The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 2012 Category Winners!

Article published on March 7, 2012.

Young Adult Romantic Novel:  Dark Ride, by Caroline Green (Piccadilly Press)

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A mysterious boy. A haunting secret…

A shiver crawled up my spine. It felt like the loneliest place in the world. For a second I thought I caught a snatch of music in the air, but it was just the wind whistling  through cracks in the fairground hoardings.

My instincts screamed, `Run away, Bel! Run away and never return!’

But instead my fingers closed around the ticket in my pocket. ADMIT ONE.

Bel has never met anyone like Luka. And the day she follows him into the abandoned fairground, she is totally unprepared for the turn her life is about to take.

Romantic Comedy Novel: Please Don’t Stop the Music, by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit)

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How much can you hide? Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail – until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts. But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse? And the curiosity is mutual – which means that her own secret is no longer safe…

Historical Romantic Novel: Highland Storms, by Christina Courtenay (Choc Lit)

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Who can you trust? Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate. But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate’s in ruin and money is disappearing. He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her? Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being a housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her. But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone. And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants including Marsaili even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever…

Epic Romantic Novel: The Kashmir Shawl, by Rosie Thomas (HarperCollins)

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Spanning decades and moving from the stark beauty of the Welsh landscape to the Himalayas and Kashmir, this is a story of bravery, courage and love.

Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime…

Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time in her life, to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. Travelling from lonely Ladakh, high up in the Himalayas, Nerys discovers a new world in the lakeside city of Srinagar. Here, in the exquisite heart of Kashmir, the British live on carved wooden houseboats and dance, flirt and gossip as if there is no war.

But the battles draw ever closer, and life in Srinagar becomes less frivolous when the men are sent away to fight. Nerys is caught up in a dangerous friendship, and by the time she is reunited with her husband, the innocent Welsh bride has become a different woman.

Years later, when Mair Ellis clears out her father’s house, she finds an exquisite antique shawl, woven from the finest yarns and embroidered in the shades of lake water and mountain skies. Wrapped within its folds is a lock of child’s hair. Tracing her grandparents’ roots back to Kashmir, Mair embarks on a quest that will change her life forever.

Contemporary Romantic Novel: Summer of Love, by Katie Fforde (Arrow)

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Who knows what might happen in a summer of love?

Sian Bishop has left the hustle and bustle of the city behind and has thrown herself into a new life in the country.

With her young son, her picture-postcard garden and her small thriving business, she’s happy and very busy. She is not – repeat not – looking for love.

And then, one glorious summer evening, Gus Beresford arrives.

One-time explorer, full-time heart-breaker, Gus is ridiculously exciting, wonderfully glamorous – and, Sian tells herself, completely wrong for a romantically cautious single woman like her.

But she and Gus have met before. And, despite Sian’s best intentions, it isn’t long before she’s falling for him all over again…

One of the five category winning titles and their authors will win the Romantic Novel of the Year on 17 May.

 The judging panel includes Sarah Broadhurst from The Bookseller, Alison Flood of The Guardian and the Daily Mail’s Jane Mays. And, for the first time, readers across the country will have their say too when they cast their votes at www.rna-awards.com. Be sure to cast your votes, and please encourage your customers to do the same – especially as there is an iPad 2 to be won! Voting runs from 6 March to 6 April.

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Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

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The Molly Flatt Column: Our thorny relationship with romance

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