When Mills & Boon followed me on Twitter a little flutter danced inside. What a blast from the past! I used to read Mills & Boon romance books when I was a teenager, you know when I was angsty and tied up in knots with raging teenage hormones. They were a great way to escape the trials and tribulations of real life where I caked on make up to cover my spots, where I felt I never really fitted in and where boys just weren’t interested in a weird antique loving 15 year old.
Sometime over the years I gave up reading these dreamy novels and preferred Anne Rice horrors, followed by the classics of the early 20th Century, but then about 10 years ago I was contacted by an author, a Mills & Boon author to be exact. At the time I had a my own business designing and selling bridal and evening wear online (it didn’t last due to people not wanting to pay the cost of handmade clothing) and this author wanted to use me as inspiration for her lead character. She’d come across my website and like my biography on there, thinking my story would be a great hook. Well, as you can imagine I blushed a lot!!
Needless to say I agreed. She did a mini interview with me and then went off to write her story. About six months later a small parcel arrived in the post. It was her book! Yes, I was inspiration for a character in a Mills & Boon romance. Unfortunately, somehow over time, the book disappeared, probably during a house move and I cannot remember what the book was called or the author’s name. I really wish I could because I’d love to have a read of it again!
After following me on Twitter Mills & Boon then contacted me asking if I’d like to review their new ‘The Art of Romance’ adult colouring book and I was immediately intrigued. One thing you might not know about this iconic publishing house is that it was established in 1908 by Gerard Mills and Charles Boon and started out as a general publisher with educational textbooks, socialist tracts and Shakespeare on their lists. However, in the 1930s after becoming a library house they discovered that romance was the genre choice of a majority of their readers and the Mills & Boon romance empire was born.
Now, I know about the current trend for adult colouring books, but I have to confess I’ve never bought or even tried one but I have to say as a choice for my first ever one this is absolutely spot on! It features book covers ranging from the 1920s to 2015, covering all those fabulous early 20th Century decades I love so much and they’re just gorgeous.
The fashions, as you can well imagine, are classics of their time. The illustrations have the same graphic styles as you see in magazines from the same period. And, of course, the ladies are all swooning over their Rudolph Valentino or Frank Sinatra type love interests. Seriously what’s not to love!
The subjects are very much of their time too like the one from 1944, called Westward To My Love, which is clearly about the girl missing her brave hero who has gone to fight in WII and even features Spitfires in the sky overhead. Whereas in 1972 you see the woman depicted as an air hostess, yes working woman. Bring on the feminism movement!
On the inside covers of the colouring book it helpfully shows all of the original book covers so you can colour them as they would’ve been back in the day, but of course you can be a bit more rebellious and use your own colours. I spent a bit of time colouring in the one from 1937 and I have to say, I absolutely loved it. It was so relaxing, just taking a little time out of my hectic day to do something kids enjoy everyday.
Now I really, really want to read some of the early romance novels from the 1920s – 1940s. I’d love to know what the stories were like back then. It would be amazing if Mills & Boon were to re-release a small collection of them, I know I would snap them up straight away. In the mean time I will keep a very sharp eye out when I visit my favourite secondhand book shops.
The Art of Romance Adult Colouring Book by Mills & Boon is brand new (published this month, May 2016) and is available on their website for £9.99.