Book Review

Scoundrel’s Captive by JoAnn DeLazzari: A Guest Review by RedHeadedGirl

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Title: Scoundrel's Captive
Author: JoAnn DeLazzari
Publication Info: Avon Books July 1991
ISBN: 978-0380764204
Genre: Historical: American

Scoundrel's Captive - lots of mullet up in here.You guys do understand that I read these primarily because I enjoy it, right?  I mean, some of them were “unpleasant” (Purity’s Passion, I am looking at you), some are off the hook (Forbidden Desires?  That’s you) and some are so wonderfully trashy I can’t help but adore them (Henley is my kryptonite).

For the most part, I enjoy it.  I think I have a very selective form of masochism.  And, in general, if I truly hate it, or it’s just not interesting enough to review, I won’t review it. This book is a bit different, though.  Because I did hate it, but there’s a facet here that I haven’t seen discussed a lot.

I blame Zoe Archer for this.  She put the cover of this book on her tumblr, with the caption “My books don’t look like this.” That, of course, is like waving a red flag at a bull and throwing him a china shop.  I HAD to read it. (Because I’m the bull, see?)  (…that sounds rather bad.) (Yes, I know Mythbusters thinks they busted the bull in china shop myth, but they had problems with their methodology in that one, so it’s still open, as far as I am concerned.)

This book is FUCKED.  UP.  Not deliciously fucked up like Seduced, and not fucked up in a “what the shit is this history you are butchering” like another early Henley a friend of mine loaned me.  There is nothing delicious about this.  This is FUCKED UP LIKE WHOA.

Our heroine is Jessica, alternatively known as Jess or Jessie, who grew up in St. Louis (which counts as “back East” which I can tell you amuses the hell out of people on the East coast.  When they think about these things, which is not a lot).  She grew up without her father, because her mother couldn’t hack it in the Wyoming territory.  After her mother died, she decides to go to Wyoming to find her father.

One the way there, she is taking a bath in a hotel in some town in Wyoming, where the door is busted down by Steve Kincaid (our….uh, hero, I guess) in the throes of a fight.  Jessica pulls on her robe and tell him to leave, while he…. Kisses her, gropes her, and would have taken her to bed right then and there had someone else not come into her room.  He leaves and she’s like “what the fuck was that.  Thank god I’ll never see him again.”

So she gets to Wyoming, makes friends with the local madam, and finds her father, Jeff, and they have a freakishly perfect relationship right off the bat.  Which from my experience in and observation of estranged parent-child relationships, this is not how that ever works.

But that’s not the truly fucked up thing.

Steve is the part owner of a neighboring ranch to Jeff’s place, and realizes that Jess is Jeff’s daughter.  He’s been taken with her and hunts her down and turns out that she lived next door- it’s another one of those mostly closed-universes where there’s a limited number of people who show up and they JUST KEEP SHOWING UP.  Makes it easier to keep track of everyone, but as far as feeling realistic, well, not so much.

But that’s not the truly fucked up thing.

At some point, when Steve finds Jess, he accosts her and fondles her and is all like “hey baby let’s get it on” and she gets angry and determines that he is at Kincaid’s ranch, and therefore must work for Kincaid, and informs him that she’s going to complain to his boss about his behavior.  He tells her to stop struggling, unless she was prepared for him to make love to her there and then, and who would blame him when, “I tell them how prettily you undressed for me?” He allows her to think that she’ll get some satisfaction from complaining to the owner for the Kincaid ranch, and she finds out that her stalker and the next-door neighbor are the same person at a party.  Where she wears a smoking hot pimped out dress that makes her boobs look great, so therefore she’s fair game.

You begin to see the truly fucked up thing.  What I’m going to try to do (and we will see if it works) is just straight recap- because seriously, none of you need to read this, please don’t let this bullet I’m taking be in vain- and then editorialize and dissect it.  Because I will go off on pages and pages of tangents and that’s no way to follow a story line.

Now, Jeff and Jess need money to make improvements to Jeff’s ranch, so Jeff borrows some from Steve.  At the party, when Jess discovers that Steve is the douchebag who accosted her in the hotel that one time, she flips her shit, but he, tells her first that she left her skirt behind in their “argument” and he’ll tell everyone, unless she agrees to marry him.  And if she doesn’t agree to marry him, he’ll call in the money that he loaned her father, and they just don’t have $500 lying around to pay him back with.  She agrees, grudgingly.

