It was cancer. We'd known she had 'boring tummy trouble' for quite a while, but no one had any idea how serious it was. She hadn't wanted it widely known, because she didn't want to be treated any differently to normal.
Penny always knew what she wanted. She was a perfectionist in her home and in her writing and in the wonderful parties that she threw. She was also modest and unassuming. These twin facets of her character were reflected in her funeral and the gathering that followed. There must have been something like two hundred people in the very handsome St Mary's Church, Nantwich. Wintry sun flooded through the stained glass to light up the brickwork with unexpected colour. Everyone in their best - not necessarily black - as Penny had asked. There were family, friends, neighbours, writers, editors, publishers, representatives of the RNA, of her local chapter and email groups, other people Penny had worked with over the years.
And then afterwards at the elegant restaurant she often went to, with good food, good wine, good company.
I believe she was with us, slipping in between the guests, just checking all was well. Rest in peace, Penny. You will never be forgotten.
Penny wrote as Penny Jordan for Harlequin Mills&Boon and as Annie Groves for HarperCollins. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement star by the Romantic Novelists' Association in 2011.