Australia’s number one romance publisher, Mills & Boon, is undergoing its first major rebrand in over a decade and is set to seduce a new generation of romance fans with its latest line of novels, DARE.
Throwing the romance rule book out the window, the new range is Mills & Boon’s most explicit series yet, filled with intriguing love interests, steamy sexual encounters and riveting story lines. The range features strong female leads in control of their own destiny and not reliant on a man to complete them. After all, not everyone’s happily ever after involves a wedding.
Perfect for a light read, DARE features fast-paced plots that will whisk readers away to a world of love, lust and passion. The first book in the new series is penned by Adelaide mum of two, Clare Connelly, who caught up with Glam Adelaide for chat about being so daring.
Can you tell us about yourself as a writer?
I’ve been writing for a really long time. I finished my first full-length Mills & Boon manuscript when I was fifteen and submitted it to their UK office. It was rejected. I continued to write, though I shelved any hope of becoming a published romance writer for many years. It was when my kids were little and I was home with them all day, every day, that I began to write in earnest.
I self-published my first book in May 2014 with no real hope of success. To my surprise, it sold well from the first day! It was an absolute thrill. Within a few months, I was one of the top-selling exclusive-to-Amazon authors in the UK and USA. Yikes!
It was utterly mind-blowing. Despite this commercial success, I have always desperately wanted to write for Mills & Boon. I met with Joanne Grant at a Romance Writers of Australia conference in August 2016 and six weeks later, had signed a two-book deal for their Mills & Boon Sexy line. I now write for Mills & Boon DARE, as well.
Writing is a compulsion for me. While it’s my livelihood, and I consider myself to be a professional writer, it is also my absolute pleasure and passion. I get very antsy if I have to take time away from my books!
What has been your greatest success and/or regret as a writer?
Writing a book is a hard process and so finishing my very first manuscript, before I had the confidence and faith that I absolutely could do that, is something I’m really proud of. It isn’t simply a matter of getting words on the page, it’s finding an idea that has enough narrative interest to drive a story from beginning to end. I’ve written over sixty full-length books, most of them while my kids were little and at home, so I can say with authority that it gets (slightly) easier as you gain experience!
Tell us about DARE. What makes this line different and special?
First and foremost, Mills & Boon DARE features love stories – they’re romance novels. But they’re very sexy and sensual with heroine-led plots. Think strong, feisty women who hold the cards, and aren’t afraid to use them to get everything they want in life. They’re great escapism, like any Mills & Boon, with a guaranteed happily ever after.
What about your debut DARE novel?
My debut Mills & Boon DARE title is Off Limits. It’s a dark and steamy office romance. Billionaire widower Jack Grant isn’t ready to get involved with any woman – he would see that as a betrayal to his late wife. But the chemistry between him and his off-sider, smart, sassy Gemma Picton, is too strong to fight and he finds himself succumbing to what they share; only opening himself up to a new relationship means letting go of his wife once and for all, doesn’t it? How can he move on? …
I love to write about imperfect love. The idea that love doesn’t always look like we expect it to, and that we can be our own worst enemies when it comes to reaching out and grabbing what we want with both hands.
As a romance writer, how do you create chemistry between two characters?
I think that a lot of the time, initial chemistry comes from conflict. I don’t mean that my couple needs to be fighting but that there needs to be an inherent difference of opinions that sets them at odds, even subtly. I also read their dialogue aloud to myself, once I’ve written it. It’s much easier to get a handle on how their dynamic is shaping up. Humour’s great, too – we need humour in romance, right?
Do you believe things like the #MeToo movement will impact the future of romance novels?
If anything, I think modern romance novels are ahead of the curve in changing the narrative of a woman’s role in relationships, particularly at Mills & Boon, where the mainly-female editorial staff lead from the top, ensuring our stories really do convey what women most want. The more we shape this narrative into popular fiction – and put women in the proverbial driver’s seat – the better.
Who will want to read your books? What can we expect?
I read my first romance novel at twelve (It was an Emma Darcy for Mills & Boon), and I have friends of all ages and stages who devour these titles. Romance novels have wide-ranging appeal. Do you like drama? Love? Strong, likable characters? Happy endings? Then you’ll like romance. The standard of Mills & Boon is incredible – if you haven’t read one in recent years, I strongly suggest you do. You’ll find great characters, tight plots, exotic locations: perfect sensual escapism. A Mills & Boon is sold every four seconds somewhere in the world.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about Clare Connelly?
It’s such a privilege to be writing for Mills & Boon – and to be writing as a career, full stop. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this for a living. There were times along the way where I doubted this would ever happen, but like most things in life, it took perseverance, determination, and a thick skin (not to mention a glass of Barossa Valley shiraz for courage!) to take the steps that got me to this point.
Interview by Sam Bond
About the DARE series
In 2018, four Mills & Boon DARE novels will be published each month, in print and eBook formats, in Australia and New Zealand. The first four titles are available at Big W, Kmart and Target for RRP $7.99 in paperback, as well as in ebook format for $2.99.
For all stockists visit millsandboon.com.au
For more about Clare Connelly, visit her website.