Why Women Read Romance Novels

[Spoilers ahead! Also, as all good reviews are, this one is NSFW]

At the end of Nicola Cornick’s latest romance novel, Forbidden, the main characters, Henry and Margery, are doing what protagonists in romance novels do: having sex.

Not for the first time in this novel, Henry has just performed oral sex on Margery when:

“Oh, my goodness,” she said faintly.

Henry was sporting an enormous erection. It was not that he had not noticed, simply that somewhere along the way, arousing Margery had become more important than seeking his own pleasure.

AND THAT, people of the world, is the reason why women read romance novels.

Now, onto the review itself…

Plot summary from Cornick’s website:

After 20 years the Earl of Templemore has found his lost heir and the Ton is in uproar!

Margery Mallon is a lady’s maid with ambitions to be a confectioner. The one thing that she does not want is to be Lady Marguerite of Templemore, the richest heiress in England. Henry, Lord Wardeaux, is the man who would have inherited Templemore had Lady Marguerite never been found. Now it is his duty to teach her all she needs to know about the estate.

Henry has too much pride and too much of a dark past to marry Margery simply to reclaim the inheritance he thought was his. But although she is forbidden to him, it seems that she is the one woman he cannot resist.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would easily recommend it.

By the end, I was heavily invested in Henry and Margery as well as their relationship. I am not sure at what point that investment happened. The banter between the characters was fun from the get-go, their push/pull, up/down relationship believable.

I did question Henry’s easy acceptance of his fate and the gigantic shift that was going to take place in his life because Margery was located and restored as heir. His reluctance to even consider marrying her was never quite believable for me until it became about not marrying her since he did not think he could ever allow himself to love her (we all know how that is going to end). And he knew that Margery wanted to marry for love (and him not wanting to marry her because he didn’t think he could ever love anyone again just showed how much he cared for her and loved her – see how that works?).

I thought Cornick’s portrayal of Margery was well done. She is a headstrong, stubborn woman who has worked her whole life and is suddenly thrown into a position of wealth and privilege. There were multiple times where I thought I knew how Margery was going to act based on what I would expect from other regency characters I’ve read and yet Cornick never caved with Margery. Margery says the wrong thing and doesn’t care, she stands up for herself and refuses to be played, she rescues herself when it comes time for rescuing. I adored her.

There were places in the text it felt repetitious (literally one or two sentences would say nearly the same thing in a short space). And there were important moments when I felt like Cornick told me how a character felt about a situation when that was not necessary; she had already done all the work that would lead me to conclude that the character would feel that way. I noticed these instances because it would throw off Cornick’s otherwise good pacing.

Finally, this is a call to all romance novelists: I understand why you want put one of your main characters in danger (kidnapping, shooting, illness, etc.) in the end in order to force the other one to admit to themselves and to their lover that they do, in fact, love them. This is not a fault with Forbidden. I actually appreciate how that entire scene plays out when it happens. I just hate the predicability of it at this point because it seems so common.

I will leave you with a sex scene because, why not? Henry and Margery are making out in a secluded park when…

When Henry tugged down the neck of her gown and she felt his mouth at her breast, she was shot through with such intense pleasure that she would ahve crumpled to the ground had he not held her pinned against the tree.

A moment later she realized that he was lifting her.

The bark scored her bare back but the roughness of it was no more than additional and delightful stimulation against her nakedness. His hands were beneath her thighs, somehow her legs were wrapped around his waist, and her palms were flat against the solid hardness of the tree trunk. She could feel the kiss of the night air against her breasts.

She was filled with ravenous greed to take Henry completely.

I give Forbidden by Nicola Cornick 4 out of 5 stars. 

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4 thoughts on “Why Women Read Romance Novels

  1. Interesting review, thanks for that – like Cornick, I enjoy adding a touch of danger/adventure to my books and part of the plotting means the most dangerous part (the tipping point) usually comes towards the end of the novel, so sorry if that is predictable!

    PS – was Henry really spotting an erection? sounds like an illness!?!

    • Yes, it is “sporting” not “spotting.” That’s what I get for writing posts at midnight. Thanks for the catch.

      And I did not mean to imply that action shouldn’t climax at the end of the story. More that one protagonist, who is clearly in love with the other since forever but can’t for whatever reason admit it, is pushed by the fear of losing the other one in that final moment of danger that then and only then can they recognize and admit their love.

      Cheers!

      • Better to write a blog at midnight than not at all, Jessica, so thanks for making the effort. Unfortunately a lot of these alpha males are so darned buttoned up that it takes a really dangerous situation to make them own up to their innermost feelings 🙂 That’s probably why we love ’em!

      • True! We do love them.

        I read a novel recently (I can’t remember which one since I read like four a week) where the woman wouldn’t admit her love until AFTER the dude was shot in a duel.

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