There was no shortage of glamour in last night’s Romance Book of the Year (R*BY) awards where Sophia James took out the top prize in Australian romance fiction, winning the Long Romance category for Mistletoe Magic (in Christmas Betrothals, Mills & Boon/Quills), beating Christine Wells and romance veteran Stephanie Laurens, who was nominated twice in the category.
Tracey O’Hara received the R*BY in the Romantic Elements category, which goes to novels of any length or genre in which romance plays a significant—though not necessarily a central—-role in the story. Her book, Night’s Cold Kiss (HarperCollins/Eos), was the only speculative fiction work shortlisted for the R*BY.
The prizes for short romances went to Amy Andrews and Sharon Archer. Andrews won the Short Sexy R*BY for A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby (Mills and Boon/Medical), and Archer, who was nominated twice in her category, won the Short Sweet R*BY for Marriage Reunited: Baby On The Way (Mills & Boon/Medical).
The Emerald Awards, which recognise the best unpublished manuscripts, went to Allison Withers for The Border Laird’s Bride in the Single Title section and to Coleen Yan in the Category section. Withers also won the Anna Campbell prize for the highest placed historical in the Emeralds.
As well as these major awards, the Romance Writers of Australia recognised various achievements both in and outside of the organisation. The Romance Media Award (ROMA) for the best media coverage of romance writing in Australia went to Robert Hayward for his profile of author Alison Stuart in My Secret Art Life: Romance Writer on the ABC’s Art Nation. The full clip of the winning entry was shown to a very appreciative crowd.
The Valerie Parv Award for unpublished writers, which gives the winner a year of mentorship and a manuscript reading by an editor from a romance publisher, went to Anna Cowan for The Three Loves of Miss Beatrice Sutherland. The Lynne Wilding Meritorious Service Award went to Serena Tatti. This award is in honour of Wilding, the first RWA president, and was presented by her partner, John Gumbley, who gave a stirring speech.
In the minor prizes, the Little Gems Anthology prize was a tie between Jennifer Kay for ‘The Unfinished Poem’ and Dorothy Martin for ‘If Only’. Helen Katsinis won for her cover. The Single Title and Loving It (STALI) prize went to Robyn Enlund, who was also a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Award. Cristien Hickey won the Harlequin Mills & Boon High Five competition. The Selling Synopsis prize, for the best synopsis, went to Dayle White, and the First Kiss prize went to Leah Clapton.
The night ended with a rousing address by historical romance author Anne Gracie in which she acknowledged the hard work that writers put into their craft and the success of members who have reached new milestones in their careers.
The R*BY Award is the most prestigious award in the Australian romance book industry. The judging is based on reader evaluations, and it is open to all Australian and New Zealand authors. The Emerald Award recognises the best unpublished manuscripts submitted by members of the Romance Writers of Australia.
The accompanying photo was taken by Kat Mayo. Click here for more photos of the event.