M&B Modern Heat Mini Reviews

by Sarah on June 7, 2010 · 16 comments

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?

{ 16 comments }

Lynn Spencer June 7, 2010 at 16:13

As a lawyer, I can tell you that this definitely does not make one a tycoon. It funds my book habit and keeps the cats from starving, but not exactly the stuff of Harlequin Presents lifestyles. :-)

I do rather like HP romances even though the gender role issues in them sometimes bother me a bit. I’ve liked several by Sara Craven, but you have to check her books out carefully. She has been known to do rapey heroes. One that I liked was His Forbidden Bride. I’ve also liked Natalie Anderson in the past, though it’s been a little while since I read any of her books, and I would also add Karen van der Zee(Marriage Shy is a book of hers that sticks in my mind) and Sandra Marton to my list. I haven’t read Marton’s 2010 release (Blackwolf’s Redemption), but it sounds promising. I liked her novel, The Sicilian Marriage, because the heroine called the hero on his super-alpha ways.

I also liked Memoirs of a Millionaire’s Mistress when I reviewed it for AAR. It’s not perfect, but I did enjoy it. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by pointing out that “Mistress” isn’t exactly the right word here either. HP must have some aversion to the term “girlfriend”.

Sarah June 7, 2010 at 16:39

@Lynn Spencer: LOL! Yeah, I figured the tycoon description was a bit exaggerated.

I’m pretty sure Sara Craven wrote the very first romance I ever read! Thanks for the author recs. I think the trick with HP books is to ignore the title and take the blurb with a pinch of salt.

Kimberly Lang June 7, 2010 at 16:47

I’m so glad you enjoyed the book!

You’ll be happy to hear that the titles have undergone some changes recently. My August UK release is called WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…, and my January UK book is GIRLS’ GUIDE TO FLIRTING WITH DANGER. I hope the folks who are slightly turned off by the “mistress” and “bought” type titles will be happy with the change!

Sarah June 7, 2010 at 16:55

@Kimberly Lang: Thanks for commenting, Kimberly! I find the Harlequin Presents/M&B Modern titles amusing, but your upcoming titles sound so much better. Are these changes meant to reflect the differences between Modern Heat and Modern Romance books?

Wendy June 7, 2010 at 17:26

Ooooh, that Lucy King book sounds good!

Kimberly Lang June 7, 2010 at 17:30

Modern Heat is really starting to find its feet within the line now (we’re a relatively new sub-set), and I think the new titles reflect that that new momentum. I know that come January, we get new covers and everything (at least in the UK) to really show we’re coming into our own. It’s very exciting to be a Modern Heat author right now!

I almost miss my Mistress titles — I had three of them in a row! — but I think the new titles “sound” more like me and my voice. I just hope that readers won’t get confused by the change in the titles and not realize it’s the same Modern Heat stories they love!

Liz June 8, 2010 at 01:27

I have seen some good reviews of Ally Blake; sounds like she’s writing in a similar vein (i.e. close to a Blaze, funny, not tycoonish). I think by Jessica at RRR and Dear Author. I have one in my TBR.

Keziah Hill June 8, 2010 at 03:43

Kelly Hunter! She writes great Modern Heat books. http://www.kellyhunter.net/
They’re called Sexy Sensation in Australia

Kimberly Lang June 8, 2010 at 05:53

If you’re interested, you can find a list of all the current MH releases (US, UK, and Australia) at http://www.sensationalromance.blogspot.com/. You’ll find links there to all of the MH authors there as well.

We also have a Facebook page. :-)

Sarah June 8, 2010 at 10:43

@Wendy: It is good! If you haven’t already seen it, Lynne’s review is more thorough than mine. We both gave it an ‘A’.

@Kimberly Lang: I’ve been using the M&B site to check out the Modern Heat books. Unless I’ve missed it, Harlequin Presents don’t seem to differentiate between the regular line and the MH subset. Thanks for the link! I’ll definitely check out that blog.

@Liz: I’ll look up Ally Blake. Thank you!

@Keziah Hill: Sexy Sensation? LMAO! Great name. I’ll be sure to check out Kelly Hunter’s books. Thanks!

Shelley Munro June 8, 2010 at 23:27

I really like Natalie Anderson’s books. I’ve enjoyed every one that I’ve read. I also agree with the Kelly Hunter recommendation. they’re Sexy Sensations here in New Zealand too.

Kimmie June 9, 2010 at 21:33

Hey have you checked out Harlequin’s digital publisher Carina Press? They have some interesting new books out now. You can find them on http://www.booksonboard.com

Sarah June 9, 2010 at 22:52

@Shelley Munro: I’ve added Natalie Anderson to my list. Thanks!

@Kimmie: Yes! Although I haven’t read any of the Carina titles yet. Are there any you’d particularly recommend?

Magdalen June 10, 2010 at 17:14

Lynn — I’m with you on the “how does a lawyer become a tycoon?” question. It can happen, but pretty much only by the lawyer doing non-lawyery things. Gerald Levin, the CEO of Time-Warner, is a fellow alum of my law school — now *he’s* a tycoon! But not because he reviewed contracts and did due diligence for all that time.

Don’t get me wrong: some lawyers make pots of money (plaintiffs’ class action lawyers for example, although no one in her write-mind would cast such a lawyer as a hero) and a lot of us are not-poor. (Some of us are, though — it’s just as erroneous to think there are no poor lawyers as it is to think there are tycoon lawyers.)

Marie Fararella had a super-rich lawyer hero in one book, as I recall — but it sounded like he’d had a hand in building a company up from nothing, so again he was being a non-lawyer when he made a lot of that money.

If anyone’s interested, I would say most “rich” lawyers can afford a weekend house on the beach but probably not the private Gulf Stream IV with a private pilot waiting for the phone call to have the plane waiting for a quickie trip to Paris for dinner…

Marilyn June 11, 2010 at 03:52

I had the pleasure of reading both Kimberly and Lucy’s debuts and I’ve become such a sincere fan. Both women are incredible authors…..I’ve read everything Kimberly has written and look forward to reading more of Lucy’s.

Sarah June 14, 2010 at 10:23

@Marilyn: I just bought Lucy King’s second book from the M&B website. It’s called ‘Propositioned by the Billionaire’. LOL! I remember when they were all millionaires in M&B romances.

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