The other day I spotted a teenage girl reading a Mills & Boon (M&B) romance novel on the train. Words cannot describe how sorry I felt for her.
I read my first Mills & Boon (M&B) novel when I was in Primary 5. It was a Betty Neels novel and those in the know, know that the woman doesn’t do action. The only physical contact between the lovebirds was a peck on the cheek just before the words “The End.” About a year later, I spent the weekend at my Aunt’s house and in a corner of the guest room, discovered a carton full of M&Bs. The carton once housed a deep freezer. Oh the excitement! I grabbed one and tucking myself under the duvet, began to read. I was so engrossed in it, I didn’t notice when my Aunt walked into the room.
“What are you reading?’”
I was so sure I was in trouble. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that the book I was reading was inappropriate for a 9year old. I was still trying to come up with an excuse when I heard her exclaim ‘If I’d known you like M&Bs I’d have been sending them to you!’
Huh, no flogging?!
When I felt my Aunt’s house at the end of the weekend, it was with a case full of romance novels and it was then, the obsession started. Yes it was exciting to read the naughty bits but what I really liked was how sweet the writers made love seem.
Many asked, “Aren’t you tired of reading these books? The story is always the same!’”
The characters never like each other at first meeting, then they fall in love, then something tears them apart and eventually, with a healthy dose of melodrama, love saves the day. That said, every half decent story teller has a way of putting their stamp on a story. The difference is in the telling.
I always read the books with a handful of salt. I wasn’t naïve enough to believe that that was how romance really played out but I was foolish enough to let myself hope.
I’m still waiting for a heir, prince or sheik to fall in love with me, the ordinary girl his aristocratic family do not approve of.
I’m still waiting for a used to be poor bad boy done good billionaire to re-fall in love in the process of exacting his revenge on me, the used to be rich girl who broke his heart.
I’m still waiting to go on a work trip with my millionaire boss whom I’ve had a crush on for years. I’m waiting for him to discover, out in the middle of nowhere, that what he’s been looking for all his life has been right under his nose the whole time.
I’m still waiting for a man to whisper sweet nothings in my ears. Sweet nothings that make my knees buckle…literally.
Staring at the girl on the train, I wondered how long it would take her to realise that the book she pulled off a shelf marked romance really belonged in the fantasy section. Powerless to educate her, I picked up a copy of The Metro to depress myself with the harsh realities of life.