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Kiss and Read Up – Romantic Novel of the Year Award Shortlist Announced

The Romantic Novelists’ Association has announced the shortlist for their 2009 Romantic Novel of the Year Award.  Qualifying works are romantic fiction first published within the UK during the current year.

The shortlisted books are:

Before the Storm by Judith Lennox

On an autumn day in 1909 wealthy young Richard Finborough catches sight of twenty-year-old Isabel Zeale at the harbour at Lynmouth in Devon. Her beauty captivates him. Aware of shameful secrets in her past, Isabel has no intention of letting anyone into her life, but Richard’s persistence and ardour eventually win him her trust – and her hand in marriage. The decades pass and Isabel and Richard raise a family through the turbulent times of the First World War and the 1920s. As her children reach adulthood, Isabel is convinced her secret is safe – until an old acquaintance emerges from the shadows, turning her world upside down. To protect the happiness of those she loves most, Isabel must find the courage to confront what came before, and live with the consequences…

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

Autumn 1928. The Kaiser-i-Hind is on route to Bombay. In Cabin D38, Viva Holloway, an inexperienced chaperone, is beginning to feel as though she’s made a mistake. Her advert in The Lady has resulted in three unsettling young charges to be escorted to India. Rose, a beautiful, dangerously naïve English girl is about to be married to the cavalry officer she has met a handful of times. Victoria, her bridesmaid, is determined to lose her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And overshadowing all three, the dangerously malevolent presence of Guy Glover. But nothing frightens Viva as much as her real reasons for the voyage: firstly to lead an independent, husband-less life, as a writer, and secondly to confront her own explosive past. Three potential Memsahibs with a multitude of reasons for leaving their homeland – but the cargo of hopes and secrets they carry can do little to prepare them for what lies ahead in India. From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites, to the ragged orphans on Tamarind Street, East of the Sun is an utterly engaging novel that will captivate readers everywhere.

Sophia’s Secret by Susanna Kearsley

When bestselling author Carrie McClelland visits the ruins of Slains Castle in Scotland to research her new book, she is unprepared for the magnetic pull the local area has on her. Enchanted, she rents an old cottage near the ruins and decides to set her new novel at the castle itself. History has all but forgotten the spring of 1708, when an invasion fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Realising one of her own ancestors, Sophia, lived around the same time, Carrie creates a fictional life for Sophia and makes her the narrator for events leading up to the Jacobite uprising. Soon, the characters of her book come alive with almost frightening intensity and Carried is shocked to realise that her fiction is closer to fact. Carrie comes to understand that a bond with her ancestor is providing her with Sophia’s memories and the two women have more in common than one might think.

Star Gazing by Linda Gillard

Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her forties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister. Marianne’s passionate nature finds solace in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, the man she encounters on her doorstep one winter’s night. Keir makes no concession to Marianne’s condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, yet oddly and touchingly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his island home on Skye, to ‘show’ her the stars?

Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

How can you know someone you’ve never met? Joyce Conway remembers things she shouldn’t. She knows about tiny cobbled streets in Paris, which she has never visited. And every night she dreams about an unknown little girl with blonde hair. When she leaves hospital after a terrible accident, with her life and marriage in pieces, she moves back in with her elderly father. All the while, a strong sense of déjà vu is overwhelming her and she can’t figure out why…

Justin Hitchcock is divorced, lonely and restless. He arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor who persuades him to donate blood. When he receives a basket of muffins with a thank you note, he is sure someone is playing a trick on him. But then a series of gifts begin to arrive. Intrigued and disturbed, Justin is determined to find out who is sending them. What he discovers will change his life forever.

The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer

The Last Concubine is the story of a shogun, a princess and the three thousand women of the women’s palace – all of whom really existed – and of the civil war that brought their way of life to an end. Growing up deep in the mountains of rural Japan, Sachi has always felt different, her pale skin and fine features setting her apart from her friends and family. When at the age of eleven she is swept off to the women’s palace in the great city of Edo, her life changes forever, and when she is chosen as the young shogun’s concubine, it changes even more. But Black Ships have come from the west, bringing foreigners, and as civil war erupts, Sachi has to flee for her life. Rescued by a rebel warrior, she finds unknown feelings stirring within her, but before she dare dream of a life with him, she must unravel the mystery of her own origins – a mystery that encompasses a wrong so terrible it threatens to destroy her.

Need even more romance in your life? Check out AbeBooks’ Valentine’s feature.

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