Tag: Discussion

Retro Post: Forced Seduction or Rape?

Posted March 15, 2017 by Casee in Discussions | 22 Comments

A lot has changed in publishing since 2008, but forced seduction and rape haven’t gone away. If anything, I think we’ve seen even more of this in contemporary novels.

This was originally posted February 25, 2008.
Casee: The other night, Holly and I started talking about the ever controversial topic–rape in romance novels.

The topic came up when I mentioned that I was going to start reading Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell. (I’ve since finished it and hope to have my review up in a few days.) Holly asked if CtC had the “forced seduction” in it, which yes, it does. There are several reviews on Amazon taking the author to task for daring to call her book a romance when the hero rapes the heroine. Whether it was rape is another story altogether. One reviewer told her that CtC was a throwback to the bodice-rippers of the 80’s.
Hello? Have these reviewers ever read Stormfire by Christine Monson? That is indisputably rape. That book is one that doesn’t neatly fit into the “romance” slot it’s supposed to. I’m sure that almost everything that has read Stormfire would agree that there is no question of forced seduction or rape. It was rape.

Then you have the books where it’s rather murky. It basically is left to the reader to decide for themselves b/c it’s far from cut and dried.

The few books that came to mind when Holly and I were talking were Once and Always and Whitney, My Love, both by Judith McNaught. Holly is insistent that Jason raped Tory in Once and Always. Me, not so much. As a matter of fact, I had to go back and read a few pages b/c I don’t remember ever thinking it was rape.

No means no. Right? It’s not so black and white when it comes to the written word (please remember that we’re talking about this topic in regard to reading). As far as Whitney, My Love goes, I think it was rape. Clayton raped Whitney. I don’t even have to think about it.

Then you have books like The Duke by Gaelen Foley. The rape of the heroine turned the plot. It changed who the heroine would have been if the rape wouldn’t have happened. Does that make it less a romance? No, that makes it life. It made the heroine change her life choices, sure, but it didn’t make it less of a romance. That doesn’t mean it’s any less tragic, it just showed the reader that something like that changes a person’s life.


There’s definitely a fine line between what I consider “acceptable” forced seduction and just flat out rape. While I agree with Casee about Whitney, My Love, I disagree with her about Once and Always. In my opinion, Jason raped Tory, same as Clay raped Whitney, it was just written prettier in O&A.

You see, Tory said no. She said no at the beginning and continued to say no throughout. Even as her body responded, she told him no. No is no. I don’t care what your body says. If your mouth says no (and it’s clearly not what you want) that’s rape. Plain and simple.

Of course, there are a lot of gray areas there. Because if well written, a forced seduction can be a turning point in a novel. And if extremely well written, I – who considers the “forced seduction/rape” issue a major hot button – will love the hero anyway. That doesn’t happen often, but it has happened.

But back to Jason and Tory. The thing is, I liked Jason. A lot. He was a good hero, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure Tory deserved him. She wasn’t totally TSTL, but she did come close. Regardless of that, however, that one scene, the scene where he forces her to submit to him, wasn’t sexy, or hot, or something I’d ever want to experience. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly independent. Or because I’m a modern day woman. Or maybe it’s just I can’t imagine having all control taken away, but when Tory told Jason, “I’ll hate you if you do this” and he did it anyway..well, a part of me hated him, too.

I have to give Judith McNaught credit, however, because even though I hated that one scene in the book, I didn’t end up hating the book as a whole. Nor did I hate Jason or Tory. Honestly? I’m not even sure if I can explain exactly why that is. I imagine it has something to so with JM’s ability to make her characters 3 dimensional and real.

Of course, we’re still not talking about rape. We’re talking forced seduction. Rape, well, that’s something all together different. I don’t think there’s any coming back from rape.

What do you think? Do you think there’s a place for Forced Seduction in romance? What about Rape? I’m not talking about the heroine being raped by someone other than the hero, either. I’m talking about the hero forcing the heroine, against her will.

I think Forced Seduction has it’s place. There are times – though I’m loathe to admit it – when it really needs to happen for the story to progress, or the characters to develop. Rape? I don’t know. I have yet to read a novel labeled romance where the hero actually raped the heroine. There have been a couple close calls, but not an actual rape.


I really believe that in the cases of the McNaught books or Claiming the Courtesan, it really is left up to reader interpretation. In books like Stormfire or Island Flame by Karen Robards (those come to mind first), it is clearly rape and those books are not for everyone. I agree with Holly that Forced Seduction does have it’s place.

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Let’s Talk About That First Kiss….

