Romantic Novelists' Association

The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award

3 March 2021

Today we’re finding out more about The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Novel Award nominees.

Anstey Harris

Anstey says:

I was thrilled to be shortlisted last year, but to be chosen two years in a row is a special sort of honour. Thank you so much to all the readers, bloggers, librarians, and booksellers who made this happen.

An interesting story:

I first fell in love with the Powell-Cotton Museum, part of the Quex Estate in Birchington, Kent, when I was 3-years-old. Back then it was a magical zoo, one where the animals never duck out of sight or hide in the back of their cages. I accepted Major Percy Powell-Cotton’s Victorian ideas of conservation in the spirit with which they were meant and, much as he’d intended, I learnt about Africa and Asia, about wild animals, and about other lifestyles and cultures from his exhibits. It never lost its charm for me, or for my children when I took them there, and now I visit with my grandchildren.


About the book:

When Cate and her son find themselves homeless, they have nowhere left to go except her husband’s grandfather’s crazy old museum of taxidermy. The museum’s caretaker, Araminta Buchan, makes them very unwelcome but Cate and Leo need to call somewhere ‘home’ and they only have one summer to find it.





Milly Johnson

Milly says:

I couldn’t be more delighted to be on this list – such lovely news in a grim world. Now more than ever our books are needed by the public, but to be appreciated by the industry as well as our readers makes any nomination extra special.

An interesting story:

This book was written without any knowledge that soon I would be travelling in the footsteps of my own characters re their grief as I lost my father just after I had completed it – which is why it was dedicated to him.

I also ‘had’ to take a cruise (research purposes only of course) to Norway in February and brave 12 metre sea swells and monstrous weather but it was worth everything to see the Northern Lights and I couldn’t have written the book without going there. Magical.

I’m also the poster girl for proving what you can achieve when you use the knockbacks as stepping stones. People rubbished my accent, so I stuffed my books full of it. I was 40 when I started and on my final push after 15 years of trying to break into the publishing world. I didn’t want age or background to hold me back and it didn’t but I had a LOT of jobs and a massive learning curve before I had even the smallest success.

About the book:

After losing their partners, Pete and Laurie meet in a grief counselling group and an unexpected friendship develops. But all that serves to push them together will eventually drive them apart. Can the magic of the northern lights guide them back to where they both belong – to each other?






Shari Low

Shari says:

I am so honoured and grateful that One Day In Summer has been shortlisted by the wonderful RNA and so thrilled that the fantastic team at Boldwood Books did such a terrific job into shaping it into the book it has become.

An interesting story:

One Day In Summer is my 26th Novel and this month marks the 20th Anniversary of the publication of my first novel. I’m hugely grateful to have spent two decades telling stories. As someone whose husband once said that he didn’t realise when he married me that I came with several women sitting at my kitchen table every day, I hope I’m still writing funny, heartwarming stories about unique friendships between women twenty years from now.

About the book:

One day in summer, three lives are about to change forever.

This is the day that Agnetha McMaster is reclaiming her life. But will she have the courage to start again?

Ten years ago, Mitchell McMaster divorced Agnetha and married her best friend, Celeste. Now he suspects his second wife is having an affair. This is the day he’ll discover if karma has come back to bite him.

This is the day that Hope McTeer will finally meet her biological father. But will the reunion bring Hope the answers that she’s looking for?

Three people. Twenty-four hours. A lifetime of secrets to unravel…


Annie Lyons

Annie says:

It’s an honour to see Eudora included on this incredible list. I am very grateful for all the support the RNA has given me over the years and it’s a dream come true to have my work recognised with this nomination.

An interesting story:

This is the inspiration piece I wrote for Eudora:

One of my earliest memories is of standing on a table in a school classroom, which smelt of stale milk and crayons, while my mother pinned the hem of the cornflower-blue wool coat she was making for me at dress-making class. The other women clucked over my doll-like appearance and marvelled at my mother’s ability to have a three-year-old at the age of forty two.

‘You were my bonus baby,’ my mum would say proudly. My brother was eight years older than me and she had long given up hope of having another child, but there I was. 

My parents were of a different generation having experienced childhood during the Second World War. I was always secretly proud of this because they bore a set of values which people admired – stoicism, thriftiness, resilience. My mother kept the ‘digging for victory’ mantra going long after the war by cultivating two allotments and she ‘made do and mended’ many outfits for me including a fetching pair of stripy dungarees, which I wore until the knees could be patched no more. She was the queen of battling through life without complaint, of accepting the world as it was and not questioning the status quo.

This attitude worked for me until I left for university. The world opened up like an oyster, and I was hungry for pearls. No subject was off limits, no question unasked. I had a curiosity about everything, which carried on into adult life through bookselling, publishing and then into my career as a writer. 

As I hit middle age, I developed a mild to serious obsession with death. Considering my mortality became something of a casual hobby, like knitting or crafting macramé pots. I decided that I wanted to write a book about death, but nothing depressing, thank you very much. I wanted it to touch people, but to make them laugh, too. I realised that I needed a stoic central protagonist with similar qualities to my mother to carry the story, but also another with cheerful curiosity to drive it forward. And so Eudora and Rose were born, providing me with the characters to tackle this difficult subject with a combination of knowing wit and wide-eyed kindness.

