Something rotten in the state of Venus

Anyone who reads across a lot of genres will know that each one has a certain ‘voice’. There are unspoken rules that are at least nodded to, if not obeyed. Scifi is written differently to fantasy, and neither are the same as YA or romance.

As a writer that writes across a lot of different genres, I tend to stick to reading what I’m writing. I find it keeps me in the right headspace, speaking with the right voice. I read a lot of YA when I was writing Sage, and I read a lot of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance while I’m writing the Masquerade books. I read a lot of chick lit during the creation of Summer Loving. For however many months it takes me to write each book, I exist in a bubble of that genre. I suspect I probably got a little angsty during the Sage months with a resurgence of teen attitude. I hate to think how sappy I was during the Summer Loving months…there were tears at almost every film. Sometimes even the commercials lol.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of erotica, as I’m editing a book for Ivory Quinn in this genre that will be released in May. It’s a bit of a peculiar genre, in that the vast majority of what’s out there is incredibly badly written. That said, I’ve come across some spectacularly good books. See my review for The Siren by Tiffany Reisz if you want an example. I may not yet have decided if I loved or hated it, but the fact that it makes me feel so intensely just goes to show how powerfully it’s written. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young is another great example of the genre. I’ve reviewed that too.

I have nothing against the books that involve dominance and submission. On the contrary, I find the well written ones quite fascinating from a psychological perspective. Those that have been well researched are as interesting as they are saucy, because they allow you into a glimpse of what is, essentially, an alien mind. The thought processes and emotional responses between dom and sub are so extreme that they’re outside most people’s parameters of comprehension.

What I am really struggling with is this disturbing new trend of HEAs that feature truly awful male protagonists and naive, accepting, sweet females. By HEA I mean ‘happily ever after’. They’re a blend of romance and erotica – chicklit with spice. Time and time again I’m reading about guys who are controlling, abusive and downright scary towards their partners without any of the safety structure of the dom/sub relationship. These are guys treating normal girls like trash and not being held up to account for it. I’m not talking about vampires or the like, I’m talking about all human, HEA couples that are, frankly, disturbing.

The guys always get away with it because they’re angsty or they have issues. I’m sorry, but it’s wrong. Judging by the writing style, most of these are written by 13 year old girls and I’m finding myself deeply worried that this is what young, impressionable women think relationships should be like. There is no excuse to treat a woman like that. None. If a guy wants to control a woman absolutely, then he needs to explore it in a sane and consensual way with boundaries. And women need to understand that they don’t have to lie down and just take it. When you’re with a guy that constantly pushes you around and controls you, there is no happy ever after.

Trust me. I know. I speak from experience.

I review maybe 1 in every ten to fifteen books I read. The fact that I’ve recently reviewed 2 where this is been an issue should tell you just how many I’m reading with this disturbing trend. You can tell me that this is just fiction, that it’s not as disturbing as it looks, but girls who read from a young age probably learn more about relationships from reading than they do from anywhere else. I know I did. When I had the birds and the bees talk, my mum brought out a medical text book with diagrams and everything. It scared the hell out of me at my tender age of 11. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-teens and reading slightly more adult books that I began to understand the nuances of human mating behaviour.

Girls, please, stand up for yourselves. You’re worth more than this. If a guy treats you like crap, walk away. It’s not okay. It’ll never be okay. Don’t let this misguided fashion for total jerks lead you astray. You are in control of your own lives and you should never forget that. Take it from someone who learned that lesson the hard way.

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