It’s been over 100 years since Gerald Mills and Charles Boon teamed up to publish books. Since then, they have been responsible for more than 30,000 fictional kisses.
Mills & Boon sells 130 million books each year in 109 countries and 26 languages. Someone buys a book every three seconds!
In India Harlequin, the publisher has published 26 titles in their Indian collection with authors Milan Vohra and Aastha Atray being the first authors to write a home grown Mills n Boons romance in English. Since then there have been titles that have come out in regional languages as well.
The Hindi titles "Raaste Pyaar Ke" and "Punar Milan" and Tamil titles "Bossin Kadhal" and "Avargal Meendum Inainthaargal" are available with Marathi and Malayalam editions as well.
It’s no wonder that almost every woman in the world has read at least one Mills n Boons if not more. Hence our idea of a perfect man most often stems from the heroes we’ve grown up reading. The list of qualities that he may need to possess are tall, rich, good looking, sense of humour, roguish, talented, sexy, intelligent, challenging who can sweep the woman off her feet and give her a good time in life. Now that we’ve made the list, let’s find men who can fit this role!
But alas, there’s no such thing as a perfect man or a real life Mills n Boon hero.
While a man is dating, he is at his best and puts on the cloak of a Mills n Boons hero to please his woman. He is dashing and articulate, funny and intelligent, wild yet surprisingly reliable. As soon as the man has ensnared the woman in a commitment, the cloak is kept in the back of a `routine’ closet and the man goes back into the minutiae of his existence. Meanwhile the woman is all swept up and has nowhere to go. She’s a tornado of expectation and romantic energy that she had read and tasted with the man.
The man acknowledges that he’s not a Mills n Boon hero. He recognises fact from fiction. But for a woman the realities are blurred. Her romantic notions, her relationship ideas, her future plans have been derived from an idea of a perfect romance she may have read eons ago that have stayed in her memory.
The company Harlequin has also been criticised for repeating plots, the inevitability of their happy endings, and a simple writing style, whereas fans cite predictability as a key reason for reading. While this may have boosted the sales of the books, it’s always a repeat reading or watching of something that allows it to take shape in memory. Kausar, Integrated Therapist at Sanctuary of Life mentions, “What we read or watch repeatedly will also be accompanied by our repeated interpretation of that message. Depending on our level of (un)awareness of the interpretation and its consequences on us, it can have an impact on the choices we make.” When this repeat reading of the perfect man takes shape, it is very hard for us to shake it when we do start having relationships.
In 2011, psychologist Susan Quilliam blamed romantic fiction, and Mills & Boon in particular, for poor sexual health and relationship breakdowns.
Gauhar, had always believed that her relationship would be like a Mills n Boons romance. In the beginning her husband had taken her for bike rides and chatted with her under the stars on a trek. Once they got married, the bike was traded for a cozy family car and the stars in the sky were exchanged for the stars on TV at night. “How has he changed so much?” She would ponder.
Bangalore based leading psychologist Dr Geetha Appachu has seen many cases of women with unreal expectations. She says that when a woman is stimulated by the idea of romance she equates it to love and she will perceive her relationships to have that same stimulation. Most of these women clients sit and wonder why their life is not close to what they have read.
The women are dissatisfied because they want their spouse or partner to pamper them the way a Mills n Boon hero has pampered his heroine. Often the relationship for the woman gets “boring.” Boredom then causes lack of enthusiasm in the home front and interferes in other areas of her work and society life. If the man and the relationship isn’t “exciting enough” for the woman she chooses to either break the bond or find stimulation elsewhere.
While we love our romances and Mills n Boon it’s important for all women to have realistic expectations from their relationships. When we start getting bored we must question whether it is in relation to something we’ve read, seen or heard and are comparing our life to it. A deep understanding of why you need the pampering, what more you can do in the relationship and what else can you do with life may help women in understanding themselves and their relationships better. But keep reading romance novels because they can uplift you, move you and make you smile. Just don’t make them your reality.
Dr. Geetha Appachu: 094486 17789 (Bangalore)
Energy Healer: Kausar: 09849152872