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Mills and Boon Prose

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"Overcome with his intense passion, Drake manfully thrust hard with his throbbing equipment, again and again, oblivious to the inevitable consequences of his actions and reveling in the sensual pleasure of using his electric toothbrush in a simple to and fro motion rather than brushing in small circles as his dentist had advised, and hoping that Cecelia would appreciate his minty fresh breath over dinner later that evening more than the damage he was doing to his enamel."
Irregular Podcast! #13, "The Complete Works of Western Literature"

The traditional way of handling sex in a Romance Novel; Purple Prose to IKEA Erotica's Beige Prose. Physical actions and sensations are conveyed via vague euphemisms or even overblown metaphors - while emotions are described in excessive, abstract Purple Prose. Often one suspects that the writer wishes they were participating in the scene. A sure sign that you've got one of these is when abstract nouns are used to refer to genitalia.

Popularly associated with, but not limited to, sex scenes. Any interaction between the main characters is fair game for this sort of emotionally charged description.

This is becoming rare in real romances, which are beginning to eschew floweriness for prose that's either more direct, even crass, or else naturalist, down-to-earth, and maybe even funny. However, Mills and Boon Prose lives on in parodies, often used to invoke Innocent Innuendo. It also occurs in fictional documents as a form of Stylistic Suck. Can involve Anatomically Impossible Sex. If a character uses this trope in first-person narration, that goes under Thinks Like a Romance Novel.


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  • Spoofed in a 2008 ad for McCain oven chips in the UK, where a woman eating the chip is described in this way.

    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • Stray uses a variation of this. There are no throbbing manhoods or heaving bosoms, but the first sex scene includes at least two separate extended metaphors for the POV character's emotional state.
    "From the towers where they hid in the most heavily fortified territory of Adamska's heart, overlooking the waterfall that fed into its own source, the last loyalists to the old aristocracy said to hell with it, threw down the torches, unbarred the doors, and ran outside to join the party."
  • Spacedust And Chaos: A Requiem. There's shagging going on in this Evangelion smut fic but it's kind of hard to tell.
  • Parodied in this The Real Ghost Busters story: Sweet Temptation. It turns out to be Slimer watching a cooking show.
  • Every single line of My Inner Life that is not Beige Prose or Costume Porn.
  • Forbiden Fruit: The Tempation of Edward Cullen: MANCARROT. Which is still a nicer choice of words than calling Edward's penis a "throbbing lavender man-fruit thing" and Jacob's a "horrible wet mushroom"!
  • Impenetrable Walls being a Chinese Palace Drama, a man wouldn't do something as vulgar as shoving his penis into his partner's hole. No, he will sheathe his jade stalk into his partner to make her flower bloom and fill her cauldron with his yang energy. Such flowery descriptions actually prevent Wei Wuxian to understand the Imperial Brother wishes to sleep with him, as everyone just keep couching it in poetic euphemisms he cannot understand.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Also parodied in The Naked Gun 2½:
    "His strong manly hands probed every crevice of her silken femininity, their undulating bodies writhing in sensual rhythm, as he thrust his purple-headed warrior into her quivering mound of love pudding."
  • The guidance counsellor from 10 Things I Hate About You tries writing one of these when not busy in her office. Hopefully the only time the word "bratwurst" is used in an erotic novel ever.
  • The Show Within a Show romance novel that Catherine is reading in Cáca Milis is written like this.
  • In Lethal Weapon 4, Ebony Clarke's writing is this all the way, but it apparently sells very well.
    Riggs: (reading)... "and the peaks of her pleasure rivalled those of the Himalayas"... have I ever made your pleasure rival the peaks of the Himalayas?

