Bodice-Ripping Romances are a staple of the modern publishing world. They have been described as the literary equivalent of the Big Mac: juicy, predictable, and devoured in mind-bending quantities. You can find thousands of them in any local book store, and a quick flip through the contents will reveal numerous passages about heaving bosoms as the heroine is laid gently by the fire while sweet nothings are whispered into her milky-white ear.
The plots are largely interchangeable. They usually involve a highly sympathetic woman who is unhappy with her love life, much like the reader of the book. One day, she meets a handsome stranger from abroad with strong arms and a windswept face, and he knows all the right things to say and isn’t afraid to sweep her off her feet and take her to bed for a night of unbridled passion, unlike that bastard Harold who always forgets to pay the dry-cleaning bill and wouldn’t know real romance if it bit him on the ass.
What really makes the bodice-rippers stand out are the steamy covers for the books. They typically feature a well-oiled hero depicted by Fabio (who, despite his claims, can believe it’s not butter) striking a dramatic pose. His long blond hair is flowing in the wind, he has a sensual ‘come hither’ look, and one hand is upon the scantily-clad heroine as he dramatically rips open her blouse, thereby giving the novels their name. It’s amazing how many different versions of this scenario can be painted by the same artist.