Dangerous Hero Addict Support Group discussion

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Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy > The Dark Side of PNR/UF

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message 1: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Sep 03, 2013 11:59PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
Disclaimer: I am not putting down this genres or bashing authors in these genres. They are two of my favorites, in fact. I love these books, so that's why I thought this would be a good discussion, since I find that more and more I am seeing some disturbing content that makes me very leery to try new authors without having the content screened by another reader whose analysis I trust.


I finished a review book and it was really disturbing to me. I cannot say what book it was, so don't ask. :(

I felt that it showed so much graphic violence and cruelty to women, a lot of it sexual, and this seems to be a trend in PNR, to a small to great extent. It got me thinking. I am not for gratuitous violence towards men either, but it seems that women seem to be the victim a lot more than men. I know of some authors who also put their male characters through the wringer (and that may often include sexual abuse), so I know it's not across the board.

I like gritty and dark themes as much as anyone. However, where do you draw the line? How can you portray darkness and have a real sense of evil without pandering to dark imagery excessively, and somehow sending an image that violence against women is justified?

I am especially squeamish about the mix of sex and violence (in relation to women). A person I know read a book last week or so which had some similar subject matter. All the sexual scenes showed graphic violence and cruelty towards women and had no positive sexual interactions between the characters. I think that we are most disturbed the content was so uneven. Perhaps with the depiction of loving relationships in a story with dark content, it would be so glaring and disturbing.

What do you see as other things that hint at a dark side to this genre?


What are your thoughts? Feel free to disagree or respectfully dispute any points that you feel need a different viewpoint.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Luckily I haven't run across this. I'm not a fan of abusive relationships. Physical or mental. Female or male victim. I've seen it both ways. And it should never be romantic.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
I definitely don't like abusive relationships. However, I'm referring to a significant amount of scenes in which violence is depicted on women (particularly sexual violence).


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
Sherrilyn Kenyon is one author who is much harder on her heroes than her heroines. Most of the heroes are horribly abused. I'm not saying I prefer that, but at least I know I can read her books without seeing a heroine being victimized. There are a good number of authors I trust not to go there, at least no more than they would with a male character.


message 5: by Emma (last edited Sep 06, 2013 12:25AM) (new)

Emma (EClark33) | 8 comments Very true. Unfortunately I write my paranormal erotic stories the same way (I promise this isn't a stealth promo!), with tons of violence, and yes it's usually against women; sexual violence.

BUT I usually make sure to have the hero behave with respect toward the heroine (though he might be cruel to anyone else). I used to be worse in my stories, but have learned to make the hero "nice" for the most part, at least whenever it concerns his love.

I DO have an upcoming book where the hero is an anti-hero, in every sense of the word. It's not paranormal. And I do have warnings everywhere about the book's content, though it's not out yet.

Some readers like that sort of thing. Others don't. No one's opinion is wrong, of course. :-)

I like dangerous heroes who are violent to others, but if they physically harm the heroine, I don't much care for it. If he DID do such a thing, I'd want him to do a LOT of grovelling. And maybe get some therapy too...

Interesting topic. I've always wondered how others felt about the violence in paranormal dark erotica, etc.


message 6: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Sep 06, 2013 07:17PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
I appreciate you commenting. Can I ask you what motivates you to show sexual violence against women, Emma? Why the heroine and not the hero? Can't a hero be the victim of sexual violence as often or at least some of the time instead of it always being the heroine?

I appreciate the warnings, honestly. I'm not here to judge people or their taste in books. But I am squeamish about that content, and it's a lot worse when I pick up a book and there is no warning whatsoever that the content is going to go there.

I can only speak for myself, but all the targeted sexual violence against women is a real turnoff. I'm not sure what it says culturally, maybe nothing. Women shouldn't have a victim sign on their forehead, but the way they are depicted in the books that go there seems to indicate that they do: I don't like sexual violence. And I'm not talking about a punishing or forceful kiss. I'm talking about big time acts of sexual violence (view spoiler)


message 7: by Sonya Heaney (new)

Sonya Heaney This might have some spoilers for a couple of series (both of them published a number of years ago).

