The Longing Lab

Romance Novelist Rachel McMillan on the Slow Burn

January 21, 2022 Amanda McCracken Season 1 Episode 1
The Longing Lab
Romance Novelist Rachel McMillan on the Slow Burn
Show Notes

Romance novelist Rachel McMillan discusses the intersection of sex-positive feminism and celibacy, the joys of traveling solo, why women want the slow-burn romance, and how longing fuels her creativity and cultivates gratitude.

Rachel McMillan is a Toronto-based Valentine Day-born romance novelist, avid traveler, literary agent, and history buff. When she’s not writing romance or mystery, you can often find her traveling through Europe doing research for her next story. Her first nonfiction publication, Dream, Plan, Go: A Travel Guide for Independent Adventure was written to inspire adventure near and far. Like myself, Rachel is a self-proclaimed sex-positive feminist virgin who grew up going to church (her father is a minister). Rachel connected with me on social media in 2015 after reading an essay I’d written on celibacy. We’ve been following each other’s paths ever since. While you won’t find bodice-ripping Fabio characters in her stories, you will find heroes and heroines who value their lovers and treat them as equals.

In this episode, we talked about…

• How longing results in gratitude

• Pursuing versus waiting 

• How romantic moments can exist solo 

• Investing in friendships versus romantic relationships

• Her love for Vienna

• How romance novels can set positive expectations for women

• The importance of waiting for a “hero” who treasures you and treats you as an equal

• The most successful hero/heroine characters among her readers

• Writing sex scenes

• Her choice to remain celibate until marriage 

• Learning to be your own best company/traveling solo 

• Sex-positive feminism 

• Medical professionals’ lack of tact when speaking about virginity with patients 

• Her love for TV Christmas movies​​


“A woman should never wait for a companion—a friend or a guy—to do anything….I made up my mind there is nothing I would not do, whether it was try out a new restaurant or go to a show at a theater….I have had pretty romantic moments in cities where I have met people…..Every woman should have to travel solo once.”

“Where’s the shower for the woman getting a Phd?”

“(Romance novels) can set the expectation that you should invest in a relationship that makes you feel valued and cherished. I have had occasional emails from women who have said that after reading one of my books and meeting one of my heroes, they decided to leave a relationship because they wanted to be treated better. (Romance novels) can help you see you should be treated better.”

“I always make sure that my heroine is set whether she has a man or not.”

“My belief in celibacy being ideal in a romantic relationship is far more from my romantic nature than a bunch of guys behind a pulpit saying, ‘Wear a ring.’”

“When I write heroes who wait a little bit, women love that. And most of the women I hear from have never stepped foot in a church.”

“Women want the slow-burn romance. They love when a touch of a hand is just as sexy or sensual as a full-on scene.”

“I just want readers to know they should hold out for a romance that makes them feel treasured, valued and an equal. And if they don’t find that, they’re going to be fine.”

“I am a liberal Christian and a feminist. For me, waiting is revolutionary. And I will die on that hill.”