Romantic Novel Awards 2020

On Monday three of us from the Libertà Hive went to the Annual Awards of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association in this their 60th year. It was much less formal than the first awards. (Denise Robins wore black velvet, diamonds AND furs back then.)

But I’m willing to bet this year’s was much buzzier. One Year Dennis Wheatley was guest of honour and sent everyone to sleep with his speech. Mainly about his own books. Even the redoubtable Barbara Cartland failed to catch his eye and get him to Sit DOWN.

RNA AWARDS 2020 Ceremony

See our table on the right of the picture, middle distance.

Starting at the yellow jacket – Liz Fielding; going clockwise, Matt Bates, long term RNA friend, former fiction buyer at W H Smith Travel; Karin Stoecker, former Editorial Director, Harlequin Mills & Boon; Joanna Maitland – a fine profile, ma’am; and Anne Williams, renowned book blogger and RNA’s Media Star of the Year 2019, lurking modestly behind the candles like Charlotte Bronte sensing William Thackeray in the offing.

You can see us, along with the rest of the room, mesmerised by cool chick Master of Ceremonies,  Jane Wenham Jones, and the splendidly irreverent presenter of the Awards, Jenny Eclair, on wickedly cracking form

  • JE, to winner: “Have a Perspex star.”
  • Three RNA Committee members plus PR Professional,  out of the darkness, in tragic chorus that Sophocles would have taken his hat off to : “It’s CRYSTAL.”

RNA AWARDS Cheering all the way

This year there were nine separate awards for various strands within the Romantic Genre, plus an Outstanding Achievement award. Definitely something for everyone. Judging is done by a large group of devoted readers.

There was much excitement in the room, with loud cheers for individual shortlisters from the table(s) where friends and supporters had gathered. Not over-partisan, though. The winner always got an even bigger cheer.

I really love that about the RNA. The good will is almost palpable. And some of the acceptances, like Sue Moorcroft’s, made me tear up.

Short listers Bella Osborne (left) and Jules Wake (right), here with Matt Bates, were all gleeful that Sue had won. “I’ve always loved her books”, said Jules, “and she just gets better and better. She deserves that star.” Matt, long term bookseller-fan, agreed.

And we were utterly delighted that the Award for a shorter romantic novel which Libertà sponsored again this year was won by Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess by Jenni Fletcher. She’s seen here clutching the Betty Neels Rose Bowl, for which she is custodian over the coming year.

More to come on the Marquess and Jenni on this blog at a future date.

Incidentally, Harlequin Mills & Boon presented the bowl to the RNA in the OOs in memory of Betty, a much loved, very successful and totally unique nurse-turned-writer.

Her heroines were brave (usually with good shoes and matching gloves) and her surgeon heroes owned a large dog and were calm at all times. Her books were, as one of my fellow M&B authors once said, like a warm fire on a cold night.

Back in the day, many of us younger writers would have killed to be in a two-in-one with Betty Neels. Her sales!!!

RNA Awards In sickness and health…

Deputy Chairman Immi Howson (left) stepped into the breach, awesomely elegant with earrings I would pinch if I had the height, the profile, the sheer presence to wear them.

And announced the very popular Outstanding Achievement Award to Milly Johnson, who rounded off the event with a powerful speech.

Immi also thanked absolutely everyone charmingly, especially all the Committee who had pitched up to make the event so efficient and entertaining, Jenny Eclair, of course, as well as PR Powerhouse Katrina Powers.

And also, the indefatigable Jane Wenham Jones, who kept the wagon rolling briskly and was, as always, great fun. Jane is seen here relaxing with Judy Astley after the Awards were presented. That’s when we broke for grub and general partying and hugs with friends.

Coronavirus? What coronavirus?

RNA Awards Milly Johnson

I’ve heard some excellent accounts of the value of romantic fiction over the years. Heck, I’ve even made a couple in my time. I have never heard one so powerful or so personal as Milly’s. There’s a transcription on The Bookseller blog.

She brought us to our feet for a standing ovation at the end. Just after she’d had us in tears.

Well deserved, Milly!


Sophie Weston Author



12 thoughts on “Romantic Novel Awards 2020

    1. Sophie Post author

      So very pleased that you feel that, Jan. It’s what I was aiming for. Sharing the love! You were much missed, too.

  1. Sarah Mallory

    Wonderful, Sophie. I couldn’t be there this year so I am very grateful to you for this super round-up; highlighting even more what I missed, perhaps, but I’m a big girl, I can take it (gulp!)

    Here’s to many more brilliant RNA award ceremonies!

    1. Sophie Post author

      Very sorry you couldn’t make it this year, Sarah. Hope this makes up a tiny bit. Next year though…

  2. Joanna

    It was indeed a buzzy evening, as Sophie says. Hugs and kisses were supposed to be off the menu (at least for those on stage) to be replaced by elbow bumps which created both confusion and hilarity. The picture below shows Ruth Hogan (winner of the Fantasy Award) trying to bump elbows with Jenny Eclair.

    Ruth Hogan and Jenny Eclair try to bump elbows

    1. Sophie Post author

      That’s a love picture, Joanna. It also looks a bit more successful than most elbow bumps I saw on the night. Particularly tricky when one of you is holding a crystal star, too, I imagine!

    1. Sophie Post author

      Thank you, Jill. Looking back on it after the last six days it has a sort of Last Chance Saloon air about it, especially after the cancellation of next week’s London Book Fair. When shall we all get into a big room together and party again? Social Media ain’t the same.

    1. Sophie Post author

      It was indeed an inspiring evening. So pleased if that comes across, Liz! Thank you.

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