Saturday, May 31, 2008

Man of the Month

This is all Aishwarya's fault. In an email conversation, she was bragging about all the Sweet Valley Highs she's recently found and which she has promised to blog about so that we can all turn our brains to mush.

Naturally I had an attack of nostalgia for the two Mills and Boons I used to read every day back in college during exam time while everyone else around me was going quietly insane mugging up quotations or whatever else it is they did. I didn't actually go and get these Mills and Boons; two enterprising friends went to GK1 and became members or whatever - they paid a deposit, like you do with soda bottles, and got back two MBs every single day. What with the three of us sharing two books a day, it was an orgy of feverish skimming.

I have to do a whole post dedicated to Mills and Boons, but suffice it to say that by the end of three years' exam-giving, I was an expert. I had read several variations on the same tired theme and I thought I's read 'em all.

So when I picked up three books the day before yesterday in celebration of the long-ago time of brain-dead-ity, I was expecting more of what I already knew. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the Silhouette Desire* I picked up called Odd Man Out (yes, it's on Amazon**, can you believe it?)

It's terribly written (did you doubt that? But it's especially terribly written). But it's unusual in that the whole romance is from a man's point of view. Man is persuaded by colleague an mentor to move in with a woman that the mentor actually fancies but cannot get into a relationship with. Man moves in and keeps house (and holds down his job) while woman goes off to save the world from environmental disaster. Lots of steamy sex later, Man proposes and Woman politely declines, thus causing the kind of heartbreak that women usually suffer in these books.

I found it quite interesting for its simple role reversal and because right up to the end, it's the woman who categorically does not want to get married; who kind of assumes that this is just one of a series of relationships. Of course, these books have a rigid structure, so she's has to marry the man in the end, but at least the resistance was refreshing. As was her logic that the future needs ecological warriors and therefore it was her duty to go forth and multiply.

*Of course, being a Silhouette Desire from 1989 (a particularly steamy year in romance fiction), this one has pages and pages of sex. I was amused to note that the previous owner had flagged down relevant pages.

** I'm baffled by the dinky car, though.


Lekhni said...

I started reading M&Bs after I moved into my college hostel room and found the previous occupant had left all her M&Bs on a shelf..obviously she didn't have the heart to throw them away ;)

I picked up the habit again after many years while waiting for the washing machine in my apartment's basement laundry room to finish - the room was well stocked with the stuff.

The flip side is, I can never think of M&Bs again without remembering that laundry room ;)

kbpm said...

you know, i used to also read these gawdawful books when i was preparing for an exam. i would shut myself up in my room for the three hour exam duration, put on my game face, but get bored somewhere in between, and schedule a half an hour of M&B reading. I did not meet the ecologist lady though!

Falstaff said...

"whatever else it is they did."

"I's read 'em all"

"colleague an mentor"

"so she's has to marry"

Yet more evidence that soppiness and sloppiness go hand in hand.

Also, I have to say I'd prefer brain-dead-iness to brain-dead-ity. Just.

km said...

M&B has steamy sex? When did this happen?

Space Bar said...

Lekhni: If I had a washing machine to sit and stare at I'd never read an MB.

kbpm: I once met a cat in one of these books, who was called Rapunzel - because every once in a while she let her hair down and came back with kittens.

Falstaff: I don't need to be reading soppy stuff to be sloppy while typing - as your own comment on my previous post should demonstrate.

km: Clearly, while you weren't looking.

Cheshire Cat said...

"1989 (a particularly steamy year in romance fiction"

I envy your expert knowledge.

Aishwarya said...

My fault. Fine.


Space Bar said...

cheshire cat: yes, and i hadn't even started about how i could, at one point, identify the year just by looking at the cover.

aishwarya: well it is, you know.

??! said...

how i could, at one point, identify the year just by looking at the cover
Holy crap. You're now officially on the first choice for any M&B quiz team.