Posted August 11, 2009 by Rowena in Discussions | 4 Comments

Everyone remembers their first kiss, right? I remember mine like it happened last night. It was Halloween night of ’97 after the big football game at school. I was dating one of the football players and we were going to the Santa Monica Pier with a bunch of friends after the game and I was so nervous.

I knew Devin was going to try to kiss me, we had been together for almost a week and up until that night, all we ever did was talk on the phone at all hours of the night and hold hands at school in between classes and during lunch. He had kissed me on my cheek and on my hand but we had never kissed and I knew that night, things were going to change.

I couldn’t wait.

The anticipation was good enough to kill me. I was so anxious to get our first kiss over and done with because patience has never been one of my virtues and when the moment finally came, I was so nervous, I bumped my nose against his when he leaned down to give me a kiss and he ended up laughing all the while he was kissing me.

It’s those kinds of first kisses that I absolutely love. I am super thankful that my first kiss was with Devin of North High because he kissed really good and I have a good first kiss memory but as sweet and cute as my first kiss was, my favorite first kiss moments took place in between the pages of some of my favorite books.

My all time favorite first kiss scene was the first between Mike and Sam in Sweet Liar by Jude Deveraux. I know, I know, everyone is shocked considering how much I hate Jude Deveraux’s books but really, that first kiss between Mike and Sam was hawt! I mean, that wall banger of a kiss is one of the first kisses that has always stayed with me, it’s made an impression on me which is why it’s my favorite. What surprises me more is I like the soft, romantic kisses that is sparking with chemistry and connection but this wall banger kiss is the one that I remember and the one that I get excited to talk about.

So let’s talk about that first kiss…who’s first kiss in the books we read is your favorite and why? Also, do you prefer the first kiss between the hero and heroine to be soft and sweet or rough and hard? Why?

Let’s get the discussion ball rolling, shall we?

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Wanna Get Away?

Posted July 10, 2009 by Rowena in Discussions | 6 Comments

Remember all of those hilariously funny Southwest Airlines commercials where someone is completely embarrassed and you hear them say, “Wanna get away?” There have been times aplenty when I’ve cringed at what is going to happen to a character or what is happening to a character in one of the many romance novels that I’ve read and this post here is where we’re going to talk about them.

Remember in This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips when Molly tries to seduce Kevin in his sleep? Do you remember reading that scene at the beginning of the book with your heart pounding in your throat because you couldn’t believe she was actually considering doing what she was going to do and then when the shit hits the fan, you’re yelling in your head about how stupid, stupid, stupid she was and you were just so effing embarrassed for her that you wanted to drown in your own puddle of embarrassment?

I mean, seriously…who does crap like that?

What about the time in Can You Keep a Secret by Sophia Kinsella when Jack put Emma on blast on NATIONAL TELEVISION? Each and every secret that Emma had was spread out for everyone to know and as I was reading that scene (actually, every time I read that scene) I get red in the face and so embarrassed for Emma because that seriously bites. To walk around and know that everyone that watched that program was a witness to your greatest embarrassment is just too embarrassing for words.

Now, I could go on and on for days about how embarrassed I was for this character and that character but I thought it would be a fun little discussion for Book Binge. So let’s hear them, what scenes from books you’ve read made you want to duck for cover in embarrassment for the characters? Don’t be shy…let’s compare notes!

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Binge Reading

Posted March 25, 2009 by Holly in Discussions | 23 Comments

This year started out really well for me reading-wise. 2008 was a big disappointment in the reading department. I didn’t keep track of my reading, but I know I only averaged a couple books a month, as opposed to 2007 where I read over 300 books throughout the year. But my reading mojo came back this year and I’ve been going strong so far.

Including re-reads I’m up to almost 60 reads this year. Considering it’s only March that isn’t so bad. Unfortunately I read a couple wallbangers early this month and they killed my reading mojo for a couple weeks. I was averaging at least one, if not two, books a day, but I went almost a week without reading anything. I really hate it when that happens.

Last week I finally picked up a good book (The Key by Lynsay Sands) and I’ve been on a reading binge ever since. I’ve read a book a day up until this point. Currently I’m binging on Lauren Dane‘s Chase Brothers series. So far I’m really enjoying them. I’m about halfway through the 3rd book and so far I think it might be my favorite (look for reviews to come). I know I should take a break and read something in between so I don’t burn out, but I can’t stop myself from reading them one right after the other.

When I’m finished I think I might go on a Lynsay Sands binge. I really enjoyed Devil of the Highlands (which I reviewed here at TGTBTU) and The Key (review to come) and when I went looking for the book that follows The Key I realized I have about 15 of her other books TBR (my TBR is out of control). Since I’m in the mood for sweet, light romances she really fits the bill.

