The Romantic Novel of the Year is Romantic Novelists Associations major award and is open to all romantic fiction first published in the UK in the current year. The presentation is made at the RNA Awards Luncheon. In previous years this has taken place in April, but in 2008 it is being held in February.

Books all receive three reads from amongst a panel of over a hundred readers who are ordinary members of the public. The readers score the titles on such criteria as romantic content, readability, dialogue, characters, plot, style and setting. The books with the highest scores go on to a longlist and receive a fourth read. When that score has been added, the six books with the highest combined score form the shortlist for the year. The whole shortlist is read by all the final judges to select the outright winner.

Comment Tragic Blog: East of the Sun Wins 2009 Romantic Novel of the Year

2009 Romantic Novel of the Year Winner- 10th Feb, 2009

Winner East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson, (Orion)

"a rich historical novel...a taut, never predictable plot" (audio edition) SUNDAY TIMES "What a gorgeous read. Exciting, romantic, unpredictable and funny. I didn't want it to end. You'll crave curry for weeks." -- Tracey Ullman "The Orion staff gave this beautifully written book an overwhelming thumbs up, and it isn't hard to see why" COUNTRY LIFE "a finely written story full of characters you can care about...highly descriptive and persuasively told" THE LADY "a unique and fascinating historical novel" PRIMA "For passion in an exotic landscape, check out Julia Gregson's East of the Sun" -- Giles Foden CONDENAST TRAVELLER "Warm, charming, masterfully written and impossible to put down once begun" AUSTRALIAN WOMENS WEEKLY "A richly imagined and thoroughly rewarding book" NHS MAGAZINE "this novel is utterly engaging" ASIAN AGE

About the Author
Julia Gregson has worked in women's magazines in the UK, US and the Far East. She has had several serials and short stories published and read on the radio. She lives in Wales with her husband and daughter. This is her second novel.


2009 Romantic Novel of the Year Shortlist- Other Shortlisted

13th January, 2009- Bestselling author Cecelia Ahern is one of the six authors shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year 2009, which is organised by the Romantic Novelists' Association. The final six novels are currently being read by a panel of three judges, who will select the winner in time for the presentation at the Awards Lunch to be held on 10th February 2009 at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington.

This year's award has a truly international flavour, with authors living far afield and books set in Japan, Canada, India, Dublin and Skye. Cecelia Ahern, whose hero is American, comes from Ireland. She is joined by Susanna Kearsley, who hails from Canada, and Linda Gillard, who lives in Glasgow. England is well represented by Lesley Downer, based in London, Judith Lennox from Cambridgeshire and Julia Gregson, whose shortlisted novel was one of Richard and Judy's summer reads, from Monmouthshire.

Before the Storm by Judith Lennox (Headline)

On an autumn day in 1909 wealthy young Richard Finborough catches sight of twenty-year-old Isabel Zeale at the harbour at Lynmouth in Devon. Her beauty captivates him. Aware of shameful secrets in her past, Isabel has no intention of letting anyone into her life, but Richard's persistence and ardour eventually win him her trust – and her hand in marriage.

The decades pass and Isabel and Richard raise a family through the turbulent times of the First World War and the 1920s. As her children reach adulthood, Isabel is convinced her secret is safe – until an old acquaintance emerges from the shadows, turning her world upside down. To protect the happiness of those she loves most, Isabel must find the courage to confront what came before, and live with the consequences…

About the Author

Judith Lennox began writing in the mid-eighties. Her novels A STEP IN THE DARK and THE WINTER HOUSE were both shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award

Sophia's Secret, by Susanna Kearsley (Allison & Busby)

'A deeply-engaging romance and a compelling historical novel ... Susanna Kearsley has written a marvellous book' BERNARD CORNWELL

Carolyn McClelland, a writer of historical novels, finds herself with a familiar enemy; writer's block. A change of scenery leads her, and her book, in a whole new direction. Writing about the attempted Jacobite invasion of 1707, Carolyn takes up residence in a cottage in Edinburgh.

Inexplicably drawn to Slains Castle, and not so inexplicably drawn to the charming, but somehow familiar, Stuart Keith, Carolyn is soon writing with an unusual speed and imagery which leads her to wonder whether her 'fictional' character of Sophia is really so fictional after all. Carolyn soon realises that she is somehow channelling the memories of her distant relative and that her story has a life of its own. It was previously published as "The Winter Sea".

