Shortlists: Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

Sarah Mallory RNA RNOTY 24

The Night She Met the Duke, by Libertà hivie Sarah Mallory, is in the shortlists (in the Historical Romantic Novel category) for this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

These awards are judged entirely by readers, without input from any industry professionals and there are some great books on the lists, including many by good friends of Libertà.

Woman in a bare-shouldered party dress with champagne glass in her hand looks across a night time city scape and smiles.Congratulations to each and every one!

The winners of the awards will be announced during the Romantic Novel Awards ceremony, which is being held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Monday 20th May 2024 at 6.30pm.

(authors are listed alphabetically in shortlists)

Because of the number of books listed, we can’t give you cover images or buy links but we’re sure you’ll find the books if you want to. You can, can’t you 😉 ?

Shortlists 1: The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award

Janus opens doors to all directionsGirl, Goddess, Queen, Bea Fitzgerald (Penguin)
One Christmas Morning, Rachel Greenlaw (Harper Collins)
Maybe Next Time, Cesca Major (Harper Fiction)
Ghosted, Rosie Mullender (Sphere)
The Wicked in Me, Suzanne Wright (Piatkus)

Shortlists 2: The Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers

Viscount in Hiding, Caitlyn Callery (The Wild Rose Press)
Julie Mae Cohen, Bad men (Bonnier Zaffre)
The Secret of Villa Alba, Louise Douglas (Boldwood)
The Dance Teacher of Paris, Suzanne Fortin (Embla Books)
Masquerade on the Riviera, Evonne Wareham (Choc Lit/Joffe)

Shortlists 3: The Debut Romantic Novel Award

cartoon number oneOne Moment, Becky Hunter (Corvus (Atlantic))
Be More Octopus, Suzanne Lissaman (Octosulis Publishing)
The Little Board Game Cafe, Jennifer Page (Aria (Head of Zeus))
A Mother’s War, Helen Parusel (Boldwood Books)
The Accidental Housemate, Sal Thomas (One More Chapter)

Shortlists 4: The Christmas/Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award

Only for Christmas, Tracy Corbett (Canelo)
One Winter’s Night, Kate Frost (Boldwood)
The Christmas Season, Ally Sinclair (Hera)
Three Holidays and a Wedding, Marissa Stapley (Atlantic Books)
Snowed In, Catherine Walsh (Bookouture)

Shortlists 5: The Shorter Romantic Novel Award

Becoming the Earl’s Convenient Wife, Louise Allen (Harlequin Mills Boon)
Cinderella’s Deal With the Colonel, Jenni Fletcher (Harlequin Mills Boon)
Tempted by her Fake Fiance, Kate Hardy (Harlequin Mills Boon)
The Housekeeper’s Forbidden Earl, Laura Martin (Harlequin Mills Boon)
Lonely in Paris, Lisa Stanbridge (Crystal Brook Publishing)

Shortlists 6: The Romantic Saga Award

The Secret Sister, Jan Baynham (Choc Lit/Joffe Books)
A Woman of Courage, Rita Bradshaw (Pan Macmillan)
The Distant Legacy, Anne Marie Brear (self-published)
A New Start at the Beach Hotel, Francesca Capaldi (Hera Books)
A Wedding for the Cornish Girls, Betty Walker (Avon Books)

Shortlists 7: The Romantic Comedy Award

alpaca having a bad hair dayChasing the Light, Julia Boggio (self-published)
The Break Up Clause, Niamh Hargan (HarperCollins)
Jana Goes Wild, Farah Heron (Piatkus Books-Little Brown Book Group)
Looking Out for Love, Sophia Money-Coutts (Harper Collins (HQ)
You’ve Got This, Maxine Morrey (Boldwood Books)

Shortlists 8: The Historical Romantic Novel Award

Léon_Bonvin_-_Cook_with_Red_ApronThe Flame Tree, Siobhan Daiko (Indie)
The Secret Shore, Liz Fenwick (HQ Harper Collins)
Never Wager With a Wallflower, Virginia Heath (MacMillan)
A Secret Garden Affair, Erica James (HQ)
The Night She Met the Duke, Sarah Mallory (Harlequin Mills Boon)

