Romance writer celebrates 50th book

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A Hartshead author is celebrating a literary milestone after having her 50th book published.

Susan Stephens was signed up to write romantic fiction for publishing house Mills and Boon after winning the chance to be a ‘writer for a day’ 13 years ago.

The mother-of-three wrote her first novel, A Spanish Inheritance, back in 2003, and has now sold eight million books worldwide, writing on average five books per year. Her latest title, In the Sheikh’s Service, has now been released.

Susan’s interest in romance developed after her own fairytale love story. The former professional singer met her husband Steve on the island of Malta, becoming engaged to him just a week later and marrying three months after their first meeting. They have two daughters, Leonie and Sara, and a son, James.

The budding writer was at a charity costume ball when her husband bid for a prize to spend a day with established Mills and Boon author Penny Jordan in the after-dinner auction.

Susan, who is a keen skier, walker, knitter, cook and piano player, still enjoys a close relationship with Penny Jordan, who encouraged her to follow her dreams and is now her friend and mentor.

“I’m thrilled to have reached such an important moment in my career, “ she said.

“I’ve always been passionate about my writing and feel incredibly lucky to be able to make a living from doing what I love most. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Mills and Boon team, and everyone who has helped me reach this point.”

Mills and Boon editorial director Joanne Grant is delighted by Susan’s success.

“We’re so excited to be publishing Susan’s 50th Mills and Boon title – what an achievement after only 13 years!

“Book after book, Susan entertains her readers with passionate heroes, stunning settings and heroines as vivacious as she is. We look forward to her ongoing contribution to Mills and Boon list as she continues to delight her global readership – here’s to the next 50 books.”

When she began her writing career, Susan, who had previously attempted non-fiction, expected to publish only around six books, and was in ‘disbelief’ after completing her 50th.

The plot of In the Sheikh’s Service centres around Sheikh Shazim Al Q’Aqabi, who is horrified to discover that the woman who is set to fulfill his late brother’s conservation dream is an exotic dancer he encountered in London.

The strait-laced ruler has devoted his life to duty, but falls for feisty Isla Sinclair and is forced to make a decision between his country and his unsuitable mistress.

Arab sheikhs are popular characters in Mills and Boon romances, with author Sharon Kendrick describing the rulers as representing ‘the ultimate female fantasy–dark, autocratic, completely powerful, outrageously chauvinistic’.

Copies are available now priced at £3.99 for a paperback or e-book.

Mills and Boon release around 100 new books each month in paperback and e-book format. Since 2012, there have been more e-reader downloads than physical book purchases by fans, with the more explicit Spice category selling particularly well online. There are currently 20 different ‘imprints’, or genres, of Mills and Boon novels. The company is known for its quick withdrawal of products, with many books being taken off sale after a month and discontinued completely after three months,