The next day, Jess decides that clearly her was bluffing- there’s no other way about it, obviously this guy wouldn’t blackmail her into marriage and/or sex, right?  She gets a message from him to come to the ranch, and she sends back a reply that tells him to go to hell (verbatim).  His response? “Jessica Morgan, you are one spirited filly, but there’s been not one yet I haven’t broken and ridden.” So he goes after her, and there’s a bit of a horse chase, and he finally catches her, and there’s a whole thing where she tells him to go away, to not touch her, to leave her alone, bargain or no.  And he tells her to stop professing to be a lady while she kicks and moans like a common whore.  And then he calls her a cold-blooded bitch.

At which point she gives up and gives in, and they have some allegedly great sex, (even though he thinks that he needed her consent, even if given begrudgingly) and he is shocked -shocked!- to discover she was a virgin.  Because only an experienced woman would…stand in her own hotel room after a bath with her nipples getting hard and respond to sexual pleasure.

Afterwards, she sleeps and he’s thinking this is great.  He needs an heir, and he likes her and wants her, but god knows he doesn’t love her.  She naturally, is utterly in love with him, because that’s what the Mighty Wang does.  And is convinced that he loves her, because… that’s what the Mighty Wang does.  But he asks her to marry him, for real, not because of the money, and she accepts.

Steve goes to a Cattlemen’s Association meeting or something that take him out of town for about a week, and Jess decides that hanging out at his ranch for wedding planning is a good idea.  Also living at the ranch are Chad and Sarah- Chad is Steve’s partner, and Sarah is Chad’s wife.  They and Jess of course hit it off enormously, and things are going well.  There’s also a cook/housekeeper, named Connie, but all her friends call her Red.  Because of the red hair. (Which shouldn’t annoy me, since lots of people call me Red, because of the red hair, but STIILL.)  (I’m gonna cut to the chase here and tell you that Connie and Jeff hook up and get married.)

Steve runs into an ex of his, Margo, another woman in town that’s a spoiled rich brat who he’s fucked, and kind of thought about marrying until Jess came along.  She doesn’t like the idea of not marrying Steve, so first she tries to seduce him, and when that fails, she marches off to Steve’s ranch to get rid of Jess.  Which she does by pushing Jess down the stairs and trying to kill her.

(We’re not even a third of way through.)

Jess isn’t sure what made her fall, and isn’t willing to accuse Margo without proof, and then Margo drops the bomb that she is aware of the welts Jess left on Steve’s back while fucking him.  Which makes Jess think that Steve and Margo have been making the beast with two backs.  Steve comes home to find Jess angry and Margo telling him that she saw Chad and Jess possibily doing the nasty, so Steve flips his shit out and blames Chad for everything, and Jess leaves.

No, seriously, based on one sentence from Margo, Steve beats the shit out of Chad.  And it gets sorted by about five minutes of conversation.  I mean, really.

Jess goes back into town and seeks refuge from the local Madam (Who’s named Roxy, because of course she is).  Jess still thinks that Steve was fucking Margo, and Roxy is all on Team Jess on this point.  Steve comes to Roxy, looking for Jess, and Roxy doesn’t tell him that Jess in her house, but thinks that he isn’t acting like a guy who’s dumped Jess for Margo, so obviously he is in love.  Then a random gunfight breaks out and Jess gets hit by a stray bullet and leaves town.

Where she gets picked up by the local Native American tribe- Absaroke, or Crow, depending on who is talking.  Jess is wounded and all, so she hangs with the Absaroke while she recovers.  She’s given the name Valley Woman because… she has hidden depths or something?  I don’t even know.  But as she’s working on being a productive member of society, she gets the feeling she’s being watched, and the Absaroke woman she’s been living with, Little Sparrow, tells her that there’s a guy who shows up some times, his name is Hawk and he is a member of the tribe, has been watching her for DAYS.

Jess thinks that she might like this guys that she’s never seen, not once, and decides that fucking him will make her forget Steve.  So she tells Little Sparrow to tell her husband that if Hawk should visit, she would serve him.  In all the ways that means. So he does, and sure enough, Hawk is in fact Steve.

“Why, woman, sigh?” A deep throaty whisper asked against her hair.

    Jess nestled her head back against his shoulder.  “I…I thought…”

    “Answer, “ he breathed huskily when she paused.

    Baring her soul, Jess answered honestly, “I thought only one man could make me feel this way.”

    “Only one man can, Jess, “ a clear voice growled.

