The Mills and Boon man is every woman's dream but no man would be caught dead reading one. Or so we think. Turns out men do read these novellas in order to learn the art of romancing. Parag Desai, 27, says he got into reading the books courtesy his girlfriend who insisted he behave like the heroes from these books.
Once he read one he was hooked for five years. According to Andrew J Go, director operations, Harlequin Mills & Boon India Ltd, "From our internal findings, it is revealed that men form an integral part of our overall readership."
Though there are no formal findings, Go feels that "perhaps Indian men are able to embrace the experience more openly" But this surely is not the case. For most male readers it is more like a guilty secret tantamount to being in the proverbial closet. 25-year-old Ajay Singh (name changed), who read his first M&B at 14, says, "When I first read the book I was book mad and read anything and everything."
He adds that when any of his friends find out they snigger for a bit and then go and read one themselves. Another interesting fact is that men don't seem to buy these books from bustling bookshops. Bahri & Sons and Om Books Store could not recall a single incident of men buying them. But Ravi Arora, owner of a second hand bookshop in a nook in Amar Colony, says he has had male buyers.
"Just yesterday a man picked up a set of 20 for himself. Students of class X and XII also buy the books."