Romantic Novelists' Association

Christmas / Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award Category

15 February 2022

Rachel Burton – A Bookshop Christmas

Rachel has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and always dreamed of being a writer until life somehow got in the way. After reading for a degree in Classics and another in English Literature, she accidentally fell into a career in law, but eventually managed to write her first book on her lunch breaks. Now she writes from a small bedroom looking out over hydrangeas, lavender bushes and rambling roses, in a little house in Yorkshire that she shares with her husband and their three cats. She loves words, Shakespeare, tea, the Beatles, dresses with pockets and very tall romantic heroes (not necessarily in that order).

She commented, “I have followed the Romantic Novel Awards since before I was first published and have loved reading through the shortlist announcements each year to see which books I loved have been nominated. For my little Christmas book to be one of those nominations for the 2022 awards is a complete honour and truly a dream come true.”

A BOOKSHOP CHRISTMAS BOOK BLURB (Publisher: Aria / Head of Zeus)

A snowstorm. A stranger. A spark. It should be the perfect start to the perfect love story.

But real life is far messier and more complicated than in the pages of the books in Megan Taylor’s family bookshop – the last few years have left this young widow in no doubt of that. Moving back home to York should have been a fresh start, but all it did was allow her to retreat from the world.

When prize-winning author Xander Stone rams his supermarket trolley into her ankles and then trashes her taste in books, Megan is abruptly awoken from her self-imposed hibernation. It’s time to start living again, and she’s going to start by putting this arrogant, superior – admittedly sexy – stranger in his place.

Just as she is beginning to enjoy life again, the worst happens and Megan begins to wonder if she should have stayed hidden away. Because it turns out that falling in love again is about more than just meeting under the mistletoe …


Twitter: @rachelbwriter
Instagram: @rachelbwriter

Jenny Bayliss – The Winter of Second Chances

Jenny lives with her husband in a small Kent town near the sea, their children having grown and flown the nest. She attended Canterbury Christ Church University as a mature student and graduated with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing. Throughout her various jobs over the years – waitress, pub cook, cruise consultant, auxiliary nurse, baker, antique jewellers assistant – writing has remained her passion and she is now finally able to live her dream of writing books for a living. Jenny writes romantic novels, middle-grade books and YA fiction. She enjoys coffee, beach walks, reading, chocolate, and wearing flouncy dresses, though not necessarily in that order or all at the same time.

She commented, “I couldn’t believe it when my editor told me I’d been shortlisted for the Christmas / Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award. It was the best surprise. I have long been a follower of the Romantic Novel Awards and its recipients but never imagined that I might one day be shortlisted myself! There are so many incredible writing talents within this genre and I am honoured to be shortlisted beside such wonderful authors. I am beyond delighted.”


Annie has spent her adult life being defined by her roles as a mother, a successful chef and restauranteur, and a long-suffering wife. A shocking encounter with her husband and a waitress half his age forces Annie out of her inaction, and at forty-four years old, she strikes out on her own. Starting over in a quiet town by the sea, Annie re-defines herself and discovers that she is entitled to more than one shot at happiness in her life. Suddenly second chances seem to be opening up all around her, despite the best efforts of her landlord’s grumpy nephew. Maybe, just maybe, even with crows feet around her eyes and a suitcase full of emotional baggage, Annie will find the love that she deserves. This is a book about the power of friendship and love, and discovering that it is never too late for second chances.


Instagram: @jennibayliss

Sheila Norton – Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage

Sheila lives with her husband in Chelmsford, Essex (and part-time in Torquay, Devon). She has three daughters and six grandchildren, and spent most of her working life as a medical secretary before retiring early in 2008 to concentrate on her writing. She has been writing stories ever since she was old enough to hold a pen, and had over a hundred short stories published before finally becoming a novelist. Her first novel was published in 2003 and Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage is her twenty-third – and her personal favourite so far!

She commented, “I’m overwhelmed with excitement to have found out that I’ve been shortlisted for this award. Of all the novels I’ve written so far, this is my personal favourite, so it was doubly gratifying to know that judges for this award have enjoyed it. To be considered for such a prestigious award is a huge honour, and in all the years that I’ve been a member of the RNA, I certainly never imagined I would ever be a shortlisted candidate!”

WINTER AT CLIFF’S END COTTAGE BOOK BLURB Publisher: Piatkus (an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group)

Cliff’s End Cottage is a local landmark. Perched on the South Devon coast, its garden has begun slowly toppling into the sea, yet the elderly and infamously stubborn owner Stella refuses to leave her home. When Holly, a young journalist and single mum struggling to make ends meet, decides to interview Stella about her life, at first she’s given short shrift. However, helped by a slice or two of cake and a couple of friendly cats, a tentative friendship begins to develop between the two lonely women.

Stella and Holly may live different lives, but over the cold winter nights, as Stella shares her story, the two women discover more and more in common. Time is running out for the house on the edge, but perhaps, together, Stella and Holly can find a new way forward.


Facebook: Sheila Norton Author
Twitter: NortonSheilaann

Jessica Redland – Snowflakes over the Starfish Cafe

Jessica is a bestselling author of emotional but uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast, predominantly inspired by Scarborough where she lives with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds. She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

She commented, “Being shortlisted for a RONA is genuinely a dream come true. I was so excited the evening I found out that I barely slept! I joined the NWS (New Writers’ Scheme) in 2012 and the feedback and encouragement I received from my manuscript critiques was absolutely invaluable. Through actioning that feedback, I secured my first publishing deal and, even though that didn’t work out how I’d hoped, the NWS feedback gave me the self-belief to keep going. A decade on from first joining the NWS, so much has changed. My publishing contract with Boldwood Books has turned me into a bestselling author who’s able to write full-time. To then be nominated for this amazing award a decade after I joined the RNA is such a privilege and takes me full circle. Without the kickstart from the NWS, I doubt I’d be where I am today.”


Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café …

Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down …

Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible …


Twitter: @JessicaRedland

Sarah Morgan – The Christmas Escape

Sarah Morgan is a Sunday Times and USA Today bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe. Sarah lives near London, and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors.



It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas escape – a dream trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband, Seb. Her solution? Alix, along with Seb’s oldest friend, Zac, can take Christy’s daughter on the planned Lapland trip, and they will all reunite there for Christmas Day. After all, what are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy, but Christy’s plan to save Christmas is testing their friendship. Especially as Alix and Zac have a difficult history of their own.

As long-held secrets unravel, and unexpected romance shines under the Northern Lights, can Christy and Alix find the courage to fight for the relationships they really want? And could this Christmas escape save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?