Last year I binged on re-reads of J.D. Robb‘s In Death series. I spent months doing nothing but re-reading those books over and over again. Sometimes I’d only read my favorite passages, others I’d read from cover to cover. It was kind of ridiculous. Now, unfortunately, I’m somewhat burned out on them. The last two didn’t hold my interest or engage my emotions as much as many of the previous entries did. I don’t know if it’s because they weren’t as good as the previous ones, or if it’s because I’m burned out on the series.

If I keep this up will I eventually burn myself out on reading altogether? Perish the thought!

What about you? Do you binge read? Do you read book after book by the same author until you’re burned out on them, or do you space them out?

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A Reader’s Guide to Author Websites

Posted March 19, 2009 by Holly in Discussions | 69 Comments

This is a topic that has been on my mind for some time. As a reader and reviewer, I think having a great, attractive, easy-to-navigate website is and should be a priority for authors. With that in mind, I’m going to offer some tips from a reader perspective.

I’m going to use Christine Feehan’s website as a reference guide, because I think it’s very well put together.

1. Make sure the colors go well together and it’s pleasing to the eye. Also, be sure the text can be easily read against the back ground.

See how the black text looks against the white background? It’s easy to read and I don’t have to strain my eyes to read anything. The link color matches the overall theme, but also stands out against the white, which is important. I don’t have to wonder if there’s a link, I know just by the different colored text. Also, the sidebar is a dark color, but blends well with the header and toolbar. It’s really simple, overall, but it works extremely well.

What doesn’t work? Having a dark/busy background with lighter text. It makes it hard to read. Cheyenne McCray’s website (http://cheyennemccray.com/) is a good example. Overall it’s functional, but the busy background makes the text hard to read.

You don’t have to have a busy website. Simple and elegant is often more attractive, IMO.

2. Have a separate page for each of your books and as well as separate pages for each series, outlining each book and the reading order.

Each of Feehan’s series is listed at the top of the page. If you hover your mouse over each link, a drop down box appears listing separate pages for the series, including a full list of each of the books and the reading order of them. If you move your mouse over one of the books, another drop-down box appears, with information about that specific book.

Each book has it’s own separate page that includes all available information about that book, including the blurb, publication information, where to buy and excerpts – if available.

Not only can you hover/click on Feehan’s site, but you can also click the series link and it will take you to a separate page for that series.

As you can see, not only is all the series information available in once place, but each page has it’s own color and theme. This isn’t a necessity, but it sure does make it easy to navigate. Not to mention it’s pleasing on the eye.

This is extremely helpful to readers, especially if – like Feehan – you have an extensive backlist or long running series. I want to be able to load your site quickly, click a link and have all the information I need right there. I don’t want to have to scroll through endless pages to find a book.

At the bottom of each page, including the homepage, is a footer that includes the links to each series page.

This isn’t a necessity, either, but I do find it to be helpful. Also at the bottom of the homepage is Feehan’s upcoming publication schedule.

Having a list right there is extremely helpful. Of course, there’s also a tab on the toolbar for upcoming releases, but this consolidates everything, which I like.

An example of a site that doesn’t work? Leanne Banks’(http://www.leannebanks.com/). Although the design is simple, the red is a bit overpowering. Even worse, however, is the book list page. There are a few images at the top of the page, but otherwise it’s just a list of her books, some with links to Amazon, others without. No information about the books, where to buy, blurbs, connection to other books, etc.

3. Update your website. Update, update, update. Update daily if you have to, but update. Check out Feehan’s release schedule:

See how 2009 and 2010 are listed. There’s a notice there that says things are subject to change as she has no control over her publication schedule and that’s fine. But what’s great is that we’re in 2009 and the list is current for 2009 AND 2010. She isn’t still listing her 2007 release schedule with a note that says, “Updates coming soon”. Nothing is more annoying to a reader than wanting information about an upcoming book and not being able to find it on an author website. Seriously.

One of the worst offenders, IMO, is Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb (http://www.noraroberts.com/jdrobb/). Not only is the site rarely updated (the excel list of novels is about 10 books behind) but it’s outdated as well. There is a full list of books in the order they were published, but there aren’t separate book pages with excerpt and book information.

4. Do not include streaming music or videos that play automatically. I realize as an author you’re proud of your book trailers and want everyone to see them, but do you have any idea how many times I was almost fired because I snuck onto an author website at work and had a book trailer video blare? Or a song blast out? It’s extremely annoying.

Feehan has teasers and trailers up for many of her books, but you have to click to play them. This is the way it should be. I do not want to be force fed your trailers. I also do not want music coming from your site. Not if it plays automatically. You want to include the playlist you created for each book as you were writing it, great! I’d love to see it. See being the operative word there. I don’t want to hear it first thing when your site loads.

