Why Do Women Read Mills and Boon Novels?
By: Beth McHugh 2010
I recently bought a magazine and with it came a free mini Mills and Boon novel. I groaned when I saw it and the attendant in the shop smiled in knowing agreement. But one night, while my husband was watching the football, I read it.
It was corny, it was predictable and because it was the “red” label, it was semi-raunchy. Not soft porn, but enough to leave less to the imagination than the Mills and Boon offerings of the past.
Although written to a strict formula, and possessing an ending that is telegraphed to the reader within the first two or three pages at the maximum, these books are huge sellers and successful authors can make more money writing this light-weight literature than serious, more talented writers can only dream of. So why do women read these books and read them in such prolific numbers? With so many choices of reading material available what is it about these books that appeal to the degree they so obviously do?
One of the more mundane reasons is that the average woman, if she has a job and family to care for, is stressed. The Mills and Boon formula provides a sense of stability and reassurance that helps to temporarily shut out the unpredictability of everyday life. Each novel is different, but they are all the same, yet no-one cares. They still buy them.
Another reason is that these books represent a continuation of the stories little girls were brought up on, such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast where, no matter how dire the circumstances, love conquers all. Mills and Boon provide the adult continuation of these tales, albeit with the added spice of sexual overtones.
Probably the main reason women read these books is that there is some dissatisfaction with their own love lives. This could be due to the absence of a man or, more likely, the presence of a man in their lives. The reality of running a household, chasing after children, trying to keep up with the promotion treadmill at work takes its toll on a woman. And if her partner is similarly snowed under, then there won’t be much love action going on when exhaustion comes to visit.
Plus the first throes of infatuation are long over, and these books are all about the excitement and joy of being infatuated, a state that cannot last when a relationship becomes long term.
Although Mills and Boon books are often sniggered at, they obviously have a place in our society. But how healthy is a relationship if the female partner relies heavily on these books in order to make her happy? If anyone is interested, I will write an article on this very topic!