    “No!” she shrieked, her body stiffening.  It was another bad dream!  This was Hawk, not…

So she begs him not to do this, but her body surrenders even as she says no.  (Gag.)

In the morning, Jess finds Little Sparrow and is told that Little Sparrow was helping both Jess and Steve- Jess loves Steve and Steve wants Jess, so what’s the problem?  Steve does apologize to Jess about the whole Margo thing, and tells her that Little Sparrow’s husband said that what Jess really needs is a beating.  But instead he will pick her up and carry her back to the tent, because that’s a much better way of shutting her up.  And as he does so, Jess screams for help, and Little Sparrow turn away from Jess and Steve with smiles.

Steve brings Jess back to her father’s house, who is utterly unconcerned with the fact that she’s been gone for weeks, and is hopeful that “maybe Steve had managed to tame his daughter at last.”  Of course, he hasn’t, and she’s fuming about how she won’t marry him.  Steve eventually says to her that he’ll respect her decisions.

Jess was more wary than ever.  Could this be the same self-assured man who had manipulated her life?

    “…I’m still going to marry you but I’ve decided to give you time to come to grips with the idea.”

Because clearly what she wants is courting.  So courting he shall do.  He also decides to forgive the money he’d loaned Jeff as a bride price (because some of the Indian tribes do that).  Jess thinks this is bullshit and that she’s being bought and sold, and not because Steve loves her.  So she yells enough that Steve storms out (seriously, it’s like Moonlighting, but just tiresome) and everyone tells Jess that she and Steve just need to “stop bickering” and “settle things.”

Jess thinks fine, lets do that then, and tries to settle the money issue so she and Jeff can be free and clear of Steve for real, and Steve again tries to get her to agree to the sex for money exchange, but really, she wouldn’t be a whore.  Instead he forces her to bed.  Again.

“I’m….I’m sorry, Jessie.  I swear I didn’t mean for this to happen.”  Steve saw the tears and felt like a bastard.

Because they need money, Jess starts working for Roxy.  Not as a whore, god no, that would not do.  Instead she works as a hostess, and of course everyone respects the limits she sets, because there’s only one man in the world who won’t take her no for an answer.  Steve finds out, of course, and goes to bother her at work, where Roxy is perfectly happy to let them fight it out in public.  Of course nothing is solved, because we’re only halfway through, and Steve finally decides, with Jeff’s blessing, to kidnap Jess.

Let me repeat that.  Steve decides the only way to get Jess to agree with his view of the world is to KIDNAP her.  And her father gives his blessing.  “I’m on your side, my boy.  I was just picturing my lovely daughter’s reaction when she finds out what you have in store for her.” 

(Pardon me, I have to vomit.)

So Steve kidnaps her by WHACKING HER ON THE HEAD, which naturally gives her amnesia (OF COURSE IT DOES), and he tells her, when she wakes up, that they just got married.  So they have an enjoyable interlude in a cabin in the mountains.  Just about when the snow is going to start falling, a mountain man comes by, who knew Jess’ mother, and tells her she came from St. Louis, which is not the same thing Steve had been telling her.  They start fighting, and he is not longer gentle with her and then she remembers everything.

She convinces the mountain man to help her get home, leaving Steve trapped in the cabin for the winter (more contrived timing could not be had).  The mountain man convinces Steve to give her until spring, and Steve’s response to that?  “…come spring, I’m going, and if I have to bind and gag her to have her back, I will, and not you or anyone else will stand in my way.”

She’s very sad, and misses him a lot, but is determined to go on home and leave him behind for good.

You can guess how well that works out.

Jess also discovers that she is pregnant, because of course she is.  She gives birth before Steve can come down off the mountain.  But not before she’s told that she has commitment issues.  And that’s why she and Steve can’t work their shit out.  It’s a boy, and she gets a job working at an orphanage Roxy started (but no one is town knows that she’s backing, because of the whole “hooker” thing).

Steve comes into town and finds Jess there, and finds out that the baby is his son, and not just some random orphan and brings Jess (kicking and screaming, literally) back to the ranch, where he attempts again to court her with no sex.  For six weeks.  He tells Jess that she has to come with him, or he’ll ruin her father and tell the boarding school that houses Roxy’s daughter what her mother does.  So Jess HAS to go with him.

Everyone in town is pleased as punch at this, because Jess and Steve are just perfect for each other, they just need to accept it.

