Mills & Boon Land, where the rules never change: “No inter-racial relationships (‘though sheikhs are OK’), no adultery, no one-night stands, no politics, religion (presumably the sheikhs are of the non-muslim variety) or other gritty social issues, no subplots, no same-sex couplings. The hero must be an ‘Alpha Male’. He cannot be bald, ginger or short. He cannot be German. The heroine must be of childbearing age (ideally 22-34), she’s allowed one illegitimate child, she cannot smoke and she cannot be the man’s superior socially or financially. I realise with a stab of disappointment that not only am I unlikely to make it as a romantic writer, but, as a 35 year old, I don’t even qualify as a romantic heroine. Elizabeth has worked herself up into a righteous lather by this stage. ‘I’m tempted to sue Mills & Boon,’ she declares.” Joanne O’Connor boldly goes where you couldn’t pay me to venture–into the heart of a course in romance writing.

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