Danielle The Book Huntress wrote: "I felt that it showed so much graphic violence and cruelty to women, a lot of it sexual, and this seems to be a trend in PNR, to a small to great extent. It got me thinking. I am not for gratuitous violence towards men either, but it seems that women seem to be the victim a lot more than men. I know of some authors who also put their male characters through the wringer (and that may often include sexual abuse), so I know it's not across the board."

I've not read a great deal of PNR or UF recently, but I have definitely noticed this trend (in other genres too, actually).

Now, on one hand, there're books where I have no problem with sexual abuse as a theme in books. For example (and these are Romantic Suspense, not PNR books), in this book - To the Brink (Bodyguard, #3) by Cindy Gerard - the secondary female character has been held hostage by terrorists for months. The fact she was raped by them wasn't a surprise, and I don't think it was gratuitous.

So when she became the heroine in a later book in the series - Into the Dark (Bodyguard, #6) by Cindy Gerard - she had lots of issues to work through.

However, lots of authors seem to go out of their way to have their characters raped, even though they aren't in situations where you would necessarily expect the plot to make a move in that direction.

For example, I enjoyed Christine Feehan's Drake Sisters series, but reviews for the books became more and more critical as the series went on. In the first few books there was no real violence against the heroines, as it didn't fit into the tone of the series.

But by book five - Safe Harbor (Drake Sisters, #5) by Christine Feehan - the heroine was stalked and carved up with a knife.

And two books later - Hidden Currents (Drake Sisters, #7) by Christine Feehan - the heroine was drugged, kidnapped and raped and abused for months and months.

It seems like authors go straight to violence against women when they want to add an edge to their series, even if it doesn't necessarily fit into the direction of the series.


message 8: by Sonya Heaney (new)

Sonya Heaney Then there was also (again, RS, not PNR) Shades of Gray (KGI, #6) by Maya Banks

The only female member of the military team, and of course in her book she's the one who (view spoiler)

I know many kinds of violence are more commonly committed against women, but it was a little disheartening to see such a strong character literally stripped and made the victim for her manly team members to baby...


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
Thanks for commenting, Sonya.


I probably read more PNR than RS, but I can see the trend there too.

I don't know if the descriptions are as graphic as what I have read recently in the last disturbing PNR book I read.

I don't particularly enjoy reading about a character being raped, but I'm not 100% against this subject when handled well. However, I think that glorying rape is a huge nono.

I can totally understand why many readers found Hidden Currents a no-no, but compared to the book I read that spurred this post, that is practically G-rated. I'm sad to say.


message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate | 56 comments Thoughtful post Danielle.

I think I draw the line at graphic violence towards men and women. I do not like to read about it in detail. I don't mind if there is a brief explanation of past violence that the hero or heroine was abused in some way and that is worked into the storyline as to why they are acting as they do. But I don't want to read a blow by blow description of rape, physical or mental violence/abuse. For me, violence/pain has no place in a sex scene ever.

There is too much violence in the real world,so I don't want to pay money to read about graphic violence towards men or women. I enjoy books to escape into a fantasy world with "Happily Ever Afters".

I do spend a considerable amount of time reading reviews of books on Goodreads and Amazon before I purchase so I can avoid such subjects. Not always possible, but it helps.

And I agree with you, finding reliable people whose reviews you trust is extremely helpful when purchasing the next book. I often use the compare books feature on Goodreads before making a decision.


message 11: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Oct 30, 2013 10:54AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
Thanks for commenting, Kate.

I think I am growing even more sensitive to the fact that women/girls are abused so much in society, and I don't want to see it treated lightly or glorified in my pleasure reading. I think an author can treat that subject matter in a careful way that enlightens, and that's what I look for if there is going to be such material. Otherwise, I'd rather it they not go there.