Jess leaves, again, and hides with Absaroke, while Steve runs to St. Louis and back looking for her, and finally finds her with the tribe.  Jess is told that she can become a full member of the tribe, if she wants.  She’s told that to do that, she must go to a tent hidden in the woods or whatever and stay there for three days.  Naturally, Steve is there, and she’s like “…but I’m becoming a member of the tribe!” and he says “Well, actually we’re in a marriage tent right now, and I am a member of the tribe, so yes, by marriage you are!”

THE END.

What the fuck.

WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK.

WHAT IS THIS FUCKERY.

We could talk about the rape, because, face it, there’s a lot of “no, no!” and punishing kisses and overbearing her will, but we’ve talked about that.  At length.  And I think you guys get it.  There’s only a handful of time where Jess is consenting from beginning to end, and a lot of those are when she has amnesia.

When I told Zoe that this was her fault, I also told her that if this book were presented as a spotter’s guide to abusive relationships, that would be one thing. But this relationship, in all of its abusive text that is not subtext, is represented as a happy, fluffy romance, and if they would just admit that they love each other, IT WOULD BE OKAY

Well.  As a survivor of an abusive relationship, let me tell you.  “Lack of love”  is not the problem.  The problem is control.  The problem is violence.  The problem is agency.  The problem is that it’s SO HARD to get out.  And even though it’s been over ten years, there are still ripples from the entire mess in my life.  And I was lucky- I was able to end it comparatively early.  So.

We talk a lot about Alpha males, but of all the old school romances I’ve read, and there have been quite a few, this is the most disgustingly abusive asshole I’ve ever seen called a hero.  I’ve seen less abusive villains.  And I don’t we’ve talked about abusive behavior a great deal- it doesn’t come up much, and usually if there is abusive behavior, the hero (it’s always the hero, never the heroine) makes an effort to change as part of his character arc.

There are so many ways that Steve displays extreme controlling behavior.  He won’t let her make choices, he gets angry when he thinks she’s been talking with another man, when he wants sex and she doesn’t, he grabs her hair and yanks her head around until she acquiesces.  He threatens her and the people she loves unless she stays with him.

Now, in early Roman law, there was a provision in contract law that consent under duress is still consent.  But Roman jurists figured out that that was a douchey thing, and recognized that consent under duress is not consent at all.  And Jess consistently says no until it’s clear that “no” isn’t going to make a difference.  Now, this could be a case of showing “good girls don’t willingly enjoy sex,” because as written she does enjoy it once she accepts the inevitable.  Pairing it with the emotional abuse and ultra-controlling behavior makes it even worse.

The thing that gets me SO MUCH and makes me so angry is that Steve’s behavior is presented as normal and admirable, so there’s no reason for him to grow or change.  As long as he admits that he loves Jess, everything will be fine.

And that’s bullshit.  No one calls him out, no one says “Dude, SHE SAID NO.  Maybe you should leave her alone.”  Anywhere Jess tries to go for help ends up throwing her under the bus- he goes so far as to chase her to St. Louis when he thinks she went there.  Really, the only realistic end I see for these two characters is one of them will kill the other.

The thing I found most terrifying was the number of people who saw what Steve was doing, and didn’t see a problem with it.  Even as Jess is screaming for him to stop, to put her down, to go away, they all either turned away or told her to stop struggling and smiling knowingly.  Her own father is down with the idea of Steve kidnapping her and stealing her away for months.  At the very end, the Absaroke are willing to let her think she’s performing one ritual, when really she’s getting married without her consent.

Now, I do think that it’s important to explore the mindset of the abuser- if we can understand it, maybe we can prevent it, right?  It’s one reason why I like the Eminem-Rhianna song “Love the Way You Lie,” because I think it does explore the mentality of both abuser and abused and how it’s not all bad and certainly not all good and how it all can spiral out of control and why people stay in these relationships.  Some of it is awful, but they call the period between outbursts the “Honeymoon period” for a reason.

I’m just saying.

Anyway, this isn’t an exploration of an abusive relationship.  It doesn’t try to be anything other than a fluffy romance, but it’s horrible.  It’s the Twilight syndrome, only decades early.  Stalker = love.  Controlling behavior = love.  Abuse = love.

ARGH.

The writing itself isn’t good- it’s very first-novel-y and awkward.  I mean, I’m told in the early 90s, the publishing houses were pretty much buying anything which is how a bunch of this schlock got published in the first place.  But in light of everything else, I don’t care all that much about bad writing.  The character of the entire story is off-putting.

