This week has been all about the trashy and it’s been great. A couple of weeks ago a nice man called Doug sent me an email asking if I’d like some Mills & Boon to read, my first thought was not for me, but on reflection I thought it might be fun. I’m not exactly a stranger to M&B – granny used to love them and it was my job to procure them for her. Back in the day her drug books of choice could be bought for 20p apiece of the market with an exchange system where you got 10p back for every book returned. I used to read them after her and must have got through scores of them.
Sadly that stall has gone but Mills and Boon still turn up everywhere and from time I like to gather together a pile and retire to bed for a day of hibernation. My preference is for the older models which read – well they can be a touch camp and unintentionally funny but the basic formula is very comforting. It’s a couple of years since I’ve had an M&B binge though, and I’ve always steered clear of the newer stuff so I wasn’t sure what to expect from these new ‘Riva’ models.
First up and in the interests of absolute honesty – the covers suck, I really don’t like them to the point that I Would Not Buy A Book That Looks Like This. Ever. I’m making this clear because I’m definitely part of the target market (female) and I always like to make my contribution to market research. I was sent two books – one rejoicing in the title of ‘Surf, Sea, and a Sexy Stranger’ (which I had low expectations of) and another called ‘Molly Cooper’s Dream Date’ which sounded vaguely promising. I got it wrong. Molly’s dream date is a banker and that’s not a fantasy I can go with. A chunk of it is also written as emails and I wasn’t feeling it.
‘Surf, Sea, and a Sexy Stranger’ however was far more entertaining than expected. True I still think that zones even if they are erogenous probably only sound sexy to planning officers, and wherever the author was going when she kept mentioning pebbled nipples I was ending up with visions of shingles or similar unpleasant ailments, but... Well it’s a big but – I didn’t stop reading once I’d started and I feel absurdly protective about this book. Like all good fantasy’s (girl meets handsome rich stranger, they have amazing sex and live happily ever after – and who hasn’t daydreamed about that from time to time along with winning the lottery) you feel sure it must happen from time to time – it rings true.
Mills & Boon have quite the history – which I don’t know very much about – but what has always fascinated me about these books is how on the one hand they’re incredibly disposable; cheap, easily available, easily digestible, and easily replaceable yet at the same time they endure. Copies 40 years old are still all over the charity shops and still being passed from woman to woman which says something. From time to time it makes a nice change from reading about surplus women and heartbreak – and to mark Valentine’s Day Mills & Boon are running a day of competitions. Tempting?