by Johanna Lindsey
do you like to read about rape? lots and lots and lots of rape? is rape an act of such little consequence that it is more similar to getting pinched or yelled at - rather than being an actual assault on a person's physical and emotional self? are you able to justify the constant use of rape, rape, rape as somehow being historically accurate and therefore not much of an eyebrow-raiser? have you managed to convince yourself that rape was so common back in the Bad, Sexy Old Days that it really just didn't matter much to anyone, it was just a fact of life like coal smoke and poor hygiene? do you like to see a heroine being lied to, stripped of food, clothing, and dignity - so that they don't struggle during any rape-y action sequences and therefore you don't have to deal with such messy things like tears & pain & blood & horror? perhaps if a heroine doesn't struggle, that's not really "rape", right? do you prefer your rape scenes to be written in a style that is completely and complacently without any affect - indeed, so affectless that the constant rape scenes start to have a bizarre kind of normalcy to them - a simple fact of life for women apparently? is rape okay when it is committed by a really hot guy? do you prefer your rape scenes to be written by an author who apparently has no personal experience with the topic and has had no one in her life impacted by it either, and so you can have tidy little rape scenes that are delivered in a voice totally devoid of understanding, of meaning, a voice that is totally unconscious of the truly debilitating and potentially lifelong consequences of such an assault? do you prefer your rapes to be cozy and free of physical violence and non-consensual but sorta sexy? rape is not such a big deal, right?
well, dear reader, consider this to be your personal recommendation and introduction to the rape-athon known as A Pirate's Love.
i have had some bad luck with the Romance genre. this is my second or third try and i suppose i am just not getting it. i have actually had more luck (and pleasure) with reading PNR and straight-up Erotica. i pulled this one off of the donation shelf at my agency's drop-in center - i was quite thrilled to scoop it up actually, Pirates being a predictable favorite topic of mine. i read this one early this morning, it took maybe three hours. reading it made me feel like a bad person. it depressed me. maybe i've just known too many people who have been raped to be able to treat this like the light entertainment that it was clearly intended to be. i doubt that Lindsey wrote this with the goal of making me sick to my stomach. but it is a horrorshow written in the blithe tone of a classic Young Adult novel. and that made it so much worse.
one small but important thing in this novel's favor: the heroine actually recognizes each rape as being, well, an actual rape. even if there was no struggle, even if she is tricked into it, she still considers it to be rape. good for her. but then, of course, she ends up falling in love with our ardent pirate hero. "Rape" in this world is just another way of saying I Love You. is this typical of the Romance world? well, i suppose that must be a pleasantly consequence- and emotion-free world to live in.