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By Anita Singh , Showbusiness Editor. They are also a cause of marital breakdown, adulterous affairs and unwanted pregnancies, according to a warning published by the British Medical Journal. Far from being a slice of innocent escapism for millions of female readers, romantic novels are a danger to relationships and sexual health. That is the verdict of an article in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, which said women struggle to distinguish between romantic fiction and real life. Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist and author of the article, said that a "huge number" of problems dealt with in family planning clinics have their roots in romance novels. Above all, we teach that sex may be wonderful and relationships loving, but neither are ever perfect and idealising them is the short way to heartbreak.
There was the Arabian prince, the Italian playboy. And, er, the other Arabian prince. They came from all over the world rarely the UK, urgh barf but they had several traits in common. Strong, brooding, bright and prone to huffy fits of bossing people about, they were Alpha males before we even knew what that meant. And the women all fitted a formula too.
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Some have blamed one well-known publisher of romance novels as a reason behind this tidal wave of lost hopes. Despite their escapist nature, there is a considerable amount of realism contained within their pages. This might seem like a surprising claim. But realism in romance has always been a part of romantic fiction. Charlotte Smith , an early writer of romances, also injected a degree of reality into her novels. While her heroines of sensibility were being wooed from the turrets of their high towers by heroes with appellations such as Orlando and Willoughby, her subsidiary characters faced issues such as extra-marital affairs, unwanted pregnancies and marital rape.