Tag: Holly Says

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.

Holly:

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.

Casee:

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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Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted February 22, 2017 by Holly in Discussions, Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Holly
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Ransom
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, General
Pages: 438
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Throughout her acclaimed writing career, Julie Garwood has captivated readers with characters who are compelling, daring, and bursting with life. Now one of the most popular novelists of our time proudly returns to her beloved historical romance roots–in a thrilling tale of love, murder, adventure, and mystery set against the haunting landscape of medieval Scotland.
For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows–skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England’s most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle’s marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.
For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom–when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.
Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle’s bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle’s body nor heart is safe.
A gripping novel that delves into the heart of emotions–unyielding passions of love, hate, revenge, and raw desire–Shadow Music is magnificent gift from Julie Garwood and a crowning achievement in her amazing career.
From the Hardcover edition.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Man, I love me some early Julie Garwood historicals. She lost me with her romantic suspense. I remember being so excited when she announced she was releasing a new historical. I’m still pretty disappointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. I wonder what would happen if I read it now? I might need to reread it and see if I still feel the same. 

This review was originally published January 8, 2008

This is less a review about this particular book and more my thoughts on the writing of Julie Garwood. Casee reviewed the book here. You can check that out for a plot summary and her thoughts, for they mostly mirrored mine.

Throughout her career, JG has remained a favorite of mine. Well, let me clarify. Prior to Killjoy she was a favorite of mine. Her historicals still call to me on occasion and I find myself picking them up at random, anxious to sink into an old, comfortable story, similar to how I might slip on my favorite sweats after a long day at work, or pop in a favorite DVD if I’ve had a particularly bad day.

But after Killjoy, not only did I think contemps were not her thing, I decided her writing itself deteriorated. The last novel I read by her was Slow Burn. While I enjoyed the basic premise behind it, I was sadly disappointed in the actual writing. Sentences were choppy, paragraphs seemed to bleed together, or go in odd directions that made no sense to me, dialogue was stilted, characters were half formed or one dimensional. I thought the plot was an awesome one, and had it been better fleshed out it had the potential to become her best written novel yet. But instead it fell far short.

After that, I decided not to read another of her contemps. I told myself, and others, that I’d buy her again if she went back to historicals, but otherwise I was done with her. I removed her from my auto-buy list and comforted myself with her old historicals, the ones that got me hooked on romance to begin with.

Then the announcement came. That yes, Julie Garwood, historical legend, would be returning to her roots. Love her older historicals or hate them, you can’t deny she’s a basic staple in romance. I was happy to hear she’d be returning, but somewhat apprehensive. Because although the moment I’d been waiting for had finally come, I was concerned about her actual writing style. The way she wove a story back when was unconventional perhaps, but still engaging. I didn’t think she’d be able to return to that, not after seeing evidence of her decline in her more recent novels.

I’m sad to say I was correct. She may have done quite a bit of head-hopping in her previous novels, but the focus remained on the two main protagonists. In this novel, however, she chose to write in a more narrative style than from one POV or another. So I was constantly pulled out of the story by her glossing over things, or seeming to sum things up. Very frustrating.

I’m also extremely unclear about how they H/H came to fall in love. There was hardly any interaction between the two, and what there was was disjointed and…once again, glossed over. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her writing. A chapter would start out from one POV or another, and then half-way through she’d jump into a narrative style, summing things up rather than allowing us as readers to follow the progress.

I suppose it would be like me starting a story, in which I use rich, colorful detail and much humor only to say, once you’re engaged and intrigued, “Blah blah, yada, yada, you get what I mean” and then just leave it at that. Frustrating, no?

There were some good parts. When the POV was written from either the hero or heroine, I was drawn into the story. Unfortunately, those parts were few and far between, and when they did happen, they didn’t last long. The basic premise was also a good one, and classic Garwood. Sadly, the point of the plot was lost somewhere in the muddle of switching from one writing style to another, the jumping between characters and places (i.e., from the Barons in England to the clans in the Highlands to the heroine to the hero to the guards of the heroine to her father back to the barons to the king of England, etc, etc) and the mass amount of inconsistencies presented.

A lot of the reviews I’ve read for this book said the Priests provided a lot of comic relief, but I didn’t really see that. Sure, there were some amusing parts, but I think I assumed they played a bigger part in the overall story (with actual read time, I mean) and that just didn’t seem to be the case.

