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Escape into the loving embrace of a romance novel - although don't think you'll be able to escape gender politics while you're in there.
Bea and Leah Koch, proprietors of America's sole romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice, consider the genre; and publisher Lisa Milton scrolls through the 109-year history of the imprint that epitomises romance novels, Mills & Boon.
CONTENT NOTE: the episode contains references to consent, and non-consensual sex.
WHEN YOU'VE FINISHED READING ICE PLANET BARBARIANS, READ ON:
- It's pretty far away from the Ripped Bodice, but there is another romance bookstore - Intrigue in Canberra, Australia. Anyone know of more?
- Submit your writing to Mills & Boon HERE.
- Roxane Gay speaks about publishing's diversity problem.
- Professor Val Derbyshire writes about her love of Mills & Boon - "despite the mockery these novels incur, there’s much more going on in them than readers initially suspect."
- Thrill to classic romance covers with the Mills & Boon colouring book.
- Billionaire romances: "To harried readers, the fantasy financier is as alluring for what he does have (a private island) as for what he doesn't: namely, the money woes that plague modern women." Yeah, but AT WHAT PRICE EH?
- "The Sweet, Savage Sexual Revolution That Set the Romance Novel Free".
- Couple of documentaries: if you can get hold of it, the BBC one in which novelist Stella Duffy tries to write a Mills & Boon is super. Available on Netflix, Love Between the Covers dives into Romancelandia, the community of readers and writers.
- Allusionist listener Suzanne mentioned she writes the romance book blog Under The Covers.
- 12 romantic books that won't make you gag.
- Jeremy Bentham's corpse might make you gag, a bit. (Unless you are Benjamen Walker.)
- The transcript of this episode is at theallusionist.org/transcripts/covers-i.
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MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Bea and Leah Koch run the Ripped Bodice, which you can find on Main St, Culver City, Los Angeles, and online at therippedbodicela.com. They tweet @therippedbodice, and the store dog, Fitzwilliam Waffles, has his own Instagram account.
- Lisa Milton is the executive publisher of Harlequin in the UK and is responsible for Mills & Boon, which you can find at millsandboon.co.uk. She tweets @Lmrhjb.
- This episode was produced by me, with music by Martin Austwick. Thanks to Nikesh Shukla, Kimon Daltas and Kevin Smokler for their help.
- Find me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/helenzaltzman and instagram.com/helenzaltzman.