Well I honestly haven’t been sulking all that time: my lengthy absence from these pages is for a ‘proper’ reason and I was going to describe it vaguely as ‘personal’ but starting a blog where you admit to reading and aspiring to writing Mills and Boon romances is as personal as you can get! So basically, my dear grandma, who has not been well for a long time, fairly suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. Therefore, I haven’t really felt like keeping up with the New Voices Competition or doing any writing of my own because everything always seems a little futile and meaningless immediately after a significant death, doesn’t it?

On the day of the funeral I met a man who came along to pay his respects at the wake. He worked driving the community mobile library around the rural area in which my grandparents live; this service being particularly aimed at elderly people with limited mobility like my gran. The library man had some lovely stories about the many times he’d stopped in for a cup of tea and my grandma had spoken about different aspects of her life, some of which were news to me and my dad. It was wonderfully touching to hear a stranger talk so affectionately about my gran and to admit he was compelled to break the library rules for her! I always knew she enjoyed Mills and Boon; she gave me my first book when I was a teenager and I was hooked from then on. It is basically because of her that I am even writing this blog now. 

Back to gran  – so rapacious was she as a Mills and Boon reader that the usual limit of library books was exceeded every week: grandma got through 14 Mills and Boon a week! What a legend! That is my gran for reading them and the library man for flouting the rules in order to supply them! His hushed admission about this has inspired me to persevere and dedicate my first published work to Dorothy, my grandma and it seemed fitting to write this blog in honour of her memory.

So Mills and Boon, watch this space – The Sheik’s Virgin Racing Bride may be bomeranging back at you!

p.s. I have read the winning entry of the New Voices competition. It is certainly an interesting choice, in my opinion. Quite a modern and less than romantic concept of speed dating, well written but I didn’t feel any sparkle from it. Best of luck to the author nonetheless!


It was judgement day at Romance HQ, as they like to call it at Mills and Boon Towers.

I tried but I did not conquer it.

I feel bit like I’m not sure what to do now except sulk whilst listening to some Take That and eating ice cream. Can you find a therapeutic episode of Ghost Whisperer when you need it? Hell no. Well all the best to the other people still in the competition. There were over 800 entries so to be in the last ten is impressive. Some of the top ten first chapters are very engaging and you can still follow the competition here. I may continue to follow it or I may continue to churlishly sulk, I will decide…..

So looks like my options are these:

 I can continue to try to grasp for the dream by picking myself up and dusting myself off like a true M&B heroine, persistently battling against the odds;


I can carry on sulking and focus on dealing with the people who call up my work and want to talk about the local farmer committing bunny genocide and Portuguese Lynx (can you believe it was unmuzzled!?) being walked on leads in their local parks whilst scanning the council intranet notice boards for some cheap cat hyperthyroidism tablets to end it all with.

 I wish none of that stuff happened at work but that is what you get when you work for a council. People even sell their toilet roll holders on the notice board (yes I said sell not give away). And you seriously get people who think the council is like another emergency service and call you because an octogenarian just tried to run them over with a mobility scooter. Now perhaps I’ve given you a greater insight into my everyday world you understand the importance of the project, Escape with M&B.

So I’ll probably be going with option one and I’ll be back again soon with some more M&B related dross : )

p.s thanks to anyone and everyone who took a look at the M&B!

Well it’s so exciting having my first ever Mills and Boon chapter on a website. And I’ve had some feedback! I’ve had some really encouraging comments from people who I don’t know, which is great because obviously I forced it down the throats of all my poor friends and family who have had to listen to me wittering on about it for ages and been ‘asked’ to vote. Two of my lovely friends who have fantastic book blogs novelinsights and savidgereads have mentioned it which is much appreciated by me. 

But it also got me thinking about how despite it’s evident popularity (millions of people around the world read this stuff; hundreds of first chapters have been entered into the competition alone -they accept manuscripts unsolicited all year round; there are hundreds of comments) M&B is not cool. It’s sort of underground. I mean, have you ever seen someone reading an M&B on a tube or bus or park bench? I have never seen it and yet there are millions of people around the world reading them clearly under the covers, in the wardrobe, hurriedly looking over their shoulders on a quite street, guiltily behind the bikesheds with a cigarette languishing unsmoked between their fingers.

