RONA Awards 2022 Celebration Drinks with… Sarah Mallory


I’m delighted to be launching my month-long celebration of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel Awards 2022 with a special edition of my Friday Night Drinks feature and by welcoming award nominee, Sarah Mallory, to the blog. Sarah has been short-listed in the Shorter Romantic Novel Award category for her book, Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount.

Sarah Mallory, Shorter Romantic Novel, Romantic Novel Awards 2022

Sarah, welcome back to the blog and congratulations on your nomination. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for inviting me again! I thought I would celebrate tonight with a Kir Royale. For the fruit, you understand; the berry in the bottom of the glass! I might have to have more than one, though…

Yum. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Well, if we were in a big town it would have to be posh frocks and heels for a swish restaurant, then maybe a cocktail bar. As I now live in the wilds of Scotland it would be more informal. Jumpers and jeans, maybe, and at the local pub: beamed ceilings, a long bar room with a log fire at each end and lots of tables where we can sit and natter.

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Ooh, that’s a hard one! I think Hugh Jackman would be good company: he makes great films and has a wicked sense of humour. And I love musicals so we could talk about that, if all else fails! As for a female…well I would love to have met P D James. I really enjoy her writing. When I am deep into writing a book I cannot read historicals, in case it confuses my own “voice”, so crime novels are a good way to relax. It would be great to discuss writerly matters with her and learn from her experience.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

After completing three books set in the Scottish Highlands (the final one, The Laird’s Runaway Wife, will be published later this year), I was keen to get back into Regency England. I had an idea for a lost heir story and I am deep into that now. I have set this one in Yorkshire and it should reach it’s happy ending, complete with snow, on Christmas Eve – at least, that’s where I want it to go, since you ask, but you know what characters are like, they develop a life of their own!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Proudest moment, to be honest, every time I finish another book I feel enormous pride in the achievement. Then seeing it on the shelves. Oh, and getting a good review, that always raises my spirits. And something that always makes me feel really good is when someone says my book has helped them through a bad patch of some kind, that it has given them a little escape from their problems. That always makes me feel that what I am doing is worthwhile.

But my proudest moment this year has to be reaching the finals of the Romantic Novelist Association’s Awards. When I learned that Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount was on the short list for the Shorter Romantic Novel this year I admit I did a little dance of joy! It’s a fairytale Regency that I wrote between books 2 and 3 of my Highland trilogy and I just love the characters: Carenza is such a kind, strong woman and Ross is a damaged hero who wants to protect her but he is struggling with his own demons. Together they overcome their problems and find love along the way (**contended sigh**)

Finalist Sarah Mallory 2022

Biggest challenge? Well, since my love-at-first-sight romance with Scotland there has been house selling, hunting and buying to deal with, plus the actual moving, and at the same time I was contracted to write two books a year. That was challenging, but nowhere near as bad as the pandemic. Lockdown might have given me plenty of WFH time, but there was the constant worry about everything and everyone. However, it became very clear that people wanted books, needed them to escape from life for a few hours, and that was a tremendous spur.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I love creating my historical romances and I just want to continue writing (and publishing) them until the ideas run out. I have over 30 published with Mills & Boon at present and would love to make it to 50 with them. Who knows?

What do you have planned that you are really excited about?

Next year I have a big birthday and wedding anniversary to celebrate and we are planning a road trip through Spain and Portugal: sun, sea, castles and the Peninsular War battlefields (naturally). It will take some planning, but that will be half the fun.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list, things just turn up. Like moving to the Scottish Highlands. In 2015 we hadn’t even considered the idea, then we did a tour of Scotland and fell in love. Who would have thought that by the end of 2018 we would be living by the sea in the far northwest? And we love it, even when the weather is at its most savage! I think Wester Ross is the most inspiring place I have ever lived (and Pennines, where I lived for nearly 30 years, was a close second, I can assure you!). It is very remote and wouldn’t be for everyone – almost 70 miles to the nearest big supermarket, but the views en route make it worthwhile!

It look so beautiful, I love Scotland. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I have been through 2 MRI scanners – voluntarily! It was a huge surprise to me that I could do it. I am a tad claustrophobic you see; small spaces and being held down send me into a panic, but last year I had the opportunity to take part in a health screening study that involved body and brain scanning. I told the staff I might not be able to do the MRI bit and they were lovely, no pressure to do it but they encouraged me to give it a go. I can’t say I enjoyed it but I managed not to press the panic button! Now I know that if I have a serious health problem and need to have a scan I should (should) be able to do it. Until now I really thought it would be a total no-go, however important, healthwise. Maybe by sharing that here, it might help someone else who is scared witless by the idea.

I’ve been through an MRI twice as well, although not voluntarily! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Only one? Oh dear, there are so many! I do have one must-read author though, Milly Johnson. I know it is past the festive season but I loved I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day – pure romance and Christmas magic (indulgence without calories!)


It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…
Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?

I listened to this on audio at Christmas and absolutely loved it! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

The only failsafe is not to drink too much alcohol! I try to have a sparkling water or two in between glasses of wine, but I have had enough hangovers to know that plenty of water and painkillers are the only way. And rest, of course, if you can manage that. Not always easy if you have a young family.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

I shall need a lie-in after all those glasses of bubbly! So, brunch with family or friends, maybe, then perhaps a walk along the beach, if the weather is fine (we took a walk during a break in the storms recently – there’s a picture somewhere – and you can just see Skye on the horizon). Then it would be everyone back to ours to sit in front of a roaring fire and relax. Perfect.

rough seas

Sounds ideal! Sarah, thanks again for joining me and I wish you huge luck in the awards when the winners are announced on 7 March. I can’t be at the ceremony myself this year but I’ll be glued to Twitter to see as the winners are revealed!

Sarah’s shortlisted novel, Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount is published by Mills and Boon and is available now in paperback and ebook formats and you can buy a copy here.

Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount UK

An imperfect proposal…

But a perfect match?

Major James Rossington, Viscount Austerfield, survived Waterloo, but can he survive the Season as London’s most eligible bachelor? Convinced his battle scars make him unlovable, and to escape Society’s matchmakers, Ross proposes a wedding in name only to shy, sensible Carenza Bettridge. Liberated from her cruel stepmother and bullying half-sisters, she blossoms into a confident, altogether desirable woman. He promised Carenza a convenient marriage, but inconveniently finds himself wanting more…

Sarah Mallory is an award-winning author who has published more than 30 historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon. She loves history, especially the Georgian and Regency. She won the prestigious RoNA Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013. Sarah also writes romantic historical adventures as Melinda Hammond.

After living for many years high on the Yorkshire Pennines, Sarah moved to the Scottish Highlands in 2018 and now lives by the sea, enjoying a whole new adventure.

Connect with Sarah:


Facebook: Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory

Twitter: @SarahMRomance


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