From the very beginning, Mills & Boon has been noted for its diversity of desire – whether that’s some of the first instances of cunnilingus in mainstream fiction, or the introduction of sex before marriage at a time when it was a taboo topic in society.
These books are about pleasure for women, written by women. It’s why we love them so. And it’s fascinating to see how that expression of love has developed.
So this month, I’m looking at three international Mills & Boon Modern books, and looking at the different ways that desire, and specifically sex, can be diverse within even the same line!
Books in the Mills & Boon Modern line aren’t really erotica, even though they often have explicit sex scenes in them, and they can’t even be classed as erotic romances. The sex occurs as a natural progression of the narrative, not the other way round; whereas erotic romances are often described as sex driving the conflict between the characters and being the cause of the blossoming romance.
The other plus point about each of these books are their heroines; yes they have the uber sexy Alpha male hero, but their women are strong and smart and sexy, and have their own careers. They may swoon in the bedroom, but they’ll be damned if they’ll be a walkover outside of it.
Modern novel – The Man to Be Reckoned With – is the first of these novels. An interracial romance between a hard-hearted hero and the daughter of his father’s mistress, both Riya and Nate are strong and stubborn characters whose internal complexities are what drive the story.
Riya’s determined to reunite Nate with his father and Nate’s just as determined to have nothing to do with the man. Of course, there are sparks between the two of them, as well as blisteringly hot chemistry, and of course there’s the added complication of business.
Desire-wise, it’s right up there in the heat stakes, though there’s no rushing into sex with these two, and the continued fighting of their own desires is what drives the plot as their attraction to each other sparks with their internal conflicts over family.
It’s got a gorgeous HEA and is the perfect example of how to write a contemporary, diverse, interracial romance, without making a big deal of the fact.
Playing by the Greek’s Rules, Sarah Morgan’s latest Modern novel takes us across the sea to Greece, a popular setting with the line. What isn’t quite so normal is the heroine’s profession; Lily’s a student archaeologist, specialising in Minoan remains, as well as being a creative herself. And she’s working both as a cleaner and as an office intern to put herself through college. Self-reliant, independent and delightfully optimistic – the perfect contemporary heroine.
Nik, on the other hand, is a pretty ruthless businessman, who has a far more cynical view of the world, and especially of romance. The two of them embark on an affair that’s supposed to be Lily’s initiation to rebound sex – a proof that you can have sex with completely unsuitable without falling in love!
There’s an incredible ‘angry sex’ scene and the passion between the two of them underscores the idea that opposites attract. Of course, as the novel progresses, Lily begins to realise that Nik isn’t quite as unsuitable as she first thought, and it becomes incredibly heartwarming.
I’m a bit of a sucker for romance set in Greece – I blame an incredible holiday spent with the most wonderfully welcoming family – and this is no different. Plus, it stars a character from Puffin Island – the setting of Sarah’s new ST series, out later this year
And finally, let us jet off to Australia, where Avril Tremayne’s first Modern book – The Millionaire’s Proposition – is set. Scott meets Kate at a do organised by his friends and there’s instant attraction; attraction Kate initially tries to deny due to the age difference between the two of them. Scott, on the other hand, couldn’t care less that she’s older than him.
What follows is a clash of temperaments and intentions as the divorce lawyer and the architect end up clashing, fusing together and burning up every room they enter. They’re both fine with having sex but neither of them have room for romance or love in their life, so Kate draws up a contract to set out some ground rules that covers everything from roleplaying to PDA.
But as their sex life heats up, there’s a challenge as they both begin to feel emotions they had no intention, or indeed wish, to feel.
I love it when heroines are as strong and as their male counterparts, and I adore the fact that Kate’s career is just as important to her as it is to most modern women. Plus it’s fabulous to see Avril make her Modern debut in the Sydney’s Most Elible… series alongside other ModernTempted alumni Joss Wood, Stefanie London and Jennifer Rae!
So, what do you think about heat levels in the Modern line? Do you like to see that chemistry consummated?