I first began reading Mill's & Boon romances in 1976 when I moved from the country to go to boarding school in Brisbane. An only child, I found the exigencies of boarding school life extremely stressful. It was only natural that I turn to drugs. My drugs of choice were the Mill's & Boon romances I could purchase at Woolworths at four for a dollar. Five dollars could give me quite a stash. As time went on I became a three a day addict and I loved it. Authors like Elizabeth Ashton and Elizabeth Hunter, Sara Seale, Anne Hampson, the rather daring Anne Mather and a new American author by the name of Janet Dailey. These and the many other regular writers became my daily diet and some books I still remember with great fondness.
Over the years as social mores and authors change Harlequin/ Mills & Boons have changed too. Some changes I love and others I'm not so sure about. Wanting to talk about these changes is one of the main reasons I decided to start this blog. I will admit straight away that I'm rather an old fashioned reader so many people might not agree with my views. I'm happy to debate them in a straight forward respectful manner. But I will also state my opinions clearly and at times be quite opiniated. It's my nature and the nature of blogs. After all aren't most blogs designed to express opinions?
The title of the blog is 'A Pleasant Book.' I have some lovely vintage hardcovers with the statement in print across the back cover 'such pleasant books'. Inside the cover is the following declaration above a sketch of a smiling woman. 'I always look for the "Mills & Boon" when I want a pleasant book!"
The screed goes on to say 'Your troubles are at an end when you choose a Mills & Boon novel. No more doubts! No more disappointments! A Mills & Boon will give you hours of happy reading.'
With the many changes over the decades since then I'm wondering if that statement is still accurate. What exactly constitutes a pleasant book and happy reading? What are the right ingredients to maximise the happy ending? Do women really want something different from romance than they did decades ago? What constitutes a hero and even more importantly considering the bulk of readers are women, what constitutes a heroine?
As I discuss these issues I will refer to books as I read them. Some will be vintage books dating back to the earliest I have which were written in the thirties. Others will be current modern issues from the Presents/Modern range and Sweet/Romance. I don't read many of the other imprints so will not comment unless something comes to my attention I'd like to discuss about them.
A warning to readers of the blog. There will be spoilers. I will name any books discussed at the top of the blog post so you can choose to continue reading if you aren't worried about spoilers. Otherwise you can go and read the books and then come back and see if you agree. Many vintage books as well as more current out of print ones are available on www.ebay.com and www.abebooks.com and of course www.amazon.com . Current books are available on www.harlequin.com including over 2000 old 1990's books that are being reissued gradually as ebooks. www.millsandboon.co.uk also have current issues and ebooks.
I hope you will join in the discussion. The romance genre has been looked at askance by intellectuals and social commentators. But the millions of women who read them every day can't all be wrong. If we are then perhaps we will enjoy being wrong together, in a very pleasant way.