It’s National Romance Reading Month, folks. What better way to pick yourself out of this rut of self-assessment tax trauma, post-election fatigue and coronavirus hysteria than to indulge in romance? It’s hopeful. It’s uplifting. Even the author of Tokyo Ghoul, Ishida Sui, confesses to being a fan of romance books and dramas. Love In Time Of Outbreak? Why not. Gabriel Garcia Marquez gets away with cholera. Read on.
Love, love, love
Bless the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). How did they know we need cheering up? They announced earlier this month that February 2020 is to be a Romance Reading Month to encourage “everyone to pick up a romance novel and fall in love with a love story”.
By the way, do you know why Korean drama series, or K-drama – some of which are adapted from novels, manwha and manga – are so popular in Asia? Because stressed out professional women who have to deal with family and career cope by following soap operas. They don’t want to see raunchy sex scenes or explosions on telly. They just want a good story.
The early adopters in 2003 were Boomer professionals and housewives. The late adopters were Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, the exports of South Korea broadcast content sector was worth $2.02 billion in 2016. The majority of this came from romance, especially romance comedy.
The audience don’t mind the subtitles at all. So romance writers, this is your time. Lead us down the garden path.
Key highlights for Romance Reading Month
1st week, 1st – 7th Feb
The focus is on libraries, and encouraging readers to support romance authors and their local libraries by borrowing a romantic novel. Despite recent pressure and library closures, libraries continue to provide a lifeline for many readers and a valuable income for authors. The RNA invites readers to tweet pictures of themselves and their library books to @RNAtweets and share on social media using the hashtags #LoveMyLibraryWeek and #RNA60.
Celebrating #LoveMyLibraryWeek #RNA60.
I recently delivered copies of #SummerInACornishCove and #CottageOnACornishCliff to @tavilibrary resulting in #booksignings not only there but also @princetown_lib and @OkehamptonLib!@RNAtweets #TuesNews @Aria_Fiction #writerslife #Romance pic.twitter.com/mwHqLEoMZ7
— Kate Ryder (@KateRyder_Books) February 4, 2020
The first week of Romance Reading Month will also see the announcement of the shortlists for the Romantic Novel Awards for books published during 2019 (see below).
Monday 17th February
Thursday 20th February
Readers are invited to review their favourite romance novel on all the usual platforms and tweet @RNAtweets when the review is up. It’s never too late to review a book you love. #DiamondReviewDay #RNA60
Imagine if you won a competition where you could win the chance to read free books for the rest of your life, how happy would you be with a prize like that? But wait we’re already winners because that’s just what our libraries offer us. #RomanceReadingMonth and #LoveMyLibraryWeek pic.twitter.com/E4fMr4E9pE
— Romantic Novelists' Association (@RNAtweets) February 3, 2020
Sunday 23rd February
Join celebrities like Marian Keyes in tweeting a short video clip or a picture to @RNAtweets telling us the title and author of your favourite romance novel and wish the RNA a happy 60th Anniversary. #RNA60 #RomanceReadingMonth.
Saturday 29th February
The month of celebrations ends with the opportunity to ‘Leap into a Love Story’ with the RNA. How are you going to spend the 29th February, the extra day this leap year? To round off Romance Reading Month, the RNA recommends buying a love story and getting together with romance lovers to chat about books you love. Let’s get the whole country talking about romantic fiction.
— Sue Moorcroft (@SueMoorcroft) February 4, 2020
Romantic Novel Awards contenders announced
The first week of Romance Reading Month also sees the release of the shortlists for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards.
The RNA’s awards are the only national literary prizes that recognise excellence in the genre of romantic fiction. This year’s winners will be acknowledged at an awards ceremony at the Leonardo Royal London City Hotel on Monday, 2 March 2020.
