Friday, February 13, 2009

RNA Awards - Fiona Harper

Tuesday was the RNA’s annual awards luncheon, where the organisation presents trophies for the Romantic Novel of the Year, the Romance Prize (for shorter romantic fiction, such as Harlequin Romance) and, for the first time, a Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year two Harlequin Romance novels (branded as Mills & Boon Romance in the UK) were on the shortlist, written by Jessica Hart and yours truly!

Here are all the books that were in the running:

What's Love Got to Do With It? - Lucy Broadbent (Little Black Dress, Headline)
The Wild Card - Beth Elliott (Robert Hale)
Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure - India Grey (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Sold to the Highest Bidder - Kate Hardy (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Saying Yes to the Millionaire - Fiona Harper (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Promoted to Wife and Mother - Jessica Hart (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

All the shortlisted authors were asked to be at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington early for PR and photographs, which was great, because I got to meet up and chat with some of my old friends, such as Kate Hardy, who took the Romance Prize home last year, Jessica Hart and India Grey. I also got to meet fellow finalist, Beth Elliot, but unfortunately Lucy Broadbent, the last contender on the list was unable to make the ceremony.

I was also excited to be sharing a ‘green room’ (how showbizzy is that?) with some of the committee members and authors shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year —which I think we ought to call a Ronnie (RNY?), by the way, because it’s a bit of a mouthful! Cecilia Ahern looks so fresh-faced and young, she must have been a toddler when she got her first publishing contact. Here are some of the shortlisted authors for the Ronnie (See? It’s catching on…) signing their books.

Lunch itself was lovely and the service was fantastic. An army of waiters seemed to arrive and place the plates on the table simultaneously. I know it seems weird taking pictures of your dinner, but people really want to know! And who am I to deprive them?

The starter was Scottish Salmon Parfait with Tuna Tartar and Crème Fraiche Caviar. I took a picture, but I was so intent on eating it, I forgot to take one before I dived in. Here is a picture of someone else’s plate who was slightly less piggy than I was (but for pristine picture of the food, you'll have to visit Kate Hardy's blog - she obviously has more self-control than I have).

The main course (can you tell I like my food?) was Chicken filled with a Paris Mushroom Mousse, Marsala Cream Sauce, Marquis Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas. This too was gorgeous. I loved the sauce. And just enough to fill me up without making me too stuffed, which was just as well, because pudding was just around the corner…

I don’t need to say much about dessert, apart from telling you that it was Bitter Lemon Tart with Raspberry Jelly and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. A picture may say a thousand words. I’ve two to demonstrate how much I enjoyed it:
Unfortunately, our speaker, the debonair and charming Peter Bowles, of To The Manor Born fame, was unable to attend because he was unwell. First up was the Romance Prize and my little heart starting pattering hard as one of the judges. Margaret James, got up on stage and a short video display of all the shortlisted books played on video screens around the room. Margaret then gave a short description of each of the books, outlining what the judges liked most about them. I think she may have said Saying Yes To The Millionaire had “charm in abundance”, and Jessica’s Promoted: To Wife And Mother was described as “a lovely story about second chances and finding love in unexpected places”, but I knew as I heard the judges opinion of one of the other books that it had stolen their hearts. And that book was…

Hired: Mistress For the Billionaire’s Pleasure by India Grey.

I’m very glad I didn’t read it before the ceremony because it sounds fabulous and I would have been too scared to turn up! India, lovely as always, was completely shocked by her win and even though she said she hadn’t prepared a speech, she was warm, funny and completely disarming as she accepted both the Betty Neels rose bowl, which she gets to keep for a year, and a little star-shaped glass trophy, which she gets to keep for ever.

And while India was still reeling with surprise, it was on the next event, a Lifetime Achievment Award to Judy Piatkus, founder of Piatkus Books.

Then, it was time to present the Romantic Novel of the Year (okay, maybe the Ronnie wasn’t really a good nickname…). The shortlist was:

Before the Storm by Judith Lennox (Headline)
East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (Orion)
Sophia’s Secret by Susannah Kearsley (Allison & Busby)
Star Gazing by Linda Gilliard (Little Brown)
Thanks for the Memories by Cecilia Ahern (Harper Collins)
The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer (Transworld)

And the award went to Julia Gregson for her novel East of the Sun. All the books on the shortlist sounded fabulous. Uh-oh, I can hear my credit card groaning at the thought of another book shopping-spree.

Finally, now all the nail-biting was over, it was time to breathe out and socialise. Here’s me with new M&B Romance author Nina Harrington, who’s first book is out this July:

And another of Romance Senior Editor Kimberly Young, and Jessica Hart!

Here's our two "Romancers" with winner India Grey!

Congratulations India and Julia, and a big thanks to Fiona for the report and pictures, as well as Kate Hardy, photog extraordinaire!

1 comment:

  1. Terrific pics, Fiona. Thanks for sharing the buzz with those of us who couldn't make it this year.