The only thing that kept me from throwing this book is the fact that I was on a cross-country flight and the air marshall would have tackled me (and rightfully so).  As it was, I suspect my seatmate got pretty tired of me going “WHAT” and “OH GOD” every three pages. 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Holy crap. I’m confused and disgusted at the same time. I’ve got so many thoughts bubbling up here, but I can’t bring myself to say any of them. Just… blergh. I need a shower.

    Although, I did get a chuckle out of imagining you getting tackled by the air marshall.

  2. 2
    Veronica says:

    Ok, since it was mentioned by the reviewer, I figure it’s ok to talk about this:

    I don’t get it when people say Edward is abusive. Arguments can be made for stalkerish…but abusive? Compared to the hero of this story? You can even say he’s controlling, but not excessively so. More like willful (Bella is willful too, and mostly gets what she wants.) I’m not a Twilight fangirl or anything, but I have read the books (well, the first 3), and I’m confused when people compare Edward to the abusers we see in these old school romances. I just don’t see it.

    control39 – Heh.

  3. 3

    You’ve covered the consent issues so nicely (and how you read this stuff without upchucking, I have no idea) so I won’t comment further, except even under current American laws of ridiculousness regarding air travel, no court in the world would convict you if you showed them the actual book you threw.

    I will just mention that apart from the rape and lack of consent and the utter stupid of the plot, this tripe also includes my favourite pet peeve – the supposedly harmless use of concussion as anaesthetic. It turns up so often, and makes me grind my teeth so hard (is it possible that now we’re learning so much about the damage of high impact sports on their participants, this idiotic trope will finally die? Probably not.) This article says it all much more pithily than I can.

    Good editors don’t let their authors knock out characters willy nilly. Not that a good editor came anywhere near this, by the sound of it!

  4. 4

    …So Steve kidnaps her by WHACKING HER ON THE HEAD, which naturally gives her amnesia (OF COURSE IT DOES)…

    This was the point in the review at which I began wheezing so hard I was forced to stop reading.

  5. 5
    Diatryma says:

    Someday, I am going to read a book in which a woman fights and objects and is romantically controlled by a man and there’s some huge would-be-creepy-and/or-horrifying-if-they-weren’t-in-love gesture.  Only in my fantasy version, they are not in love, it is creepy and/or horrifying, and she kills herself.  I feel this would be excellent baggagetastic backstory except for the suicide and enfridgement.

    For now, I think I’m due a reread of Crusie’s Crazy for You so a creepy/horrifying would-be hero can get smashed the hell up by a heroine who is not taking that shit any longer.

  6. 6
    Laurel says:

    Ick. Ickity ick. I got mad just reading the review…and I never do that.

  7. 7
    Jayne says:

    When I got to the part in which Steve compared Jess to a horse to be broken and ridden, my mouth dropped open and my toast fell out of my mouth. My dog was delighted. So it’s official: Oscar the German Shepherd is the only creature ever to get something good out of this book.

    It’s upsetting to me that shit like this is still what defines the romance genre to many people. I don’t understand how anybody thinks that repeated rape is sexy.

  8. 8

    I confess that I enjoyed envisioning you being tackled by an air marshal while you frantically explain it was all about the book.

    In a more serious vein, this is what bothers me about people who picked up a romance in 1978 and haven’t looked at one since.  As you say about Crusie, there’s been a lot of good writing come along since then.

  9. 9

    @Jayne:  As Ma Ingalls says, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.” 

    ….which is crap, but yay Oscar! 

    @Veronica:  I have class starting soon, but I’ll give you my thoughts on Edward and his behavior when it’s over.

  10. 10

    I got halfway through this retelling and thought, IT’S NOT OVER YET??? It just kept going, and going, and not in a good way. I skipped the second half of the plot, honestly, and jumped to your comments on the abuse itself. I have problems with this, too, and think you did a fantastic job articulating your thoughts on the WTFukery.

    I’ve read a few of these types of books, mostly because I was young, and the only time I stopped reading a book was if I didn’t understand the writing at all (a la Shakespeare, or another classic, usually). It just never occurred to me that I could put it down. Luckily, there were also a ton of books that had respectable heroes to whom I could compare the guys I was dating. I kissed a lot of frogs, but never wasted more than a couple weeks on them if I didn’t get my romance hero-vibe from them. The good thing was that I read both and knew what kind of guy to avoid (like the hero of the reviewed book).

