Mills & Boon has revealed drama teacher and public speaker, Courtney Hayles, as the winner of its Man of the Year 2016 competition.
The Londoner (pictured below) will feature as the cover star of Mills & Boon's book titled It Had to Be You, containing two "irresistibly romantic and page-turning" stories by authors Barbara Hannay and Nikki Logan, which will be out on 28th January 2016.
The celebrity judges for the cover competition included Robin Windsor from Strictly Come Dancing's "It Takes Two", "Loose Women" star Denise Welch and Hello! editor Rosie Nixon, who felt that Hayles "perfectly demonstrated the qualities and attributes necessary for a Mills & Boon hero" with his "undeniable good looks, shining personality and unfaltering commitment to all things romance".
It Had To Be You will also include special bonus pictures of Hayles who has "clear views on being a modern day Mills & Boon hero".
“The modern day hero isn’t about Prince Charming good looks, fame or money," Hayles said. "Today’s hero can be complex, with challenges and struggles but he has a good heart, a sense of humour and a strong character. Best of all, he’s a true friend who you can rely upon. I am delighted that the judges saw those traits in me and that I have the chance to represent the Mills & Boon hero for millions of readers worldwide.”
Mills & Boon received hundreds of entries from men of all ages across the UK and over 4,000 votes for the shortlisted contenders when it launched Man of the Year in October 2015.
Nixon said: “Man of the Year was the dream job for me and Courtney is certainly setting the bar high. All the judges loved his fabulous attitude and undeniable charm which makes him the perfect cover star for Mills & Boon.”
Executive publisher at Harlequin, Lisa Milton, added: “At Mills & Boon we consider ourselves to be the home of romance, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate romantic heroes than to find our own real-live version. I hope Courtney’s success in this fantastic competition inspires men of the UK to unlock and fulfil their romantic hero potential in 2016!”