I was raised on the magic of the happily ever after. As a child, my parents fed me fairy-tales every night before bed – and I grew up believing with all my little heart that pumpkins turned into carriages, mirrors could speak and frogs were really handsome young men under spells. My favourite was Cinderella; I was enthralled by all the gorgeous details – the enchanted dress, the glass slipper, the ball – and of course, my very first crush, Prince Charming! Oh, he was just wonderful, and so perfect, and one day, he would sweep me away in his arms and carry me off to be his princess!
I’m sure I’m not the only little girl to fall for Prince Charming – and it doesn’t stop when we grow up. Real-life princes are swooned and sighed over. A few chaste kisses between Harry and Cressida – their first show of affection in public – are front page news. The wedding of Wills enraptured the nation. And we never lose our faith in finding our own prince and capturing some of that fairy-tale magic. I see my friends arduously trawling dating websites for the perfect guy, stressing over the perfect romantic trip, and then exhausting themselves planning the perfect wedding. As modern, emancipated women arguably with the world at our feet, why do we still hanker after the fairy-tale?
With royal-themed romances featuring every month, Mills & Boon explores this desire for a happy ever after and offers a glimpse into a world of princes and palaces. In Stolen Kiss from a Prince, (Cherish, April) Teresa Carpenter indulges us in our dreams. This intensely romantic story has all the elements of a fairy-tale romance – a handsome Prince, a stolen kiss, and a wonderful ball at the end. Blythe Gifford’s new historical duet, starting with Secrets at Court (March), focuses on the sumptuousness and splendour of Royal Weddings from history. And the Modern series offers Sheikhs and Sultans and Princes galore… But it’s not all about the fantasy. Stolen Kiss from a Prince examines themes of duty versus desire, and how a forbidden love affair with a prince can bring up the pain from your past you would rather keep hidden, while the heroine of Secrets at Court faces real peril in the dangerous royal court, despite the beauty of her surroundings. While the fantasy draws us in, these deeper themes keep us turning the pages to discover the secret passions behind the brittle façade of glamour – and to uncover the emotions of characters who live in such an intense world. Perhaps this is where the real magic of a Mills & Boon lies….
I realise now that my destiny is not a fantastical kingdom in the sky, and I’m not about to be rescued from the daily grind by a knight on a white charger. But fairy-tale romances – whether Brothers Grimm or Mills & Boon – have given me true hope in the happy-ever-after untainted by the harsh realities of life. It is this freedom of imagination and this delicate spark of optimism that has got me through the darkest of times. And this is why I’m not afraid to get lost in the world of a fairy-tale…
As well as being lucky enough to have found a vocation I love passionately – editing books! – I also have my very own real-life Prince Charming. He doesn’t have a castle or a kingdom or a crown – but he tells me that I’m beautiful (even in the mornings!), is infinitely patient when I’m in a grumpy mood, and he carries my heavy bags without complaint when I drag him around Topshop for the seventh time… In his own way, he makes me feel as worshipped as any princess on a golden throne.
So what makes your perfect Prince Charming? Is it ok to want the fairy-tale in this modern age? And how has fairy-tale romance helped you?
Over to you….