Six months into writing the book and I was staring at death, feeling helpless and entirely unprepared. My eighty-four year old mum was now dying. Unsurprisingly we’d never discussed death. Her parents lost brothers, uncles and friends during the war. They didn’t talk about death because it happened to every family. It was commonplace. That Blitz spirit served my mum well but it meant that we didn’t have those important conversations about how she’d like her own death to be. Ultimately, the decision was taken from her as she was too poorly to leave the hospital. She died in the early hours of Christmas Eve 2018 surrounded by the fairy lights and tinsel I’d hung around her bed in my feeble attempt to keep things normal.

It was a strange kind of therapy to be finishing Eudora’s story after Mum died, but oddly comforting too. I wanted to give a voice to the discussions I wish I’d had with my own mum; to start some necessary conversations about how we live and how we die. We all have a choice. I didn’t manage to have this talk with my mum, but I will have it in time with my own children. Because ultimately, we should be able to laugh and cry as we accompany our loved ones on their final journey; to celebrate their lives and say goodbye properly. I think we owe it to ourselves and those we love to face death not with fear, but with hope and honesty. I know Eudora and Rose feel the same.

About the book:

Eighty-five-year-old Eudora is done with life and applies to a Swiss clinic to end things on her terms. But then the ten-year-old, pint-sized rainbow, Rose arrives on her doorstep, taking a reluctant Eudora on a series of adventures which force her to reflect on her past and reconsider her future.


Carole Mathews

Carole says:

It’s a great honour – especially to be short-listed for two titles.

An interesting story:

Hope Farm is based on a real place called Animal Antiks that provide alternative education for children/YA with behavioural/mental health issues.




About the book:

Christmas is fast approaching at Hope Farm and the planned Nativity and fund-raising Open Day. Will this Christmas be merry and bright or is there more than one surprise in store for Hope Farm?







Helen Pollard

Helen says:

Having been a member of the RNA for several years, I’m delighted to be shortlisted for the contemporary romantic novel award – it’s an honour!

An interesting story:

One of the things I love most when writing my books is creating a fictitious setting within a real-life area. I love Cornwall, so creating my coastal village, Porthsteren, from scratch and making it exactly how I wanted it for my characters was such a pleasure!

About the book:

Claudia has ditched her uncaring ex-husband and corporate career for a new start in beautiful Cornwall, but her patch of paradise is shaken up when recently-widowed Jason and his teenage daughter Millie arrive in town. Practical Jason isn’t thrilled about his daughter’s love of Claudia’s free-spirited ideas, and sparks fly.

The perfect seaside romance, full of warmth, humour and heart.





Jane Sanderson

Jane says:

It’s a thrill to be considered for an award by this prestigious association, and an honour to be listed among such wonderful fellow authors.




About the book:

Mix Tape is about first love, and the power of music. It’s a romance set firmly in the real world, where true love runs parallel with heartbreak, but where songs transcend time zones to connect two people who thought their story was over, when in fact it had hardly begun.






T L Swan

What she says:

What an honour to be included. Thank you so much!

An interesting story:

At the tender age of 42, I found an old diary in a box when cleaning out my garage. In it was a collection of stories that I had written when I was 18. I sat on my garage floor transfixed as I read through them, and I remembered that before life got in the way, I had wanted to be an author. I went inside and downloaded a free version of Microsoft and I wrote the words, Chapter One. For three years, I wrote in secret, scared to tell the world of my dream, until I couldn’t hide it anymore. The rest they say is history, I’ve now rewritten my early stories and created new ones, a total 18 books so far. I’ve become an Amazon number one best seller and a Wall Street Journal Best seller. I release my Indi books and also write for Publisher Amazon -Montlake and am literally living my dream.

I wake up every day and pinch myself.

About the book:

I first met Tristan Miles at a meeting where he was trying to take over my late husband’s company.

He was powerful, arrogant, and infuriatingly gorgeous, and I hated him with every cell in my body. In the shock of the century, he called me three days later and asked me on a date.

I would rather die than date a man like him—though I do have to admit it was good for the ego. Turning him down was the highlight of my year.

Six months later, he was the guest speaker at a conference I attended in France.

Still arrogant and infuriating—but this time, surprisingly charming and witty.

When he looked at me, I got butterflies.

But I can’t go there.

He’s just a player in a hot suit, and I’m just a widow with three unruly sons.

I just need this conference to be over.

Because everybody knows that Tristan Miles always gets what he wants…and what he wants is me.


Jules Wake

Jules says:

I’m a huge advocate of the RNA. It is a wonderful organisation and I’m thrilled to be shortlisted in what has been a grim old year. It is a great honour.






About the book:

When Jess and Sam lock eyes at a party, a spark ignites. The spark. But love at first sight isn’t like the movies, especially when Sam’s ex, Victoria, is determined to make their honeymoon period a living hell.

Is love at first sight enough?





The Romantic Novel Awards 2021
This year’s online Awards event will be streamed live from 7 PM on Monday March 8th. Everyone is welcome to join in and watch the live event. There is no need to register to do this.

You can view it on:
1)The RNA Website: and select the link to the viewing page. The viewing page will not be active until the day of the awards.

2) The RNA Public Facebook Page

3) The RNA Twitter account.