3125 09.3.5 Mills and Boon: more men are reading these romantic novels than ever before. Picture: Cara Viereckl

London - It is just a shade cheeky. Mills and Boon is jumping on the 50 Shades Of Grey bandwagon with a new series of erotica.

The title? Twelve Shades Of Surrender.

The publisher best known for old-fashioned romances is unveiling the series in e-book form, hoping to catch the sudden wave of interest in racy novels.

EL James’s 50 Shades trilogy follows the sexual adventures of a young student and a manipulative billionaire and features scenes of sado-masochism and domination.

It has been an unexpected hit with the first book in the franchise the fastest-selling novel of all time, beating Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.

Its availability as an e-book added to its popularity, meaning coy readers could enjoy it without having to be seen buying or reading it.

However, its risque subject matter has not deterred millions from happily brandishing their own copies in cafes, trains and beaches.

Mills & Boon’s Twelve Shades Of Surrender, billed as “a daring selection of stories for fans of 50 Shades”, can be downloaded for £1.99 (about R24) each.

The dozen titles include Cuffing Kate, a fantasy about dominance and submission, and For Your Pleasure, about naughty neighbours.

The company, famed for its swooning romantic stories, began publishing more racy content in 2008, with the Spice paperback series.

But the boom in digital e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader, and tablets such as the iPad, has given the sexy novel market a lucrative new lease of life.

A Mills & Boon spokesman said: “Erotica is becoming more mainstream and acceptable as we and others evolve our packaging to become less explicit and women become ever more empowered to read what they want to and enjoy.” - Daily Mail