I cannot remember when was the last time I read one of these, because it’s been so long since I read a historical, and you just don’t see this very often in contemporary settings.
What I do know is that I used to love them. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey etc. That’s what I read when I just started reading romance.
I don’t know whether I’d still love them today, but I’m keen to find out, for various reasons including the fact that my WIP has a forced seduction* and a rape scene. Sort of. I’ve decided to be a chicken (but not Southern Fried, unlike the Chicas) and skip that section, even though I don’t usually write out of order.
[It’s not a romance, but I’m looking for someone to discuss plot stuff, so if you’re one of the bunch of writers I chat with about writing regularly, and you’re curious, you know where to find me. This means the CPs, the Sisters, and the Evil people and everyone else I forgot. LOL. And it’s tagged sob story on my LJ, but I don’t think I’ve given that many specific details though.]
The marvelous** Jane says:
Let’s not sugar coat it. Anna Campbell’s hero rapes the heroine. There are no nuances that suggest it is not rape. Whether Campbell redeems Justin to a readers’ satisfaction is up to each individual reader. But romance readers are not so blind, are we, to repellant behavior that we actually excuse it to make it palatable?
I don’t know about the reader I was a few years (more like five or six…I feel old) ago, but I probably thought it was Oh So Romantic. Hey, I didn’t know anything back then!***
I think that it takes very powerful love for a woman to get past something like that. That kind of love comes under Oh So Romantic. In the hands of a great writer, it can sweep readers away.
So I don’t think readers excuse it, but that when a reader reads and enjoys a forced seduction story, the reader believes that the hero and heroine really do love each other, and so the heroine is able to get past the rape.
Michelle Buonfiglio summarizes the book in her post, but this section, I think, is critical:
But Kyleborn spends three, long, irate, celibate months tracking Verity. And when he finds her? He kidnaps her, drags her to the wilds of Scotland, where he attempts to break her spirit, so angry is he that she left him and took with her the only peace he’s known.
Reading this section makes it very clear why Jane asks that question.
As far as I can remember, every romance I read where the hero rapes the heroine gives some sort of flimsy reason why he raped her. Sometimes she’s a whore, a slave etc. If you’ve read one without this, correct me in comments.
Also, I want recommends. I’m eyeing Tracy Macnish’s Veiled Desires, any others? If you can recommend a contemp with a rape or forced seduuction, that would be absolutely wonderful, but I’ll take historicals.
* Maybe more than one forced seduction. I’m a panzer, and this is a long, long story, both literally and figuratively.
** Meljean, if you see this, I begin to understand Missy better and better.