Shortlists 9: The Contemporary Romantic Novel Award

A Midnight Kiss on Ever After Street, Jaimie Admans (Boldwood)
Evergreens, Liam Brown (Legend Press)
Summer at the Chateau, Annabel French (Avon/HarperCollins)
Summer Wedding, Sarah Morgan (HQ Harper Collins)
The Start of Something Wonderful, Jessica Redland (Boldwood Books)

Shortlists 10: The Popular Fiction Romantic Novel Award

The Wedding Dress Repair Shop, Trisha Ashley (Bantam)
One Night in Hartswood, Emma Denny (Harlequin Mills Boon)
Thirty Days in Paris, Veronica Henry (Orion)
Fly Me to Paris, Helga Jensen (Hera Books)
Bridget’s War, Shirley Mann (Zaffre)


PS Apologies for the lack of a blog last Sunday. Because of Joanna’s bout of Covid, things got a bit entangled in the Libertà hive and, somehow, nobody blogged. We will try to do better in future…

Art or Porn? The Pompeii Poser. Joanna Reprise

Unfortunately, after her return from Greece, Joanna has 
Covid. So she's not up to writing a new blog. 
Enjoy her reprise! She'll be blogging again soon…

Warning: this blog contains images of full-frontal female and male nudity; if you are likely to be offended by those images, please do not read on.

On a recent TV programme on BBC4, Andrew Graham-Dixon mentioned (just in passing) that, in the nineteenth century, it was illegal for a woman to pose in the nude for a male artist. Really? Didn’t anyone tell Ingres?

Ingres: Odalisque with a Slave (1839)

Ingres: Odalisque with a Slave (1839)

Graham-Dixon was showing TV viewers nude paintings of ordinary Danish women. He said they would have created a scandal if they had been shown in public. So it was OK to put nude figures into classical poses, but not into modern-day, realistic ones?
Ingres’ Odalisque or Botticelli’s Birth of Venus was art but a Danish working woman was not? Continue reading

Noir at the Bar : crime, alcohol, the ideal mixture?

Noir at the Bar, I’m told, first appeared in Philadelphia in 2008.

The full story is here.

Brits, not slow to adopt anything that takes place over a drink in a pub, quickly caught on. It’s now a popular pastime for crime and mystery writers all over the UK.

Crawley Festival of Words

Elly Griffiths, Barbara Nadel and Derek Farrell at Crawley Festival of WordsCrawley, my nearest big town, has a month-long Festival of Words in March and it includes a very popular crime weekend.

There was a crime panel hosted by Derek Farrell – author of the Danny Bird Mysteries — who was talking to Elly Griffiths and Barbara Nadel.  Caroline Green gave a workshop on writing “killer characters”. Spooky readings were the Saturday night treat in the ancient cloisters. The culmination of the weekend was Noir at the Bar, held in an oak-beamed pub called the Old Punch Bowl.

Was I nervous?

Crawley Crime Weekend ProgrammeWhen I received an invitation to appear at Noir at the Bar and read from one of my own books, I leapt at the chance. Who wouldn’t? I’m new to this genre and I need the exposure as a “crime” writer. The terror, the why-did-I-say-I’d-do-this regret would come later…

I’m applying the same technique to a couple of gigs I’ve signed up for at CRIMEfest next month. I have never moderated a panel before, but they say that doing something that scares you is a good thing… Continue reading

Modern English : Fowler’s version and more

Fowler’s Modern English Usage

well-thumbed old book, open

Image by Anja from Pixabay

When I was a child, one of my mother’s friends gave me a copy of Fowler’s Modern English Usage. It was a very special present and pretty battered. She bought it when she was working at the BBC during the War.

Clearly it had seen a lot of use. She worked with a bunch of engineers who were always asking her about grammar whenever they had to put anything in writing.

She gave it to me after she’d asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I had said, loftily, that I was already doing it. (I was eight or nine. Violet Elizabeth could have taken my correspondence course.) The answer, of course, was, “Tell stories.”

To her great credit, she didn’t hoot with laughter. Instead, she disappeared into her study and returned with the well-thumbed object under reference.

“You’ll be needing this,” she said. Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

Spring means Yellow Daffodils. Or does it?