I’m sure I’ll end up buying her next book (assuming she continues to write historicals), just to see if she somehow improves…hmm, or perhaps that’s not the right word. Regresses into her old writing habits? Goes back to being the Garwood I knew and loved? I’m not sure. I have a feeling I’m going to be sorely disappointed when (if) that time comes, however.

On a related note: Ange, The Romance Groupie, posted about this book on Saturday. I mentioned my disappointment in the overall writing in the comments, and she responded with this:

Actually, I’ve noticed that many of the popular authors appear to be going down in the quality department. I’m wondering if it’s the editors, publishers, etc. that are ruining it. It just seems strange that so many great authors have gone bad in the last year or so. Is it just me? Are you seeing this trend too?

I thought about it some, and yes, I have to agree. Some of my favorite authors have seriously declined in the last few years. Could it be because of the publishers or editors? Or is it just simply something with them personally?

Regardless, I’m disappointed.

Even though I said this was less a review and more my thoughts on JG’s writing as a whole, I’ll still rate the book:

2.5 out of 5

You can buy it here in hardback or in eBook format here. When I bought it from Books on Board, they were offering a $5 cash-back incentive, bringing the total book price down to $9.95. I’m not sure if they’re still offering the promotion, but you could email them to see.

two-half-stars

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Retro Post: Does Size Really Matter?

Posted February 15, 2017 by Holly in Discussions | 15 Comments

This week I’m bringing it back around to the good stuff…because this is still a relevant question today.

This was originally posted May 4, 2007.
A few years ago I read a book by Susan Andersen called Hot & Bothered. The hero of H&B is none other than John “the Rocket” Miglionni. He’s a former Marine turned P.I. and his claim to fame is the size of his Johnson. No, I mean it. You see, The Rocket had a pretty hard childhood, and he kind of figured he wasn’t as good as all the other guys out there. Until the first time he had to take a shower in the locker room, that is. Then, much to his surprise (and mine, if I’m being honest here) the other men started going on about how well hung he was. Now, it’s been awhile, so I can’t remember for sure if SA actually told us just how big The Rocket was, but I do know his nickname stemmed from his rather..ehem…large size (If you know what I mean and I think you do).

Now, SA certainly isn’t the first romance author to talk about her darling hero’s size, and I know she most certainly won’t be the last. And if we’re being honest here, ladies, we can admit (if only to ourselves and each other) that size does matter. Now, now, don’t look at me like that. We all know it’s true. Men, if your lady is telling you it’s not an issue, she’s lying.

Side Note: Regardless of the size, however (whether it be large or small), knowing what to do with it does make a difference. Right ladies? :End Side Note

But I think it’s important for women everywhere to qualify the statement “Size Matters!”. Why? Well, while it’s true that size is important to us, there has to be a cut off point there. Because, I have to tell you, there have been times when reading about a particularly large member and my only thought is, “Ouch! That’s gotta hurt.”

That’s right, I think it’s time we draw the line. Sure, size matters, but that statement goes both ways. Because I have to tell you, the thought of a full foot of manroot anywhere near my love well just makes me queasy. Come on, that shit would hurt! As Jaine Bright from LH’s Mr. Perfect once said, “Anything over 8 inches is strictly for show and tell.”

Rowena here and I’ve got to totally agree with Holly there, and I’ll tell you why just as soon as I can stop laughing from her mention of man roots and love wells.

LMAO LMAO LMAO!

I’ve been reading romance novels for a few years now and I’ve read my fair share of descriptions on just how well endowed most of the heroes are and lately, it’s been making me roll my eyes down the street at how absurd it’s getting. And not even just in books that I’m reading but also in reviews of books that other people are reading.

Like Karen S for example. She just read a book called Ben’s Wildflower by Carol Lynne and the hero, Ben has an overgrown cock. His overgrown manroot is giving him problems and he’s ashamed of it because it’s the total bane of his existence.

Are you frickin’ kidding me?

Yeah the eff right. If you’ve got a 10 inch boinker, you’re not ashamed of it, you’re not being a whiny baby about it, you’re screaming from the rooftops like you’re Dirk Diggler.

You’re screaming, “I am a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a big bright shiny star. Yeah, thats right!”