  • Stereotypically associated with Mills and Boon (UK) and Harlequin (US) novels.
  • Uncle Walter's Bad Romance Novel Quotes has a selection of some of the best Mills and Boon Prose in print.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: It's not so present in the first book, but the sex scenes become increasingly loaded with grandiose metaphors and descriptors.
  • Parodied in Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex:
    "As Sabrina gazed upward at Baron LeGume, whose dark, brooding eyeballs were turgid with passion, she felt the tormented tenseness of his throbbing, pulsating malehood, and she knew, with a knowledge borne of knowing, that she could no longer hold back the surging waves of passion that washed over her, like waves of something, as his brooding throbbing pulsating highly engorged lips sought hers, not that she wanted to hold them back, we're talking about the waves of passion here, although she knew that somehow, somewhere, perhaps deep within the shuddering throes of yearninghood that even now gripped the very core of her womanhood, if you get what we mean, that she must find a way, through the hazy mists of desire, to end this sentence, although she sensed somehow that..."
  • Used in Flowers for Algernon in the sex scene between Charlie and Alice. It works because it's used to show how different it is when he's with a woman he loves rather than when he's just with a woman who enjoys sex.
  • Any nominee or winner of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. An example of an especially amusing Talks Like a Simile passage: "Now her grubby soles met like they were praying. Now his skin was glazed in roast pork sweat. Now she made a noise like a tortured Moomintroll."
  • The one and (thankfully) only sex scene in Vurt by Jeff Noon is described entirely in a metaphor of a garden getting filled with sap. The best that can be said of it is that it's short.
  • The sex scenes between Claire and Adam in Watermelon by Marian Keyes.
  • Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure may be the Trope Maker. Partly justified in this case, in that the author was essentially winning a bet, writing the lewdest book he could without using any dirty words.
  • Parodied in Anne Bishop's Tangled Webs, where Jaenelle is reading a bad romance novel and shows her husband a particularly purple passage. He responds, "Sweetheart, if my penis ever does that, you'll be the first to know. Not as my wife, but as a Healer."
  • The Fountainhead. Specifically, the rape scene.
  • Common in Danielle Steel's novels.
  • Exaggerated In-Universe in Ascendance of a Bookworm: Like many aspects of noble society, Ehrenfest's romance novels are laden in implication and euphemism, with any sort of intimacy resulting in the story suddenly getting so abstract and surreal that Myne can't even tell what's going on (she compares the writing style to that of Bollywood musicals). When Myne tries to write a romance novel of her own, Ferdinand blasts it as "degenerate filth" and bans her from ever publishing it... because she was bold enough to directly describe the characters touching each other.
  • Anne-Marie Villefranche's D'Amour series has this in spades. Imagining a totally incongruous voice narrating it, such as BRIAN BLESSED's, makes it utterly hilarious.
  • The Mists of Avalon, so very much. It ends up giving the scenes in question a poetic, soulful tone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An early episode of Friends has Rachel attempt to write some ("Do you think his 'love stick' can be liberated from its 'denim prison'?"), inspired by Chandler's mother, who writes them professionally. Luckily for the broadcasters, she's a terrible speller so the others can openly mock her typos; the female character is apparently in possession of "heaving beasts", while the man at one point whips out his "huge throbbing pens".
  • This is the favoured writing style of Garth Marenghi and Dean Learner:
    Garth: Yeah, where is "he glided in liquid smooth", where is "her wispy mound"?
    Dean: Where's "her sacred V"?
    Garth: "Her honeyed lining"?
    Dean: "Her mossy cleft"?
  • Implied in an episode of The Nanny, when Brighton looks up from a book he found lying around and asks: "Dad, what exactly are a person's loins, and how do you make them quiver?"
  • On an episode of QI, it is lamented that there are no attractive slang words for a woman's genitals. Until "twinkle cave" is suggested...
  • In one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mrs. Forrester gets sick and asks Crow to read to her from a book called "Love's Sweet Throbbing Gondola". He does, getting more and more uncomfortable with each sentence of the flowery sex scene he recites.
  • Manhattan Love Story: Dana has to edit a "light porn" novel that's full of turgid phrases. With the help of the other characters she manages to edit it into something better.

  • MAD suggested a Danielle Steel novelization of QVC:
    A woman's hand (Was it hers?) now came into the screen. Lightly touching the bracelet at first, just the tips of the fingers. Slowly, the hand began a rhythmic stroking up and down the length of the brilliant, finely-crafted piece of jewelry. Giving the viewers an ever-rising desire to call and ensure that they could possess this thing of beauty.

  • That Summer by Garth Brooks, especially the chorus, which would not at all be out of place in a romance novel:
    "She had a need to feel the thunder/To chase the lightning from the sky
    To watch a storm with all its wonder/raging in her lover's eyes
    She had to ride the heat of passion/like a comet burning bright
    Rushing headlong in the wind/Out where only dreams have been
    Burning both ends of the night."

    Video Games 
  • Nasuverse sex scenes are commonly a mild form of this (more so in Tsukihime than the later Fate/stay night). Oddly, they're also written in first-person perspective...

    Web Comics 
  • In Questionable Content, Jimbo writes his trashy romance novels in a voice that verges on Stylistic Suck:
    Tai: ...I can't stop reading! It's so florid and overwrought, like a Meat Loaf album in printed form.
  • Everyday Heroes: Dinah Might writes her Villainous Crush on Mr. Mighty into her romance novel in a scene where she imagines the hero capturing and having his way with her.
    Dinah gasped as Mr. Mighty's hands roughly groped her, then his fingers hooked the neckline of her leotard. Under his super-powered hands, the reinforced fabric tore like tissue paper....

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros. showed that this could also be used for The Talk in the episode "Victor. Echo. November." One might need an unabridged dictionary to even begin to unravel the metaphors.
    Dr. Orpheus: When young women reach estrus, the lingam craves the stamen-like skills of the Yoni. This is quite natural.