Ogg's portrait from
Ogg publishes stories on Literotica (and elsewhere), and is a very highly regarded participant on the writers' board. His opinions are often sought out as he is known to be the repository of vast amounts of knowledge about strange and wonderful things. If you want 18th century slang words for prostitute, or ancient photos of oriental beauties (no no, he has strict instructions not to release photos of me!), or advice about sea-faring or crinolines or water sanitation methods, you call plaintively for Ogg. (He also has exceedingly good legs!)
I am very delighted that he has offered to write a blogpost here, even though I did refuse to review his Kipling spoof about unsafe elephant sex. I have reviewed a couple of his stories here and here, and as soon as I have a minute to do so, I will be reviewing lots more!
|Latest Mills and Boon|
Although Mills and Boon books have been regularly accused of being written to a formula, something they strenuously deny, they are formulaic. There are specific readers’ expectations within each themed imprint. Most successful Mills and Boon authors write what their readers want. A purchaser knows what she will get from a particular imprint, and many authors have a dedicated fan base who want the same scenario repeated apparently endlessly.
Their books are unashamedly escapist. Why not? They provide easily read fantasies that might be embarrassing or dangerous in real life, but are attractive in the abstract.
They are the female equivalent of the old-style Western novels for men in which the misunderstood or rejected hero saves the day with his fast draw and rides off into the sunset, sometimes with the girl.
The typical Mills and Boon hero was, or pretended to be, a Macho male who did not need approval from a woman. There was conflict between him and the heroine, resolved by the end by her love.
More recent imprints have modified the typical hero and heroine, making him less arrogant and her less submissive. There is a trend towards sharing strong attributes and the making of equal partnerships. However the standard Beauty tames the Beast plot is still popular, especially if there are hints that the Beast isn’t as tame as she thinks he is.
What Mills and Boon sell so successfully is fantasy, erotic fantasy for women, even though most of the eroticism is implicit and not overt. It is romantic erotica, strewn with rose petals perhaps, but the intent is to arouse passion.
What is interesting from the Wikipedia item on Mills and Boon (extract below) is the idea that their books are socially degenerate - giving women unrealistic expectations of relationships. That argument is also used for young men and porn - leading to expectations of mind-blowing athletic sex with their first girlfriend.
So, are Mills and Boon deluding women? Or are women deluding themselves if they buy Mills and Boon? Is fantasy necessarily bad?
Writing for Mills and Boon requires talent. Being a successful Mills and Boon author can be financially rewarding. The downside? The output of a successful author has to be unremitting. A book a month and a Christmas special would be a minimum expectation from your fans.
You might not agree with me. Pick up a handful of Mills and Boon titles from a variety of their imprints, read and analyse. Are they just sanitised rape fantasies packaged as romance? Or is there more there than appears at first sight?
You might be surprised not just by the subversive erotica, but by the skills of the authors.
Extract from Wikipedia Article:
In 2011, psychologist Susan Quilliam blamed romantic fiction, and Mills & Boon in particular, for poor sexual health and relationship breakdowns. She made the claim in her paper "'He seized her in his manly arms and bent his lips to hers…'. The surprising impact that romantic novels have on our work" in the Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care published by the BMJ Group. In the paper, Quilliam writes "what we see in our [family planning clinic] consulting rooms is more likely to be informed by Mills & Boon than by the Family Planning Association." Quilliam argues that a correlation exists between negative attitudes toward the use of condoms and reading of romantic fiction; as well as citing a survey that shows only 11.5% of romantic novels mention condom use. She suggests that a romance reader may "not [use] protection with a new man because she wants to be swept up by the moment as a heroine would." Among other potential problems, romantic fiction readers are also likely to have unrealistic expectations about sex, to equate lack of romance or sexual desire with a lack of love, to see pregnancy as a cure of relationship difficulties and to be less likely to terminate pregnancies. Relationships of romance readers are more likely to break down because they are likely the think that "rather than working at her relationship she should be hitching her star to a new romance." Quilliam also writes that "a deep strand of escapism, perfectionism and idealisation runs through the genre" and "if readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves–and then they bring that trouble into our consulting rooms."