The shortlisted works and their authors are:
L. Francis for Legally Bound, a ‘heartwarming story about a bank worker sent to a country town to issue loan-default notices, and the dairy farmer who refuses to be beaten’.
E. Ackers for Life for Rent, a ‘mesmeric story of love, loss, friendship, and the beauty that can be found in things remade’.
P. Janu for On the Same Page, about ‘a writer desperate to keep her identity hidden, and the man determined to expose her’.
E. Dean for Side Effect, a ‘passionate’ novel about ‘forbidden love and its dangerous repercussions’.
The winner will be announced in late January and will be published later in the year under Xoum’s romance and women’s fiction imprint, XO Romance.