Best First Book

In honor of the Romance Writers of America® national conference, we're featuring the different nominees for their highest published honor, THE RITA®, by category each day. We hope some of the authors will be able to join us, but remember they're getting ready for their big night July 28th. We'll celebrate the winners here on the 29th along with our celebration drawings from their gracious donations.

Laura Spinella
Berkley Publishing Group
Leis Pederson, editor

A story of love lost...and found.
Mia Wells's eco-friendly career goals are about to become a reality-but her life-altering moment is interrupted when an unexpected call ushers in her tremulous past. A man who's never left Mia's memory: Flynn, the enigmatic, passionate man whose disappearance broke her heart, has mysteriously resurfaced.

Now back in her life and in the hospital, Flynn is gravely injured. Mia keeps a bedside vigil-terrified that he will die, awestruck at the prospect of his survival. In a story filled with sweetness and suspense, Mia's what-ifs are endless. And Flynn's return ignites an achingly powerful tale about the most enduring love, one that is greater than honor, or friendship, or the passing of time.
Laura has donated a copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and is currently working on her next book, THE IT FACTOR—romantic fiction with a risky rock-and-roll edge.

Gillian Bagwell
Berkley Publishing Group
Kate Seaver, editor

From London's slums to its bawdy playhouses, The Darling Strumpet transports the reader to the tumultuous world of seventeenth-century England, charting the meteoric rise of the dazzling Nell Gwynn, who captivates the heart of King Charles II-and becomes one of the century's most famous courtesans.

Witty and beautiful, Nell was born into poverty but is drawn into the enthralling world of the theater, where her saucy humor and sensuous charm earn her a place in the King's Company. As one of the first actresses in the newly-opened playhouses, she catapults to fame, winning the affection of legions of fans-and the heart of the most powerful man in all of England, the King himself. Surrendering herself to Charles, Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court-and discover a world of decadence and passion she never imagined possible.

Gillian has donated a copy of the THE DARLING STRUMPET & THE SEPTEMBER QUEEN (The KING'S MISTRESS in the UK released this month).

Stefanie Sloane
Ballantine Bantam Dell
Junessa Viloria, editor

Lord William Randall, the Duke of Clairemont, is a wicked rake with little regard for society—a most unlikely suitor for the prim and proper Lady Lucinda Gray. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot and to do this, the notorious “Iron Will” must get close to Lucinda, and convince her that he’s a man worthy of her attention. It is a simple enough task to use his devilish charm to seduce her, but William never would have guessed that he’d become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey—or that he’d lose his own heart in the bargain.

Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. His rugged features, sinfully sensuous mouth, and piercing eyes are as alluring as the champion thoroughbred he tantalizingly offers in exchange for the honor of courting her, and she finds it hard to resist either temptation. The feelings he stirs in her both excite and arouse, urging her on despite the very real danger he represents. But when the truth is revealed, will Lucinda risk her heart and her life for a chance at everlasting love?

GLIAS interview RITA Regency Historical on July 25th.
Stefanie is graciously donating 4 copies of her books for the RITA Celebration.
Darynda Jones
St. Martin's Press
Jennifer Enderlin, editor

A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. 

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

GLIAS RITA interview Novel with Strong Romantic Elements on July 23rd.
GLIAS interview

Myra McEntire
Egmont USA
Regina Griffin, editor

One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there; swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

GLIAS interview RITA Young Adult on July 28th.

Vicky Dreilling
Grand Central Publishing Forever
Michele Bidelspach, editor

Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. No love is necessary—nor desired. But how to choose amid a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London’s infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she’s not the most captivating woman he’s ever met . . .

Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she’s determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife—she’ll bring him true love. Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke’s affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan’s desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker’s number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.
GLIAS interview RITA Regency Historical on July 25th
GLIAS interview

Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire
Leah Hultenschmidt, editor

"For the first time in my life, I didn't feel envy..."

Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that's okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates.

There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn't hold it together, who will?
GLIAS interview RITA Young Adult on July 28th.
GLIAS interview
Janet has donated an ARC of her new book, WHO I KISSED--not available until Oct 1st--for the RITA celebration.
Maurissa Guibord
Delacorte Press
Michelle Poploff, editor

Tessa Brody doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there is definitely something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry that she discovers in a box of old books. The wild, handsome creature woven within it draws Tessa, and frightens her too.
Soon after the tapestry comes into her possession strange things begin to happen. Tessa experiences vivid dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible secret-one that has been contained for centuries. She also meets William de Chaucy, a young sixteenth-century nobleman with gorgeous eyes, an odd accent and haughty attitude to spare.

His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. "His Lordship" is pretty hard to get along with but equally hard to resist.
Together with Will, Tessa must correct the wrongs of the past to defeat a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

But what is she willing to sacrifice in order to do it?

GLIAS interview RITA Young Adult on July 28th.

~ ~ ~
JOIN THE RITA® CELEBRATION by leaving a comment for each category between July 11th and 28th (multiple comments = multiple entries). GLIAS will be drawing for winners on Sunday, July 29th and posting along with all the RITA® winners announced Saturday evening in Anaheim, California. 

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. If an INTERNATIONAL name is drawn, mailing the book or supplying an electronic version will be the decision of the donator. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

JOIN US tomorrow as RITA® week continues with the best CONTEMPRARY SERIES ROMANCE category. Don’t forget to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook  ~Angi  


  1. wow sounds like a great contest sign me up thanks for the chance

  2. Anyone else wish there were more hours in a day, and you HAD to read during those hours? I have so many books at home I want to read and I'm drooling over all these, too. Sheesh.

    1. What an awesome idea. Sometimes I wish I had the spell used by Hermoni in HARRY POTTER.

  3. Thanks, Angi for sharing all these books. They all sound wonderful and what a great honor for their first book.

  4. Thanks for joining us today ! We hope some of the authors will be able to stop by, so if you have a question, go ahead and post.


  5. What a great selection of books. Thank you.

  6. Thanks so much to Get Lost in a Story for posting all the RITA Best First Book finalists! I am thrilled to be in such well-worded company!! My very best to all the authors! I hope some of your blog readers will have a chance to take in a title or two!! Thanks again for featuring us!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Laura !

      I'm sure the writing world will be seeing a lot of you !!


  7. I hadn't heard of Beautiful Disaster and The Darling Strumpet but they look like great stories. I read How to Marry a Duke and Devil in Disguise and enjoyed them very much. Hourglass and First Grave on the Right, I have seen some good reviews of them but haven't read them yet. I'm Not Her and Warped look good too. Good luck to all the authors.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  8. Congratulations! All these books sound good.


  9. I've read a few on this list! I think a Rita award or a nomination is a good indication about how good a book is!

  10. Thanks for stopping by and check back every day. We still have donations being added to our long list of prizes.


  11. I read some of these books and I agree that they are all terrific books! :)

  12. I definitely plan on reading some of these books! Great idea for a contest, too!!

    Terri Z.

  13. Congratulations to all authors. I would love to win some books.

  14. Congrats to all! The covers are strikingly beautiful. I'll now be adding more to my reading list!

  15. Congrats to all of these wonderful authors. Would love to have some of these books. They sound awesome!

  16. Congrats to these amazing authors to be up for a RITA for their debut book!

    I've only heard of two of the listed authors. I'd love to read all of their books! Best wishes to them all.

    johnslake at usa dot com

  17. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraJuly 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Congrats to these authors who ended up nominated on their first book!