Succulent Texts: Desire, Outlaws, and Consumption in Popular Romance

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This chapter is a study of twenty-first-century popular romance novels that feature outlaws, including Suzanne Enoch’s 2008 Regency romance novel Before the Scandal, whose heroine, Alyse, steals and hides food in order to avoid starvation, and the highwayman who sweeps her off her feet does so in part with promises of material comforts, including seductive meals and strawberries. In this and other romance novels, Noone explores this linkage beyond simple identification of food within the text and examines the ways in which the presence and absence of food becomes a prime concern for romance protagonists within these outlaw narratives.


First, Diane Carey's medieval historical romance Under the Wild Moon (1986) incorporates Robin Hood himself, though the novel features Robin's follower and fellow outlaw Will Scarlet as the hero, and imagines the greenwood as a place to which the imperiled heroine can flee and be both well fed and loved. Second, Suzanne Enoch's Before the Scandal invokes a Regency setting and a hero who consciously assumes and utilizes the role of a fictional legendary highwayman to save his brother's estate while simultaneously seducing the impoverished heroine with the favorite foods she can no longer afford. Finally, Alexis Hall's Prosperity (2014) examines the intertwining of sexual desire and a desire for expensive or unusual flavors along with a playful pastiche of steampunk airship pirates, Lovecraftian monsters, and queer sexualities. (169)