Really.

But does the size of a man’s johnson really factor into how well we like our heroes? Say Derek Craven had a little willy, would we all still love him as much as we do? I mean, that’s not what we’re all gushing about when we discuss his book, right? It’s not what we most remember about Derek, so is it really necessary to go on and on about the size of the hero’s ding-a-ling? I’m not saying that Lisa Kleypas did that or anything I’m just well, saying…yeah we know the hero is a big mothereffer down there, we expect it…but would it matter what size the hero is in order for him to be macho and lovable?

I don’t think so. We love them for who they are, not what they have in their pants…don’t we?

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Sunday Spotlight: Heart of Fire by Linda Howard

Posted January 29, 2017 by Rowena in Features | 9 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Rowena: This week’s Sunday Spotlight is on a book that is near and dear to our hearts. A book that Holly and I have spent plenty of hours in our early twenties fighting over. When I say fight, I mean we fought over the hero, Ben Lewis. We fought over him so much that he was deemed off limits and Heart of Fire was both of ours. Yeah, we were weird. Ha!

So if it’s any indication, we love the hell out of this book and out of the hero. Heart of Fire by Linda Howard is a book that I did not have any interest in reading until Holly forced me to read it. This book is all that and a bag of chips guys and we’re going to spend the entire time writing this post, showing you why.

Holly: I remember the first time I read this book. I was hooked from page one. On the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen as Jillian and Ben trekked through the Amazon, with her fighting her attraction and him determined to win her over. Ben’s snark and Jillian’s wit made for some of the best banter I’ve ever read. I absolutely adore Ben. He’s brash and apologetically male. I honestly don’t know how much I would have loved him if it weren’t for Jillian. She absolutely makes the book for me. He almost crosses the line a couple times, but he never did because Jillian either put him in his place or was so unimpressed he was knocked down a peg or two. If you haven’t already, you need to read this book. Really. Do it. You won’t be sorry.

Heart of Fire by Linda Howard
Series: N/A
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: October 1, 1997
Publisher: Pocket Books

A fabulous lost Amazon city once inhabited by women warriors and containing a rare red diamond: it sounded like myth, but archeologist Jillian Sherwood believed it was real, and she was willing to put up with anything to find it — even Ben Lewis. Ruffian, knock-about, and number one river guide in Brazil, Ben was all man — over six feet of rock-hard muscles that rippled under his khakis, with lazy blue eyes that taunted her from his tanned face. Jillian watched him come to a fast boil when she refused to reveal their exact destination upriver in the uncharted rain forests — and resolved to stand her ground. Neither of them could foresee what the days ahead promised: an odyssey into the fiery heart of passion and betrayal, and a danger that would force them to cast their fates together, immersed in the eternal, unsolved mysteries of love….

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO
 

Rowena: Holly mentions Ben’s snark and Jillian’s wit and she’s completely right. Their chemistry is off the charts and they’re a riot together. I loved the way that Jillian didn’t let Ben get away with anything and Ben tried to get away with everything.

Here are some snippets from the book that showcase why we love the book as much as we do.

“It’s not something I can control, damn it. Every man I know wakes up with a hard-on.”

“Maybe so, but they do not—repeat, do not—rub it on me.”

” ‘Every man I know’ wasn’t rubbing it on you! It was just me!”

“And it was just your hair that I pulled, wasn’t it?” she asked sweetly.

Ha! I love the way that these two go at it.

“I’m going to wash my clothes while I have the chance.”

“Good idea. You can wash mine while you’re at it.”

“You can wash your own.”

Wearing a pained expression, he placed his hand over his heart. “You’re an unnatural woman. Don’t you know you’re supposed to want to do things for your man?”

“I don’t remember ever claiming you as mine, so the issue doesn’t arise. But I can’t think of a reason why any woman would want a man who was too lazy to do his own laundry.”

Do you see how awesome Jillian is?

He said, “How long does this usually last?”

“What, my period, or your strange delusion that everything I do is planned specifically to keep you from making love as often as you seem to think you should? My period will last four or five days. I’ve seen no break in your delusion at all.”

He grinned. Ah, he loved it when she talked sweet to him.

“You make it sound as if I’ve been nagging you every step of the way,” she said.

“You have. Silently.”

