Some readers were aware that the novels they loved amounted to a propaganda campaign, that the love stories had a particular agenda that might or might not have anything at all to do with reality. But then as now, being a canny and independent-minded consumer of popular media did not bar one from also enjoying being manipulated by it.
The models we have, and the standards we are expected to maintain, come to us via heterosexuality as a normative state. Heterosexuality--whatever the current version of that concept happens to be--is unremarkable because it is the standard by which everything else is measured. That is heterosexual privilege.