I know, I know, I know. I’ve thrown away my – hopefully good – taste in books and settled for a trashy novel. I’m no longer a Mills & Boon virgin.
Publisher: Mills & Boon
First Published: 2009
Date Reviewed: 4th November 2010
When I was a young teenager, and asked an adult about Mills & Boon, a publisher I’d heard of, the response was less than positive. I was told that they produced the worst books, riddled with sex, and were completely pointless. I took it to heart, but ever since I’ve been meaning to rebel, because the opinion had been so awful I just had to see what was so bad, and having a laugh at a cheesy book sounded a fun idea.
So when I found out that Mills & Boon were providing free ebook downloads of some of their titles I acted the wanton lass and downloaded them all so that I’d have a number of novels to choose from. I wanted the most sex-laden book possible without breaking the barrier into full-on erotica. Downloading was good, because no way in heck was I going to walk up to a counter in a bookshop with a seedy-looking book in tow.
Out of the 12 I chose to read Hunter’s book, lured by the bright cover image (different to the one shown in this review). It sounded the least dodgy and relatively cheese-free. The plot was thus:
Gabrielle left France unwillingly when she was caught kissing her mother’s boss’s son (the heir to his family’s castle and wine industry). Her mother, the housekeeper, believed Gabrielle’s association with a man of a far higher social class unbecoming. But now Gabrielle is back, and she never had managed to get over her feelings for Luc. It’s quite possible that he never got over her either.
I was very surprised that it took so long to get to the sex. There I was expecting it soon and expecting it rampant and instead by page 50 Hunter was still trundling along detailing vineyards and the wine business. I went to make a coffee. Whether this is usual for the genre I have no idea, but I did start to wonder if this would be any “worse” than an Elizabeth Chadwick novel, where the sex is passionate but the history equally important. When the sex did finally arrive it was steamy, and actually not all that different to a regular fiction book. There was little to cringe at and the basis of the relationship was an all-consuming and true love.
Which brings me to the writing; it was quite good. Again I was surprised, and very happy to find no spelling mistakes whatsoever, which is more than can be said for most mainstream fiction. The plot was well developed and there was plenty of information about what goes on backstage in the wine industry (and no, I’m not meaning sex).
There were a good few issues covered; one that was explored in detail was the relationship between Gabrielle and her mother. The social standing of the people didn’t make me feel separated from the story; it was simply that they just happened to have money. The characters were solid and although there wasn’t sufficient time to really get to know who they were, the details were ample enough.
So yes, I’ve been shocked at my foray into this genre, but I’m aware that my previous opinions gained from hearsay may have been too harsh anyway. Maybe I didn’t really know what Mills & Boon were about.
The cover of my copy was scandalous but in fact this is a story of people who could never love anyone else the way they love each other. I wouldn’t recommend it as something you should make a point of reading, but if you happen to come across it and have nothing else to do I’d say it’s not such a terrible use of time.
November 22, 2010, 7:37 pm
Ha, I like that you read this one to rebel! I’ve never read a romance-type novel all the way through, but I’ve gotten the highlights. My good friend found one from the 1980s while we were on vacation a few years ago, and she would read me the funny bits so we could giggle. The writing in the one we read was pretty terrible, but from what I’ve heard (and your review confirms this!), they aren’t all so bad! Glad you had fun playing the rebel.
Charlie: Yes, hearing the highlights is often better! I’m ashamed to say I enjoyed the rebellion and findings so much that I might read another. I think I’d have to opt for the same author though because the other ones I downloaded, on flicking through, do look a bit cringe-worthy. I figure as long as I’m keeping up with Austen and the Brontes it won’t look so bad. I hope.