The winners of the awards will be presented by actor and presenter Larry Lamb in a digital event on Monday, March 8.
The RNA’s awards are the only national literary prizes that recognise excellence in the genre of romantic fiction. Lizzie Byron is one of six finalists in the Romantic Comedy Novel Award category with her novel Someday at Christmas, published by Hodder & Stoughton.
In the novel, Shell Smith is the most popular make-up artist at Duke & Sons, a beautiful but old-fashioned department store in her hometown. Business is booming in the beauty department, but the rest of the store is noticeably quiet.
The owner’s grandson Callum has come up with some creative ways to keep Duke & Sons afloat this Christmas, including allowing a production company to secretly film a romcom after hours. When Callum recruits Shell to help out, she finds there is more to Mr Duke Jr than sharp suits and a business-like demeanour…
Lizzie said, “As someone who is equally obsessed with make-up and skincare, this book was a joy to write. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. 2020 was a brutal, bruising year so writing this was the most wonderful distraction.
“I hope it offered the same to everyone who read it especially as so many of us were unable to celebrate Christmas the way we usually do. I had no idea that would happen when I was writing it so it really was an honour to give readers a big, bright, snowy Christmas full of love and provide a reminder that we will have that again soon.”
Abbie Greaves is one of six finalists in The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award category with her novel The Silent Treatment, published by Century, Cornerstone.
Frank and Maggie have been married for 40 years but haven’t spoken for the last six months. Maggie has an idea why her husband has gone quiet, but it will take a heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.
Abbie was inspired to write The Silent Treatment after reading an article about a man in Japan who hadn’t spoken to his wife for 20 years.
She couldn’t stop thinking about how a silence could settle at the heart of a relationship of that length, and knew it would be a brilliant jumping off point for a novel, she says.
Abbie grew up in Oxford which inspired the setting, and many of her favourite spots are peppered throughout the novel (The Rose & Crown, Port Meadow, The Ashmolean Museum). She stresses that the story isn’t based on her own parents, although they have been together for more than 30 years. She wrote the novel while working as an assistant at Curtis Brown literary agency so there were lots of early starts (5/6am) to get the book written around her day job. When the novel went out on submission to publishers, it was under a pseudonym.
There was quite some surprise when her identity was revealed to be a 25-year-old, writing about characters 40 years her senior. Abbie says she has always been interested in life-long relationships and what makes them endure.
Abbie said, “I am so thrilled to have been shortlisted for the 2021 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards, and what an honour to be considered alongside so many other brilliant novelists! I’m particularly grateful to the RNA for this boost of confidence at the end of a long and difficult year. Books have been such a valuable source of solace recently and to think my first novel might provide that for others is incredibly heartening.”