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…

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Part 11 – Losing the Plot

I realise from my research tool, The Greek Billionaire’s Love-Child’s Mother’s Revenge or whatever it’s called (no stepladders or clenched pages in that, so far, although it is pretty fruity), that tight plotting is essential for a bone fide Mills & Boone. In which case, we’re already losing the plot.

Today’s instalment is very good on internal conflict – a forensically perceptive analysis of the male psyche and the eternal question of the sexual urge, you could say. But I’m not sure it furthers the plot very far. And I’m not sure my train of thought is going to, either.

It could be something to do with the fact that neither of us has a clue about the storyline. That makes it great fun to write; I just hope it doesn’t impair the fun of reading it. I think I’ll throw in a mysterious reference in my next bit as a spur to our plotting creativity.

Part 11 (by Anna)

He lost all sense of time. His eyes, as blue as the Mediterranean that surged round his livid flesh, saw only inwardly. Almost furiously, his arms parted the pliant water, thrusting his body forwards and salting his set lips with foam. The beach, the hotel, his old life receded along with the Armani boxer shorts which crowned the reckless pile he’d flung onto the sands.

Ahead of him an eruption of milky white spray heralded a rocky outcrop. Cleft cleaved towards it. His strong arms, hardened by the years spent heaving breeze blocks around construction sites, did battle with the currents that tried to hurl him against the crags. Oblivious to all but the tempest that raged within him, he rode the swell, grabbed at a slimy overhang and, with a single mighty movement, hauled himself out of the water.

He lay there, breathless, foam drenching his body.

‘Damn!’ The word burst unbidden from him. ‘Damn, damn, damn!’

This wasn't supposed to happen. This searing, yearning, exposing flame that seemed to consume all within him except for the image of the lithe bronzed girl in the white sun dress. He hadn’t expected anything beyond a diverting hour or two when he had grabbed her passing shoulder. That triumphant chat-up line never failed to work. She had turned with the anticipation that he had foreseen and he had leaned forwards for the irresistible follow-up when his eyes locked into her molten brown ones and he had felt some secret part of him stir.

Too much sun probably. Get a grip. He’d watched her waver back across the sands to her hotel and hoofed it to the beach bar to calm himself. By next morning as he awaited his client at the base of the mountain he’d talked himself into believing that he’d imagined that sunset insanity.

But then she had appeared, fallen quite literally into his arms and at that moment he knew that the fun and games were over. This was it. And something had to be done about it.


  1. Now I re-read, the milky spray, the slimy protruberance and the swell sound a bit dirty. Can we substitute more seemly aquatic adjectives?

  2. No you jolly well can't; whatever first occurred to your dirty mind has to remain, otherwise we have no artistic integrity.