I went the the RNA's annual Pure Passion Awards. A new venue this year - One Whitehall Place, which is connected to the Royal Horseguards Hotel on the Embankment. It's a beautiful building, inside and out, and I've always thought it looks like a rather French fairytale castle:
It has the most amazing oval marble staircase too:
Before the awards ceremony proper there was a champagne reception in the Reading & Writing room, with wonderful views across Whitehall Gardens to the Thames. It's a wonderfully ostentatious bit of Victorian interior design, complete with sparkling chandeliers, tiled columns and a vast mural:
We sipped champagne and chatted, surrounded by tables stacked high with the shortlisted books:
Here's Love Story of the Year shortlisted author Abby Green with fellow M&B author Heidi Rice:
At 4.30pm we moved through to the Gladstone Library, where the awards were going to be presented. More chadeliers. More beautiful tiled pillars. And the library of one's dreams, with a staircase leading up to an upper level with even more books. (Well, actually, the books are replicas, but we don't want to mention that and spoil the fantasy, do we?)
Rather than doing a long spiel I thought I'd let my pictures do the talking for me. Presenting the awards this year was Timothy Bentwick, better known as David Archer from the much-adored BBC radio drama The Archers:
And the award winners are...
Lifetime achievement awards went to both Penny Jordan and Josephine Cox:
The winner of the Love Story of the Year was Louise Allen for The Piratical Miss Ravenshurst:
Elizabeth Chadwick won the Historical Novel Prize with To Defy A King:
The Romantic Comedy Prize was won by Jill Mansel for Take A Chance On Me:
And, finally, the Romantic Novel of the Year was The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes - a very popular win, it seemed!
A very exciting and glamorous afternoon, it has to be said. Even a trip to the Ladies was an experience! I nipped out after the awards had been presented and found the room I was looking for at the top of a narrow spiral staircase. I opened the door and said, very loudly, "Oh, my goodness!" I kid you not, the floorspace of this place was bigger than the whole ground floor of my house.
You can tell I don't get out much if I get all excited about football pitch-sized washrooms and little towels you throw in a laundry hamper instead of air blowers, can't you?
And then it was time to socilaise some more and then wend my way home. I'll leave you with a view over the Thames from the Reading & Writing Room (and, no, that's not the mother ship decending over London on the left of the picture; it's just a reflection of one of the chandeliers).