  11. 11
    Wendy says:

    Wow.  In addition to all the rapey, abusive WTFery, there is every single trope of the time period in this book: amnesia! Indians! Trapped in the mountains for the winter! Babies! Whores, but not the goody-two-shoes heroine. 
    It’s like the author threw a bunch of plotlines in a hat and chose a few to weave together somehow. 

    Ugh.  I’m surprised I managed to drink my tea while reading this.  I feel like my mouth was hanging open the whole time.

  12. 12
    Babs says:

    I’m..I’m…I don’t know what to say other than that just sounds like one hot mess of a book. *shudder*

  13. 13
    Daniela C. says:

    HOLY SHIT! You’re right…this IS FUCKED UP!!!!! And I only got to a third of your blog!!!

  14. 14
    AnaB says:

    For now, I think I’m due a reread of Crusie’s Crazy for You so a creepy/horrifying would-be hero can get smashed the hell up by a heroine who is not taking that shit any longer.

    I don’t know about that, really. What icked me out about [Crazy for you was the hero (Jack?) telling the heroine how proprieterial romantic possessiveness is not very different from creepy, can’t take no for an answer stalking. Very, very disturbing, that.

    And Edward as abusive? Well, you could read this, for starters:

    THE GREATEST LOVE STORY
    15 signs you’re dating an abuser, probably named Edward Cullen: Has he ever: Looked at you or acted in ways that scare you? Controlled what you do, who you see or where you go? (eg: forbidden you from seeing your werewolf friends?) Made all of your decisions? Acted like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault or even deny doing it? Threatened to commit suicide? Threatened to kill you? Was it on your first date? Has he ever tried to isolate you from family or friends? Does he damage your property when angry? Has he thrown you through a glass table? Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place? Scared you by driving recklessly? Forced you to leave your home? Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention? Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles? Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships? If any of these signs apply to your relationship, you should run immediately. This man is not only a dangerous bastard, but also probably a blood-sucking vampire no matter how many abstinence metaphors he spews. Mind you, if you try to run he’ll probably just start stalking you. Vampires are known to do things like that. Call Buffy Summers and beg her to forgive your dumb ass. She’s your only hope.

    And yes, just reading the review of Scoundrel’s Captive made me want to gag. Old Skool, really. And if anyone watches Indian television, they’ll be disturbed to see how very often all these tropes of abuse-as-love are regurgitated in practically every single wildly popular, incredibly regressive soap.

  15. 15
    Daniela C. says:

    I was laughing so hard and then I realized your recap was only half over!!!!
    By the time I got to the end, I was exhausted! I can’t imagine how you felt reading it! Ugh!

    Re: Twilight…I have never heard anyone mention Edward being abusive…hmmm…I would see Jacob being more abusive…no that’s not right…domineering. He is constantly trying to push her toward him. But my real gripe is with Bella…GAH!!!!… She is such a whiney BITCH!!! Grow up!!! “Oh, Edward, (wimper) don’t leave me (wimper) I can’t live without you!” I think Edward is more trying to save her from HERSELF!!!

  16. 16
    Kate says:

    On top of all the rapey, abusive, horrible bullshit, what really sticks out to me are the names. Chad? Roxy? Jess? Steve? What is this, 1979?

  17. 17
    Sara H says:

    I love that you call books/authors out for this kind of disgusting shit!

  18. 18
    FIamma says:

    I just…WOW! The beginnings of romance novels were really awful it seems. I wonder what made someone write this and when they finished they smiled and thought, “This is perfect!” I also want to know who found it sexy and wonderful and romantic.
    Cassie Edwards came to mind once the Indian tribe was brought in with the gratuitous beating suggestion.

    “Steve does apologize to Jess about the whole Margo thing, and tells her that Little Sparrow’s husband said that what Jess really needs is a beating.”

    Excuse me while I go read my Thursday Next novel and enjoy her ass kicking ways.

  19. 19

    Uh…wow. Sounds like the only good thing about this book was Wyoming (go go home state). Sorry you had to take another one for the team. /bow

    Makes me wonder what all I’ll have to look forward to in the old school romances I just bought myself for my birthday this weekend. They were all still “new” too because the one local bookstore never gets rid of stuff. I love to dig through their collection…though that ends up with me getting myself in trouble of the “you spent how much on books???” kind.

    And I’m rambling off topic now so I’ll stop.

