I have to say I’ve been really enjoying the Modern Tempted range that Mills and Boon produces lately. I have always enjoyed reading Mills and Boon books, they have been my go-to weekend treat for almost as long as I’ve been reading them. However, there’s something special about the Modern Tempted range. Every one that I’ve read so far, apart from being really good, has seemed to challenge popular romantic fiction stereotypes. The heroines in the Modern Tempted range are, well, modern. What does that mean exactly? It’s hard to put it into words but there is an overall sense that I get when reading these books that the heroines are people who are a bit more in touch with what women want today. Noticeably they enjoy a much wider range of careers too, veering slightly off the established librarian, secretary, nanny route. Instead they are engineers, PHD students, and business women with careers that play a vital role in their happily ever after.
More noticeable even than that, however, is the new breed of love interest. Yes, he’s still successful and good-looking but he’s also altogether more normal: less Billionaire tycoon, more successful lawyer. In other words, there is less of a power imbalance between the heroine and her love interest. It’s amazing how often you don’t realise that something is consistently done and repeated until someone doesn’t do it. Reading Modern Tempted I’ve lost track of the times I’ve sat back and thought ‘ooh I like what she’s doing there’ or ‘that’s a clever twist’. Even better, the romance is still just as good, it’s still warms the cockles of your heart, and it still provides a perfect, relaxing, escape…bliss!
A perfect example of this new style is “Mr (Not Quite) Perfect” by Jessica Hart…
In “Mr (Not Quite) Perfect” Allegra and Max have known each other a long time, he’s her best friends older brother, but have never been more than semi-close acquaintances. In fact, she’s always thought he was a little bit boring, which is not how the usual hero’s introduction goes! Max is a Civil Engineer, which is, even in his own opinion, not the most sexy or thrilling of jobs. Additionally, although he’s quite attractive- in a look from the corner of your eyes and you might see what I mean kind of way- he’s by no means handsome; he’s not the tallest in the room, nor is he suave and sophisticated. Hardly the stuff to set pulses racing and hearts fluttering, and yet he does…especially Allegra’s.
Interestingly Max is not brim-full of confidence either, and he’s prone to more than the odd moment of self-doubt, especially with believing Allegra would be interested in him. I thought this created a really interesting spin on the usual process of heroine finding happy every after with hero because, more often than not, it is the heroine’s self-doubt that lead to misunderstandings and drama. Flipping this round so that it comes from a Male perspective really made Max feel more human to me. What Hart does well is create and everyman character who wouldn’t usually get the chance to be a leading character and transform him into the dream. She challenges the expectation of perfection; Max is normal in every sense of the word, but by the end of this book you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with him, just like Allegra!
I loved the gradual build of awareness on Allegra’s part, even when she’s dizzy with lust she can look at him objectively and say he’s not a dreamboat. So much so that her feelings confuse her, because there isn’t an obvious reason for them. Their relationship is sweet because they spend so much time dancing around each other, too afraid to admit their feelings. Allegra herself is refreshing. I hadn’t realised until I read this book how often a heroine’s lack of romantic success is due to her super successful workaholic type personality. Allegra is nothing like that, in fact she’s average to rubbish at her job because her heart’s not in it. I was amazed how such a tiny detail made her so much more relatable to me! Her life is reassuringly similar to mine, so that it made it much easier to indulge in the fantasy. I loved her frank admission that she’s never had a relationship as perfect as the ones in her beloved Regency Romances…has anyone?! I thought it was a fascinating topic to bring up within the pages of a romance novel!
I really enjoyed “Mr (Not Quite) Perfect. It’s one of the loveliest Mills & Boons I’ve read in a while plus It was a quick and easy read that left me with a warm glow for days, not because of the fantasy of it all but because of the normality of it. A love like Allegra and Max’s is achievable, it seemed to say, not only that- it’s probable, and at the end of the day that why I love reading romances!