The lunch this year has to be the best ever – so I’m going to be a bit presumptuous here and guess that I’m speaking for everyone who attended, because I’d like to say a very big thank you to all the committee members who worked so hard to organise everything and all those behind the scenes who made everything run so smoothly.
So, what can I tell you about it? When you have more than 250 people from the world of publishing all together in one room – especially when pink champagne is flowing – it gets pretty noisy. Lots of chatting, lots of laughing, lots of warmth.
What do you expect at the awards lunch?
Sartorial elegance, for a start. We know how to do shoes – and I give you exhibit (a), Julie Cohen. Absolutely gorgeous. (I thought I had a pic of Liz Fenwick looking really elegant, but for some reason I don’t – take it as read, she is the epitome of glam.)
Charm – and I give you exhibit (b), our speaker, Barry Norman. What a lovely man, and what a fantastic speech. How nice it was for a speaker to acknowledge what we do (and do well, even if I am blowing our collective trumpet). He also had us all laughing when he told us about the people who come up to him and say they could write a book, if only they had the time – as if time came in little lumps you could pick up here and there. (Don’t we know it?!)
Food – it is lunch, after all. So here are exhibits (d), (e) and (f) . Starter: trio of melon with a pineapple, chilli and coriander salsa. Main: pot roasted guinea fowl with a port wine jus, confit cabbage cake and fondant potato. Pudding: the RNA 50th anniversary dessert (chocolate tart, stem ginger, and best of all crème brulee served in a tube of white chocolate - my two absolute favourites together, there – so whoever created this, THANK YOU!)
The awards themselves – the whole point of the lunch. Many congratulations here - to all the winners and also to all those on the shortlist
RNA People's Choice: Louise Douglas with Missing You
RNA Love Story of the Year: Nell Dixon with Animal Instincts
RNA Lifetime Achievement Award: Maeve Binchy (who couldn't be with us but made a lovely video speech)
RNA Romantic Comedy of the Year: Jane Costello with The Nearly-Weds
RNA Lifetime Achievement Award: Joanna Trollope (pictured here with RNA president Diane Pearson)
Harry Bowling Prize: Debbie Johnson (there was a runner-up, but he was too shy to make a speech)
RNA Romantic Film of the Year: An Education (Lynn Barber, the writer of the book on which it's based, accepted the award)
RNA Romantic Novel of the Year: Lucy Dillon with Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts (very pleased for her as I LOVED this book - and I was charmed that she mentioned her dogs in her speech)
At the end of the lunch, M&B gave us a lovely goodie bag with a hardcover copy of 'Loves Me, Loves Me Not' and some chocolate (perfect combination, I reckon).
All in all, a wonderful day – and I for one can’t wait until next year.
Kate's latest book - THE DOCTOR'S LOST AND FOUND BRIDE