Thursday, July 19, 2007

Christina Dodd 'Scent of Darkness'

As much as I hate to get too serious (especially about a genre of books that's supposed to be, above all, fun) I think this book requires a bit more than a simple review. Bear with me. Forced sex in romance novels (we all know where the term Bodice Ripper comes from) has been viewed differently by every generation of readers and writers. After the bodice ripper, 'she hated him and told him 'No', but he knew she didn't really mean it' there came the 'I'll stop this torture when you tell me explicitly what you want me to do and sign this waiver saying you haven't had any intoxicating substances other than my incredibly potent presence in the last 24 hours.' Things have loosened up a bit from there, but it's my impression that the norm now is pretty obvious sexual consent from both parties.

Christina Dodd's Scent of Darkness involves demon offspring who change into predators at will as hero's. And she doesn't shy from weaving their predator instincts into their characters. Ann the heroine, never specifically tells Jasha no, but in two of their 'encounters' afterwards Jasha apologizes and characterizes his state as furious and that he 'gave her no choice..' While the first scene was a bit rough, and in the second, Ann was really mad at him when it happened... the actual sex scenes aren't that different than other scenes I've read recently. But I felt that the discussion of his 'forcing' her and apologizing without Ann specifically saying, "Get over yourself, I enjoyed it." brought the specter of bodice rippers too firmly into my mind. And more importantly why introduce a controversial element into the sex scenes that is so unnecessary to the plot and characters.

Otherwise the book is paced well, the plot kept me turning the pages, the warm russian family is nice, and I was only mildly annoyed by her being his secretary. Gotta ding this one for the principle of the matter.

Paranormal Romance 2007: 2 out of 5.


Anonymous said...

Having never read much of this genre, I was wondering if maybe the supernaturally-themed books can get away with the non-consent aspect more than the historical or contemporary romances. You know, having a demon/werewolf/vampire/alien protagonist gives authors more leeway to write a "rape fantasy" because it can makes excuses about being outside of reality. (Similarly, I hear people justifying extreme violence in certain movies or videogames because, you know, it's only robots or zombies getting blown to bits, not people.)

Personally, I think vampires would be much more considerate.

Heloise said...

Yeah, that was my ambivalence too (the genre) but interestingly I just read a historical romance (yesterday) and there is a very similar scene where he takes her to stake his claim and he doesn't exactly ask her if it's okay. Of course she never actually says no, but this feels like a slippery slope. Did I attend a few too many date-rape discussions in college?