For those of you who don't read romance, this is the moment in throwback, bodice rippers where the hero rapes the heroine and she naturally has a screaming orgasm. In other news, my two sisters just broke out in hives. To reassure my sisters that I haven't tossed off my feminist underpants - "forced seduction" is no longer the norm in romance. The bodice ripper days are well, well behind us. In fact, this is only the second book in 3 years (that I know of) that has featured it. In the meantime, how many mystery novels featured serial killers slicing and dicing female victims? I rest my case.
Now I haven't read the book in question. Yet. I had a patron request it at work many moon ago (before said brouhaha) and ordered copies, so my name is currently on the holds list. Which has got to be saying something because lord knows I can't remember the last time I read a historical romance set in England.
For a good summary on this spirited debate, Dear Author can give you the lowdown. I was most struck by a comment made by Robin Schone, which makes me very happy her legal dispute with her publisher is over and she's back on the writing scene.
I don’t think it’s fictional adultery or rape that impacts our lives . . . it’s the emotion that a writer generates, in showing us that there is hope and redemption through love, that stays with us.That's it. That's why I read romance. Romance gives me something that no other genre can - when it's done right, it emotionally invests me. It speaks to me on a deeper emotional level. It has a lingering effect. Let us call it what it is - Reading Afterglow. With a good romance, I have total recall. I can tell you how I felt when I was reading it, and the emotional effect it had on me.
For the record, I am not a fan of "forced seduction" and I have no patience for old school romance readers who whine about the "good old days" and how romance today is a shadow of her former self. Not all the books that you read in 1985 were good. In fact, some of them were downright hideous. But as readers we tend to view the past, our reading history, with rose-colored glasses (yeah, I do it too). So while some readers applaud Campbell, others revile her book (and maybe her, hopefully she isn't getting too much hate mail).
Me? Well I'm wacky and think it's just fiction. The cries that this book will warp our fragile little minds (who will think of the children?) and promote abusive relationships is the biggest bunch of horse hooey I've heard in a while. And I used to work with the general public, so believe me I can smell bullshit like a fart in a car. If only our lives were that simple. If only fiction and reading had that kind of the power. The power to stop violence against women. The power to make the world Sunshine Happy Land. But it doesn't. Yes, fiction can speak to people. Yes, it can even empower people in the right circumstances, but ultimately people have free will. That is to say, they have a choice. And no book, nowhere, is going to take that away.
In the meantime, we have further proof that there is no such thing as bad publicity because I'm going to read this book. And I can firmly, and positively state, that I had no intention of doing so before this whole debate.