Romantic Novelists' Association

RNA Joan Hessayon Award Contender: Angela M Sims – The Rose Of Florence

12 July 2023

Picture of author Angela Sims. Short white hair, black floral dress, signing a book.Cover of The Rose of FlorenceCardiff author and university lecturer, Angela M Sims, is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual RNA Joan Hessayon Award for 2023 with her novel, The Rose of Florence. The award is for authors whose debut novels have gone through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) and are subsequently accepted for publication.

Angela’s professional background is in healthcare, and she is now a senior lecturer at the University of South Wales. Away from the day job, she decided to put her research skills to good use, exploring her favourite subject, the Italian Renaissance, and so The Rose of Florence blossomed. She loves to visit Italy, particularly Florence, to eat, drink and absorb the wonderful atmosphere – it’s research! Angela is married and lives in Cardiff. She has two grown-up daughters and a gorgeous granddaughter.

She commented, ‘What an honour! To have published a novel at all was a dream come true, but to be a contender for this prestigious award is beyond that dream. I have seen the quality of work that this award celebrates, and I am truly humbled to be considered alongside these authors, past and present. In the interests of honesty, I should also add that I’m pretty proud of myself for this achievement!’

Melissa Oliver, the RNA Joan Hessayon Award organiser (and winner of the award in 2020), commented, ‘Many congratulations to the 2023 contenders of the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon Award. The wide array of authors who have graduated from the brilliant New Writers’ Scheme and have secured publishing contracts this year is not only a testament to the success of the scheme but also to the enduring appeal of the romance genre. Well done to all of you.’

RNA Chair, Jean Fullerton, added, ‘Congratulations to all of the 2023 contenders for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award for graduates of the most excellent New Writers’ Scheme. Once again, the judges have the almost impossible task of picking a winner due to the quality of the books.’

Sponsored by Dr. David Hessayon OBE in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a novelist, RNA member and supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme, the award showcases a variety of debut novels within the romantic fiction genre. The novels are judged by a panel of published authors from the RNA and publishing industry professionals. Previous winners include Jo Thomas, Charlotte Betts, Lorna Cook and Suzie Hull.

Established in 1962, the New Writers’ Scheme provides support to unpublished romantic fiction authors. Manuscripts can be submitted for assessment and are critiqued by published authors. In addition, the 250 members of the scheme can attend RNA events and participate in  members-only activities and networking opportunities.

The winner of the award will be announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference Gala Dinner, which is being held at Imperial College, London on Saturday 12th August 2023.

THE ROSE OF FLORENCE (Publisher: Romaunce Books)

Florence, 1478: Gianetta and Matteo live and work in Palazzo Rosini, home to friends of the powerful Medici family. Life is good, but then a bloody conspiracy erupts in the city’s cathedral. When the family hear that Matteo is among the conspirators, Gianetta’s life will never be the same.


Angela writes: ‘Historical romantic fiction is a world away from the scientific arena of healthcare (cardiology), which has dominated my professional life. However, the time and place of my story resonated with me so much that I had to know more, and I had to do something with that knowledge. The characters started to introduce themselves to me and ask for their story to be told. I felt it would be rude to refuse! Strangely, my professional background helped me immensely. The self-discipline and scientific rigour required to research effectively and learn the nuts and bolts of fiction writing should never be underestimated. I have now learned enough to know that I have a whole lot more to learn!’