- Jane Lovering’s Please Don’t Stop the Music has won the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year award, presented at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual summer party by Sky News anchor and novelist Kay Burley.Published by Choc Lit, who had two titles on the shortlist, Please Don’t Stop the Music was awarded the prize by a panel of judges from the industry: Matt Bates, WHSmith; Sarah Broadhurst, The Bookseller; Alison Flood, Guardian.co.uk; Jane Mays, The Daily Mail; and Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles.
The judges said: “It was a narrow choice between Please Don’t Stop the Music and The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas, but Jane’s voice was fresh and new with an unexpected hero. It was a romance with dark undertones and it engaged with issues a lot of people recognise. Good humour throughout.”
Jane Lovering lives in Kirkbymoorside in Yorkshire with her five children, and works part time as a science technician at Lady Lumley’s School. Her UK debut, Please Don’t Stop the Music is also the first novel from independent publisher Choc Lit to be crowned Romantic Novel of the Year.
The Romantic Novel of the Year Award was launched in 1960, the same year as the RNA, to recognise excellence in romantic novels. Previous winners of this long-standing and hotly-contested award include Philippa Gregory, Julia Gregson, Freya North and 2011 winner Jojo Moyes.
This year’s shortlist was compiled of category winners from the RNA’s annual awards – The RONA – which took place earlier this year. Jane Lovering – winner of the Romantic Comedy Novel award – saw off competition from Historical Romantic Novel award winner Christina Courtenay, Young Adult Romantic Novel award winner Caroline Green, Contemporary Romantic Novel award winner Katie Fforde and Epic Romantic Novel award winner Rosie Thomas.
Anne Ashurst, RNA Chairman said:“Warmest congratulations to Jane and my personal thanks for making me hoot with laughter. What an achievement to become Romantic Novelist of the Year with one’s first novel for talent-spotting publishers Choc Lit! A great read and well-deserved success.”
Also presented at the RNA Summer Party was the association’s annual recognition for the best in new writing. The Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, generously sponsored by Dr David Hessayon, was won by Evonne Wareham for Never Coming Home also published by Choc Lit. Evonne took home a cheque and a silver trophy. The other contenders in a record year of new publishing contracts were Rhoda Baxter, Talith Davenport, Lynda Dunwell, Liz Fenwick, Linda Mitchelmore, Ginna Rossi and Scarlet Wilson who also received cheques.