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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 15:50 GMT
Male contender for romance award
Nicholas Sparks
People magazine voted Sparks 'the sexiest author alive'
Best-selling US author Nicholas Sparks has been shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Sparks is only the fifth man to be nominated for the 10,000 award, which is now in its 46th year.

The novelist is nominated for his ghostly love story True Believer, alongside six female authors, including Britain's Erica James and Jojo Moyes.

Veronica Henry, Audrey Howard, Irish novelist Kate Kerrigan and Australian Ashleigh Bingham complete the line-up.

"Two world wars, three continents, suffragettes, ghosts and comedy - the settings and genres are so varied, there's something here for everybody who reads books for pleasure," said Jenny Haddon, chairman of the Romantic Novelists' Association.

The shortlisted works were chosen by members of the public from a record 211 entries.

Winds of Honour - Ashleigh Bingham
An Eligible Bachelor - Veronica Henry
As the Night Ends - Audrey Howard
Gardens of Delight - Erica James
Recipes for a Perfect Marriage - Kate Kerrigan
The Ship of Brides - Jojo Moyes
True Believer - Nicholas Sparks

Howard and Moyes have each won the award before; Howard in 1988 and Moyes in 2004.

Sparks has a popular following in the US, with three of his novels, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle adapted for the big screen.

A panel of judges, mainly from world of publishing, will chose the final winner, with the award set to be handed out at a ceremony in London on 20 April.

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