The Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

Celebrations for the RNA Awards 2024

This week, the Romantic Novelists’ Association announced their shortlists for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

…which means I can now share the news that The Night She Met the Duke is a finalist in the Historical Romantic Novel category. Woohoo!

And it’s not just me: there are any number of familiar names amongst the finalists, this year, including Louise Allen and Kate Hardy   I am in illustrious company!

Wow. Just…wow

There I was, minding my own business one evening when my phone pinged. It was an email from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, informing me that I am a finalist in the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024: Historical Romantic Novel category.

For those who might not know…

Sarah Mallory Historical Romantic Novel finalist, RNA Awards 2024

The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) administers the Romantic Novel of the Year awards and their website says this:

“The RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards are presented annually, recognising and celebrating the very best in romantic fiction.”

Let me just say that again:

woman in bed uncorks exploding champagnerecognising and celebrating the very best in romantic fiction… What romantic novelist would not want to be included in that? Woohoo!

I confess, I was surprised. I had submitted a book last year and since Christmas I had forgotten all about it. Which is the best thing to do, really – one cannot sit there biting one’s nails.

Then it sank in.  My book – my baby – had been read, and liked, by other people. Strangers. Suddenly I wasn’t feeling like this about my work

Writer in despair

Authors spend their lives…

…making up stories and putting them out there, hoping readers will like them. You have put in all the hard work: lived, loved, laughed and suffered with your characters.

Now the story is out in the big wide world. On its own.Sarah Mallory, looking shocked

Then you find out that someone likes your book. Not only that. They think it’s good enough to go on a shortlist, a finalist for an award.

Suddenly I feel like this…

Historical Romance

The Night She Met the Duke by Sarah Mallory, Finalist for RNA Awrds 2024

Finalist for the Awards 2024

To quote from the RNA’s own website, the Historical Romantic Novel category is “for stories set in the past (pre-1980) where romance forms a substantive and crucial part of the story.” Well, there is no denying my book is full of romance, but it has its share of history, too.

Although Pru and Garrick, my main characters, are fictitious, the background to their story is based on events that were happening in London in the summer of 1814.

For a start, there was the visit of the Allied sovereigns to England in June, to celebrate the defeat of France and Napoleon’s abdication. Then there was the centenary of the Hanoverian Monarchy. And as if that wasn’t enough, Princess Charlotte was going to marry the Prince of Orange!

Well, none of that could be allowed to pass unremarked, could it? The Prince Regent decided on a party. A big one.

And nobody does parties like the Prince Regent

Regency, party

Cruikshank. Inconveniences of a Crowded Drawing Room 1818

Prinny needed glamour; he needed glitz. With no luxurious royal residences such as Versailles or the Hermitage for his guests to enjoy, the best he could do was to evict his brothers from Cumberland House and give the place a makeover.

The great and the good of Europe arrived in Dover at the beginning of June. Just like today, people turned out to line the roads, waiting to see all these royal dignitaries as they made their way into London.

Phillips, Thomas; The Allied Sovereigns at Petworth, 24 June 1814

The crowds cheered for Blücher, hero of Waterloo. They fell in love with Tsar Alexander, regal and handsome.

There were military reviews, illuminations, balls, balloon ascensions, banquets,  soirees, a visit to Woolwich Arsenal, a trip to the races at Ascot, honours to be bestowed on Blücher at Oxford and Cambridge.

It wasn’t all plain sailing

The public loved all this, but Prinny wasn’t quite so happy. For a start, the Tsar didn’t like the accommodation in Cumberland House and decided to stay with his sister, the Duchess of Oldenburg, at the Pulteney Hotel. Not only that, but the Duchess was against Princess Charlotte’s marriage to the Prince of Orange and persuaded Charlotte to call it off. Entente Cordiale it wasn’t.

The sovereigns left England by the end of June, but the Prince Regent didn’t stop there.

Jubilee Fair 1814

Jubilee Fair 1814

On 21st July 1814, he hosted a lavish fete and ball in the grounds of Carlton House. Then a Jubilee Fair was organised to celebrate both the centenary of the Hanoverian monarchy and the 16th anniversary of the Battle of the Nile. It celebrated The Treaty of Paris as well, which was supposed to herald the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Such a busy summer!

Yes, there was a wealth of material to choose from. However my characters have their own story and I needed to concentrate on their romance.

Tsar Alexander by Gerard

Tsar Alexander, by François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the parties I used for Pru and Garrick was the White’s Club Ball, at Burlington House on 20th June. Over two thousand people sat down to supper and the triumph of the evening was that Tsar Alexander joined in the dancing. Then, in July, they attended the Carlton House Fete, another lavish affair. If you want to know more about these sumptuous events, there are brilliant descriptions on the Regency Dances website.

There were so many events that summer that it was impossible to include them all, although I will just mention one more. The Jubilee Fair provides the backdrop for some of the most exciting scenes in the story, involving villainous abductors and heroic rescues. However, there just wasn’t space to mention everything that was going on. Which brings me to a serious point:

How much history is too much?

blue question marksA big question!

When I was a new author with a passion for the historical romantic novel, I became aware of the dreaded information dump — putting in too many facts to the detriment of the narrative.  I am writing romance, and much as I love the history, it is the tapestry into which I weave my characters’ stories.

I shall leave it there

The RNA’s judges think The Night She Met the Duke good enough to be a finalist in their awards 2024 and I am very happy about that. I know these things are subjective. We don’t all like the same thing, thankfully. My own reading tastes can change depending on the mood I am in. For now, it is enough that someone liked it.

Sarah

Sarah Mallory research

12 thoughts on “The Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

    1. Sarah Post author

      Thanks, Liz – it’s an honour to be amongst such a great list of finalists, and win or lose it is always exciting. I am enjoying the moment 🙂

      Reply
  1. Elizabeth Bailey

    Congratulations, Sarah, and it sounds wonderfully entertaining. I must say that this someone always likes your books!

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Ah, thank you Liz! As an author you will know that it can be a pretty lonely occupation (except for the friends in your head, of course!) so its lovely to have an accolade to shout about, occasionally. I shall go to the awards, and love every minute!

      Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Thank you Jenny, I hope my post conveys the joy and excitement of the moment – sometimes, when the words aren’t flowing, writing can feel like a thankless task, but not this week 🙂

      Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Thank you so much, Joanna! So many great names on the shortlists – and so many more books to read now!!!). And I am definitely basking 🙂

      Reply
  2. pambrooks50e466cbf9

    Congratulations! Very well deserved and lovely to see you and Louise on the shortlist! Enjoy basking, and I look forward to toasting you in bubbles next month 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Thank you, Pam and congratulations back at you! I am looking forward to catching up with quite a few of old friends in May – I think lots of bubbles might be in order 🙂 x

      Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Thank you so much, Sophie – I think a lot of us can relate to Pru (feeling dull, that is – I am not sure I have quite her spirit!). Very proud of this book!

      Reply

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