"Their first kiss was unlike anything Sarah had ever expected of a kiss. It left her feeling as if a thunderbolt had come hurtling out of the sky and passed so close that it scorched her. And when his violent mood changed to one of gentleness, a tenderness that melted her bones, she knew that this was the moment for which she had been destined ... It was the very purpose of her life ..."
Forget 50 Shades; when it comes to truly classic, carnal and clichéd erotic fiction, no-one does it better than juggernaut of the genre Mills & Boon. Its legendary fleet of romance writers have been steaming up our bookshelves since 1908, when Gerald Mills and Charles Boon opened the doors to a whole new and lascivious brand of storytelling in their offices in London's Covent Garden.
Unsurprisingly, their line in eyebrow-raising romantic japes was an immediate hit and even now, a Mills & Boon book is sold in the UK every three seconds. So universal is the publisher's appeal, it's even scored a place in the Oxford English Dictionary, with the definition "a (type of) popular romantic novel".
Fun pub facts: in the past 50 years, Mills & Boon characters have undergone 10,325 weddings, 29,500 kisses and 35,250 hugs (we're not clear on the stats for hanky panky).
In the spirit of burning passion and heartfelt ardour, come take a look at some of our favourite Mills & Boon titles - from How Could You Jennifer! to the intriguing Apollo's Seed.