Romantic Novelists' Association

The RNA Announces Shortlists For The 2021 Romantic Novel Awards

1 February 2021

Romantic Novel Awards 2021 logo

We are delighted to announce the shortlists for the 2021 Romantic Novel Awards

Larry Lamb to present Awards 


MONDAY 1ST FEBRUARY 2021: The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) today announce the shortlists for their prestigious 2021 Romantic Novel Awards. The winners of the awards will be presented by actor and presenter Larry Lamb in a digital event on Monday 8th March. 

The RNA’s awards are the only national literary prizes that recognise excellence in the genre of romantic fiction. In 2021 they comprise the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, the Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award, the Romantic Comedy Novel Award, the Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award, the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers, the Romantic Saga Award, the Fantasy Romantic Novel Award, the Libertà Shorter Romantic Novel Award and the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award.  

Novelist Mike Gayle will also be presented with the 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the field of romantic fiction.

RNA President Katie Fforde said, “Mike Gayle is a wonderful writer who brings a slightly different angle to the genre. His life as a journalist adds depth and maturity as well as masculinity to his work. I love his books.”

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.”

In 2021 the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards will be held as a virtual ceremony, beginning at 7 pm on Monday 8th March. A link to the event will be shared closer to the time here, and on the RNA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The Category Shortlists 

(authors are listed alphabetically)


The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award:

Cow Girl, Kirsty Eyre, HarperCollins UK

The Bookshop of Second Chances, Jackie Fraser, Simon & Schuster

The Silent Treatment, Abbie Greaves, Century, Cornerstone

This Is Not a Love Story, Mary Hargreaves, Trapeze

A New Life for Ariana Byrne, Liz Hurley, Hera Books

The Authenticity Project, Clare Pooley, Bantam Press


The Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award:

A Will, a Wish and a Wedding, Kate Hardy, Mills & Boon True Love

The Warrior Knight and the Widow, Ella Matthews, Mills & Boon Historical

The Day That Changed Everything, Catherine Miller, Bookouture

Second Chance for the Single Mum, Sophie Pembroke, Mills & Boon True Love

The Return of the Disappearing Duke, Lara Temple, Mills & Boon Historical 

Cinderella and the Surgeon, Scarlet Wilson, Mills & Boon Medical


The Romantic Saga Award:

The Girl from the Tanner’s Yard, Diane Allen, Pan 

The Variety Girls, Tracy Baines, Ebury

The Ops Room Girls, Vicki Beeby, Canelo

Bobby’s War, Shirley Mann, Bonnier Books UK

The Orphan’s Daughter, Sandy Taylor, Bookouture

Secrets of the Lavender Girls, Kate Thompson, Hodder & Stoughton


The Romantic Comedy Novel Award:

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes, Trisha Ashley, Bantam Press

Someday at Christmas, Lizzie Byron, Hodder & Stoughton

Christmas at the Island Hotel, Jenny Colgan, Sphere, Little, Brown

One Winter’s Night, Kiley Dunbar, Hera Books

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes, Carole Matthews, Sphere, Little, Brown

The Switch, Beth O’Leary, Quercus


The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award:

The Forgotten Sister, Nicola Cornick, HQ 

The House by the Sea, Louise Douglas, Boldwood Books

Death Comes to Cornwall, Kate Johnson, Dash Digital, Orion

The Twins, Jane Lark, One More Chapter, HarperCollins

Escape to the Little Chateau, Marie Laval, Choc Lit


The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award:

Echoes of the Runes, Christina Courtenay, Headline Review

The Start of Us, Hannah Emery, One More Chapter, HarperCollins

The Reluctant Witch, Amelia Hopegood, Independently Published

The Cornish Connection, Amanda James, Independently Published

Someday in Paris, Olivia Lara, Aria, Head of Zeus


The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award:

Where We Belong, Anstey Harris, Simon & Schuster

My One True North, Milly Johnson, Simon & Schuster

One Day in Summer, Shari Low, Boldwood Books

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You, Annie Lyons, One More Chapter, HarperCollins 

Christmas for Beginners, Carole Matthews, Sphere, Little, Brown

The Little Shop in Cornwall, Helen Pollard, Bookouture

Mix Tape, Jane Sanderson, Bantam Press

The Takeover, T L Swan, Montlake

The Spark, Jules Wake, One More Chapter, HarperCollins


The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award:

Heartbreak in the Valleys, Francesca Capaldi, Hera Books

The Coming of the Wolf, Elizabeth Chadwick, Sphere, Little, Brown

Spirited, Julie Cohen, Orion Fiction

Daniel’s Daughter, Victoria Cornwall, Choc Lit

The French Wife, Diney Costeloe, Head of Zeus

People Like Us, Louise Fein, Head of Zeus

The Lost Lights of St Kilda, Elisabeth Gifford, Corvus 

Rags-to-Riches Wife, Catherine Tinley, Mills & Boon Historical

The Skylark’s Secret, Fiona Valpy, Lake Union Publishing


The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award

Sing Me a Secret, Julie Houston, Aria, Head of Zeus

Christmas Wishes, Sue Moorcroft, Avon

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes, Carole Matthews, Sphere, Little, Brown

A Perfect Cornish Escape, Phillipa Ashley, Avon

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, Josie Silver, Penguin


Author and cover images for all titles are available on request. 

For further information please contact Katrina Power 07 963 962 538, or



Notes to Editors:

About the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA)

The RNA was formed in 1960 to promote romantic fiction and encourage good writing and now represents 1000 writers, agents, editors and other publishing professionals. The Romantic Novel of the Year Award was launched in the same year, and recognises excellence in romantic novels thereby enhancing the standing of the genre.

 The RNA has always involved readers in judging the awards. Keen readers are asked to rate nominated books on a number of criteria including romantic content, readability, characters, plot, dialogue, style and ending.

A list of past winners can be found at


About Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Mike Gayle

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.


About the Award Sponsors

The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award 

Bestselling author Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a different profession or background and her research has helped her bring these to life. She’s been a porter in an auction house, tried her hand at pottery, refurbished furniture, delved behind the scenes of a dating website, and she’s even been on a Ray Mears survival course. She loves being a writer; to her there isn’t a more satisfying and pleasing thing to do. She particularly enjoys writing love stories. She believes falling in love is the best thing in the world, and she wants all her characters to experience it, and her readers to share their stories., @KatieFforde.


The Libertà Shorter Romantic Novel Award

Libertà Books is a light-hearted website ( where readers and authors share their experience, discoveries, favourites and occasional oddities. Run by four multi-published authors, it has evolved to cover advice on writing and, in the real world, well-received workshops for both experienced and aspiring writers. Limited to the virtual world in 2020, Libertà offered visitors a huge variety of blog posts, including a multi-part mystery serial set in today’s Covid world. Expect more interesting material in 2021.


The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award             

“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 Thriller award to support her fellow writers.”


The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, and the Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award

Goldsboro Books is the UK’s leading independent bookshop, specialising since 1999 in first editions, signed, collectable and exclusive books. Situated in Cecil Court in London’s West End, and – as of December 2020 – Brighton’s famous Lanes, it has gained a reputation for championing debut authors, as well as creating the UK’s largest book collectors’ club, and is influential in selling large quantities of hard-back fiction.


The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award

Sapere Books is a digital first publisher of romantic fiction, historical fiction, women’s fiction, crime fiction and thrillers. Sapere Books launched in 2018 and specialises in reissuing novels which have gone out of print and developing relationships with both new and established writers.