The very first romance novels I ever read were the equivalent of today’s Mills & Boon Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents. They generally featured moody millionaires and their simpering secretaries. I even attempted to co-write one with a friend when I was 15. Trust me, that is one manuscript which should never see the light of day!
It had been ages since I last read a M&B Modern/Harlequin Presents, but I was sufficiently intrigued by Super Wendy’s recent review of Kimberly Lang’s The Secret Mistress Arrangement to buy a digital copy from the M&B website. It’s part of the M&B Modern Heat line which is supposed to be spicier than the regular Modern Romances. Despite the silly title, the book is very good.
The success of The Secret Mistress Arrangement encouraged me to look for reviews of more Modern Heat titles. I struck gold in the archives of The Good, The Bad, and The Unread. Lynne Connolly’s review of Bought: Damsel in Distress by debut author, Lucy King, caught my eye and I bought a digital copy. The premise of the book is genuinely original and it made for an entertaining read.
Here are my mini reviews of both books:
THE SECRET MISTRESS ARRANGEMENT BY KIMBERLY LANG
Blurb: Time is money to dropdeadgorgeous tycoon Matt Jacobs. But when he meets beautiful Ella Mackenzie at his best friend’s wedding, he decides to break his rule and make the most of his week off work by spending it in bed with her!
Strong willed Ella doesn’t do sleepovers but Matt’s incredible lovemaking has got her hooked! So when their secret week between the sheets comes to an end, Ella finds herself accepting the sort of indecent proposal she never thought she’d consider….
My Thoughts: The blurb is rather silly, and the title is misleading. For a start, Matt is a lawyer. Does that qualify as a tycoon? Ella is his girlfriend, not his mistress. Anyway, if I had written the blurb, it would read something like this:
“Matt Jacobs is a successful lawyer in Atlanta. When he returns home to Chicago to attend his best friend’s wedding, he’s surprised by his instant attraction to the uptight maid of honour.
Ella Mackenzie was not intending to have a fling – least of all with sexy Matt Jacobs. Nonetheless, she finds herself agreeing to spend her last week in Chicago with him – in bed. Will their affair blossom into something more?”
Not as eye-catching as the original but certainly more accurate!
Ella and Matt are both real people and I found it far easier to relate to them than I did the tycoons and secretaries of old-style Harlequin Presents books. There are no TSTL moments, and Matt doesn’t attempt to control Ella with his wealth. In fact, had the book been slightly longer, it would have qualified as a Blaze.
I definitely plan to read more books by Kimberly Lang. B+
BOUGHT: DAMSEL IN DISTRESS BY LUCY KING
Blurb: As the official blurb contains a plot spoiler, here’s my summary of the story’s premise.
A baggage handlers’ strike has provided Emily Marchmont with the perfect excuse for not attending her ex-fiancé’s wedding in France. Her older sister, Anna, insists she needs closure and should attend. Emily is horrified when Anna presents her with a fait accompli: she’s auctioned her off online as a Damsel in Distress. The winning bidder has agreed to fly Emily from London to France on his private jet. Initially, Emily refuses to go along with the crazy scheme, but Anna manipulates her by revealing that the money is to go to a charity for research into maternal mortality, a cause dear to their hearts as their own mother died having Emily.
When Luke Harrison arrives to escort Emily to the airport, she’s literally struck dumb. He’s incredibly handsome and does his best to put her at ease in what is a rather awkward situation. Luke has no idea what possessed him to act on impulse and place a bid to escort Emily to France. He needs to go to Monte Carlo for work in any case, but he’s loath to admit that the picture of Emily in her skimpy green bikini stirred feelings in him which had been dormant since his wife died three years previously. When Emily impulsively asks him to be her plus one to the wedding, Luke finds himself agreeing. Needless to say, sparks fly, and it doesn’t take long before they embark upon a passionate affair.
My Thoughts: The online auction set-up sounds ridiculous but the author makes it work. I loved Lucy King’s writing style. She’s amusing and makes her characters come to life. Both Emily and Luke have baggage and I appreciated the fact that it doesn’t all disappear by the end of the book.
Luke is a more typical M&B Modern hero than Matt in The Secret Mistress Arrangement. He’s a wealthy fund manager with all the trappings that this entails. In a previous life, he might have been arrogant and domineering, but his wife’s death knocked it out of him. He’s spent the past three years immersing himself in his work so that he doesn’t have to deal with his grief.
Emily’s issues are less serious than Luke’s, but she also has some things to deal with before she can commit to him. Her fun-loving personality is the perfect foil for Luke’s serious demeanour.
Despite a few too many stops and starts to their relationship, I thoroughly enjoyed Bought:Damsel in Distress, and I plan to read more books by Lucy King. A-
A shopping tip for anyone interested in these titles: they are available in EPUB format on the Mills & Boon site, but only in PDF format on the eHarlequin site. It’s well worth checking both sites for special offers. I found a couple of interesting books in M&B’s £0.99 Clearance Sale, for example, and eHarlequin have different special offers each month. Even if the M&B site doesn’t specifically say that their ebooks are EPUBs, all the ones I’ve bought so far are. I get the impression that M&B started using EPUB as their standard ebook format earlier than eHarlequin.
Have you read any Mills & Boon Modern Heat romances? Which authors/books would you recommend?