It always makes me cringe when people say romance novels are porn. I mean, some romance novels are, in fact, porn. There is a wide range from “paper-thin plot wrapped around scenes of genitals being combined with other body parts in a variety of inventive fashions” to “the characters kiss a shocking three times.” But the latter category exists, and it is not because women as a whole get off on chaste confessions of love.
In my opinion, the purpose of a romance novel qua romance novel is to elicit in the reader the emotion of new relationship energy (or NRE, because I hate typing), in much the same way that porn elicits in the reader the emotion of sexual arousal. Naturally, these go together quite well (as do sexual arousal and NRE in real life). But they are separable and often separated.
A romance novel plotline goes through…
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