Romantic Novelists' Association

The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award

5 March 2021

Let’s find out a bit more about The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award nominees.

Julie Houston

Julie says:

I’m totally over the moon that SING ME A SECRET has been shortlisted in the Popular Romance category. In these seemingly endless winter lockdown days, this honour has been an absolute boost and shining light! Huge thanks to the very special Hannah Smith at Aria and, as always, my lovely agent Anne Williams at KHLA

An interesting story:

SING ME A SECRET was inspired by my own venture into musical theatre.

About fifteen years ago, the choir I’d sung with for several years, was given permission by The Really Useful Group to put on a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar in Leeds Town Hall, the several hundred-strong choir taking the part of the chorus waving palm leaves and belting out the many songs, while Jesus and Judas were drafted in from another part of Yorkshire to strengthen the ranks.

And what a Jesus! I can’t even remember his name now but he was gorgeous, and at every weekly rehearsal we’d be asking, ‘Jesus, just look at Jesus. Is Jesus here yet? When’s Jesus going to do his bit? No Jesus tonight?’ We were all a little bit in love, starstruck even, by this talented young man who, during the day, was possibly a painter and decorator, a postman, a teacher – I really have no idea – but at every Monday rehearsal night was transformed into the son of God.


About the book:

The four Sutherland sisters have all led very different lives. But one secret and a slightly tense production of Jesus Christ Superstar, being put on in the village of Westenbury, are about to bring them all back together again as well as opening up old wounds and bringing to the fore a past very probably best left where it is …






Sue Moorcroft

Sue says:

I’m absolutely over the moon that Christmas Wishes has been shortlisted for the Popular Romantic Fiction Award. It’s particularly special that this nomination comes from librarians, bloggers and booksellers – the people at the heart of reading. I couldn’t be more thrilled and thankful.

An interesting story:

I’m fortunate to have a very good friend in author Christina Courtenay who said, ‘Why don’t you set your next winter book in Sweden? We can go together and stay with Mum.’ We spent a fantastic ten days together in Småland and Stockholm while I learned everything I could about Swedish culture and education – and fell in love with ice hockey. And it snowed! So many readers ask for books set in ‘my’ village of Middledip, where I’ve been setting stories for over a decade that I created links between the two and moved Hannah and Nico between those special places as their story unfolded. As always, there are real-life conflicts at the heart of the book. Nico’s a single dad with an eating disorder and an ex with addiction issues. Hannah has to fight off a swindling ex. (I always enjoy constructing financial trickery. Perhaps because I used to work in a bank.) Christmas Wishes was a joy to write.

About the book:

Hannah’s lost her shop in Stockholm and her ratfink ex-boyfriend’s trying to swindle her. Back in Middledip village, she looks after Nan Heather and becomes embroiled with the family of childhood buddy Nico, learning, along the way, that wishes are easy to make but harder to make come true…






Carole Mathews

Carole says:

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








About the book:

When Jodie Jackson escapes to the Isle of Wight to leave her past behind her, she’s forced to face reality. Will she choose her old life or one filled with Sunny Days & Sea Breezes. 







Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa says:

It is a such an honour to be shortlisted for the Popular Fiction Award which is voted for by the librarians, booksellers and book bloggers who help to recommend my books to readers. In what has been a very tough time, I’m thrilled that A Perfect Cornish Escape gave tens of thousands of readers a chance to escape their troubles to a sunnier world. I’d like to thank Avon Books for their outstanding effort in getting this book onto so many shelves during such challenging conditions.

An interesting story:

The dramatic Cornish coastline has always been an inspiration to me, and the idea of A Perfect Cornish Escape was inspired by a visit to a volunteer Coast Watch station on the cliffs at rugged Cape Cornwall. Little did I know that we would all be longing for our own ‘escape’ from the lockdown, missing loved ones – as the main character, Marina, does – and wondering when the uncertainty would ever end. The joy of fiction is that we can resolve these issues, and I hope that my readers found solace in the way the characters find their way out of the darkest of times and into the sunlight of a fresh new start.

About the book:

Seven years ago, Marina’s husband was lost at sea. She vowed to love him forever – but should she deny herself another chance at happiness? 

Tiff was living life to the full in London – until her boyfriend’s betrayal brought it crashing down. 

Summer in Cornwall promises new beginnings – but are they too good to be true?





Josie Silver

Josie says:

I’m absolutely over the moon that The Two Lives of Lydia Bird has been nominated for the Popular Romantic Fiction Category, especially in this year when reading has felt a more necessary escape than ever.

An interesting story:

The idea for the book came from thinking about how seemingly small decisions can sometimes have life-changing consequences, and when that happens, the eternal question of ‘what if?’ you could go back and do things differently.

About the book:

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and are just about to get married. But then, on Lydia’s 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.

Then something unbelievable happens. Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie.

But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay? 



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.