Saturday, October 13, 2012

HP Shock and Horror

I was going through some of my book hoard (that's another post) and I decided to pull out a few of my really old Harlequin Presents titles. I have had some of these books since I was a teenager and bought bags of these old books from the library book sale for ten cents apiece. I grabbed one out at random, Wildfire Encounter by Helen Bianchin. Oh. My. God.

I had a vague recollection of this book, mainly because the cover model looks a lot like an actress I can't place. Anyway, I started reading this story and all I could think was "Run girl, get away from this abuser!" This poor girl was treated like crap, and even worse, she was raped. Repeatedly. I think the proper term for that in these "romance" novels is "Forced Seduction," but I didn't see the seduction part at all. I know Harlequin had that theme going in the older titles, but reading this today made me sick. The "hero" --I use that term with the utmost irony, was a rich, older man (late 30s) and he was cruel and disgusting. The heroine was a virginal 20 year old forced into marriage. The sickest part of it all, though, and yes, I made myself finish it, was that the heroine actually came to "love" him through his brutish behavior.

I was reading bits of text and then screeching "WTF?" so often that my husband told me to just put it down, but I couldn't. I had to see how they could possibly have a HEA. The only thing I can figure is that she had Stockholm Syndrome. I am feeling dirty for having read it, and I'm thankful that I didn't take this kind of story for reality when I was a teenager or I would have had the most horribly skewed view of adult relationships. I can totally see why so many romance novels of the time had such a bad rap. They deserved it.

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