  20. 20
    quichepup says:

    Thanks to RedHeadedGirl for taking another one for the team and congrats for NOT getting thrown off the plane because this was a big ol’ wallbanger of a book. Also congrats to Oscar.

    Indians! Who all speak English, are peacefully camped outside of town, whose presence is apparently tolerated by the townsfolk and who randomly adopt people, no questions asked. Oh yeah. The idea of indians as either evil bloodthirsty savages (the traditional view) or a noble enlightened people who lurve white folks and whose can only derive happiness by giving said white folks presents, blessings and adopting them irks me too. Though noble and enlightened nature lovers are slightly better than just being considered bloodthirsty savages.  I guess.

    Amnesia! Another standard that makes me want to hit my own head against a wall. How it comes and goes, how there’s no after effects, no physical impairment, none of that stuff.

    I won’t go off on the rape and aggressor/victim thing since others have done it better than I could but I agree with your confusion and outrage and say WTFBBQ?! at it all.

  21. 21
    upfront_reader says:

    The saddest part is that you can still find romance novels with this sort of controlling/abusive crap dressed up as true love. I just finished a Harlequin Presents I found in a used bookstore (published in 2001, but still) called A Vengeful Deception by Lee Wilkinson. The “hero” manipulated, coerced, raped (it was dressed up as seduction, but the “hero” refuses to take no for an answer: “I’ll stop when you can convince me that you really want me to stop.” Gag!) and even imprisoned the heroine to punish her for something he thought she’d done. Turned out she was innocent (in more ways then one, of course) but she still fell in love with him and forgave him for everything after a token apology. Repulsive.

  22. 22
    LizW65 says:

    Urgh.  Thanks for taking one for the team, so to speak.  Disturbing as the content of this book clearly is, what’s up with those weird yellow streaks on the cover?  Are they supposed to be the sun’s rays pouring down on the young “lovers”, or did somebody spill their Mountain Dew on the book?

  23. 23

    The thing I found most terrifying was the number of people who saw what Steve was doing, and didn’t see a problem with it.  Even as Jess is screaming for him to stop, to put her down, to go away, they all either turned away or told her to stop struggling and smiling knowingly..

    Welcome to the world women lived in prior to the 1990’s. Yes, it’s horrifying, but as someone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s this is what people thought and how far too many women were treated. We should all be thanking the heavens for Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinham and others who stood up and said This Is Wrong. That’s only one of the lasting legacies of Feminism.

  24. 24
    Blue says:

    Ya’ll can say what you want, I am fixing to find it and read this fucker! It sounds absolutely hideous and I am in the mood lately for hideous…don’t get me wrong, I don’t support abusive relationships, I just want to read mindless stupid shit lately.

  25. 25
    Carrie S says:

    What an asshat.  Not only does he kidnap and rape her, but according to the cover Steve has also wrenched poor Jess’s neck all out of alignment and broken both of her arms, or so I deduce from the weird angles.

  26. 26

    @Blue, I will send you my copy.  email me at redheadedgirl.boston AT gmail

  27. 27
    Ann says:

    UGH!  I thought that cover looked familiar.  Unfortunately, I read that one back in my teenaged days of reading through the entire romance section of our local public library.  I do remember now that sometime in the early nineties I did give up all western romances.  Wonder if this one is why?

  28. 28
    SuperWendy says:

    I did a double-take on the copyright date.  I routinely hear (and surely this can’t just be my experience) in some corners of online Romancelandia that historical romances were sooooo much better during the 1990s.  Uh yeah.  I’m hoping all these readers meant to say “the late 1990s” – because this is the biggest steamiest pile of WTFBBQ I’ve read about in a long time.

    Now I need to file this title away somewhere in my brain.  I have an annoying habit of “rescuing” Old Skool western romances from UBSes.  I don’t want to accidentally “rescue” this one.  Yikes!

  29. 29
    Zoe Archer says:

    In the immortal words of Han Solo:

    It’s not my fault!

  30. 30
    Donna says:

    OK, RHG, you win. You are the goddess of masochistic reading. I weep for your pain. As a fellow been-there done that reader, how anyone writer, editor or reader could consider this a romance is beyond me.

    As for publishers of that time period putting out any piece of schlock passing itself off as a romance hoping to cash in on the burgeoning popularity? – well, that’s still going on – hence the number of paranormal romances that read like a 5th grader wrote them. Figure out a way to fit a vampire into your book & you’re golden.

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