Harlequin achieved a clean sweep as Australian romance book industry’s top prizes were awarded last Saturday at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney in a gala dinner that was capped off by a moving speech by Hall of Fame inductee Emma Darcy.
The Romantic Book of the Year awards, known affectionately as the RUBY by the Romance Writers of Australia, were presented last Saturday at the Novotel, Sydney Olympic Park, and all the major awards went to Harlequin authors. Lucy Clark won the Short and Sweet category with her Medical book One Life Changing Moment. Kelly Hunter won the Short and Sexy category for What the Bride Didn’t Know (Harlequin Kiss). Kendall Talbot took home the prize for Romantic Elements for her unusual story featuring a trophy wife, a bisexual hero and a plane crash in Lost in Kakadu. The win was also a first for Escape Publishing. Sarah Mayberry took home the RUBY for Long Romance with Her Favourite Rival (Harlequin SuperRomance) as well as the ELLA for her novella Worth The Risk.
The night, however, belonged to Mills and Boon author Emma Darcy, who was inducted to RWA’s Hall of Fame. Darcy received a standing ovation before giving a moving speech that included a tribute to her late husband Frank. Audience members were reduced to tears and laughter. Darcy summarised the appeal of romance fiction with the 5Fs: ‘fantasy, feelgood, fun and fabulous fucking!’
The Romance Media Award went to yours truly for my opinion piece on The Drum, ‘Dear columnists, romance fiction is not your bitch’. Presenter Nikki Logan revealed that for the first time, the ROMA nominees included blog posts and opinion pieces. I can’t even express how honoured and overwhelmed I was to receive this award.
The Emerald Awards for unpublished manuscripts went to Audrey Ford for The Reluctant Princess in the Category/Series category, and to Erin Moira O’Hara for The Kalista Diamond in the Single Title category.
The minor prizes were given to Victoria Steele for Back of Beyond (Ripping Start Competition), Katherina Colmer for Love’s Mortal Coil (First Kiss), Margaret Swan for Love and Madness (Selling Synopsis), Sheridan Kent (Little Gems Cover), Rowena Cavendish for Minni’s Year of Living (Little Gems Anthology), and Karina Coldrick for Slippage (Valerie Parv award).
Anita Joy was awarded the Lynne Wilding Meritorious Service Award for her service to RWA, and emcee Kaz Delaney gave a heartfelt tribute to the late Lynne Wilding for whom the award is named.
The RUBY awards are the highlight of the RWA’s annual conference. Next year’s conference will be at the Park Hyatt, Melbourne from August 21 to 23. The theme will be ‘Get Fresh’ and the conference will be run in partnership with the Melbourne Writers Festival and Writers Victoria.