Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 2: Isn’t it supposed to be sexy?

Well, I’m pleased to say I’ve now read some Mills & Boon. Three to be precise. Plus the beginning of another which I abandoned after a couple of chapters because it was about a plain girl with a tragic background who goes to live with a stern, rich man as a nanny to his pretty young ward and I’ve already read Jane Eyre.

It’s been illuminating. Not least because I’ve always been under the impression that Mills & Boon was erotic; a lightly salacious romp for the lady reader. Of the three I’ve read, one was about a girl who didn’t believe in sex before marriage and one was about a girl who was so traumatised by her first experience (it hurt, we learn) that she had avoided it ever since. Admittedly the third set of protagonists did manage to get their respective ends away but their efforts were both grossly overstated and depressingly abbreviated. I counted four thrusts during their first session, a meagre effort by most standards and certainly not enough to “build a pyramid of bliss” within anyone. Come to think of it, what is a pyramid of bliss? If someone could clarify that’d be appreciated because I’m currently picturing a tray of Ferrero Rocher…

There is also no foreplay to speak of though apparently a brief touch of his fingers is enough to find her “dewed for him already.” And you can forget about her touching him. The first she knows about the “strong length of his bared shaft” is when it’s pressed against her thigh and thereafter pretty quickly pushing against her “silken tissues” which part easily, making his entry “as smooth as satin.”

When you’re done being sick in your mouth, maybe we could talk about how appalling this is. What I don’t understand is that this stuff is written for women. By women. It purportedly represents female fantasy but this is not the kind of sex women fantasise about…. is it?? A pyramid of fucking bliss?

Now we all know good sex is hard to write but I think in some ways I’ve found the even bigger challenge: writing bad sex. Because I cannot conceive of a situation in which I would come up with such a phrase as “silken tissues,” let alone use it to describe somebody’s vagina. It might have worked wonders 500 years ago in some sort of Jacobean equivalent to a Kleenex advert but that’s a niche market at best.

Of course, Mills & Boon dates back to 1908 and its current publisher has been churning them out since 1971 so maybe I’ve just been picking from the wrong decade (admittedly I went for the cheapest). And with ten series, each publishing several titles a month, there’s a hell of a lot out there. Time to narrow the search, methinks.

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Next up: Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 3: Losing the plot

Previously: Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 1: How hard can it be?

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3 thoughts on “Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 2: Isn’t it supposed to be sexy?

  1. Pingback: Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 3: Losing the plot « Francesca Da Rimini

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