Over the last year I have come across some books that have a disturbing theme: hurting the one you love or may be falling for. Now, I am not talking about small slights or even arguments, I am talking about one deep betrayals. The kind of betrayal that for me would be the end of it or at the very least there would be a lot of groveling and therapy sessions. Let me explain some.
There are some unforgivable things that I put on a relationship. Lying. Cheating. Abuse. Non-consensual.
Lying about little things like surprise parties…I get that. It is when you intentionally change the truth to benefit you that causes harm to another that I find so unforgivable. Lying to the point that you have hurt the one you love or even people who they love. It is just unforgivable.
Cheating…this is such a big one lately. Cheating can be sexually or even just a thought. We are all human on thoughts so that is a little harder. But to betray someone you love by having sexual relations with someone without your love’s consent – deal breaker.
Abuse can come in many ways. Verbally abusing is just as bad as physical abuse. How can you in any way try to demean, hurt or bring down someone you have genuine emotions for? Wouldn’t you want to build them up? See their smiles? Never want to hurt them? I am not talking about BDSM with this. That is a different set of abuse if it isn’t consensual. I’ll discuss that one in a little big.
It’s a little bit. Non-consensual acts. BDSM is all about trust. Safe Sane and Consensual are the mottos I follow when reading about BDSM relationships. When you abuse that trust it is devastating When you force something non-consequential it crosses a line I don’t even want to talk about. It is wrong. PERIOD.
So what brought on this discussion where I saw some actions in my story that really upset me. Sometimes mad. Sometimes sad to see someone go there. Sometimes it made me want to violently kick the book.
The Dom Who Loved Me by Lexi Blake
The Dom Who Loved Me was the first book I really noticed this problem that bothered me. It is the book first in a series about ex-military guys who are all into BDSM and one owns a BDSM club. The hero in questions goes undercover to investigate a guy who is doing something dirty. He is to get in good with the secretary who they think is in on it as well. Well, he gets into her and fights the desire he feels because he thinks she is dirty too. She loves romance novels with BDSM themes so he introduces BDSM too her. It’s great and everything until the shit hits the fan and she figures out who he is. She feels betrayed, but what happens is where I get ticked off. The hero ties her up and practically rapes her all because he is ticked off and she doesn’t want to be with him. She never says her safeword but takes all of his abuse even though she wants away from him. After it is all over and she is innocent, she of course forgives him without a second thought. While I was upset she never safeworded out, she should have made him grovel or really make it up to her. Make him stand up and admit what he did to her was wrong and harsh.
The Men with the Golden Cuffs by Lexi Blake
In the second book in the series, the heroine is a romance author who writes about menages and BDSM. She is being stalked and threatened and needs someone to help her. The two heros always share women, so when they come to protect her, one falls instantly in love with her while the other comes along slowly. She falls in love with the two men protecting her, but her one big issue is that they don’t do anything to hurt her. Not physically, but emotionally. That if they want out the relationship they do it respectfully, not harshly. When they get evidence that they think makes her out to be a lying bitch, they react without really asking her a question. They practically toss her out of the house after she wakes up. And once again, she takes them back without making them realize the incredible betrayal to her trust. The one thing she asked them was not to hurt her over her desires. They do.
Sweet Temptation by Maya Banks
When I started Sweet Temptation by Maya Banks, I was dying for Micah and Angelina to get together. The heroine is in love with the hero and will do anything for him. He feels he is betraying the memory of his late wife if he falls for this woman so he puts out a lot of rules to their relationship to push her away. She is also younger than he is and naturally submissive. To the point that I feel she loses her identity to please him. He is intentionally harsh trying to push her to give up the idea of loving him. As he starts to fall more in love with her, he pulls in three buddies to help gang bang her for the evening. Basically she is a sex toy passed between the men. What I had grown to love in the story all of a sudden became sully because she was willing to do anything for him, give up her body for everything and he wasn’t really honoring her love. He was trying to prove a point. The two really don’t make an issue of the evening. It was just an issue I had with it. One caveat: Micah does share women in other books, so this isn’t a new kink for him. It just didn’t go over well with me. Over and over she is used by these men and the hero is so proud of her in the end. It just really made me sick that the hero would allow his woman to be used like this and then expect to have any respect. Also, they didn’t discuss sharing before hand, she just goes along with it. Still consensual so I had to back off. I just couldn’t like the hero after that.
Double Time by Olivia Cunning
In Double Time, the heroine lives with a guy who she thinks is gay, but once they had a relationship until she found her boyfriend in the shower with another guy. She thinks he is gay and keeps him on as a friend even thought he cheated on her. But in reality the guy is bi-sexual. Still he cheated on her knowingly and then hid he was bi, knowingly, so he could still be around her because he loves her. Now she has moved on to a new guy who lies to her about being bi-sexual, but at least he tries to be monogamous. Well the heroine learns both are bi-sexual and has some issues as to why she can’t be enough for one guy. They all ride off into the sunset loving each other. Great…but what about the first guy cheating? Lying? Or even the second guy lying? I don’t care if he is gay, bi or straight.
Rush by Maya Banks
Rush was the catalyst of this post. The relationship was mostly about lust even though the heroine has loved the guy forever. He has some conditions that leave it open to share her with other men. She expresses curiosity. I wouldn’t say she was gung ho about it but she was curious. When the hero starts to think he is in love, he wants to prove he isn’t and makes arrangements to share her with other men. Keep in mind he doesn’t pick trusted friends or even guys he knows, but business clients. He performs a sex act in front of those men and then leaves her with them while he is arguing in his head about what he felt and was doing. Still in the room, he isn’t paying attention to what is going on and she is almost raped. He feels remorse, she goes into shock. They kiss and make up. They have other issues later on, but this is the one scene I just about stopped reading over. I was upset with the hero, then I got upset with the heroine for not walking away. Not even making him grovel over it. She just took it in and forgave him. For the love of all that is holy in reading! Why isn’t he hung up to dry over this? He never makes it better even in his guilt.
Let me be clear, I love all of these authors. Many, many, many of their books are some of my all time favorites. These are just examples of ones that gave me issues. And even for all that, I finished all of them and all were three star or C books. I just don’t like a trend I am seeing become more prevalent as we go along and I am afraid it will get more painful, hurtful and harsh.
I am sure this isn’t something new to romance conflict. I am sure I have read more books that then that had me scratching my head and angry. Is that the point? To bring up deeper emotions in their readers? Or is it just blimp on my radar that just saw the light of day for once?
Is this a more popular way authors are going to get conflict into a story? The new trend? If so, I am not liking it. It hurts to see heros pushing the heroine around like this as they deal with their issues. I am sure there are some stories that don’t paint the females in a good light. I guess I DNF most of those before they go to far. Trust, consensual, respect…these are things I can’t break rules on.
So what are your thoughts? Is this going to become trend? Will we accept this kind of behavior as normal? Is this what romance is to readers? Are my thoughts antiquated?
What are your thoughts?