Barbara Taylor Bradford with the RoNA winners.
Joss Stirling triumphed over fellow competing authors to win the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s highest accolade, the Romantic Novel of the Year, with Struck, published by Oxford University Press. Struck (formerly Storm and Stone) is the first Young Adult title to be awarded the RNA’s prestigious prize, reflecting the increasing popularity of this sub-genre. Barbara Taylor Bradford presented Joss with her trophies and a cheque for £5000 at a star-studded event, compèred by Jane Wenham-Jones.
Joss Stirling was the winner of the Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year Category, for which she also received an engraved star-shaped trophy. Her book then went forward, along with those of the five other category winners – Contemporary, Epic, Historical, RoNA Rose and Romantic Comedy – to contest the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) most coveted award, the Romantic Novel of the Year.
This year, books shortlisted for the RoNA Rose (for category/series and shorter romance) competed for the first time with all other categories for the overall prize of Romantic Novel of the Year.
A panel of independent judges read the six category winners’ novels before meeting to debate the finer points of each book. The panel included Sarah Broadhurst, formerly The Bookseller; Alison Flood, Guardian.co.uk; Jane Mays, The Daily Mail; Karin Stoecker, ex-Editorial Director of Harlequin Books and Matt Bates of WHSmith Travel.
Romantic Novel of the Year Category Winners
Prior to announcing the overall award winner, Barbara Taylor Bradford revealed the winners of the individual categories and presented them with star-shaped crystal trophies.
The winners were:
Lucy Dillon, A Hundred Pieces of Me, Hodder & Stoughton
Winner Contemporary Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for mainstream romantic novels set post-1960, and can include chick lit, paranormal and romantic suspense)
Ella Harper, Pieces of You, Avon
Winner Epic Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for novels containing serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories)
Hazel Gaynor, The Girl Who Came Home, William Morrow, (Harper Collins)
Winner Historical Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for novels set in a period before 1960)
Lucy-Anne Holmes, Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy, Sphere (Little, Brown)
Winner Romantic Comedy Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for consistently humorous or amusing novels)
Louise Allen, Scandal’s Virgin, Harlequin Mills & Boon Historical
Winner RoNA Rose Award
(for category/series and shorter romance)
Joss Stirling, Struck (formerly Storm and Stone), Oxford University Press
Winner Young Adult Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(featuring protagonists who are teenagers or young adults)
The five judges were fulsome in their praise of Struck:
“A fast -paced novel, full of adventure and danger, as well as a satisfying romance with an instant attraction.”
“Mean Girls meets 21 Jump Street, navigating life and themes of school cliques and bullying.”
“Main characters were well drawn.”
“A satisfying developing relationship between heroine and hero. A provocative read which delivered on the romance. Good plot. Great hero and heroine.”
“An absorbing read that really pulled you in – I admired the energy and pace.”
Pia Fenton, Chairman of the RNA said, “I’m absolutely thrilled that a Young Adult book has won the overall award of Romantic Novel of the Year! It’s such an exciting sub-genre which has been embraced by both teenage and adult readers during the last few years. This win really highlights its growing appeal and Joss’s book is fantastic – huge congratulations to her!”
Outstanding Achievement Awards
Jill Mansell is the author of twenty five novels which have consistently appeared in bestseller lists, and Carole Matthews has also written twenty five bestselling novels. Both Jill and Carole were presented with outstanding achievement awards for their continued championing of the RNA and romantic fiction.