list of new authors to explore – with the books recommended by their fans at the top of the list – including Angela Knight, JR Ward, Madeline Hunter, and Lynn Kerstan.

Now It's Time To Open Things Up for Your Comments. To Get Things Started:

Whether or not you participated in the polling, what are your thoughts on the results...in particular and/or in general? Are there any results that surprised you?

Do you find that your tastes are similar or completely different from most readers now that you can see the books that most readers would recommend by their favorite authors?

Are there any books missing from an author’s top twelve books that you wish could be there?

Did you vote every week or just once in awhile even though you have read many of the authors?

 

Favorite Books by Favorite Authors
Post your comments and/or questions to our Potpourri Message Board

 

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