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Fuck You for Fucking Up my Sex Life, Mills & Boon, Harlequin Romance and Silhouette Desire!

I found my first Mills and Boon book at age eight. Someone had abandoned a bunch of dog-eared, moth-eaten, mouldy romance novels in a box in the corner of my house. When I landed upon them it was like I had completed my journey to the centre of the earth, chale. The men were always rich and handsome and damaged. The dating was always passionate. The sex was always hot. The women were always beautiful. The stories were always filled with longing and regret, and profound, aching desire. When the man finally got the girl into bed he ravaged her until, despite herself, she lost her bra and her breeding and capitulated to the force of his sexiness. He slid into her with the sexiest authority and she came and came and came and came.

 

I was a sensible enough child to know that the scenarios weren’t likely to be true. I was also sensible enough to know that the relationships between the men and the women, if the story was to be real-life, would be REALLY problematic. I mean, let’s be honest, the men were always really forceful and domineering (pretty much stalkers and kidnappers, really) and the girl was always a naïve virgin who worked for the guy, or was beholden to him in some way. Despite any number of terrible things he had done to the chick or her family, to force her to notice him, she always forgave him. I mean, I didn’t have to be a genius to know the scenarios weren’t true. But, oh my God, somehow, somehow, somehow, I believed the sex was.

 

I thought an orgasm was something that you willed yourself not to have, despite the waves of pleasure wafting through your entire body, and I was convinced that when you were having sex, good sex, real, romantic, life-changing sex, the way to do it was to focus entirely on your partner’s pleasure and try to tamp yours down so he could skilfully and artfully wring it from you despite your protestations and when you finally came it would burst out of you in a tidal wave of suppressed passion and sensation and you would shudder and shudder and shudder in the man’s arms till he calmed your trembling body down with his masterful kisses. You know, like doing a tug of war with someone and pulling on the rope while they pull from the other side and using all your strength not to give them the rope and watching them use all their strength to pull it from you and that sweet tension building till the moment when they yank the rope away from you and it is all the more exciting because of the build-up? Yep.

 

Even when I grew up into a teenager who loved romance novels and then into an adult who saw them for the drivel they were—unrealistic gendered depictions that made love and sex and intimacy transactional and disempowering–I still had this image of torrid, powerful, soul-shaking orgasms that I believed could be achieved under the right conditions. It’s like, in spite of my awareness that the stuff in those books was unrealistic and stupid, I had still swallowed tiny spoonfuls of it. Looking back, reading these books as a kid is probably a big part of the reason I didn’t have sex till I was 22.

 

 

The first time I had sex I was ready for it to be epic. I had waited this long. I hadn’t slept with somebody who I knew wouldn’t take my pleasure into consideration. I knew the guy loved me and was beyond attracted to me. We had been making out for weeks and sleeping in the same bed every night so we knew all of each other’s pleasure spots. I had waited my whole life, read all the books, learnt how to pleasure myself, bought a vibrator, made myself cum over and over and over. Chale, I thought I was guaranteed an orgasm. A Mills and Boon, Silhouette Desire, Harlequin-level orgasm.

 

When I had the orgasm (which I realise now I should have been totally grateful for because that hardly happens on your first time) I was disappointed because I felt it had been too small. And as my first lover and I continued having sex, amazing tender sensual sex, when I felt myself starting to come I would will it away and tamp it down, waiting for him to do some trick that would wrest it out of me in a cataclysmic explosion. Sometimes he could. But half of the time he couldn’t.

 

Every time he came and I didn’t I would be sad and disappointed and start doubting the depth of his love and concern for me. After all I had made his pleasure my priority and he hadn’t made mine his. I had made sure he came but he hadn’t made sure I had. I had given him pleasure. Why couldn’t he make damned sure he gave me the same pleasure?

 

Then one day as we were fucking and I felt that tightening in my chest and my stomach and my nipples and my pussy that meant I was getting so close to the edge I told him to stroke my clit while he thrust. He did. It felt so good. If only he applied a little more pressure to the tip. My clit was so hard. It was going to pop out of the hood. It was too sensitive to touch. He would just have to stroke the side to get me there, the side, the side, just the side, yes, just like that, just like that, now a little more to the right, yes babe, yes babe, just like that, just like that, oh I’m going to come all over your dick, babes, I’m going to come all over your dick, oh babes, oh babes….

 

I was so far gone in the impending orgasm I didn’t even notice that he had come until I realized that his fingers had changed position on my clit by like two centimetres and the amazing sensations I was feeling had stopped. He looked down at me remorsefully, “Sorry, V, you’re just so fucking sexy. I couldn’t hold on any longer. Did you make it? Did you come?” He looked like he was anticipating my disappointment.

