This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Desire Be My Destiny: the Beginning

So here are Anna's opening paragraphs, crafted according to the guidelines. I have contributed the title, one that has been circling in my head for years. I know what you must be thinking. But I am glad to have the chance to use it at last.

Read the expert guidance on how to start a romance novel at

Desire Be My Destiny

‘Gotcha!’ A tanned, muscled hand clamped her left shoulder. Topaz turned. There he stood, his strong but sensitive jawline poised against the half moon, his ice-blue eyes twinkling mischievously into her own.

Topaz felt a shiver course beneath her flimsy silk dress, even though the breezes that stroked her skin carried the last warm breaths of a Mediterranean summer. She glimpsed the stooped shadow of Terence peering for her from the hotel balcony; hesitated, started to follow her own footprints back across the sands, then halted and turned again. He stood there still, unmoving, waiting...

Slowly, gazing up at him through long lacquered lashes, she moved towards him, wading almost through the pools of moonlight. ‘What,’ she asked, her voice sounding curiously husky, ‘do you want of me?’.


  1. ooOOoo you had me as soon as I read 'A tanned, muscled hand' !

  2. There's plenty more where that came from... or there will be if I can throw off my inhibitions...