Definitions from the (as yet unpublished) Dictionary of Popular Romance English

By Laura Vivanco on


Marriage: noun

There were those who said that the luster went from a marriage before one year was over and that all but the legal and ecclesiastical bonds were dead within seven years. (Balogh 362)

A romance heroine, on the other hand, will muse after seven years of marriage that

She did not suppose it was possible that she was more in love [...] now than she had been seven years ago [...]. That would be to insult what they had felt for each other when they married. But it was certainly true that she was as much in love. It was also true that the quality of her love had deepened. She knew him now in almost every way one human being could know another. Almost every way. No one could ever know absolutely everything there was to know about another, of course, and if it were possible it would not be desirable, because there should always be more to discover, always something new to surprise and delight. (Balogh 362-63)

Rake: noun

I believe the word rake needs to be defined [...] Or at least it needs to be established what a rake is not. As I understand it [...] the hero of Pamela is not a rake at all, for it seems he tried on a number of occasions to take Pamela's virtue by force and quite against her will. That man is an out-and-out villain, who ought not to be dignified with the name of rake. A rake, though capable of all sorts of wild, debauched, silly behavior, is still first and foremost a gentleman. And a gentleman never ever deprives a woman - and I speak not just of ladies - of her virtue against her will. [...] A rake may never be reformed [...] for most men believe it is a manly thing to be and something to which their gender entitles them. But they are not villainous for all that. Or, if they are, then they have put themselves beyond the pale of mere rakishness. (Balogh 297-98)

Seven-year-itch: noun. See Marriage.

Smell-that-is-uniquely-his: noun

Perhaps it was sweat, but who would have thought that sweat could smell so gloriously enticing? (Balogh 317)


Balogh, Mary. The Secret Mistress. London: Piatkus, 2011.


The image of dictionary indents was created by Minh Nguyễn and made available at Wikimedia Commons for use under the terms of a GNU Free Documentation License.