After a tense couple of hours, the skies cleared, the wind dropped and Calmac declared that the MV Caledonian Isles would depart. Twelve hours later (the joys of flying Easyjet!) I checked in to the New Cavendish Club in London, unpacked and started to worry that my outfit was the wrong colour. (Or was it my hair that was the wrong colour?…)
The following morning I met Trisha Ashley, fellow short-listee (Every Woman For Herself). Barbara Taylor Bradford was also short-listed with A Woman of Substance, but she lives in New York and wasn’t attending.
So then it was mingling time… I was handed a glass of champagne but I can't say I tasted it. This is how nervous I was: when they were offered, I said “No” to a tray of Danish pastries. But everyone liked the colour of my Oska top and said it suited me. (Memo to self: fix hair colour.)
I introduced myself to the Woman’s Weekly reader who’d won a trip to London. She said she’d read all three short-listed books, but had actually voted for Victoria Hislop's THE ISLAND. Moving swiftly on, I gave her a signed copy of STAR GAZING, just to show there were no hard feelings.
Announcement time… OhGodOhGod… And the winner is… STAR GAZING!
A beaming Katie Fforde, Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, presented me with the star-shaped crystal trophy and looked on while I improvised an incoherent speech, short on wit and long on gratitude. Applause, flash bulbs, refills… Dizzy with happiness and champagne, possessed of a sudden, ravening hunger, I looked round for that magnificent selection of Danish pastries. Gone. Only crumbs left to bear witness to their brief existence.
Clutching my empty glass and my star trophy, I concluded that you can’t win them all.
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