The Category Shortlists (authors are listed alphabetically)
The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award:
- The Forgotten Village, Lorna Cook, Avon, HarperCollins
- Living My Best Life, Claire Frost, Simon & Schuster UK
- The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker, Jenni Keer, Avon, HarperCollins
- The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary, Quercus Fiction
- The Million Pieces of Neena Gill, Emma Smith-Barton, Penguin
The Libertá Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award:
- Christmas by The Lighthouse, Rebecca Boxall, Lake Union, Amazon Publishing
- Surprise Baby for the Heir, Ellie Darkins, Mills & Boon True Love
- Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess, Jenni Fletcher, Mills & Boon Historical
- A Return, a Reunion, a Wedding, Annie O’Neil, Mills & Boon Medical
- The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow, Lara Temple, Mills & Boon Historical
The Romantic Saga Award:
- The Street of Broken Dreams, Tania Crosse, Aria Fiction, Head of Zeus
- The Brighton Guest House Girls, Lesley Eames, Aria Fiction, Head of Zeus
- A Ration Book Childhood, Jean Fullerton, Corvus
- A Precious Gift, Rosie Goodwin, Bonnier Books
- Secrets of the Homefront Girls, Kate Thompson, Hodder & Stoughton
The Romantic Comedy Novel Award:
- A Question of Us, Mary Jayne Baker, Aria Fiction, Head of Zeus
- Bring Me Sunshine, Laura Kemp, Orion Fiction
- A Cornish Cottage by the Sea, Jane Linfoot, One More Chapter, Harper Collins
- Honeymoon for One, Portia MacIntosh, Boldwood Books
- Love Songs for Sceptics, Christina Pishiris, Simon & Schuster UK
The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award:
- The Uncompromising Lord Flint, Virginia Heath, Mills & Boon Historical
- Tell Me Your Secret, Dorothy Koomson, Headline Review
- The Butterfly Room, Lucinda Riley, Pan Macmillan
- Knowing You, Samantha Tonge, Canelo
- My Mother’s Silence, Lauren Westwood, Bookouture
The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award:
- The Girl at the Window, Rowan Coleman, Ebury Press, Penguin Random House
- The Ghost Garden, Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead, Totally Bound
- Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, Ruth Hogan, Two Roads
- The Hotel Where We Met, Belinda Jones, Independently published
- The Stone’s Heart, Jessica Thorne, Bookouture
The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award:
- Where the Story Starts, Imogen Clark, Lake Union, Amazon Publishing
- A Convenient Marriage, Jeevani Charika, Hera Books
- I Owe You One, Sophie Kinsella, Transworld
- Happiness for Beginners, Carole Matthews, Sphere
- A Summer to Remember, Sue Moorcroft, Avon, HarperCollins
- A Walk in Wildflower Park, Bella Osborne, Avon, HarperCollins
- Notting Hill in the Snow, Jules Wake, One More Chapter, HarperCollins
- Coming Home to Glendale Hall, Victoria Walters, Hera Books
The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award:
- The Hidden Women, Kerry Barrett, HQ Digital
- Becoming Mrs Lewis, Patti Callahan, Harper Inspire, HarperCollins
- Moonlight Over Mayfair, Anton Du Beke, Bonnier Books UK
- Bringing Down the Duke, Evie Dunmore, Piatkus (UK), Berkley Romance (USA)
- Meet Me in Monaco, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, HarperCollins/William Morrow
- The Light Over London, Julia Kelly, Orion Fiction
- The French Photographer, Natasha Lester, Little, Brown Book Group
- The Giver of Stars, Jojo Moyes, Michael Joseph
The Sapere Books Popular Fiction Award
- The Glittering Hour, Iona Grey, Simon & Schuster
- The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, Anstey Harris, Simon & Schuster
- The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary, Quercus Fiction
- Poppy’s Recipe for Life, Heidi Swain, Simon & Schuster
That’s a lot of titles for us to look up at the library, online and in bookstores. We look forward to seeing the romance novels you tweet.
Romance on Story of Books