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…

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Part 26 – I’m a mediocrity, get me out of here

I can’t be doing with Topaz incarcerated. Not that I feel any great sympathy for her; in fact, I feel very little of anything for her, which I suppose is bad for an author to admit. It’s like saying you don’t love your own kids.

No, it’s because the more I can keep up the plot’s momentum, the sooner I can hand over the sexy climax to Anna and stop parading my inhibitions. So let’s get her out of there.

Part 26 ­(by Oliver)

And ‘dear Cleft,’ she thought, as she inscribed the address of the little inn where his hot kisses, his manly weight, had broken down her resistance at last. Yes, he had betrayed her by spreading the news of her father’s disgrace. But now, when all seemed to be lost, how she needed him! Needed him more deeply, more yearningly than before.

Then it had been his beauty she needed, with a yearning desire that still caused her to tremble. Then it had been his manly force, his difference from Terence, that drew her, tied her to him with gossamer webs of frightening strength. Now, though, there was so much more that Cleft could offer: companionship, humour, the assurance that all would be well. Before, she wanted him. Now she knew she needed him in the most profound way.

Topaz finished the letter, confident that her captor’s rudimentary English was no match for her script coursing fluidly across the paper. She was right. When the cab driver returned, buttoning his fly and scratching a foetid armpit, he squinted at the letter, then ‘Good,’ he said. ‘I go senda letter now. You no try moving.’ And he locked the door again before slopping off down the hallway to his cab, which stood outside the front door.

Dazed though she was, Topaz saw her chance. The door was out of the question, but there was the window...

Sinuously swinging her legs over the sill, Topaz jumped lightly onto the hard-baked ground beneath the window. Where was she? Where should she go? And how would Cleft find her?


  1. I hope she has a plan for dealing with the rabid dog, which will probably have biten through that frayed rope by now......

  2. Emmamay's right. I need to remember about the dog...But I'm not steering her towards a sexy climax you mucky boy!

  3. Well I'm certainly not either. And we can't have a romance without one. You're older than me so you know more.

  4. I can spot a subtle flaw with this situation. Readers are on tenterhooks waiting for the great love scene.......maybe you need to outsource those sections to another author!!