Presents, Modern and Modern Heat


One of the complicated things about buying books from both the Mills and Boon (UK) site and the Harlequin (US) site is that the lines are organised differently and called different things. Sometimes the books have different titles, too, and they can be released in different months, so it’s worth checking the blurb to make sure you haven’t read the book before. The line that I probably read most is called Presents in the US, but in the UK the books are split between Modern and Modern Heat (scroll down to the bottom of the Modern page and you’ll see the two books with the extra ‘Heat’ designation, like this one).

So, what’s the difference? Here’s my take:

Modern Heroes are: sheikhs, princes of made up countries, self-made billionaires. They will either have grown up with a wealthy but cruel and tyrannical family, or will have been abandoned as a child and left to make their own way in the world. In either case they will not believe in love. They are ruthless, tyrannical, tall, tanned and look equally good in a business suit or a pair of Speedos.

Modern Heat Heroes are: the kind of guys I went to university with. They are barristers, business analysts, paediatricians. They have nice middle-class families and a mother who wants to see them settle down. They have probably been hurt by a previous girlfriend. They live in the UK and thus do not wear Speedos.

Modern Heroines are: shy virgins who work as temps, secretaries, cleaning ladies or helpless queens who really need someone to come and rule their country. They are hopeless romantics who have never had a boyfriend. Or if they have, he didn’t kiss them. Or if he kissed them, they certainly didn’t sleep with him. Even if they were married to him. Also, they like it when men tell them what to wear.

Modern Heat Heroines are: women who have degrees, who work in universities, museums, engineering companies. They may even own their own business and though they are not usually wealthy, they are financially independent. They have usually had a previous sex life and this has not made them into whores. They don’t mind telling the hero when he is being a prat. They definitely don’t like being told what to wear.

Modern Plots focus on: blackmail, revenge, forced marriage, unwilling seduction. They are ludicrously implausible. There is often a tyrannical family in the background, forcing both hero and heroine into their relationship. Sometimes they embark on a marriage of convenience but often the heroine will become the hero’s mistress first. There may be a secret baby involved.

Modern Heat Plots are: virtually nonexistent. This isn’t always quite true but the books are VERY focussed on the central romance and the internal conflict rather than the external circumstances. When there is an external plot it often centres on the heroine’s business or some other financial exigency.

Modern books end with: a marriage, babies, happy ever after.

Modern Heat books end with: sometimes marriage, very rarely a baby or a pregnancy, often just a happy couple.

Birth control:
Modern: always condoms, usually with a hole in them.

Modern Heat: if condoms, they work; sometimes the heroines are even on the Pill. I have even known a Modern Heat heroine have unprotected sex without getting pregnant.

I used to think that there was more explicit sex in Modern Heats but I’m not sure that’s actually true. Sex in Moderns is always mind-blowingly phenomenal (and thus a Sign of True Love) whereas sex in Modern Heats often sounds like it might actually be fun.

So, there you go. I like Modern Heats a lot more than I thought I would. I admit, I prefer reading books set in the UK which Heats tend to be, but also I like reading books about characters I identify with. I do love the ludicrous fantasy of the Modern world as well, though.

Here’s what M&B say the difference is:

Modern Romance is the last word in sensual and emotional excitement. Readers are whisked away to exclusive jet-set locations to experience smouldering intensity and red-hot desire.

At the heart of your novel there must be two memorable and engaging characters who leap from the page but who remain credible, no matter what their situation. When the hero strides into the story he’s a powerful, ruthless man who knows exactly what – and who – he wants and he isn’t used to taking no for an answer! Yet he has depth and integrity, and he will do anything to make the heroine his. Though she may be shy and vulnerable, she’s also plucky and determined to challenge his arrogant pursuit.

Modern Romance explores emotional themes that are universal. These should be played out as part of highly-charged conflicts that are underpinned by blistering sexual anticipation and released as passionate lovemaking. However, Modern is not the home of purple prose, cliché or melodrama; we want to see writing that offers unique perspectives and bursts with originality.

A Modern Romance is more than just a book; it’s an experience, an everyday luxury. Let the pleasure and passion envelop you as you take a ride in the fast lane of romance!

Modern Heat is a vibrant, sexy, new stream of editorial that launched in the UK in 2006 and has been published within Harlequin Presents since May 2008 (two every month). Upmarket, glossy and sharply contemporary, these stories sparkle with lively dialogue and sizzling sensuality! They offer all the international glamour, passion and alpha male heroes you expect from Modern/Presents, with a flirty young voice and a whole load of sass!

Written by talented, original authors such as Heidi Rice, Natalie Anderson, Kelly Hunter, Kimberly Lang, Anne Oliver, Anna Cleary and Lucy King, these entertaining romances reflect the life experiences of today’s young women, within a chic, glamorous, and usually urban setting. The heroines are often your twenty-something girl-about-town but there’s no compromising on the Modern Heat hero: he must be very alpha and absolutely to die for! There’ll be sparks flying when these two meet – and nothing short of fireworks once they get to the bedroom!

We are on the lookout for new authors who can convey that young urban feel with 21st century characters, simmering sexual and romantic tension and, of course, that all-important hot sex! And our top editor tip: there is no better way to fully understand the Modern Heat experience than to read as many of them as possible!

7 Responses to “Presents, Modern and Modern Heat”

  1. 1 Ankaret

    I had been avoiding Modern Heat because I thought they were just Modern, but sexed-up, but in light of this I might give one a go.

    However, Modern is not the home of purple prose, cliché or melodrama

    Who do they think they’re kidding?

    • 2 Ros

      The first MH I read did have a lot of sex but I’ve read several recently that certainly had no more than the average Modern. I enjoyed Kate Hardy’s ‘Good Girl or Gold Digger’ and ‘Breakfast at Giovanni’s’. Though the latter seems to be a Modern Extra rather than a Modern Heat and I haven’t really worked out where they fit.

  2. 3 Nineveh_uk

    It is fascinting to read the distinction. Now I want to read a fanfic in which Damerel and Venetia stumble across a Modern book that has somehow ended up in the Regency…

  3. Modern Extra is an earlier name for Modern Heat. In the US, we were first released as Presents Extra, then became Presents, and are now back to Presents Extra. Come January, we’ll be Riva in the UK.

    I know it’s a little confusing — for the authors too, sometimes! — but things are settling down as we come into our own. If you like the Modern Heats, but are a little confused which ones are which each month, check out our blog: It will tell you which books are out in the US, the UK, and Australia each month, and it provides a list of the MH authors if you’re searching for backlist titles.

    • 6 Ros

      Oh, I see. I do a lot of backlist reading via the library and I hadn’t worked out that the Extras are all earlier. They don’t seem to me to have been quite as distinctive as the Modern Heats now clearly are, so I’m glad to hear that they’ll be getting their own distinct line. I’m in the UK, so it’s easy for me to tell which is which!

  1. 1 Modern, Riva, Cherish, Presents « My Romance Reviews


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