UPDATE: April Fools! Well, yes. The BBC don’t hand out merchandise licenses willy-nilly. Picturing the faces of Whovians, the dread and horror… I couldn’t help myself. But credit where it’s due: the idea came from my wife, Emily, who I named an author after. The stunning covers, meanwhile, were by Roberta/Patamao from Milan, and Licie from Washington. I think you’ll agree: they’ve both got considerable talent!
It’s spring, and a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Science fiction fans are no exception – and today, in an exclusive for the Doctor Who Companion, we can reveal full details of an up-and-coming series of Who-themed love stories, to be released later in the year by iconic romantic publisher Mills & Boon, in a brand new partnership with the BBC.
Founded in 1908 by Gerald Rusgrove Mills and Charles Boon, Mills & Boon started life initially publishing textbooks and crime fiction, before forging ahead with the romantic novels for which they’re now internationally renowned. While the company is most famous for its conventional, rather unrealistic love stories (not to mention the tendency for happy endings), it also publishes a number of other imprints that dally with historical fiction, suspense and horror.
Romance isn’t exactly new to the Whoniverse, of course, particularly in recent years. The Doctor has shared passionate kisses with more than a few companions and been ‘married’ to River Song for quite some time – and fan-fiction is awash with romantic couplings of all sorts, from the predictable to the troubling. Nonetheless, the Whovian Romance series will mark the first time that this facet of the Doctor has taken centre stage in mainstream, BBC-approved media.
“We thought it really was time that the Doctor had his day,” says Abigail Flowers, head of Special Projects at Harlequin Mills & Boon. “Doctor Who fans read anything they can get their hands on, and you only need to look on the internet to see the abundance of interest in the Doctor’s love life. We’ve been working with some of our established novelists as well as a few new ones to bring the sorts of time travel adventures that people are used to, but with a distinctive romantic flavour.”
Most fan-fiction exists in ‘imagined’ timelines. But could these stories become part of the official continuity?
“I don’t see why not,” says Abigail. “It’s up to whoever’s in charge, of course, but it could certainly happen. The twenty-first century reinvention of the Doctor as a dashing romantic hero is hugely popular – and don’t forget that it was Steven Moffat who gave us River Song.”
River Song features, indeed, in one of the four novels in this initial range (the forthcoming Forever The Rain – image above and details below). While the first books concentrate exclusively on New Who, there is, Abigail assures us, plenty of scope for visiting past Doctors and their companions. “Who wouldn’t want to see a love story between Ian and Barbara?” she says. “Or Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan? Or Turlough and Mel?”
While most of the traditional Mills & Boon titles were comparatively chaste, the sexually explicit Blaze and Spice imprints enjoyed a surge in popularity some years back thanks to the growth of e-readers – largely because the stories could be read on public transport without fear of embarrassment. Although it’s early days for the Whovian Romance brand, Abigail is optimistic that the range could be expanded to include the erotic raciness that is endemic throughout much fan-fiction. “There’s plenty of sex in Doctor Who if you know where to look,” she says. “Innuendo is rife, and even if it goes over children’s heads the adults love it. We’re already in talks about using Jack, who arguably warrants his own series.”
A spokesperson for BBC Worldwide said “We’re very excited about this new literary venture. Doctor Who may have been a TV programme first, but it’s always done well in print, and this is a great way to whet the appetites of viewers while they’re waiting for the new series.”
The four books featured in the first wave of Whovian Romance titles are:
Forever the Rain by Connie Winters
The Doctor and River Song have a love that defies the laws of space and time – in a universe in constant flux, they are each other’s certainty. But all that could change when a shellshocked River is found washed up on the shores of the Great Magnolian Sea, suffering from amnesia. Desperate to help her regain her identity, the Doctor takes River on a whistle-stop tour of all their favourite places. But the trip down memory lane gains unexpected urgency when a new, galaxy-wide threat emerges – and the forgotten love between River and the Doctor is the only thing that can stop it…
A Parallel Child by Emily Dunford
On a parallel Earth in an alternate universe, Rose Tyler lives a happy, fulfilling and successful life with her human ‘metacrisis’ Doctor – until she becomes pregnant. All of a sudden, the couple’s newfound happiness is plunged into turmoil as they have to deal with doubts and insecurities about their unborn baby, while the Doctor finds his new humanity tested to its limits. Can love survive, particularly when nothing is as it seems?
The Time Winds of Romance by Amanda McCarthy
Filthy rich, devilishly handsome and dazzlingly enigmatic, Harry is all that Lucy wants in a man – and more. But who is this mysterious stranger with time on his hands and poetry on his lips? As Lucy is drawn into a dangerous world of intrigue, it soon becomes clear that her new beau is hiding something – but by the time she finds out the truth, it could be too late…
Love’s Final Bounty by Caroline Lawrence
Holed up in a forbidding prison on a desolate alien world, awaiting a death sentence, Martha and Mickey Jones recall the sequence of events that led to them meeting, falling in love and marrying. But just when it seems all is lost, fate has another surprise in store. Will there be a happy ending, or is this the last chapter of their fairytale?
What about you? What’s your favourite Whovian love story, and how would you like to see it represented?