That being said, I am going to post something negative about a book and mention the book and the author by name. Why? Because she's dead and I don't think she particularly cares.
Curious? What has gotten Monica is such a tizzy? Well, I'll tell you. 'The Flame and The Flower' by Kathleen Woodiwiss.
WHAT?!?! Besmirched the name of the Grand Dame of Historical Romance?
And here's why.
I have long heard about this book. People praise it and love it and that's fine. For them. Me? I had such an issue with this book that I only got about a third of the way through before I gave up. I couldn't read it. Not that it wasn't well-written but because I HATED both the HERO and the HEROINE!
Let me explain. Now, I can fully appreciate that this book was written a full 5 years before I was even born and therefore can make concessions for that. To a point. But what got me about this book is that the hero rapes the heroine THREE TIMES in the first couple chapters. Not a forced seduction but a full on rape. 3X!!! And what got me is that he knew that it was rape and that she didn't want him and didn't enjoy it but his attitude was "Well, someday you'll like it but until then I plan on using your body as my personal cum receptacle."
WHAT THE FUCK!?!? SERIOUSLY, DUDE?
Even after he's forced to marry her, he's unrepentant about what he's done.
Okay, I can get past a lot of things in a book. I am so not against forced seductions. As long as the woman at some point in the process relents and enjoys the experience. She may hate him and herself later because she gave into her desires but deep down she wanted him.
I know that there are many who will disagree with me and I don't want to get into a debate about forced seduction vs. rape. (You can do that over at the Smart Bitches blog or at Karen Knows Best here. FYI, I dodn't agree with either review.) A couple years ago there was another historical romance where the Hero uses forced seduction on the Heroine and that sent all of Romancelandia into a crazy tizzy about whether or not this was rape and is it appropriate in books. I read that book and like this TFATF, I didn't finish it. Not because of the forced seductions (which may or may not have been rape depending on your perspective) but because the hero and heroine were both so repugnant to me that I didn't particularly care for them enough to finish the story.
There is a little bit of that in TFATF as well. The heroine is so mealy mouthed and mouse-ish that she annoyed the shit out of me. Maybe I'm just too much of a modern woman to appreciate her but I literally wanted to crawl into the book and smack that bitch. Sorry. It was what I felt.
Now, on the flipside. Last year I read a book in which the Hero slips the Heroine a roofie and has sex with her. Definitely date rape. I had to put the book away for a while but eventually I did go back and finish the book? Why? I loved the characters and I wanted to see what happened to them and I understood the hero's motivations.
After reading that book, I had to consider where my boundaries were. I guess with this book I found it. The hero raped the heroine. Pure and simple. And I couldn't finish the book. I totally appreciate and respect Ms. Woodiwiss' talent and all that she has meant to the world of Romancelandia and I fully intend on reading another one of her books (my friend, Tricia recommended a different one to me) but that was one line I couldn't cross and the author couldn't pull me along over.
That's it. End of rant.