Daffodils in Liz's gardenOn Friday 5th April, driving to Monmouth for a Society of Authors’ meeting, I was ambushed by yellow daffodils. Everywhere. But then, Monmouth IS in Wales and the daffodil is the flower of Wales.

However, the ones shown right were in Liz’s garden. Thank you for the pic, Liz. They’re lovely.

As you drive down the A40 dual carriageway from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth, there are daffodils, thousands of them, on the verges. In places, the central reservation is both wide and steep—we are blessed (?) with loads of hills round here—and even those vast banks are covered in yellow daffodils.

Be quick if you want to see them, though.
They’re starting to go over, especially where they’re in full sun.
Sun? Wot’s sun, I hear you cry? We only have rain 🙁 True. More on that later.

Yellow and only yellow?

Continue reading

Operation Mincemeat

This week I went to see the musical Operation Mincemeat at the Fortune Theatre in London. It was glorious and I laughed, cried and generally had a whale of a time. This was a delight – and a great relief.

To be honest, by the time the day came round, I was torn about going at all.

For one thing, my now plated right wrist, though exercised/massaged five times a day, sometimes hurts enough to make me yelp, especially if someone bumps into it. The prospect of a crowded  theatre raised my anxiety levels.

hooded mystery manFor another – well, my customary theatre companion had rejected the idea of seeing Operation Mincemeat with conviction abhorrence. Its subject, he said, had been too important to turn into a comedy musical.

I disagreed with the idea that anything could be too important for comedy. But – well, I admit; he worried me.


The plot was to send a dead body, to all appearances a British courier, into the orbit of German intelligence with false information on Allied plans. This was to occur in neutral Spain where, under Fascist General Franco, German spies were tolerated and even sometimes supported. The corpse was to carry secret papers  to mislead the German high Command as to the entry point for the intended Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe. Continue reading

Gender-neutral pronouns : Pedantique-Ryter not ranting

Useful, or confusing, or old hat?

3 doors representing options

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Many people now make clear what pronouns they prefer, including gender-neutral ones. How often have you seen “she/her” or “he/him” or “they/them” after an email signature? (Perhaps some are even suggesting “it/it” though I have not noticed any of those.)

The reasons for choosing one option over another are purely for the person concerned and need not be disclosed to anyone else. Nor should anyone else have a say in the person’s choice.
Not even grammar pedants.

So, for once, this is not a rant. More of an exploration.

Regular use of gender-neutral pronouns feels recent. But is it? Continue reading

Dear Editor Please Note : Sophie Weston reprise

Dear Readers: Sophie is still not up to typing a whole blog so we’re taking this opportunity of republishing her case-study-cum-love-letter to Dear Editor from back in 2016. (The blog was mentioned in Joanna’s cautionary tales blog last week). Even if you’ve read it before, it’s well worth rereading. And for any editors out there, we’d say it’s a must. But, being authors, we would say that, wouldn’t we?
hand writing a letter to editor with a goose feather

Dear Editor . . .

Whoever you are, wherever you are, Dear Editor, this blog is for you. You’ll find it’s somewhere between a  human resources case study and a love letter.

I’ve been writing most of my life. I’ve moved from “Not a semi colon goes” (end of conversation, book never published) to “Whatever you say” (utter misery, nearly stopped writing) and am now definitely at “Looking forward to discussion”.  I hope the following may help other authors and their Dear Editor avoid some of my pratfalls — or at any rate, get up afterwards a damn sight faster.

Relationship in the mist

Whether you’re a difficult author or a pussycat, the author-editor relationship is always edgy, groping its way through the mist. You can’t get away from it. There are just too many dark alleys and water’s edges. You think you’re striding along a good straight path of mutual understanding and — KERPLOP!

Both of you have to live with this.
And pull each other out of the water when necessary. Continue reading

Cautionary tales of indie authors and editors

“Your editor is your first, best reader.” So said Sophie Weston in a Libertà post on editing and editors that bears rereading. And it reminded me of a few recent instances related to indie authors and whether or not they employ a professional editor.

I’m not proposing to preach at you in this blog. (Sighs of relief all round?) I’m just going to set out a few cautionary tales and let you reach your own conclusions. Continue reading