Romantic Novelists' Association

RNA Romantic Novel Awards 2023: Winners Announced

7 March 2023

Back Row (L-R): Julie Haworth, Peter Davison, Emily Kerr, Vicki Beeby, Jean Fullerton

Middle Row (L-R): Sharon Ibbotson, Jane Lovering, Dani Atkins, Heidi Swain, Sara Downing, Sara-Jade Virtue

Front Row (L-R): Louise Allen, Katie Fforde, Emily Bell

Not pictured: Natasha Lester

Photo credit: Camilo Queipo Photography


MONDAY 6TH MARCH 2023 We are delighted to announce the winners for this year’s Romantic Novel Awards. The nine category winners were presented with their trophies during a ceremony in London this evening. In addition, Heidi Swain was presented with the Popular Romantic Fiction Award and Katie Fforde was honoured with the RNA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Celebrating excellence in romantic fiction in all its forms, the awards were given for the following categories: The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award, the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers, the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award, the Christmas/Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award, the Shorter Romantic Novel Award, the Romantic Saga Award, the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy, the Historical Romantic Novel Award, the Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, and the Popular Romantic Fiction Award (voted for by librarians, booksellers and book bloggers/reviewers).

The awards, which have been held since their inception in 1960, are highly respected in the UK publishing industry. Previous winners include Santa Montefiore, Joe Heap, Julie Cohen and Milly Johnson. The awards are unique in that they are judged entirely by readers, without input from any industry professionals.

Jean Fullerton, the RNA Chair, commented, ‘Once again the judges have had the almost impossible task of choosing winners for each of our romantic awards categories. Huge congratulations to our worthy winners.’

Sharon Ibbotson, the RNA Awards Coordinator, said, ‘Our Romantic Novel Awards in 2023 had nearly five hundred entries, which were whittled down to nine very worthy winners by our amazing reader-judges. Along with the winner of the Popular Romantic Fiction Award, their stories made people laugh, smile, weep and above all, fall in love. I am delighted to congratulate them for their success in our awards.’

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, RNA president and bestselling author Katie Fforde was presented with the RNA Lifetime Achievement Award for 2023 in recognition of her exceptional and long-standing contribution to romantic fiction. It was also announced that Katie will be stepping down from her role as RNA President this month. A presentation in the style of ‘This is Your Life’ followed, highlighting memorable moments from Katie’s writing career along with messages from friends and industry professionals.

Jean Fullerton added, ‘The RNA Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest accolade our organisation bestows and this year we are honoured to present it to bestselling author Katie Fforde. As President of the RNA, Katie is a wonderful ambassador for the organisation and has championed the romantic fiction genre for decades. Katie is loved and respected across the industry and by her readers around the world. But to us in the RNA she’s ‘our Katie’ who has been a tireless supporter of both the organisation and writers and who now, after twelve years as our figurehead, is stepping down as President of the RNA.’

Katie Fforde commented, ‘I couldn’t be more delighted to receive this award from my beloved RNA. I’ve been a member for nearly 40 years and will always be grateful for the support it has given me throughout my career, from an unpublished writer to where I am today. I am sad to retire as President, a role I have thoroughly enjoyed, but I feel it’s time for both me and the RNA to look to the future. I’m proud and grateful to have been able to give back to an organisation that has given me so much.’

The awards ceremony was held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City. Best-selling author Jo Thomas compèred the ceremony; Sara-Jade Virtue, Brand Development Director, Fiction, for awards sponsor Simon & Schuster UK, presented the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers; RNA outgoing President, best-selling author Katie Fforde, presented the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award; and actor Peter Davison presented the remainder of the awards.

Readers who are interested in becoming a reader-judge for next year’s awards should contact Sharon Ibbotson, the Awards Coordinator, at:

Download the RNA Romantic Novel Awards 2023 brochure


The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award

I Let You Fall, Sara Downing, Quilla Books (TCK Publishing)

The Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers

Six Days, Dani Atkins, Aria (Head of Zeus)

The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award

Always by Your Side, Julie Haworth, Simon & Schuster UK

The Christmas/Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award

This Year’s for Me and You, Emily Bell, Penguin Michael Joseph

The Shorter Romantic Novel Award

The Earl’s Mysterious Lady, Louise Allen, Mills & Boon Historical

The Romantic Saga Award

A New Start for the Wrens, Vicki Beeby, Canelo

The Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy

Take a Chance on Greece, Emily Kerr, One More Chapter

The Historical Romantic Novel Award

The Three Lives of Alix St Pierre, Natasha Lester, Sphere

The Contemporary Romantic Novel Award

A Cottage Full of Secrets, Jane Lovering, Boldwood Books

The Popular Romantic Fiction Award

A Christmas Celebration, Heidi Swain, Simon & Schuster UK


Bestselling author Katie Fforde has been honoured with the RNA Lifetime Achievement Award for her almost-30 year career as an author and for her dedication and service to the RNA. She is a #1 bestselling author and has sold over 4.5 million books in the UK alone. Katie has been President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association since 2011 – and will step down from this role in March 2023 – and founded the Katie Fforde Bursary to support aspiring authors. To many, she is the ‘Godmother of Romantic Fiction’.

The RNA Lifetime Achievement Award is presented at the RNA’s discretion for an exceptional and long-standing contribution to romantic fiction, whether in the field of publishing, writing or supporting romantic fiction. There is no shortlist for this award.

The RNA’s first Lifetime Achievement Awards honoured Lucilla Andrews, Rosamund Pilcher and Mary Stewart at a glittering event in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in August 2006. Other recipients include authors Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope, along with Karin Stoecker, former Editorial Director at Harlequin Mills & Boon.


The Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers

Jackie Collins was a creative force, a trailblazer for women in fiction, and, in her own words, ‘A kick-ass writer!’ Since her 1968 debut The World is Full of Married Men, her books have sold in their millions in more than 40 countries and she is one of the world’s top-selling novelists. Ian Chapman, CEO of Simon & Schuster UK and International, said, ‘Jackie was kind, brilliantly astute, with a wicked, mischievous sense of humour. She was a consummate storyteller and made her craft look easy, like all great practitioners.  I – along with many others – miss her still and often expect to see her appear suddenly in our midst. We have long made a solemn commitment to ensure that her legacy endures and are incredibly proud to partner with the Romantic Novelists’ Association again to sponsor the Jackie Collins Romantic Thrillers award to support her fellow writers.’

The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award

As someone who understands the struggles of years of rejection as a writer, Katie Fforde has always been a fantastic advocate and supporter of other aspiring and debut writers at the start of their careers. She credits the Romantic Novelists’ Association for helping her to finally launch her career and has been a member ever since. She was elected Chairman in 2009 and served until 2011, when she became the RNA’s fourth president – a position she held for twelve years until stepping down in March this year. She has helped countless romantic novelists achieve their writing dreams, and throughout her career she has continually been generous with her time and advice, giving many writers the boost they needed to keep going.