But in a turn of events offering more drama and intrigue than you’ll find in one of their books, Roger, has parted company with Mills & Boon.
Jan Jones, 55, who writes romantic novels set in the Regency period, is the RNA’s events manager.
‘Most of our members are female, but when you consider 93 per cent of romance is bought by women, that makes sense,’ she tells me.
With her cheeks flushed with anticipation, her ruby lips trembling and her heart racing beneath the satin folds of her gown, Claudia shivers against the chill spring air as she braces herself for a night filled with passion and intrigue.
OK, I know it’s a bit over the top but I’m about to enter a room filled with more than 100 of the country’s leading romantic fiction writers and I’m trying to get into character.
So why does it feel like I’ve accidentally stumbled into the Annual General Meeting of the Jam Makers and Knitted Toy Association? ‘You don’t spend years at sea with a bunch of sailors without learning a thing or two.’ Like many of the women I speak to, June took up novel writing late in life and had her first book published around the time of her 60th birthday.
All around me are middle-aged and elderly women in their pearls and support tights. ’ chuckles June Tate, 77, the author of 14 titles including For The Love Of A Soldier and To Be A Lady. Admittedly I get carried away at times and have to say to myself “June, you’ve gone too far there old girl, you’d better tone it down”.’ White-haired and impeccably turned out in a navy blue twin-set, surely June’s X-rated bedroom scenes aren’t drawn from real-life experience? Her husband Alan, a pilot, had died after 39 years of marriage, her children had grown up and she needed a hobby.
” I think my exact words to her were: “Oh get over it. ”’ While I’m pretty sure I’d prefer my mum to see out her retirement by enjoying more traditional pastimes — weeding the garden or doing giant jigsaws of Hampton Court Palace, for example — I find myself really warming to all the women here.
They’re fun, feisty and boosting their pension pot by doing something that brings them, and others, great pleasure.
And June isn’t the only septuagenarian making a comfortable living with the aid of a typewriter and a fertile imagination.