Nora Roberts’s Boonsboro Empire: Boosting Business through Romance, Invigorating Romance with Affective Capitalism

Publication year

Here's the abstract:

The aim of this chapter is to analyze Nora Roberts’s Boonsboro economic empire, which comprises both the businesses she owns in the town of Boonsboro, Maryland and her Inn Boonsboro romances (2012), a trilogy which fictionalizes those same businesses. In particular, the goal is to study the ways in which Roberts’s trilogy contributes to the entwinement of romantic love with capitalism by probing into several aspects of the novels: the theme of courtship; the contradictory relationship between romance and capitalism; the romanticization of commodities and the commodification of romance; the use of metaphors that present love as both organic (irrational and gratuitous) and contractual (instrumental and utilitarian), and the characterization of the romantic hero as either a businessman or a warrior. Ultimately, the analysis will show the intricate ways in which Roberts’s commercial enterprises benefit from the affect provided by her romances, which are therefore proved to be written at the service of affective capitalism. It will also reveal the need to not disregard the romance genre as mere escapist or commercial literature, but to recognize its ability to shed light on the many paradoxes of our capitalist societies.

and here's the description in the introduction to the volume:

“Nora Roberts’s Boonsboro Empire: Boosting Business through Romance, Invigorating Romance with Affective Capitalism,” considers novels by the so-called queen of romance Nora Roberts. Drawing from Illouz’s theories, Carolina Fernández Rodríguez analyzes symbolic elements, such as recurrent and commonplace metaphors to represent love, thematic components such as the courtship of the hero and heroine, and the characterization of the hero as a warrior or businessman, as well as the marketing strategies used to promote and commodify not merely the books themselves, but also elements evoked by the novels’ settings and plots – ranging from hotel stays to restaurants and bookshops – which contribute to the happily ever after marriage of romantic love to capitalism. As Fernández Rodríguez argues, “Nora Roberts does indeed master the romanticization of commodities, but she then moves beyond that by using her trilogy to promote the actual businesses she owns in Boonsboro, Maryland.” (20-21)