Continuing with the streak of reading romance novella’s, I picked up Christina Dodd, another well-loved author and with rave reviews on Goodreads. I was however, not impressed. It became a chore to read the book with the lovemaking scenes progressing for 5-6 pages with no relief in sight. But I must not be so cruel, I guess, since so many people absolutely love her work even if she is re-telling the story of the VonTrapp family in one of her books (My favorite Bride). Suffice it to say, I am not a fan. I am old-fashioned that way. I like love stories to be simple, elegant and with minimum of those long, never-ending love scenes. I also find some of the reasons for strife that occur between the male and female leads beyond stupid. It’s probably comes from the cynicism of age and having the propensity to blurt out opinions as soon as they are formed in my head.
Anyhow, I can understand the plots from the movies and the long, drawn-out love-scenes and even appreciate the effort but what I find absolutely horrifying is the idea of what I see is being called as ‘Forced Seduction’ in two of her works; A well pleasured Lady and A well favored Gentleman.
Picture this : A heroine who is on the verge of having a love affair with the hero, talks to another man in all innocence and walks back to her room. Her jealous not-yet-boyfriend/lover is waiting for her there, where he proceeds to accuse her of being a ‘whore’ and follows that up with a ‘forced seduction’ during which she is thoroughly humiliated and is screaming a continuous litany of negatives to his every demand on her body. Or even better, the hero finds out the lady is an heiress and forces himself on her while she is in a drugged sleep so that all she remembers is a particularly vivid dream and is not enlightened to the truth till long afterwards.
Now the implications in these scenes are clear – the lady does not know what she wants and therefore must be forced to accept the ‘gift’ of ‘sexual knowledge’ presented to her by a man she is not yet sure is the one for her. Of course, it is besides the point that in real life a man cannot hear a woman’s thoughts unless they are verbalized in plain and simple language and sometimes not even then. It is also besides the point that men will sometimes read signals when there aren’t any in real life, when a woman is simply trying out her flirtations so to speak or even in some cases being plain kind. Raping a woman even in the name of love is not alright. If she doesn’t know her mind, give her time, woo her with flowers and serenade her with love songs and if it is bound to happen it will. I think it should be a small consolation that most boys/men cringe away at the mere mention of a ‘romance novel’ and therefore will not get such ideas put into their heads by a celebrated romance novelist who by virtue of her work would be supposed to be an expert in matters of the heart.
It was absurd and extremely disturbing reading to say the least. If it were a novel that clearly advertised the fact that it falls under the genre of “Regency-Rape-Romance” a reader is prepared for what to accept once he/she picks up the book. But springing it out in the middle of a book with a soppy cover is just plain rude.
Someone in my book club said it was just like the things in the novels “50 Shades of Grey”, but I beg to differ. If both parties are equal partners in a love act, then its their choice but forcing yourself on an innocent girl, either sleeping or awake is not the work of heroes outside Greek mythology.