I really appreciate when reviews make a mention of such subject matter, like you, Kate.


message 12: by Lauren (last edited Oct 30, 2013 11:04AM) (new)

Lauren (MsThestral) Warning: There are some spoilers in this post for Maya Banks's Shades of Gray (KGI, #6) by Maya Banks and Patricia Briggs's Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3) by Patricia Briggs.

***************************************************

Gratuitous violence or sexual abuse of a male or female character for no reason other than to shock is out of place and a huge turn off for me as well.

Thanks for mentioning Shades of Gray (KGI, #6) by Maya Banks, Sonia. I was quite disturbed by the turn that Banks's writing took in this book as the violence perpetrated against the heroine is completely unnecessary. All it really does is draw the reader's attention away from the theme of the book, the despicable human trafficking trade, and make it all about the heroine coping with her trauma.

Another example that I found disturbing is the attack on Mercy in Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3) by Patricia Briggs. Having Mercy humiliated in this way only serves to undermine her characterization as a strong-willed, independent and kick-ass heroine. In fact, I find Briggs's writing in general to be quite misogynistic.


message 13: by Rachel Annie (last edited Oct 30, 2013 11:09AM) (new)

Rachel Annie (SnapDragoness) I appreciate when disclaimers about potentially offensive scenes are included in reviews as well.

I've spent a lot of time reading reviews for the (not PNR) Consequences Series Consequences (Consequences, #1) by Aleatha Romig trying to figure out why it's so popular. And that despite how the main character treats her, readers are still on his team.

Still can't figure it out.


message 14: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Rachel ~ SnapDragoness wrote: "I appreciate when disclaimers about potentially offensive scenes are included in reviews as well.

I've spent a lot of time reading reviews for the (not PNR) Consequences Series [bookcover:Conseque..."


You have to read the whole series to understand.


message 15: by Rachel Annie (new)

Rachel Annie (SnapDragoness) Did (view spoiler)

That would explain his motivations to a degree, but I guess I was more searching why she seemed to accept the (view spoiler)

Not every book is for every person, of course, but this series is super popular and it made me curious is all. ☺


message 16: by Kate (new)

Kate | 56 comments Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) wrote: "Thanks for commenting, Kate.

I think I am growing even more sensitive to the fact that women/girls are abused so much in society, and I don't want to see it treated lightly or glorified in my plea..."


I totally agree with you Danielle.


message 17: by Natalie (last edited Nov 07, 2013 03:02PM) (new)

Natalie | 386 comments An interesting topic and one I've given a lot of thought to myself.

I agree, a good forceful, demanding kiss and the like is all good stuff!! ;-)


For me, the violence/abuse or victimisation has to have a reason and be integeral to the characters story and development. Not just thrown in there to make a good or interesting plot twist.

I think that books with heroes and heroines from the past/who have lived for centuries (and often PNR and Urban Fantasy have these) can often contain some forms of extreme violence (physical, emotional or sexual) I feel often to get over the brutality of their time or circumstances to the reader ie. a war situation in ancient Greece where a city is overtaken by the enemy, and thus an unfortunate amount of looting, violence, slavery and, unfortunately, violence towards women can take place. This you could argue is a realistic portrayal of a character in these circumstances.


I've read a number of books -both PNR and otherwise- that have contained rape or violence towards both men and women. Though it often occurs more towards female characters I have to admit! As Sonya said above, some kinds of violence do occur more towards women, so perhaps this is the reason why?


I've only read 2 books where it was too disturbing for me though...

One I stopped reading cos it just felt way too uncomfortable.

The other was a really good book, but had me certainly questioning the motivations of the hero towards the heroine more than any book I've read! However, the books circumstances coupled with the heroes willingness to really question his actions and take full responsibility for them made this book ok for me.