She gave him a long, level look. “When I decide to nag, you can bet I won’t do it silently.”

He sighed. “No, I don’t guess you will.” Inwardly he felt cheerful at the prospect. With Jillian’s rapier tongue, it was bound to be entertaining.

She was one cool customer, so cool that he just might have met his match. The thought gave him a panicky feeling, because that meant his chances of having her were only fifty-fifty, and he wasn’t comfortable with that. Ninety-ten would be better, no, hell, why give her any chance at all? He wanted to be one hundred percent certain that she’d be his. Anything less was unacceptable.

This is Rowena and me with Ben. dreamy sigh

Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you read Heart of Fire before? If so, did you love it like we did? Let us know what some of your favorite books are in the comments below.

About the Author

Linda Howard

Linda Howard is an award-winning author whose novels include the recent New York Times bestsellers Shadow Woman, Up Close and Dangerous, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, as well as the Pocket Books releases Kill and Tell, Now You See Her, All the Queen’s Men, Mr. Perfect, and Open Season. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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Retro Post: So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

Posted January 26, 2017 by Rowena in Discussions | 24 Comments

This week, I’m posting an old post that Holly, Casee and I wrote back in 2009 together. I’m sad to say that we still don’t have answers for some of these. Still, it was a fun post to write and for me, still completely relevant today, Ha.

This post was originally posted on July 22, 2009

Rowena: A long time ago, I came across a review for All Through the Night by Suzanne Brockmann over at Jill D.’s blog, Romance Rookie, and I commented on her review about something that I really want Suz Brockmann to write about. That was where my thoughts about starting this post came from. So because of course I had to blog about my comment on Jill’s blog, I emailed my blogging buddies and we started laughing, throwing thoughts out there and then we got to work.

Yeah, we obviously stopped working on this post but because I want to post this up, I resurrected it and finished it off because it’s still something that I’m mighty curious about and would like to discuss with each of you readers out there.

So, we all have read many books and wondered what happened with certain characters, wished for other characters to get their happy endings and wanted the authors to write certain things to satisfy you. This post will be all about what we want, what we really, really want from our romance authors, books and whatever else we can think of.

I really wish that Suz Brockmann would write a book where Team 10 had to team up with Team 16 to save the world. I’d like to see Joe Cat and Blue kickin’ their feet up with Stan and Cosmo and the rest of Team 16, while Crash and Wildcard make a beer run and Christian, Harvard beat up Gillman and Lopez and Zanella trade football stats with Frisco and you know, I’d like to see something like that…bringin’ everyone together. That would be so frickin’ cool to have both teams working together to fight the bad guys and then afterward, shootin’ the breeze with each other.

I also want to know what the heck Judith McNaught’s hero Noah Maitland from Night Whispers does for a living.

I want to know if Faith ever wandered off Church grounds and if Quinlan ever caught her in Julie Garwood’s The Wedding?

It’d be cool to find out whatever happened to Thurston and little Ulric. Did Justin ever get to tell Thurston off for abandoning him on the battlefield? Whatever became of baby Ulric? Did Nicholaa ever get to see them again? This is all from Julie Garwood’s The Prize.

Holly’s Turn:

I think Julie Garwood left us with a lot of unanswered questions.

I also want to know:

Whatever happened to Maggie Shayne’s romantic suspense series? The last book came out in 2005 and I’ve heard nothing about it continuing. She really left us hanging though and I want her to finish it out.

Casee:

I am totally w/ Rowena about Julie Garwood. I want to know what happened to Faith. Did she get her happily ever after w/ Quinlain? I also wouldn’t mind finding out what happened with Crispin. To me, those are the two most memorable secondary characters Julie Garwood has written.

Way back in 2003, Katherine Sutcliffe wrote a romantic suspense titled Bad Moon Rising. J.D. and Holly were some hellsa tortured characters. The way the book was written, it seemed as if Sutcliffe was planning to continue there story. Then she dropped off the face of the earth.

Suzanne Brockmann–I want her to write Jazz’s story. I’ve read she intends to do it in the future, but I really wish she would bump it up.

Judith McNaught–I really want that time travel story. You know, the excerpt in the back of Remember When?

Those are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

So what about you? If given the chance, what would you ask your favorite authors to write? What are you curious about in any of your favorite authors worlds? Anything at all, sound off!

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