There are certain books with which I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. Perhaps love-unease might be a better way to describe it, because I’m not sure my feelings ever quite fall to the level of hate. My love-hate books tend to be those which are unabashedly retro in their outlook, so I suspect my unease comes more from who I am rather than from the books all by themselves. I don’t speak here of the rape and/or abuse romances of old that I’ve discussed, but of some of the books I like that really are throwbacks to a very old-fashioned view of relationships.
For example, I’ll willingly confess to my Harlequin Presents habit. However, as a rather independent professional woman, I have to admit to a certain amount of discomfort with the whole “alpha billionaire sweeps dainty heroine off her feet and into a life of luxury” fantasy. Though there are definitely exceptions, the heroes in this line tend to be quite domineering, the settings exotic, the heroines delicate and fluttery. The plotting features over the top drama (think secret babies, forced marriages, dramatic business takeovers, amnesiac pregnant mistresses – well, you get it), and the dynamic between hero and heroine has a definite retro feel. And that’s not even getting into the bizarre plot acrobatics sometimes required to ensure that most of these heroines hold on to their virginity so that the hero can be swept away by magic virgin sex and they’ll live happily ever after.