His head moved, his mouth glided up her neck with feather-light brushes to that hollow beneath her ear. Then something hot and wet… His tongue.
A Mills & Boon romance novel. The style is pretty easy to recognize – and to imitate or parody – because it works to a very strict formula. From its front cover and the precise length of the novel, to its characterization and plot, a Mills & Boon romance novel is very, very predictable. Whether boringly or reassuringly so, entirely depends on your point of view.
But, of course, this is just one type of romance novel, what’s called the category romance. There are many more. Romance is a billion-dollar industry and the biggest names – the likes of Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Johanna Lindsey and many others – are huge, bestselling authors.
Why is romance fiction quite so popular, why has Nora Roberts sold 400 million copies of her books, what do we get from reading romance? And who’s Fabio?
On this episode I’m joined by Dr Jayashree Kamblé, a romance fiction specialist. We chat about the HEA and the HFN, the history of Mills & Boon, why romance fiction gets such a bad rap, and some of the best romance novels out there today. Her dog does not agree.
Dr Jayashree Kamblé is Associate Professor of English at La Guardia Community College. She is the author of many articles on popular romance, as well as the book Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction: An Epistemology.
You read more about her here.
For more on romance fiction generally, Dr Kamblé points you in the directions of The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance.
Works Mentioned & Referenced
Samuel Richardson: Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded
Sherry Thomas: My Beautiful Enemy
Jarlath Killeen (who you may remember from the Varney the Vampire ep) has a very useful chapter on Nora Roberts, in this excellent collection
The Ripped Bodice is also a handy resource
All music by Blue Dot Sessions
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For more on popular literature, check out this episode.
Episode 20 is also about a type of fiction predominantly about women’s lives: domestic noir
Or how about the some of the amazing women of pulp fiction? Try this episode
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Romance Novels Transcripts
Full transcripts will be available soon