15 October 2008

Back to the 80s Part 2

While staying with my parents recently, I found my collection of Mills & Boons tucked away in the attic. It's quite a stash. As a teenager I devoured as many as I could. There are hundreds, none of which I have read since I was about 17.

Interested to see how they were written back then, I picked up Dark Betrayal by Patricia Lake which was published in 1986. Initially the book reads like a novel from today: the language is non-jargony, the characters are largely believable - no unpleasantly aggressive hero nor annoyingly passive heroine - and there are even glimpses of the hero's point of view.

But there are differences, and blimey, do they stand out. Firstly, the plot hinges on a Big Misunderstanding, which of course is now a big no no. The heroine finds another woman in the hero's bed, (he's in the shower), storms out and doesn't clap eyes on him until three years later. Nowadays, any self-respecting heroine would charge into the bathroom, demand an explanation and then, on discovering that the hero has no idea what his malicious jealous ward is doing in his bed, would probably hop into the shower with him.

Secondly, all the main characters smoke and knock back scotch, and get this, the heroine finds out she's pregnant, but is still downing champagne a few weeks later at a party. Very 80s and a great read, but I don't think any of this would slip past the editors these days...!

Do you have old favourites and how do they vary from today's M&Bs?


Rachael Johns said...

I only discovered category romance in 2006 but this sounds HILARIOUS!!

Lucy said...

Yes, which is probably why, when I decided to try and write one in 2004 having not read one since 1989, I didn't get it quite right!

Barbara said...


This is interesting to me. Even though I started reading cat. romances only about two years ago, I have started collecting older editions from authors that I like (Kate Hardy, Carol Marinelli). I am sure they aren't quite as outdated as the ones you found, but I am interested to see the differences.

I hope you keep the older ones you found.


Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

I have a stash of about 40 from the late 80s which I love, but yes, they are riddled with current no-no's. Like smoking. I had the idea of a character quitting smoking vetoed, not only can't they smoke now, they can't quit either!

Biddy said...

I read loads in the 80s and they really do differ. I remember a Penny Jordan from sometime around 86 or so which had a big misunderstanding as the conflict. But I still remember it all these years later.

Congratulations on winning the 'Feel The Heat' competition! Go You! I am also trying to write for Modern Heat. Keep going!


Lucy said...

Thanks Biddy - hope you're keeping going too!!

Lucy said...

Barbara, I've kept them all, or rather my parents have (luckily they have a big attic). It is interesting to see how the novels reflect changes in society, especially the roles and attitudes of men and women. I guess that's how they've managed to last so long!