Julie Garwood (www.juliegarwood.com) is one that it includes autoplay audio. There are nature sounds playing in the background. Which is fine to include as long as they aren’t autoplayed or they can be turned off – which unfortunately isn’t the case on Garwood’s site.

Sadly that isn’t the only problem with Garwood’s site, but I’ll get into that later.

5. Include the back blurb for your book on your website. I mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is as a book reviewer to not be able to find the back blurb online. Bookstores often list only a quick blurb, and not the one from the back, or sometimes none at all. Please include the full back blurb on your site.

6. Alternate format links are always appreciated. As many of you already know, I’m a huge fan and supporter of eBooks. If possible, I’ll buy in e-format before print (most of the time). That said, I’d like to see authors include “buy” links for alt formats.

Feehan has a tab for special formats on the toolbar as well as a separate page listing them.

She lists each available format and includes links to each book available in that special format. The two most important (or should I say popular?) are e-Book and Audio Book. I like that she offers a link to all the books available in these formats.

Feehan takes it a step further and also offers links to many other alternate formats, including Hardcover, Foreign Print, Trade, Manga and Book Club Hardcover. I don’t know that listing that many formats is necessary, but it sure is convenient.

7. Excerpts. This is something readers seem to split on. Personally, I don’t think an excerpt is necessary, but I do think it’s nice to have. A blurb is absolutely 100% necessary because it tells what the book is about. And excerpt is a bonus as it only teases the reader but (shouldn’t) doesn’t give any info about the overall story.

Other readers think an excerpt is more important than a blurb, or at least as important. I know for a new-to-me author an excerpt can be the deciding factor on whether or not I buy their book.

Although, this is an article about author websites, but I would like to mention here that excerpts should be at least several paragraphs, possibly even a full page (depending on the size of the work being quoted) and should contain no plot/series spoilers. This was a point that was brought up when I asked for input about websites on Twitter.

8. Properly labeled alt tags and links that actually work. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when you click a broken link and get an error message and/or blank page. Alt tags were mentioned by ShannonC of Flight Into Fantasy and TGTBGU. For those of you not in the know, Shannon is blind. Authors, you need to think about ALL your readers when designing your website. As Shannon said on Twitter:

Alt tags should be labeled correctly because if I don’t know what your pictures lead to, I will not stay to click.

9. Flash-free or no-java options are always a plus. Some websites make use of flash, which are fine, except if I want to link to a specific page on your site or if my browser doesn’t support flash – in which case your website is useless to me. Two excellent examples of this are Julie Garwood’s website (http://juliegarwood.com/) and as Jane of Dear Author pointed out, Libba Bray’s website (http://libbabray.com/).

When I type juliegarwood.com into my browser this is the first thing that shows up:

It takes anywhere from 30-60 seconds to load. Before I got a new computer it took upwards of 5 minutes to load. For those of us with slow running/old computers, these flash sites aren’t worth the trouble.

Now I get a welcome message from her telling me play on her site.

And finally the page loads. It’s interesting to play around with – you can open the window and desk drawers, find hidden treasures around the desk, etc. But that isn’t very functional if I’m just looking for information and don’t want to play.

She has added links at the top to make things easier to navigate (something she didn’t have when the site first went live) but it’s flash based which means I can’t link to separate pages.

Bray’s site is even more gorgeous, and even less functional. Her homepage is nothing more than a collage of images that don’t make sense in conjunction with the text they represent (a pair of shoes for resources?).

Now that I’ve landed here, I have no clue where to go or what to do. If I run my mouse over the site it doesn’t change if I’m hovering over a link, so I don’t know where to click for additional information.

As Jane pointed out, these sites are visually stunning, but almost completely useless. As noted above, Feehan’s site is pleasing to look at but also completely functional. Her website is not the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but it is a good example of what works and what doesn’t.

Authors, the point of your website should be functionality. I need to be able to find the information I seek on on your site. It doesn’t matter how beautifully done it is if it doesn’t load or if I can’t figure out what your books are.

I think I’ve probably gone on enough here, but let me just add a few more common sense items that other readers mentioned when I asked for input, in no particular order:

1. Typos. You make a living off the written word – how about making sure it’s spelled right?
2. Too many clicks to get where I need to go. Keep it simple.
3. Submit Forms. I prefer a simple “input email address” section than a full form that needs to be submitted. If, however, you have to do a form, please make sure there’s no error code after hitting “submit”. Very annoying.
4. NSFW (Not Safe For Work) content. PLEASE authors, PLEASE, clearly mark your questionable content as NSFW. This is imperative! (thanks to Kat at Book Thingo for this)

Readers, have any other suggestions for authors about their website content/design? Anything else that drives you absolutely crazy?

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