pocketgarden: (Default)
[personal profile] pocketgarden

Liz Carlyle's Tempted All Night is basically an ok romance -- good prose, good main characters, interesting interactions between them, some really skanky sex issues. Yet Another Sexual Depravity Plot, but at least this time there was a motivating purpose to some of it, rather than random hellfireyness. The miracle TWINS for "barren" heroine at the end were eye-rolling. I can see why so many reviewers are giving it A-level reviews, even if I don't agree.

Except -- there's the heroine's Dark Secret. Which is a forced abortion at six months. WTF? That's the about latest that you can do an abortion now except for health reasons; it's the end of the second trimester, the baby is nearly viable (now, maybe not then), and this really just freaks me out.

And...the implications of this are not handled well. Actually, not really handled at all. Her sad history makes the heroine a little crazy obsessed with finding the prostitute mother of her illegitimate niece, and she thinks of herself as Bad and Wanton for getting pregnant in the first place, but -- that's it.

She still gets along with the aunt who did this to her (she doesn't go to the aunt's annual picnic! oh noes! but the aunt is beloved still). She doesn't blame the elder brother who sent her off with the aunt (it's not explicit that he didn't know what would happen). She never tells her mother (well, that I can understand, but she also continues to live with her). She continues to protect the younger brother, whose 23-year-old friend not-raped her when she was 15 and whose first wife commit treason, from his continued careless behavior, because he has a promising career in politics. This would be ok if she were presented as crazy, but the narrative presents her as a special snowflake of intelligence and maturity.

This is glossed over in the text so much that I finished the book thinking, Well, the babies at the end were dumb and the skanky sex issues were skanky, but the book was basically -- WHAT THE HELL?

I'd figured out early on that the heroine thinks she's barren and wanton because of an unmarried pregnancy that went wrong, though it takes forever for the author to actually get to that. Ok, whatever, it's a classic Issue for a romance: one I'm rather tired of, but not a dealbreaker for me. However, the "went wrong" part is being packed off to France with her aunt, she thinks to have the baby in secret, and then the surprise abortion? And then not seriously dealing with that in the text? This is not "secret baby with extra traumasauce!" It's just not. It's such a profound violation that I can't figure out words. I do not think abortion is murder per se. I think this might be. Like I said, no words.

It's particularly upsetting because Carlyle is clearly trying to be sex-positive (within acceptable romance-genre limitations) and so on, and it doesn't work. I don't know whether she is pro- or anti-choice, but I think her book favors the anti-choice narrative in a number of creepy ways.

I can also do without the grasping-whore-who-doesn't-want-her-child-or-deserve-happiness plot, and the helpless-sex-slaves plot, and the "people are all helpless before sexual arousal" stuff. But I am pretty used to this in the genre.

Which is I suppose the saddest part. Romance genre, why do you suck so bad?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 02:51 am (UTC)
mswyrr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mswyrr
Wow... that is putrid. Which isn't to say that the author shouldn't be able to bring up something like that, but I can't *imagine* how she could just fluff it off and let the aunt/brother/rapist all off the hook like that. Just contemplating it, it seems like it would be horrifically traumatizing and painful. God. I'm pro-Choice, but the choice is the whole crux of the thing.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 02:56 am (UTC)
mswyrr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mswyrr

Romance genre, why do you suck so bad?

This. Yes! Whyyyy? Romance in concept sounds great, but the genre's tropes are so totally, wretchedly painful most of the time that it kills 90% of my overwhelming love for love stories. And then! They took two of my favorite genres scifi/fantasy and added Romance to them and created a whole genre of Paranormal Romance which should be the most fun thing ever and it's mostly painful crap.

It's... amazing. How do they *do* it?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 05:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com
My tolerance is higher, but yes. I wonder how much I'd be reading if I weren't in grad school and in deep need of fluff.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-17 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com
I'm relieved that someone else thinks it's awful. The reviews don't mention it -- in fact, many specifically say that the heroine's history is handled well. Just...no.

I think the author has gotten a little to used to her characters being able to use their aristocratic connections to hush things up. So... it's all hushed up. While the word "rape" is never used, the rapist does get horsewhipped and later killed preying on an even younger girl, and the author tries to say "Oh, no, it wasn't her fault." But it's less convincing to me when she doesn't really acknowledge that the blame rests squarely on the adults around her: the rapist, and the brother, and the mother who couldn't be bothered to tell her what sex was. And then the other brother who packs her off to France (but he was the hero of a previous book, i.e. a sexy saint).

The stupid brother is painted as feckless. But not, I dunno, as an accessory to rape, or treason, or the other things he gets involved in and rescued from.

The aunt is not dealt with at all.

I'm totally pro-choice, but this isn't that; it fits squarely into the "partial-birth abortion" narrative, in fact.


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