Shannon Stacey

British M&B book, perplexed American reader

I’m currently reading a Harlequin Romance, Oh-So-Sensible Secretary by Jessica Hart (digital/print) and enjoying the reading of it very much. No, secretary isn’t one of the category keywords I usually jump at, nor do I usually care for first-person POV or the absence of the hero’s POV, but I was totally sold and bumped it to the top of TBR pile after reading Wendy the SuperLibrarian’s review of the book, which concludes with:

I firmly believe that category romance, done right, is one of the most joyous reading experiences a romance reader can have. That’s what I felt when I finished this story. Pure, unadulterated joy. It’s simply, breathtakingly wonderful.

So far, at the halfway point, I’m in total agreement. I did, however, come to this passage and stop:

‘I’m famed for my powers of deduction. The FBI are always calling me up and asking me to help them out.’

I don’t mean to say that I stopped in a “bad” way, just that I became so distracted with the mulling over of the FBI, I didn’t read any further at the time.

The book is set in England. I assume—perhaps erroneously, but based on the prose—that the author is British. I even went back into the snippet and changed the ” I automatically typed to ‘ to make it correct.

The FBI is inherently American, though, so hence the perplexion. After much mulling, I’m left to wonder if that was changed for the American version of the book. I don’t know what the British equivalent of the FBI is, but perhaps they thought it wouldn’t be recognizable to American readers (though the context makes it clear). Scotland Yard would be one option—still British, but universally recognized.

Reimagine the equivalent passage as it would be if written by an American author for an American publisher and American audience:

“I’m famed for my powers of deduction. Scotland Yard’s always calling me up and asking me to help them out.”

See? Slightly illogical and perplexing. Why wouldn’t he say FBI?

So I guess my question is two-fold. Do they edit in “American-isms” for the US release of Mills & Boon books? And does anybody have a British release copy of Oh-So-Sensible Secretary? I’m very interested to know if he says FBI in that version.


8 comments to “British M&B book, perplexed American reader”

  1. Carrie
      · May 8th, 2010 at 12:17 am · Link

    Wasn’t he previously living in California before moving to England to go to school? It’s been a while since I read the book, but I think that’s why he says FBI.

  2. Carrie
      · May 8th, 2010 at 12:23 am · Link

    Never mind…I’ve mixed up books again, lol

  3. Evangeline
      · May 8th, 2010 at 12:25 am · Link

    I don’t know why it would be changed to “FBI” if indeed the text was tampered with. After all, the widespread and longtime popularity of James Bond made MI5 part of US pop culture.

  4. Shannon
      · May 8th, 2010 at 12:28 am · Link

    Well, he did travel a great deal, so it’s possible that’s why he said it. But he’s definitely British.

  5. Shannon
      · May 8th, 2010 at 12:31 am · Link

    I agree, Evangeline. I’ve been told now that the MI5 is the close equivalent to FBI and, while it’s MI6 that’s an American household name, the context and the “MI” part would have made the reference more than clear to American readers.

  6. Maisey
      · May 8th, 2010 at 1:26 am · Link

    Could depend on the copy editor or the editor. I personally have been *asked* to change things (expressions) that might not translate well in other markets. But I can’t speak for other lines really. :-) So there…that was helpful.

    You should me able to get the ebook off of Mills and Boon UK.

  7. Shannon
      · May 8th, 2010 at 1:32 pm · Link

    According Lynne Connelly, who has a M&B copy, and Liz Fielding, a M&B author, the author used “FBI”. The words aren’t changed for the American version.

    Mystery solved!

    (Please note: This was in no way a complaint, criticism or attempt to pick a fight about US/British language. Merely sharing the random musings that can stem from reading.)

  8. Annmarie
      · May 9th, 2010 at 4:41 am · Link

    I gobbled this book down today.

    That line kinda stumped me too. I re-read it to make sure I hadn’t substituted FBI myself. I hadn’t.

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