Thursday, March 10, 2016

TIME OUT THURSDAY: The RoNa Awards 2016

Heidi Rice reports on a glorious night at the Romantic Novelists Association's glittering RoNa Awards in London and a win to remember...

Every so often there are opportunities for you to strip off your yoga pants and baggy T-shirt and bunny slippers, pull out the posh frock and heels and be a romance writer about town for an evening, and pretend this is actually a glamorous job instead of a daily grind...

Fiona & I... Champagne selfie

This Monday night was just such a night to remember, when I met up with my four best writing buddies - Abby Green, Fiona Harper, Scarlet Wilson and Iona Grey - to head down to the Royal Horseguards Hotel on the Thames for the RNA's annual awards ceremony.

Both Scarlet and Iona had been nominated in two of the categories, so we had high hopes for the evening.

With UK TV presenter Fern Britton presenting the awards along with the RNA's own Jane Wenham Jones in the stellar surroundings of the Gladstone Library (think Henry Higgins' gaff in My Fair Lady, but bigger and more ornate and with heart-shape chocolates artfully strewn everywhere) we got off to a great start.

Champagne selfie 2
There was a delightful speech by Milly Johnson when she won the Romantic Comedy Award (and proved her worth as a woman of great wit and wisdom)... I was a bit down when Scarlet didn't nab the RoNa Rose Award for Best Short Romance. That said, later in the evening we all ended up at a Pizza Express (oh, the glamour) with the winner Annie O'Neil who turned out to be an absolute hoot. Scarlet herself wasn't the least bit put out, especially as Annie had been the first person to win for Mills and Boon Medical Romance! Yay! There were also Outstanding Achievement awards for two incredible women, Claire Lorimer and Anita Burgh, who both - true to form - gave outstanding speeches...

Here's the list of all the winners...

But the toast of the evening turned out to be (to nobody's surprise but her own) Iona Grey and her incredible book Letters to the Lost. She won in the Historical Romance category and then went on to win the overall award.... The Romantic Novel of the Year (despite a little bit of confusion before hand when we almost got sent home early!!). Needless to say, our little corner of the room were screaming their heads off in an entirely appropriate way as Iona gave her second speech of the evening sounding more than a bit overwhelmed.

Iona Grey: the Star of the Evening!
Letters to the Lost is a heart-breakingly beautiful story about a wartime love affair and the modern-day romance sparked when a stash of letters is found in a derelict cottage in North London. Here's what I had to say about it on Goodreads... Seriously if you haven't read it already, you must.

Letters to the Lost in stellar company
The RNA did itself proud that evening, and I should also give a shout out to David Headley, the MD from Goldsboro books, a first edition bookstore which sponsored the main award, who admitted that he had enjoyed reading romance novels himself while a lad to spice up his life in rural Yorkshire. Nice one!

After the glitz and glamour and too much pink champagne we all piled back to our hotel in Knightsbridge to toast Iona and Scarlet one more time for their achievements.... A romance author's life can be a wonderful thing  - especially when you have amazing writing buddies.

Heidi is currently hard at work on her first proper Presents and contemplating her second single title book... While enjoying the release of her first longer book So Now You're Back in February. You can check out more about her and her work at her brand new website.

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