Main characters – Myself; Mills & Boon novels; My Dad; School Library
As with all passionate love stories, my relationship with Mills & Boon novels or M&B’s, as they were popularly called, started on an antagonistic note. I was cruising along merrily on my reading path, happy with my Agatha Christie and Alistair Maclean, when I had to change schools in Class 9. Not a problem since I loved change in any form. The school was great, I got some fantastic friends and life was generally treating me well. So far so good. The first sign of trouble popped up on my visit to the school library, where I realised that not a Christie or Maclean was to be seen anywhere. But my eyes popped out of the sockets when I found that the vast majority of books were the dreaded M&B’s ! Being a teenager, every emotion was slightly exaggerated and at that time it was a tragedy of epic proportions. I survived for a couple of weeks on the non-romantic books. Then I re-read them for good measure. Alas, I had to succumb due to sheer desperation. I cannot survive without books and so it was time for abject surrender.
I borrowed my first M&B, Passionate Winter by Carole Mortimer, with a heavy heart and trembling hands, all the while lamenting my fate. I remember opening the book and that’s it; I was hooked ! There was no going back after that. I was in the world of Romance and what a marvellous place it was turning out to be. Brooding heroes who were strong and silent and yet amazingly soft hearted when it came to the love of their lives. Plucky heroines who thumbed their noses at society at large. I was not bothered by the general criticism that these novels had no connection to real life. I didn’t want any connection. It was the most glorious escape from reality and I revelled in it.
However, the path of my true love was fraught with obstacles, mainly the completely undesired activity called’studies’. How could I nurture this fragile relationship with M&B’s if I didn’t get time for it ? Then there was my dad. As in any historic love-story, my father was completely against this association.Whenever he saw me with an M&B clutched in my hands, there would be a look of utter horror on his face. How could his darling daughter read such ‘trash’ ? He could never understand my fascination for the humble M&B . Thankfully the relative sizes of my textbook and the M&B, helped me tide over this grim situation. I can confidently say that an M&B will fit perfectly within any textbook ! So our relationship progressed with me getting more involved.
One of the reasons I fell in love with them was the romance in these novels. Romance, that beautiful entity which is almost extinct today. A glance, a thought, the agony of waiting for an answer. Another reason for my tryst with M&B’s was the lovely descriptions of the places where the stories were set. I’ve been to the outbacks of Australia, frolicked in the brilliant green fields of Ireland, sipped strong coffee in a white house with a blue door in Athens, brushed the raindrops from my face in Dorset and Surrey and Cornwall, felt quite the traveller in the busy streets of Johannesburg and basked in the sunshine in lovely California. I wouldn’t call them exhaustive accounts of the places but they sure were very evocative descriptions.
How can I talk about M&B’s and not mention the heroes who were always tall, dark and handsome alpha-males orin layman’s terms, absolute hunks ! Brooding heroes with names like Rafe, Wolf, Raoul, Andre, Piers and Brad. I’m sorry but I don’t remember too much about the heroines except that a lot of them were feisty and adventurous, at least those were the kind of girls I used to like. The name of my favourite authors are still etched in my mind, Anne Mather, Violet Winspear, Charlotte Lamb, Yvonne Whittal, Emma Darcy, Betty Neels and Penny Jordan to name a few.
My dalliance with M&B’s continued for some more years until it slowly dawned on me that the nature of the books was changing. Romance was being replaced with lust. The story was disappearing and the number of pages containing explicit scenes was on the rise. After some botched attempts to adapt my way of thinking to the changing scenario, I just couldn’t continue any longer. The attraction had fizzled out and I was no longer excited by M&B’s. Th relationship had run its course and one day it was time to say good-bye. We have kept in touch. I try to read one a year but it’s not an enjoyable task at all. Now we are just acquaintances seeing each other in front of other books in the library. I’m totally over it and I’ve found closure 🙂