Star Gazing by Linda Gillard, (Little Brown)

Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her forties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister, Louisa, a successful novelist. Marianne's passionate nature finds solace and expression in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, a man she encounters on her doorstep one winter's night. Whilst Marianne has had her share of men attracted to her because they want to rescue her, Keir makes no concession to her condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, and yet oddly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his island home on Skye, to 'show' her the stars?

"'Haunting, lyrical and intriguing' - Isla Dewar 'I can heartily recommend Linda Gillard...Excellent reads' - Adele Geras"

"A read for diehard romantics with a bent towards environmental issues."

"This is a story of love, music, and nature, with touches of the supernatural and a very engaging and believable heroine. As a bonus, you're transported to the Isle of Skye and Edinburgh... An enjoyable novel by a reliably good writer."

"A thoughtful yet romantic read... This is a good book for a group as there would be much to discuss."

Book Description

About the Author
Linda Gillard lives and writes on the Isle of Skye, off the north-west coast of Scotland. She is a former actress (the highlight of her career was sharing a table in the National Theatre canteen with Sir Michael Gambon!) and freelance journalist.

Thanks for the Memories, by Cecelia Ahern (Harper Collins)

Lose yourself in the magical new novel from the No.1 bestselling author of PS I Love You Joyce Conway remembers things she shouldn't. She knows about tiny cobbled streets in Paris, which she has never visited. And every night she dreams about an unknown little girl with blonde hair. Justin Hitchcock is divorced, lonely and restless. He arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor, who persuades him to donate blood. It's the first thing to come straight from his heart in a long time. When Joyce leaves hospital after a terrible accident, with her life and her marriage in pieces, she moves back in with her elderly father. All the while, a strong sense of deja vu is overwhelming her and she can't figure out why ! Cecelia Ahern: making the everyday magical.

Praise for Cecelia Ahern: 'Cecelia Ahern is queen of the modern fairytale!love, magic, happy endings. And most of all, hope.' Irish Times 'The legendary Ahern will keep you guessing what binds these stories. A classic.' Company 'The key to Ahern's success is her ability not just to tell a good story, but sprinkle it with plenty of laughs, tears, and a little bit of magic' Mirror 'A sensational debut novel that proves true love never dies' Cosmopolitan 'Heartwarmingly good' Heat 'Wonderfully warm and witty!This exceptional novel about bereavement, friendship and lost love is both heartbreaking and uplifting' Express

`The legendary Ahern will keep you guessing what binds these stories. A classic.'

`The key to Ahern's success is her ability not just to tell a good story, but sprinkle it with plenty of laughs, tears, and a little bit of magic.'

The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer (Transworld)

Japan, 1865, the women's palace in the great city of Edo. Bristling with intrigue and erotic rivalries, the palace is home to three thousand women and only one man - the young shogun. Sachi, a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl, is chosen to be his concubine. But Japan is changing, and as civil war erupts, Sachi flees for her life. Rescued by a rebel warrior, she finds unknown feelings stirring within her; but this is a world in which private passions have no place and there is not even a word for 'love'. Before she dare dream of a life with him, Sachi must uncover the secret of her own origins - a secret that encompasses a wrong so terrible that it threatens to destroy her ...

Thoroughly researched, this beautifully descriptive historical saga offers a fascinating insight into the culture of imperial Japan, and will have you hooked from the first page - wonderful

WOMAN&HOME, March 08
'Enthralling story that brings alive a distant exotic world' edition.

SANDRA GULLAND, author of Mistress of the Sun and the Josephine B. Trilogy
'The Last Concubine is an extraordinary novel--richly-imagined and compelling. An amazing achievement.'

reFRESHlite, 12 March 2008
'Epic romantic drama set at a pivotal point in Japanese history. This fragile world with its rigid hierarchical structures is beautifully portrayed. This is a love story but far more'

Literary Review, April 2008
'a sweeping historical drama...fluently written, and the political events, battles, customs, minutiae of daily life and even the weather have all been meticulously researched to recreate Japan in the 1860s'

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 The Romantic Novel of the Year 2008 is Pillow Talk by Freya North

Petra Flint and Arlo Savidge were teenage sweethearts in a sweet, chaste, old-fashioned way. They never really told each other how they felt. Now, years later, Petra is a wonderfully talented jeweller by day, but by night she is a sleepwalker, never fully able to rest.

Arlo, a musician, is living in North Yorkshire, teaching at an eccentric boys' boarding school. Like Petra, he carries with him something that makes it hard to sleep at night.

