The Romantic Novel Awards celebrate and honour excellence in romantic fiction and publishing.
The Romantic Novel Awards
These awards celebrate the best in romantic fiction. The categories for our reader-judged awards to be presented in March 2021 will be:
- The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award: For stories about the here and now, where romance forms a substantive part of the story. Any novel set predominantly in the last 50 years. Please also consider the following categories to see if the book you are entering might fit into another more suitable one.
- The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award: For stories set in the past, showing historic worlds, where romance forms a substantive part of the story. Romantic novels predominantly set 50 years or more in the past.
- The Romantic Comedy Novel Award: For romantic novels which are consistently funny. Can be set in any time period.
- The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award: For romantic novels with elements where the reader needs to suspend disbelief, including those featuring magical realism, fantasy, science fiction, the paranormal. timeslip (in which a character moves between time periods) time travel novels and books with ‘ghostly’ elements.
- The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award: For stories featuring a substantial thriller, suspense, mystery or crime story, alongside or fully entwined with a romantic story. The romantic element should still be very strong throughout but the main storyline may be less of a traditional love story. Novels set in any time period may be entered for this category.
- The Romantic Saga Award: For novels predominantly set in the past (pre 1970), usually featuring characters overcoming social pressures or hardships alongside or fully entwined with a romantic story thread. These may be part of a series but must be able to be enjoyed as a stand-alone for readers who may not have read the ones that went before.
- The Libertá Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award: For shorter romantic novels, serials or novellas. These may range from magazine serials, short stories of no less than 30 000 words to shorter novels of no more than 70 000 words approximately. Entries may represent any aspect of the romantic genre and can be set in any time period.
- The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award: . For the best romantic novel by a first-time author. Entries may represent any aspect of the romantic genre. This is an excellent category for new writers to shine amongst their peers.
The RNA will also be awarding the Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award to a popular smash hit book nominated and selected by booksellers, book bloggers and librarians, and an Outstanding Achievement Award, for an individual nominated by RNA members for their exceptional contribution to romantic fiction.
The 2021 Awards are now over. We will post information on the 2022 Awards in due course.
We encourage entries from authors irrespective of class, race, nationality, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or background, and we welcome books with characters reflecting the full diversity of the real world.
Books can be entered in our reader-judged awards by authors or their publishers. For detailed rules or to enter the award, please click here.
The books are assessed by members of the public – book-lovers who are not actively writing or members of the RNA. The short-lists for the reader-judged categories will be released prior to the awards ceremony in March, where the final winners of all the awards will be announced.
To book tickets for the awards event, please visit our Events page.
For further information, please contact our Romantic Novel Awards Organiser.
The RNA Industry Awards
Launched in 2015, the annual RNA Industry Awards is one of the UK publishing industry’s highlights and is designed to acknowledge and recognise the many professionals whose work supports and promotes the genre of romantic fiction. The award nominations come from the entire RNA membership and is our way of saying not only thank you but shining a spotlight on those considered the best in the business, enabling us to acknowledge and recognise the wide range of professionals who support our work, the genre and the association at large.
Romantic fiction is a world-wide, multi-billion dollar business of which the life force is thousands of writers and their readers. The Romantic Novelists’ Association is the UK’s largest professional body for the industry and benefits from the support, through membership and friendship, of many people including publishers, editors, agents and other industry professionals. Everyone involved in the industry fully appreciates that a book is not just the work of the author but the work of many and once a work has been produced, many more people become involved in what is a truly collaborative process.
The RNA Industry Award winners are solely decided by the membership. All members are eligible to nominate in each and every category, and nominations can be made online or via the printed form which appears as an insert in Romance Matters, the RNA magazine. The awards ceremony takes place each year at the RNA Winter Party in November.
The winners of the 2020 awards, announced in a video presentation on 12th November 2020, were as follows:
This award, new in 2019, recognises the individual or organisation that has championed inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing. The winner was bestselling author Julie Cohen. http://www.julie-cohen.com/
Library or Librarian of the Year
This award recognises the important work that libraries and librarians do in supporting the romantic fiction genre, and the RNA in particular. The winner was Liz Gardner from Burton Library, Staffordshire Libraries.
Bookseller of the Year
This award recognises booksellers promoting and championing romantic fiction in a positive and proactive way throughout the year. The winner was The Ripped Bodice. https://www.therippedbodicela.com/
Media Star of the Year
This award recognises journalists, bloggers, publicists, TV or radio presenters who have helped raise the profile of romance writing and/or the RNA in a positive way. The winner was Julie Morris, book blogger at A Little Book Problem. https://alittlebookproblem.co.uk/
Agent of the Year
For the literary agent who has striven to support, mentor, nurture and promote their authors’ careers, the genre in general and the RNA in particular. This year’s winner was Hattie Grünewald, an agent at The Blair Partnership. https://www.theblairpartnership.com/our_people/hattie-grunewald-literary-agent/
Publisher of the Year
For the publisher who embraces the genre, mentors writers to produce their best work, and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion of Romantic Fiction on every level. This year’s winner was Mills & Boon. https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/
Awards for our Members
The RNA also celebrates the achievements and potential of our own members, through the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, the Katie Fforde Bursary, and the Elizabeth Goudge Prize.
The Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers
The New Writers’ Scheme aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romances and novels with romantic elements, in every genre from historical to futuristic, with characters and love stories that reflect the diversity of readers everywhere. Any NWS manuscript that is subsequently published as a debut novel is eligible for the Joan Hessayon Award, provided that the author has remained in membership of the RNA.
The Award is generously sponsored by Dr David Hessayon, in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme, and is judged by a panel of experienced RNA members and industry professionals.
If you think you may be eligible to be considered for the award, please check the eligibility rules below, then contact our New Writers’ Scheme Organiser.
*An author can only enter the award once (even though they may have been in the Scheme for several years).
Previous winners of the RNA’s main award are:
- 2018: This Love by Dani Atkins (Simon & Schuster).
- 2017: Love Song by Sophia Bennett (Chicken House)
- 2016: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey (Simon & Schuster)
- 2015: Struck by Joss Stirling (Oxford University Press)
- 2014: A Night on The Orient Express by Veronica Henry (Orion)
- 2013: Welcome to Rosie Hopkin’s Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan (Sphere, Little Brown)
- 2012: Please Don’t Stop The Music by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit)
- 2011: The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes(Hodder & Stoughton)
- 2010: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon (Hodder & Stoughton)
- 2009: East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (Orion)
- 2008: Pillow Talk by Freya North (Harper Collins)
- 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: Parson Harding’s Daughter by Joanna Trollope (Hutchinson)
- 1980 – Best Modern Award: Mr Rodriguez by Mary Howard (Collins)
- 1979 – Award Of Special Merit: The Emerald Peacock by Katharine Gordon (Hodder & Stoughton)
- 1979: Countess by Josephine Edgar (Macdonald & Jane)
- 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: Cat On A Broomstick by Joanne Marshall (Herbert Jenkins)
- 1970: Thea by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
- 1970: Broken Tapestry by Rona Randall (Hurst & Blackett)
- 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)
The RNA Outstanding Achievement award is in recognition of extraordinary contribution to the field of romantic fiction.
Previous recipients of the RNA Outstanding Achievement Award are:
The 2021 RNA Awards took place on the 8th of March 2021. You can watch a video of the event by clicking the button below.
2021 Romantic Novel of the Year Category Winners
Clare Pooley, The Authenticity Project, Bantam Press
Winner, The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel by a first-time author)
Kate Hardy, A Will, a Wish and a Wedding, Mills & Boon True Love
Winner, The Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award
(for the best shorter romantic novel)
Shirley Mann, Bobby’s War, Zaffre, Bonnier Books UK
Winner, The Romantic Saga Award
(for the best romantic novel featuring saga elements of characters overcoming social adversity, usually set in the past)
Carole Matthews, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes, Sphere, Little, Brown
Winner, The Romantic Comedy Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel with consistent wit and humour)
Louise Douglas, The House by the Sea, Boldwood Books
Winner, The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award
(for the best romantic novel with thriller, mystery, crime or suspense elements)
Christina Courtenay, Echoes of the Runes, Headline Review
Winner, The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel that includes paranormal or speculative elements)
Milly Johnson, My One True North, Simon & Schuster
Winner, The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel set in the present world or society)
Catherine Tinley, Rags-to-Riches Wife, Mills & Boon Historical
Winner, The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award
(for novels set in a period before 1970)
Julie Houston, Sing Me a Secret, Aria, Head of Zeus
Winner, The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award
(for the most commercially successful and popular romantic novel of 2020 as voted for by book bloggers, librarians and booksellers)
Outstanding Achievement Award
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a features editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan.
Mike became a full-time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, hailed by The Independent as ‘full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations’, and by The Times as ‘a funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic’. He has since written fifteen novels, including The Man I Think I Know, selected as a World Book Night title, and Half A World Away, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, children and greyhound.
RNA President Katie Fforde said of the 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award recipient, “Mike Gayle is a writer who isn’t afraid to tackle the difficult subjects and does it with the same skill and storytelling ability that his more conventional stories have. He never lets his reader down.”
Since its inception in 1960 the RNA has promoted excellence in romantic fiction and RNA Chair, Imogen Howson, commented, “This year’s shortlists showcase, yet again, the wonderful variety of romantic fiction, with books from publishers large and small, from some authors who are household names and others who may well be the next big thing. In difficult times, the sales of romantic fiction rise, and these books—with all their humour, drama, excitement, and romance—remind us exactly why.”