Romance publishers to launch string of 'spicy' books aimed at TikTok users

Two titles will be released each month in 2024, with the target of reaching the contemporary romance reader.

For more than a century readers of romantic fiction have turned to Mills & Boons books to get their fix of affairs of the heart and now the publisher is looking to modernise both its novels and who reads them. ITV News Correspondent Amy Welch explains how

The popular romance publishers Mills & Boon are set to launch a string of “spicy” books targeting TikTok users.

From 2024, two titles will be released each month under the umbrella series, named Afterglow, starting in January.

Afterglow will offer “a trend-led, trope-filled list of books with diverse, authentic and relatable characters, a wide array of voices and representations, real world trials and tribulations, all the tropes you could possibly want,” says Katie Barnes-Wallis, marketing director at Mills & Boon.

This includes “small-town settings, fake relationships, grumpy versus sunshine, enemies to lovers – and all with a generous dose of spice in every story”.  

According to the Mills & Boon website, it sells a romantic fiction book every ten seconds, but it’s yet to capture the hearts of contemporary readers.

It would be wrong, however, to say there isn’t a demand for such content among under-35s with social media platform TikTok creating waves of hype around certain love novels.

Romance dominates the ‘BookTok’ section of the app, with users sharing their favourite titles and authors giving readings from their own books.

The BookTok search brings up millions of hits that play into raunchy fantasies, which the Afterglow series hopes to encapsulate.

Mills & Boon said: “With an eyewatering 4.5 billion views of the hashtag #SpicyTok, there is a huge audience of voracious readers searching for their next romance read.

“To connect with them, HQ will be hosting a romance-themed BookTokker event early in the year, along with an extensive marketing and publicity campaign that will continue throughout 2024.” 

The two titles that will lead the launch are: The (Fake) Dating Game by Timothy Janovsky, which the publisher says is a “delightful and steamy male-male romance that takes the trope of ‘faux dating’ to a whole new level” and The Bookbinders Guide to Love by Katherine Garbera, described as perfect for fans of “enemies to lovers” with a “witchy aesthetic.”

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