In an ice-cream shop one rainy day Arlo and Petra stand before each other once again, hardly able to believe their eyes. Is this their second chance?

However, for love to blossom, they must finally put their pasts to bed. A past Petra can't quite remember. A past Arlo wants to forget.

About the Freya North
In the early 1990s, Freya North abandoned a PhD to write her first novel, Sally. For four years she turned deaf ears to the pleading of parents and friends to ‘get a proper job’. Instead, she opted for a succession of freelance and temping jobs to accumulate precious writing days. Eventually, with the first novel complete and a second underway, Freya sent sample chapters out to the publishing industry. There followed a string of rejections from publishers and agents alike. Undeterred, she tried a different tack and sent a page of completely fabricated ‘reviews’, purporting to be from famous authors and the media, to a leading literary agent. He didn’t believe the reviews (some were his own clients…) but he took her on and placed her work in a bidding war which resulted in a three book deal. Sally was published to great acclaim in 1996. Freya’s subsequent novels, Chloe, Polly, Cat, Fen, Pip, Love Rules and Home Truths have all been bestsellers. Freya North lives in London with her family.

2008 Shortlisted titles: (authors, except Maureen Lee, above)
One Last Summer – Catrin Collier (Orion)
Silk and Steel – Catherine King (Sphere/Little, Brown)
The Leaving of Liverpool – Maureen Lee (Orion)
Silver Bay – Jojo Moyes (Hodder & Stoughton)
Pillow Talk – Freya North (Harper Collins)- Winner
Young Wives’ Tales – Adele Parks (Michael Joseph/Penguin)

Catrin Collier – One Last Summer (Orion)

Hailed ‘the new saga queen’ by The Sunday Telegraph, Catrin Collier was born and raised in Pontypridd. Her career took her to Europe and America but now she lives with her family near Swansea. Over six million viewers enjoyed the BBC’s Hearts of Gold series in 2003, which was based on Catrin’s first novel. The BBC is currently developing two more television series from her novels.

ONE LAST SUMMER was based on the life of Catrin Collier’s mother and grandmother; it is a powerful novel which spans over sixty years, from the life of grandmother Charlotte, beginning in East Prussia in 1939, to her journalist granddaughter, Laura in modern day England.

Catherine King – Silk and Steel (Sphere/Little, Brown)
Catherine King was born and grew up in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, surrounded by iron and steel works and coal mining villages. She developed her story-telling skills by writing romantic novels and has published five titles under a pseudonym. However, it was a search for her roots and an interest in local industrial history that provided the inspiration for her longer novels.

WOMEN OF IRON is her first saga, published by Sphere in hardback in 2006. SILK AND STEEL is her second saga, published in hardback by Sphere in December 2007 with the paperback to follow in August 2008. She is currently working on her third book and her website is:

Maureen Lee – The Leaving of Liverpool (Orion)
Born into a working-class family in Bootle, Liverpool, Maureen Lee spent her early years in an end-terrace house near the docks – an area that was relentlessly bombed during the Second World War. As a small child she was bombed out of the house in Bootle and the family were forced to move. When Maureen left her convent school at 15, she wanted to become an actress. However, her shocked mother put her foot down and Maureen had to give up her dreams and go to secretarial college instead, later getting a job at the English Electric company.
Despite this, Maureen was determined to succeed as a writer. She went to night school and ended up getting two A levels. Only after her sons grew up did she find the time to pursue her dream of writing, but it took several years and a lot of disappointment before sheer determination and perseverance saw Maureen finally achieve her dream of becoming a writer.

Jojo Moyes – Silver Bay (Hodder & Stoughton)
Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and was brought up in London. A journalist and writer, she worked for the Independent newspaper until 2001. She lives in East Anglia with her husband Charles Arthur (a Guardian journalist) and three children, as well as a collection of badly-behaved animals including an ex-racehorse and several rescued battery hens.
She is the author of Sheltering Rain, Foreign Fruit (which won the RNA Novel of the Year for 2004), The Peacock Emporium and The Ship of Brides (shortlisted for the 2006 RNA award).

She was inspired to write SILVER BAY while whale-watching in Australia. The whales and dolphins were beautiful and compelling, but the disparate communities of people who followed them were the real draw. She felt so inspired by their passion for life on and under the water that she discarded 40,000 words of an existing novel to write the book, and completed the first draft within an unprecedented six months.

