First (because really, I have to start this post with that word), The RITA®s are The Oscars of the Romance genre in Publishing. Only, instead of a golden man, the trophy is a golden woman who’s reading and she’s handed out to winners in twelve categories in a super glamorous awards ceremony at the Romance Writers of America Annual National Conference.
Eleven of the categories are sub-genre based. But the twelfth category is Best First Book and it is special for so many reasons but mostly because a writer can final in this category only once in a lifetime, much like any other First in life.
I have the incredible good fortune of being one of the Best First Book finalists this year for A Bollywood Affair. A pot that is sweetened greatly by the fact that I get to befriend the other wonderful authors who also get to enjoy this First with me. And we can’t let something so momentous pass by without celebrating it and sharing the celebration with our readers.
So here’s the plan…
Seven of us Best First Book RITA finalists will be getting together over the next seven weeks to share seven of our Firsts with you every Friday. Our First Book Crushes, First Kisses, First Date and so forth. We’ll also spotlight one book a week and give it away that week to one lucky reader who comments on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media where you see the post. **Plus I just got my ARCs for THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE, so I’ll give one of those away too.** But wait! That’s not all! At the end of our seven week Fiesta of Firsts we’ll pick one Grand Winner to win a basket of books from our favorite authors.
And I get to kick off the celebration with A Bollywood Affair. But first our our first Firsts:
My First Book Crush
My first book crush was Gilbert Blythe. I loved his goodnatured devotion from the beginning, but when he gave up his Avonlea teaching position to Anne so she could to stay in Green Gables and take care of Marilla? *melt* ~ I actually mention the pearl engagement ring that Gilbert gave Anne several times in my Run to You series: the hero, Tristan, gives the heroine, Tessa, a replica of the ring as a promise of his devotion to her.
My first book crush was Ned Nickerson, Nancy Drew’s long-time boyfriend. I read all the yellow hardcover Nancy Drew books in my school’s library, then later discovered the “modern” novels and read those as well. I really wanted to be Nancy Drew, not just for the crime-solving glory, but for the sweet action with her cute boyfriend Ned.
My first book crush began when I was about ten and started reading a simplified version of Sir Thomas Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur. The pictures were gorgeous and I’d often read it before going to school, and be late and in trouble. King Arthur didn’t interest me as he was drawn as a spindly boy, but Lancelot – oh my. Big armour, great caparisoned white steed, face of steel … I think it had a lot to do with why I write historical.
I’m going old-school crush here! My very, very first book crush was when I was 10. I fell in love (as much as a young girl can) with Pa Ingalls from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. He was big and burly and loved his family and could sing, dance and play the fiddle! And he protected his daughters from the scary wilderness as they made their way across the prairie. How could a young girl not have a crush on someone like that?
My first book crush was Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. But then I fell in love with all Jane Austen’s heroes one book at a time. And because my book crush on Jamie Fraser from Outlander was so monumental, he gets his own category…my first Scottish romance book crush. It’s a crush that will last a lifetime.
My first romance crush was most definitely Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables. I read the series when I was in middle school, which I think is the perfect age to related to Anne with an e and her puffed sleeves. And oh, did Gilbert make my heart go pitty-pat! Then, of course, the late Jonathon Crombie played Gilbert in the television version and turned my crush into a full blown teen romance!
I think mine was Ralph de Bricassart from The Thorn Birds. A man who can’t walk away from a little girl’s painful loneliness and ends up paying the highest price for it. And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over him or my weakness for a love that survives all odds and defies definition.
And this week’s finalist spotlight: A Bollywood Affair
Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.
Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.
Please visit our finalists on their websites and tell us your first book crush.