 

It seems inappropriate to quote Oprah on a topic like this but it was my “Aha moment.” If I had been stroking my own clit I would have come. There would have been no wahala of giving him ten thousand precise instructions. He could have been sucking my tits instead and made the O even more amazing. Great sex isn’t about someone pushing all your buttons while you fight against losing control. Great sex is about collaboration. It’s like pounding fufu in tandem, where one person uses the pestle and another person turns the fufu with their hands to ensure smooth, doughy perfection. It’s a team effort, for both people. Not one person making another person come but two people making sure they come and they other person does as well. Real sex is noting like a Mills and Boon book. In reality, it’s even better.

 

 

About the Author

has written 14 stories on this site.

23 Comments
  1. Nana Darkoa says:

    This post cracked me up. I can so identify…I too was hooked on to Mills & Boon, Silhouette, Harlequin from when I was in Primary school and never questioned how misogynistic the story lines were…we really need to write our own stories and our own versions of M&B etc. Thanks for another great piece VV

  2. Lady Ngo says:

    LOL, i still know so many people obsessed with the whole Harlequin romance genre. I just look at them and shake my head. I personally don’t care for those types of books, which i’ve dubbed Oyinbo Erotica. Give me Zane any day over that junk. Or something written from a Nigerian voice, pidgin english inclusive.

    • Hahaha, at Oyinbo Erotica. I was reading a research paper a few years back that was saying that these books, dime-store novels, were actually written to serve as sexual stimulation for bored suburban housewives who society wouldn’t allow to purchase pornography or erotica without judgment so you might actually not be too far off the mark with your description.

      I read a lot of Zane when I was much younger but after a while her stories all started to look the same to me. I agree with needing some new erotica with pidgin and African scenarios. The Fabulous Nnenna and other Adventurers have started the trend so hopefully the genre will blossom into something big and awesome.

  3. Sex in M&B, V.V? What editions were those? 😀 Could you send me a boxful for my lonely weekends?

    • Voluptuous Voltarian says:

      Kofi, Kofi, Kofi, I wish I could send you a boxful but alas I think some religious relative of mine burned the box after we moved out of that house. Besides, the sex in those books weren’t really the sex that normal people i.e. have oh. It was more, let’s say flowery sex, everything was said in euphemism “her heaving bosom throbbed against his sinewy chest and her desire burst from her in a spurt of ecstasy as his tumescent member probed her depths and she coated his manhood with a sheen of passion” I mean to a horny and overly precocious 8 yr old they got the job done but I doubt they would get any self-respecting adult there. Mills and Boon and Harlequin if I remember correctly were less explicit than Sillhouette Desire which was written in slightly more modern language so if you do insist on being sent a box of this stuff I think I might have to start there.

  4. Paapa says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Nana Darkoa. It’s truly piece indeed and to add a little to Lady VV, Sex in reality is much much better especially when your partner is that GOOD!!!!!!!!!

  5. Anon 1 says:

    As a romance lover myself, I understand this completely. I don’t think I had an orgasm until the 5th time I had sex and that was only because he licked me.
    Xoxo

  6. Nnenna says:

    @VV: Girl, I think I love you. Have my babies.

  7. Malaka says:

    Oh my gosh. I laughed so hard when you were close and he ruined the whole thing! I’ve been there on my than one occasion. I’ll draw wisdom from your aha moment and touch myself next go round.

    Bravo, VV. Bravo!

  8. Myne Whitman says:

    Your dog eared M&B had sex in them, from the 70s and 80s? You surely jest. Write about collaborative sex and orgasms, but I doubt harlequin desire had anything to do with not knowing how to.

    • Voluptuous Voltarian says:

      Hi Myne,
      I’m sorta a youngin so my books were from the early 90’s. Like I was telling Kofi, with the exception of Silhouette Desire which was a tad more realistic these books were all written in “sex code” of sorts where things were said in a more romantic and less factual way. But as an eight year old with a big vocabulary I knew exactly what they were talking about and it was enough to make me happy in my panties, lol. So, no I do not jest 🙂 My obsession with those books well into my late teens so it was interesting to see, over the years, how the plotlines and language “evolved”. I mean they are still unrealistic as hell but some of the genres at least got slightly better with the times.

  9. Saffron says:

    VV — I came to the party late! I started reading the sexually explicit (as they were then) M&Bs at about age eleven. In secondary school, I would read them during classes I considered myself too cool to attend e.g. Math class (not that I was a Math maestro, I hated the subject and could not be bothered but attended because there was nothing awesome about the inevitable punishment for absconding class).

    Personally, M&Bs, Silhouette Desire and Harlequin provided narratives through which I explored and misguidedly learned about sex (don’t laugh!) – I could not ask my mother what an orgasm was. Masturbation was not a topic for polite conversation (or impolite conversation for that matter).

    That era of discovery was fun (for me) while it lasted. I have read some contemporary M&Bs that contained ‘collaborative sex’.