Young Wives’ Tales – Adele Parks (Michael Joseph/Penguin)
Adele Parks is one the biggest selling women’s fiction authors in the UK. She has sold over a million copies of her novels in the UK and her books have been translated into over fifteen languages. Her previous novel, Husbands has sold over quarter of a million copies alone.

Her other six novels, including much loved contemporary classics, Playing Away and The Other Woman’s Shoes, have ALL been top ten bestsellers.

Adele is well respected for tackling the complex issues of the lives we lead today with her trademark wit and her up-front, tell-it-as-it-is style. Young Wives’ Tales examines those compelling, perennial issues that interest us all. She scrutinizes our concepts of love, motherhood and infidelity with sincerity and humour.

Past Winners 1960- 2007

2007 : Iris & Ruby by Rosie Thomas (Harper Collins) -
2006 : Gardens of Delight by Erica James (Orion) -
2005 : A Good Voyage by Katharine Davies (Chatto & Windus) -
2004 : Foreign Fruit by Jojo Moyes (Hodder & Stoughton)
2003 : Playing James by Sarah Mason (Time Warner)
2002 : The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (Harper Collins)
2001 : Someone Like You by Cathy Kelly (Harper Collins)
2000 : Dancing In The Dark by Maureen Lee (Orion)
1999 : Learning To Swim by Clare Chambers (Arrow)
1998 : Kiss And Kin by Angela Lambert (Bantam)
1997 : The Hours Of The Night by Sue Gee (Century)
1996 : Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher (Hodder & Stoughton)
1995 : Change Of Heart by Charlotte Bingham (Doubleday)
1994 : Consider The Lily by Elizabeth Buchan (Macmillan)
1993 : Emily by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Sidgwick & Jackson)
1992 : Sandstorm by June Knox-Mawer (Weidenfeld)
1991 : Phantom by Susan Kay (Transworld)
1990 : Passing Glory by Reay Tannahill (Century)
1989 : The Peacock's Feather by Sarah Woodhouse (Century)
1988 : The Juniper Bush by Audrey Howard (Century)
1987 : A Better World Than This by Marie Joseph (Century)
1986 : A Song Twice Over by Brenda Jagger (Collins)
1985 : Sunrise by Rosie Thomas (Piatkus)
1984 : A Highly Respectable Marriage by Sheila Walsh (Hurst & Blackett)
1983 : Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson (Century)
1982 : Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald (Bodley)
1981 : The Red Staircase by Gwendoline Butler (Collins)
1980 - Best Modern Award: Mr Rodriguez by Mary Howard (Collins)
1980 : Parson Harding's Daughter by Joanna Trollope (Hutchinson)
1979 : Countess by Josephine Edgar (Macdonald & Jane)
1979 - Award Of Special Merit: The Emerald Peacock by Katharine Gordon (Hodder & Stoughton)
1978 : Merlin's Keep by Madeleine Brent (Souvenir)
1978 - Best Modern Award: It Was The Lark by Catherine Macarthur (Macdonald & Jane)
1977 : Every Man A King by Anne Worboys (Hodder & Stoughton)
1976 : The Look Of Innocence by Anna Gilbert (Hodder & Stoughton)
1976 - Best Modern Award: The Moon Is Square by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
1975 : Vote For A Silk Gown by Jay Allerton (Troubadour)
1974 : The Burning Lamp by Frances Murray (Hodder & Stoughton)
1973 : The House Of Kuragin by Constance Heaven (Heinemann)
1972 : The Pride Of Innocence by Maynah Lewis (Hurst & Blackett)
1971 : Flower Of Silence by Joanne Marshall (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
1970 : Thea by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
1970 : Broken Tapestry by Rona Randall (Hurst & Blackett)
1970 : Cat On A Broomstick by Joanne Marshall (Herbert Jenkins)
1969 : Comfort And Keep by Doris E. Smith (Ward Lock)
1968 : The Future Is Forever by Maynah Lewis (Hurst & Blackett)
1967 : The Truth Game by Anne Betteridge (Hurst & Blackett)
1965 : The Silver Answer by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
1964 : Journey From Yesterday by Suzanne Ebel (Collins)
1963 : House Divided by Dorothy M. Gray (Hurst & Blackett)
1962 : Larksbrook by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
1961 : The Witches Sabbath by Paula Allardyce (Hodder & Stoughton)
1960 : More Than Friendship by Mary Howard (Collins)

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