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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Author James romances book award
Erica James
Erica James' other novels include The Holiday and Paradise House
Best-selling author Erica James has won the prestigious Romantic Novel of the Year Award - at her fifth attempt.

Gardens of Delight, the 46-year-old's 11th novel, took the prize ahead of Nicholas Sparks and two former winners, Audrey Howard and Jojo Moyes.

Four of James's past books - Airs and Graces, Act of Faith, Precious Time, and Love and Devotion - have previously been shortlisted for the annual award.

James received a 10,000 cheque at an awards lunch at London's Savoy Hotel.

"The award is for the book rather than the author," said Jenny Haddon, chair of the Romantic Novelists' Association.

"But it is particularly pleasing that this year's award goes to Erica James, who has been shortlisted four times before."


Published in 2005, Gardens of Delight involves members of a village garden club who find romance while on a tour to the celebrated gardens around Lake Como.

"We were looking for a romantic novel of high quality and were unanimous about our winner," according to the judging panel, chaired by physician Dr Susan Horsewood-Lee.

The FosterGrant Reading Glasses Romantic Novel Award began in 1960 to "recognise excellence in romantic fiction".

The shortlist was picked from a record 211 entries selected by members of the public.

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