If the victimisation is in keeping with the books plot and circumstances and is handled well by the author, leading to growth of characters, then I feel it does have a place. But I don't find it easy to read, especially if it's graphically portrayed rather than something which occurred in a characters past, and have definately found myself reading book reviews more and more before I start a new book.


message 18: by MaryReadsRomance (last edited Jan 25, 2014 01:25AM) (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments I find this increasing violence towards women a disturbing trend in all fiction but in some romances it is approaching horror.. One very popular contemporary erotic romance series The Siren (The Original Sinners, #1) by Tiffany Reisz involves the hero cutting the heroine's genitals with a razor blade later in the series The Mistress (The Original Sinners, #4) by Tiffany Reisz. I have a high tolerance for the new BDSM influenced books but this was just sickening to me. Consensual or not, I rated this book low and as horror.

I am not sure of the cause, in current fiction, for increased violence towards the females. But it is true around the globe, contemporaneously and historically, that societies experiencing economic depressions show, via statistics, increases in violence and abuse towards minorities (including weaker and disadvantaged groups). Woman historically have been targeted as a minority group.

Some other "romance" books that were supposed to be anti-trafficking or anti-female slavery and actually glorified the abuse and made the abuser the hero were:
Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1) by C.J. Roberts
The Darkness of Perfection by Michael Schneider

People love this writer, but even this anti-hero disturbed me due to his line of business which abuses young woman for profit...
Knight (Unfinished Hero, #1) by Kristen Ashley

All in all, a very disturbing trend in any romance subgenre...


message 19: by MaryReadsRomance (last edited Jan 25, 2014 01:22AM) (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments These are my reviews for the books I mentioned.

The Mistress : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Captive in The Dark:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The Darkness of Perfection:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Knight:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I got some heat for these negative reviews but woman (especially mature woman) need to speak up to help young woman be more aware. Just doing a DNF or not leaving a review does little to get the word out that extreme physical and emotional abuse is REALLY dangerous and not sexy.

The sad reality that many young woman may not know is that most abusers will not get better but only worse. And as with any illness such as alcoholism, an abuser is sick and needs serious professional help. They are not going to magically or miraculously be cured over night nor be cured by love alone.

Let's not silently sit back and watch as decades of hard work done by woman for woman to get woman equal rights and fair treatment is eroded away by popular fiction which heavily influences our culture :(

I personally thank you so much for opening this thread!


message 20: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 181 comments Whoa, eye-opening thread! I read all the messages and I'm glad to be forewarned about the books mentioned. I don't like gratuitous violence either. I've noticed books, Pnr and RS, getting more violent, but so far I haven't found any where I considered the violence gratuitous even if it did sicken me to some degree.

Someone thought this was the influence of the BDSM trend. Do you all think so? As I understand it, BDSM is about consensual pain and surrender. That would seem to rule out victimization although I've read some that were on the line for me.


message 21: by MaryReadsRomance (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments BDSM may actually being used as an excuse for some female abuse in fiction and in real life, but from what I understand, in most experienced circles (from reading only), BDSM is consensual and most practitioners prefer the "sane and rational" approach and never try to cause permanent damage, physical or emotional, to one another.

It is no small irony that of the "female abused by the hero" romance books I sited here, only one is a BDSM type book. That is The Mistress. In The Mistress, the main hero, actually breaks the ribs and tears his male "partner" in a "consensual attack and rape in the woods and later cuts his female heroine's anatomy with a razor blade. Both are consensual but neither encounter is "sane".

I am embarrassed to admit that I thought the 1st book in this Sinners Series was campy and interesting - and called it The Sopranos of the Sexual Underground. It reminded me a little of Sleeping with the Enemy and the God Father - both of which were good books. I shelved it as erotic contemporary romance and horror - even then.

But as I read on till The Mistress, I realized that this series was going into a very dark place that I did not want to go and regretted reading it. I went back and revised ALL my reviews - which got me some real heat from other fan girls - especially those that had not read further yet...

