Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Romantic fiction and rugby make for strange bedfellows

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

“’Oh my God.’ Her hand covered her mouth. She glanced at him in desperate panic. ‘They filmed me kissing you. And it’s up on the giant screens.’ Her voice rose, her cheeks were scarlet, and her reluctant glance towards the stadium ended in a moan of disbelief. ‘Oh God, I can’t believe this ... and my hair is all over the place and my bottom looks huge, and — everyone is looking.’

“His eyes on the pitch, Prince Casper watched with cool detachment as his friend, the England captain, hit a post with a drop-goal attempt. ‘More importantly, you just cost England three points.’”

Rugby and romance are perhaps not the most obvious of combinations, but one that the world’s biggest romance publisher, Mills & Boon, and the Rugby Football Union believe will bear fruit. The pair have teamed up to publish a series of books featuring tall, dark and handsome rugby heroes — minus cauliflower ears — and their glamorous love interests.

“You don’t have to like rugby to like the books,” said Clare Somerville, Mills & Boon’s sales and marketing director. “They’ve got all the elements of a quintessential Mills & Boon romance: jet-set locations, hunky alpha male heroes and hot sex, but in a rugby context.”

Information on the rules of rugby for the non “rugby savvy,” along with tips on what to wear at matches, will also be included, she said.

The RFU International Billionaires series launches with The Prince’s Waitress Wife — in which one sex scene takes place in the president’s suite at England’s rugby HQ at Twickenham, south-west London — on Feb. 1, just before the start of the RBS Six Nations Championships.

But readers should not expect guest appearances from real-life players such as Lawrence Dallaglio.

“We made a decision early doors that that wasn’t going to happen,” said Jane Barron, licensing and marketing manager at the RFU. “There are no real people — it’s all imaginary.”

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