A piece in today’s Telegraph:
Let me tell you about some of the gorgeous men in my life. Men like Nicholas Andracas, whose clothes are “flimsy camouflage for the leashed power in the body beneath”. Or Ross Macauley, possessor of the kind of dark eyes to floor a lass with their “blaze of insolent interest”.
Such lantern-jawed sex gods – who by the way are richer than Croesus – shouldn’t really have a place in my life.
After all, I’m a respectable mother of four. I’ve been married for 30 years to Martin, a boyishly handsome chartered accountant whom I love to pieces.
And yet I can’t help but be magnetically drawn to improbably named men like Maxwell St Clair Vasco de Carhalho.
Though I must stress not in real life. Rather, these wickedly attractive billionaires live in a battered cardboard box up in the loft. It’s where I keep the countless Mills & Boon novellas I’ve been addicted to since first stumbling across the genre decades ago.
Ironically the genesis of my addiction sprouted from a reaction to spending three years studying huge tracts of “great writing” at breakneck speed when reading English Literature at university. I simply couldn’t stomach anything heavy after graduation.
Then, one lunchtime, while working as a trainee reporter in a Lancashire market town, I stumbled across dog-eared copies of Mills & Boon at the local book stall. I had a curious peek and the formula had me hooked: spirited virgin called Willow or Melody collides unexpectedly with alpha male. They bicker, resist, submit to grinding kisses and brutal stand offs. And then 10 chapters later, to nobody’s astonishment, they realise how much they mean to each other and live happily ever after.
Soon I found myself drifting to the book stall most lunch hours. Back in the office I’d consume Fragile Paradise or Velvet Promise over a cheese and tomato bap.
I did try, on a number of occasions, to write my own M&B. How hard could it be? But it seems I shared the impatience of my hero (Rex, a wealthy lawyer). By chapter two, Rex and my heroine Jacey, owner of dinky boutique, were clearly gagging for it – as the commissioning editor who rejected my magnum opus pointed out (in more polite terms). There needed to be more denial, more challenges, more of a fight against feelings.
I’ve long since returned to “good books”. But on a miserable evening when I`m bored by Netflix I’m drawn, like a reluctant lover, to those well-thumbed pages.
If anyone is around I might hide The Italian’s Convenient Mistress under Jude The Obscure. Though hang on. Those two might just work as a couple. Watch this space.
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