    This is off topic, but I noticed that romance novels (à la M&B), sold in the various places I’ve lived were quite vanilla (for lack of a better term), they lacked BDSM and ‘salad tossing’. I am not a fan of Rihanna – for obvious and obscure reasons but she was onto something with the lyrics “…chains and whips excite me!”.

    During a regular trip to my local book store, I hogged the romance novel section and skimmed the novels on display to ascertain whether they’ve gotten raunchier – nope!

    • For shame! I had heard they had gotten kinkier and were starting to incorporate some aspects of light BDSM and role play into them. I guess I was lied to. Know what this means though, Saffron? You’ll have to take a break from impressing us with your vast trove of legalese and write some. I would buy a Mills and Boon book with your name on it in a minute.

  10. Abena says:

    Ooh mine ooh mine! I can defo relate to the M&B,Harlequin story lines: I was totally sucked in!was expecting my frst sex to be earth shattering and all based on my perception of what I had read!
    And how can I forget the drawing &pictures on the covers?very chiselled hunk looking men with drop dead gorgeous ladies!
    And yes all the men were rich,arrogant &ruthless and when they touched the women,they just melted into smithreens,eeii!
    And finally,these hot men had a hotter scheming woman who was in competition wit the ‘not so deserving not in his class woman’ who he eventually settled with after soo many wahala!
    Ok I rest here bcos I could write a whole article on how hooked I was on those books &their similar characteristics.
    Nice one VV

  11. Naa Adjeley says:

    Fuck Mills and Boon mehn…how much do you think i could get paid in damages if i decided to sue for “misrepresentation of an orgasm”? 🙂 And VV…you were worried about quoting Oprah? I was worried about bursting into crazy laughter the next time i saw two people pounding fufu!

    • Saffron says:

      Naa — very interesting, that would be a notable law suit (perhaps it could be turned into a class action if certain conditions are met).

      Putting aside the various legal technicalities that would have to be proved and to test your hypothesis — You would have to show that there was a legally binding contract between yourself and M&B (or the company that owns M&B) and prove that a legal relationship existed creating responsibilities and obligations on the part of M&B towards you. You would then have to show that they defrauded you in their representation of orgasms as they pertain to you.

      Herein come the catches – firstly, misrepresentations are often made to draw someone into a contract in which case the remedy is recission i.e. repudiate the contract and if certain conditions are met damages may be awarded. In the remedy of recission you may have to return all the M&B novels you purchased in which case you’ll be repaid the amount spent on the novels (assuming you’re successful – if not you would have to bear the costs of the trial for the other party). Damages are often calculated based on the financial damages suffered by the party alleging wrong (in this case you) because said party acted on the terms of the contract and promises of the other party (in this case M&B) and suffered financial loss or other harm as a result. The more harm shown to have been suffered, the greater the likelihood of an award of (a large sum of) damages.

      The second catch is that if you argue that the representations were made within the content of the novel (as opposed to inducing you to buy the novels), you fall into the realm of the law of Torts and can seek damages for fraud – if this distinction is not made clear at the beginning of the suit – your action may be thrown out causing you to start afresh costing money and time (which equals money).

      The third catch is that your action may be time barred based on the statute of limitations. In Contract and Tort certain suits have an expiry date meaning you have to sue within 3, 5 or 10 years – failure to which you cannot bring an action against the company or person responsible for your predicament.

      The fourth catch is that most TV series, books, video games have caveats (warnings). For books, the latin phrase is caveat lector (which I believe means “let the reader beware”) or caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) these are often written statements pointing out that all characters and events in the story are fictitious and not based on any real or true events or facts. That is often (though not always) the legal cover against law suits on defamation, fraud, misrepresentation etc. Whether you (as the reader/buyer) read the caveat aka disclaimer or not – as long as it is written, printed and placed somewhere in the first pages of the book (in small or large print) you are presumed to have notice — as they say always read the fine print.

      To respond to your query on how much in damages – it depends on whether we can prove that you suffered tangible effects and how much that harm is worth. We we would have to quantify how much financial, emotional/psychological, physical harm you suffered as a result of reading the M&B novels and whether the effects are long or short term (cause and effect is very vital here)- receipts from medical costs from your ob/gyn, psychotherapist/counsellor would be a good start in quantifying how much to request in damages.

      This would be a fun law suit to file under public interest litigation!

      Disclaimer: please consult with a qualified Lawyer before applying any of the aforementioned text – and to disprove my theories.

  12. Naa Adjeley says:

    @ saffron,am i to assume you are not a qualified lawyer? Cause dang, youre showing some kickass promise in that field charley! I read your comment like 3 million times over just to get over all that legal lingua

  13. […] Romance novels were a sort of coming of age for me. They were one of the tools I used to learn about sex (Voluptuous Voltarian wrote a great article on her experience with romance novels). […]

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