Hands up, when I commuted into London I did initially hide my M&Bs behind an old school book cover but I started to not care and wear my romance badge with pride. I began to tell people about my guilty secret. I was and am still aware that people instantly assume I have at least ten cats (and then they surreptitiously lean in to check if I smell of cat wee), watch Cash in the Attic on V+ and go to bed alone wearing home-knitted, organic wool bedsocks with a glass of sherry. It outrages me because only some of that is true….No but really, there was an article a couple of years ago about how people who read M&B have unrealistic expectations about their partners and generally it could be inferred that any M&B readers must be foolish, naive and silly. My then (and not now) partner told me about this as if to justify him spending every waking hour playing football or on a golf course (no, that is an outright lie; he spent a lot of time playing PlayStation too). Just because we read romance fiction doesn’t mean we’re stupid.

So to finally ramble to the culmination of my musings:  it feels like somehow in that simple gesture my lovely friends are putting a stake in the ground; are subverting some kind of unwritten rule about literature and the arts. They both acknowledge it might not be to their regular readers’ tastes but suggest it nonetheless. Both my friends are proper book-a-holics who follow Man Booker and have a book group. I think it really speaks volumes (sorry I couldn’t help myself) about their genuine commitment to books, unabashed, no snobbery. Because, let’s be honest, the world of literature and the arts generally does have some pretentiousness about it. I mean, I love latitude festival, it was great again this year – a complete feast of the senses, mind and spirit (I’ve just summed up my point in that comment haven’t I?) but some of the promo in the brochure is utterly ridiculous meaningless nonsense (I tried to find my favourite example in the online listings but failed sorry!). Which is why when I go to Latitude, I just sit and wait for Robin Ince’s book club in the literary tent everyday. He pokes fun at everything because nothing is above censure and I enjoyed his M&B ribbing lots for that very reason. Well let’s hope the new branding and the competition gives M&B some edge. Anyway I’ll get off my high horse (a nice cross-reference with the horse themed M&B if I do say so myself).

Well, latest update: I had a crisis with the Battle for Love.  Hence I’ve not written up any news of progress since my first report (which was utterly ages ago sorry if one or two of you folks out there amongst the 65 million had actually read my post and were waiting with baited breath  for the next instalment).  It needed a lot of re-working to make it of the calibre fit for the M&B judges. I mean, I now know that Penny Jordan herself (rather than Penny Jordan masquerading as someone else? That didn’t make sense…) is one of the judges! M&B aficionados will know the importance of that fact. In short, this needs to be my best effort. As an aside from this point, they have chosen a random man from Heat magazine to be judge. I doubt he has ever read a romance novel in his life (I do hope Mr Sam Delaney proves me wrong and writes a sniffy comment saying that he is a voracious M&B reader)  If they need to do politically correct, equalities, have-a-man-on-the-panel stuff, what about good old Alan Titchmarsh, the apparent king of romance?!  

So anyway back to the story, I do have something up my sleeve which isn’t my arm.  I’ve been working on a ‘sheikh’ story for a while – apparently stories about sheikhs and greek tycoons are really popular so my reckoning is if you want to win a writing competition, try to write something people like to read. One of my old favourites is ‘The Sultan’s Favourite’ by Helen Brooks so I know where people are coming from (a recommended romance cheese-fest). My story is less cosmopolitan than that, which is set in Istanbul and heavy on the sensual spices and exotic markets. However, mine is set in a glamorous racing stables. There is corruption, intrigue, and of course loads of romance!! The New Voices competition is now open and I’ve submitted my first chapter so please go to the competition website http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/ to read it . Obviously the subtext of that last sentence is me BEGGING anyone to vote for it so that on my next  car insurance application I can say I’m a mills and boon writer rather than a local government officer who works in a shed. Let’s do some expectation management: The Sheikh’s Virgin Racing Bride certainly isn’t Man Booker (well the romance equivalent) material but it’s my first real attempt.  If you do take a look you may be surprised by how many people have submitted entries and how many people are actually reading them. Even I was and I love all this romance stuff.

