When I mention that I am reading a Mills & Boon novel, people generally react with a sneer and some disparaging remark. I honestly don't get it and I think it ties in nicely with my chain of thought lately around why people won't just let other people read what they want.
Firstly, any negativity towards Mills & Boon as a franchise is not founded on anything other than pure disdain.
Some fast facts about Mills & Boon to put you into perspective:
- The company was founded by Gerald Mills and Charles Boon in 1908. This means that, in its various incarnations, Mills & Boon has been around for 110 years!
- The brand grew to such an iconic status that a Mills & Boon title was added to a time capsule in 1982 to mark the 60th anniversary of the BBC.
- Mills & Boon was added to the Oxford English Dictionary and is defined as a "romantic story book" in 1997.
- They are the world's leading publisher of romance fiction.
- Each month, Mills and Boon publish 120 titles and currently represent an author base of 1500.
- Every five seconds, there is a new Mills & Boon purchased in the UK.
- Presently, Mills & Boon / Harlequin is owned by and run as an imprint of HarperCollins.
What baffles me that, in spite of Romance being the top-selling genre in the world, how many people react so negatively towards it. Personally, I think this is why it does particularly well on eReaders. Because those who love it don't have to make it obvious what they are reading and can happily sit in public and pretend they are reading the latest Dan Brown or something even more pompous.
Random Stranger: What are you reading?
Romance Reader: Oh, ah... Waiting for Godot.
And that is the point where Romance Reader sends a small prayer that the Random Stranger hasn't actually read the book mentioned and won't ask any further questions.
Not that I am that reader, of course. I openly read 50 Shades of Grey while eating my sushi dinner.
There really should be nothing shameful in enjoying some fun romance. Mills and Boon, especially. They are designed to have happy endings. The reader knows that, no matter what strife the couple may encounter, at the end of 200 pages, the couple are either wed or soon to be anyway. You are guaranteed that, even if nothing else in life works out, a Mills and Boon always will.
So I can see you skeptics out there asking me about them then being predictable. Well... yes. They are. But that is not why people love them. It's all about the journey you take with these two characters and experiencing how their relationship blossoms. Their first kiss and their first night together.
It doesn't matter if someone is single or in a happy relationship, either. There is a simple, comforting joy in picking up a Mills & Boon and escaping for a few hours. Some say that this can be problematic as it places unrealistic expectations on real relationships, but I disagree. It's escapism, pure and simple. It just gets critiqued far more than other forms of it.
My first experience with Mills & Boon was picking up a pile of second-hand books from a charity store and binge-reading them over summer holidays. Admittedly, this was a good 15 years ago and the books were significantly less racy, however my teenaged self still got flutters!
There is also a Mills & Boon for every kind of reader, with specialized imprints so you know right anyway what to expect from the story.
These imprints have changed over the years, but the ones currently found are:
- Modern - classic themes featuring strong, alpha-male heroes. This is the line to check out for millionaires, playboys, secret babies and more.
- True Love - focusing on the heroine, these books feature feel-good themes with sweet and captivating romances.
- Medical - relatable characters in a medical setting, these feature Doctors, drama and, of course, romance!
- Historical - including anything from ancient civilizations up to and including World War II, this imprint offer longer reads with sweeping stories.
- Dare - steamy reads with a strong connection between the characters.
- Heroes - crime and mystery provide the backdrop to romance in these action-filled books.
If I have given you an urge to try out the new, revamped Mills & Boons, they are available at select CNA and Pick and Pay stores or via subscription on www.millsandboonbookclub.co.za.
Stay tuned to the blog for reviews of some of the latest titles!