April's Reviews > Captive Bride

Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey
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did not like it

There was a HUGE sale on Johanna Lindsey books not too long ago — a good number of her backlist was made available in the Kindle format — and I took advantage and bought everything of hers on sale because simply ... I love her books.

So I've been gorging on Johanna Lindsey books the last few weeks/months or so, following the order of books listed on her Wikipedia page. I've been chain reading them when I wasn't working or moving from one city to another, when I lay at night unable to sleep and in need of something to make me forget my own life for a while, so I haven't stopped to review any of them, but then I read THIS book, and I had to take a break and say, "Whoa."

This book was originally published in 1977, so I'm guessing this is one of her first books. I'm also guessing that the flavor of the romance novels back then were very, very different from the flavor of romance novels published today. The romance novels back then were called bodice-rippers for a very good reason, but if they were published today as new material there'd be an outcry. I'll just get right to the point — this romance novel romanticizes rape. The hero rapes the heroine, not just once, but regularly and frequently. I guess what made it OK back then was that the hero is very good looking; he's in total lust with her, and that lust turns to love; and though her mouth says NO, her eyes and body say YES.

I actually heard that phrase once in a '70s sitcom, Three's Company, where one of the male characters is giving another male character advice on how to woo one of the female characters. He tells him that even though she says NO, she really means YES. Good God, if anyone said that today, that person would be slapped for lack of common sense. NO means NO, and that's final. This just goes to show you how stupid our society was in the '70s. Or course, back then, womanizing made a man attractive and sexy; it made him the alpha male.

So this book is about rape, and as if the scenes in the book weren't enough to convince you of that, the word "rape" is also liberally sprinkled throughout the book. The characters love to say the word, too, so it's not just in the narrative but in the dialogue as well. For me, just the word rape in a romance novel is like the N word or the C word — it's just a word that doesn't belong in a romance as it is the farthest from sexy and loving as you can get. And it just treats the whole subject too lightly, as though it were something so very easily forgiven. It seems to condone it as a way to romance someone, when all it really is is violent abuse, plain and simple.

What makes this book interesting and remarkable to me, though, is that it's very reminiscent of E.M. Hull's The Sheik, which was written in 1919. It makes me wonder if it was an influence in Johanna Lindsey's writing. In both books, the hero abducts the heroine and regularly rapes her, and of course, the heroine eventually falls in love with the hero. Utter nonsense, of course, but a fantasy actually entertained by many a few generations ago. Real rape is traumatic and destructive, though, and everyone generally knows that, so if Lindsey had written this today, she could never have gotten it published. Today, a character in a book who rapes is never the hero; he's the villain. So for me, reading this book was culture shock. I was stunned, appalled, and I couldn't believe that it was a Johanna Lindsey book.

It's the first of her books I've read that I don't like.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
June 20, 2012 – Shelved

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