The countdown to the finish of the first round is 27th September when the M&B powerhouses announce the people through to the next round. Remember, if you vote for me I may not have to work in a shed for much longer (it is true, I do work in a glorified shed of a council office, which is shared with rodents and the largest spiders ever – except those really nasty ones in Australia the size of plates = feel pity).  I may blog jubilantly on that glorious judgement day or I may do a proper sulk and stay away.

Hello, welcome to my blog! I’m Rose Roberts and this blog is about nothing  and everything, basically just observations and thoughts about things that happen in my day to day life, alongside a progress report of my current projects. To set the scene, I have a fairly interesting job for a council, I like to drink sparkling Perry by the name of ‘Pink Lady’ of an evening (even on school nights: rock and roll) and my aspiration (or confession depending on your point of view) in life is to be a successful Mills and Boon writer. I live in hope!

This week has been unproductive so far. I’m supposed to be setting time aside to write chapter 1 of my submission for a new Mills and Boon (M&B as I like to call it) ‘new voices’ competition but I keep getting distracted. I can’t help but love watching Ghost Whisperer when I’m supposed to be writing. I would love to be a psychic; I’m fascinated by it. One of my friends has been told he is ’sensitive’ but I’m not really sure what that means; it is no secret that he is gay. We once went on a ghost hunt with the man from Most Haunted (for those of you on the same wavelength: Phil Wyman!!), I really embarrassed myself by throwing a MASSIVE tantrum at 4am after my friend said he’d just seen the ghost of a little girl run past us at the top of the stairs we were sitting on. I really couldn’t have moved faster if I’d tried. By way of an aside, my friend and I are both still convinced Phil Wyman was flirting with us both whilst sat holding what ghosty people like Yvette Fielding call a ‘vigil’ on a medieval torture rack – it was surreal even at the time.

Back to being distracted (you see!?) by Ghost Whisperer, I also can’t help but turn on re-runs of Vicar of Dibley. I know everyone hates it but I think it is awesome: Richard Curtis is my hero. The main reason I like Vicar of Dibley is because my mum is actually a real life Mrs Cropley, in a culinary sense anyway. I went round to my parent’s house for dinner not so long ago and couldn’t help but ask for confirmation of what I was eating; the complex flavour combinations were quite difficult to pin down when all placed together. On my plate was:

1 x portion of Ainsley Harriot’s cous cous of a sundried tomato/roasted vegetable variety

½ x portion of Batchelor’s supernoodles in a barbeque sauce

1 x portion of peas, boiled

1 x portion of Swedish beef meatballs covered in chip shop style curry sauce

I personally thought it was an eclectic juxtaposition and very creative; worthy of entry into Masterchef any day.  I do wish they’d have an anti-Masterchef for people that have a more innovative approach to cooking, but not in a show- offy (albeit very clever)Heston Blumenthal sort of way. It would be much more entertaining than watching week after week of smug people churning out jus after foam after coulis.  

Anyway, I’m hoping to re-work an M&B story I started years ago: The Battle for Love. I know that is a really lame title but apparently the marketing people always change them anyway. Feel free to make alternative suggestions! The basic premise of the story is about a young woman struggling to deal with the ghosts of her past and present when the potential ghost of her future strides into her life with the grace of a panther. I better just say now that I stole that last ‘grace of a panther’ bit from another M&B story I read years ago. I don’t mind admitting I’m under 30 (you probably took a guess already at the fact that I’m a woman although apparently there is a man who writes M&B under a female pen-name –what a legend!!! On second thoughts I’ve heard Alan Titchmarsh writes romance fiction – what if it is him??!!!!) and have been reading these books since I was a teenager. It was probably Penny Jordan, the ‘Don’, or whatever the female equivalent is – perhaps doyenne (?), of the Mills and Boon world who first coined the panther phrase.

Well I think that is enough for now…more soon about The Battle for Love….and other stuff….