This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Part 10 – Research Findings

Anna and I have been doing some field research. This involved skimming through a stack of Mills & Boons in the British Heart Foundation shop in search of inspiration for the sex scenes that I, for one, am currently far too repressed to write.

We were particularly struck by one surprisingly (to us) graphic interlude involving a stepladder – whether a literal or metaphorical one we were unable to fathom. And I saw the evidence of a truly successful sex scene: the page was crumpled, as if clenched in a spasm of passion, and two pages were stuck together. We hastily dropped the book. But I know that’s what I must aim for.

So I hope that today my readers will be transported into amorous ecstasies by the manly ruthlessness of Cleft’s behaviour. Well, it’s a start…

Part 10 (by Oliver)

‘I’m not surprised,’ said Terence. ‘You’re still not well, dear. Look how much you’re perspiring, and your face is flushed. Let’s get you back to the hotel. Sorry, Stone; I’ll be in touch.’ And he helped Topaz off the rock.

Clinging to his arm, Topaz gingerly tried her weight on her twisted ankle. Immediately a shot of acid pain flamed up. With a moan, she slumped against Terence. But the moan wasn’t simply one of agony: it was a shudder of desire scalding through her veins and finding release the only way it could.

She clasped Terence tighter. ‘I must hold on to what I have,’ she thought, ‘to what is right.’

But even as she did so – even as she felt the narrow softness of Terence’s shoulder through the flimsy stuff of her dress and reminded herself of his chaste, respectful kisses – the heat of Cleft’s gaze burned behind her while he followed them to the jeep. Silently, he swung himself into the driver’s seat while Terence tenderly lifted Topaz into the back, puffing slightly, before sliding in beside her.

Cleft drove fast with no thought for Topaz’s injured ankle. The jeep rocked and pitched, and all the while Topaz saw his ice-blue eyes fixed on her in the mirror, glinting. With each jolt, each lurch, Topaz gave a gasp, a moan, a whimper, but Cleft, clench-jawed and purposeful, did not slow.

Pain and desire mingled, coursing through Topaz’s being like lava, so that by the time the jeep squealed to a halt at the hotel she was too weak to move. Her dress clung moist between her breasts, between her legs, and little beads of perspiration gleamed on her lip and forehead. And as two doormen helped Terence lift her into the cool foyer, Topaz swooned.

Cleft sat rigid in the jeep, the air heavy with the musky scent of his manliness, his face still set as if hewn from the very rock of the mountain. Without looking back, he slid the jeep forward and drove to the beach.

He strode to the water’s edge, scuffling the silver sand that only the night before had slid like liquid between his toes as he devoured Topaz with his gaze. Then, careless of the hour, unheeding of other people on the beach, he tore off his clothes in a frenzy of frustration and plunged into the glistening sea. The water lapped around his sinews, against the tautness of his body, and only then did he feel some relief, some cooling of his fervid ardour.


  1. Yep, that last scene will be a sure-fire Mr Darcy moment when they film it. Has anyone asked for the rights yet?

  2. Strangely, no. Which is galling, when you consider the rubbish that gets onto the screen these days.

  3. What a cliff hanger ... more please Mills and Boon Wannabe xxxxx