Friday, August 30, 2013

The fine line between alpha and rapey

So Molly gave me a reading assignment. Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, which looks amazing, so what do I do, pick up a contemporary romance featuring a billionaire hero and start reading that instead.

And about thirty pages in, I'm frustrated, annoyed and a little disgusted. By all accounts the book has done well, it has tons of goodreads and amazon reviews and sold well.

My first impression was that the writing wasn't very good. My second impression is that the heroine is the same heroine that Stephanie blogged about last week, mousy, weak and at the same time, for no real perceivable reason, utterly alluring to the hero.

And then there's the hero. Of course he's a self made billionaire, before the age of thirty no less. (seriously, google billionaires. Romance doesn't have to be realistic, but we've taken this billionaire thing into science fiction) The hero wants no strings attached sex and of course he wants the heroine and being the good girl she is, she wants nothing to do with meaningless sex.

So what does he do. Back away gracefully and continue to woo her. No, Find someone else to satisfy what he continually insists are just basic physiological needs. No. Decides she's the one and insists over and over that he'll have her.

To me that's not romantic. To insist to a woman that against her will and wishes you intend to have sex with her is basically intent to rape. It's not romantic.

And the kicker to all of this is that he intends to pay her for her time spent having sex with him. So we get to add prostitution to the mix.


Now I get I'm being overly caustic on this, and according to the reviews some people actually enjoyed the book. To me this is the kind of book that opens up the romance genre to criticism.

If people want to read alpha heroes that badly, JR Ward does them beautifully, the hero is strong, and dominant, but the relationship with her heroine is respectful and consensual on both sides.

I want romance to actually be romantic, and so I'm putting down that book and doing what I should have done all along, read Life after Life.


Eileen said...

I could not agree with you more, Sinead! I spoke to a college class a couple of years ago, and they pointed out that it really was a trend in romance. He must have her. She hates him. He forces her to love him. Ick.

She has what Jennifer Crusie used to call the"glittery hoohah" and prizes her above all women for no apparent reason. Is it because it's a way for us everywomen type women to feel wanted and special? I have no idea.

I'll bet you enjoy Life after Life. I haven't read that one yet (it's on my list), but I've read several other Kate Atkinson books and she's pretty awesome.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I have life after life up after a few books I need to get read first. I'm so glad that my reading this summer has been so satisfying - though now I probably just jinxed it.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. It's the formula, 9/10 books published/released these days and marketed as 'Romance' novels have nothing romantic about them, but they still are a good pastime. It would be refreshing to read more of what is really romantic for a change. I'll have to get Life after Life ASAP and hopefully, be surprised to read something refreshingly romantic for a change. I also think too many authors are disillusioned with what 'alpha' really is. In actuality, It’s nonsense. The individual that coined the phrase for the animal kingdom even found it ludicrous to apply same mentality to the human species. Alpha men, Beta men, Omega men, Alpha women, Beta women, Omega women - he finally came to his senses and realized the idiocy of subjective attempts to classify individuals and label them as such. You're either a dick or your not or your a bitch or your not. Plain and simple. Authors have developed their own respective definitions or shall I say, some editor at a publishing house controls what that is/isn’t subjectively. Let’s not get carried away with it.

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