Another series that was not BDSM at the onset but is a revenge psychological thriller that had a very abusive hero was :

Consequences (Consequences, #1) by Aleatha Romig

Truth (Consequences, #2) by Aleatha Romig

Convicted (Consequences, #3) by Aleatha Romig

I did actually like this series, which has a very abusive anti-hero who kidnaps, rapes, forces the heroine to be his wife, as a psychological thriller and as a mystery almost horror book. I ended up giving it 3 stars in the end due to the clever mystery plot and writing. In it's defense the anti-hero is abused too and is not "cured" over night and there is consequences for him as well.. - which I warn about in my final review.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 22: by MaryReadsRomance (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments Inflicting extreme physical or emotional abuse that would result in permanent damage to anyone should naturally be abhorrent to anyone but when I found these statistics I was shocked..

description


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That is not BDSM.
This is abuse and hate crimes done to women by the very men whom they love and trust
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
I appreciate everyone's comments. I think it's important to be able to talk about these subjects in a safe place where people will listen and think about what people are saying.

I won't pretend I haven't read or enjoyed books where there is a rape/non-consent scenario. I just want to be clear that I am not judging anyone's reading tastes. I like forced seduction books, and I love a possessive/jealous hero. I think that I do have a comfort zone that can be crossed, which is why I avoid BDSM books and dark erotic/well most erotica in general. I think that readers need to make informed decisions about their reading, and I hate when a book is unclearly marketed where a reader ends up reading content that is way beyond their comfort zone.

I also have this concern that books are getting more and more extreme in content, and that content is bleeding over into 'mainstream' novels where an unwary reader can be exposed to objectionable content they can't deal with. I feel that the publishers need to be more responsible in that regard.


message 24: by MaryReadsRomance (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments MaryReadsRomance wrote: "BDSM may actually being used as an excuse for some female abuse in fiction and in real life, but from what I understand, in most experienced circles (from reading only), BDSM is consensual and most..."

Turns out there is a new Consequences book Behind His Eyes - Consequences (Consequences, #4) by Aleatha Romigthat came out in Jan. that is from the anti-hero's POV.. I am conflicted about buying this as I find the book interesting as a psychological romance thriller but do not want to promote violence.

At least, in this series the anti-hero is presented as despicable and his villainous abuse of the heroine is not made to look normal. He does also later repent and reform.

I also believe this retelling of the story from the anti-heroes POV will better illuminate another character's mental inner workings and they will be shown to be the real evil and villain at the root cause of the heroes abuse and control issues...

The hot dangerous dis-functional hero archtype seems currently very popular in all the romance sub-genres not just PNF.

From what I am seeing, currently the line is very thin between acceptable and non-acceptable emotional or physical abuse. And it seems dangerous heroes, more so than other hero types, can easily cross this line from being controlling into emotional or physical abuse.

PNF, being fantasy, however, can and likely does on occasion push the envelope even further into the abuse realm than other genres. For example, in Fantasy, characters can get away with greater horrors using "fantasy" justifications for abusive behaviors such as animal behavior or outside paranormal controls or influences.


message 25: by MaryReadsRomance (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) wrote: "I appreciate everyone's comments. I think it's important to be able to talk about these subjects in a safe place where people will listen and think about what people are saying.

I won't pretend I..."


Agreed! We need better rating for books. I have two teen children and it is very alarming that they are being exposed to so much violence and sexual content via TV and now in YA and NA books. The unwary parent could be in for a surprise with what is in books and how they are influencing the youth.. BUT I also am always wary about ratings and possible censorship implications .. I want to reserve the right for me and others to read what we like including adult romances and smut, LOL


message 26: by MaryReadsRomance (last edited Jan 25, 2014 11:52PM) (new)

MaryReadsRomance (Mary_Reads) | 37 comments Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) wrote: "I appreciate everyone's comments. I think it's important to be able to talk about these subjects in a safe place where people will listen and think about what people are saying.

I like forced seduction books, and I love a possessive/jealous hero...."


Yes, I love forced seductions and possessive jealous heroes too!

One of my favorite and first romance books was Sweet Savage Love. Sweet Savage Love (Morgan-Challenger, #1) by Rosemary Rogers
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

And I was a huge General Hospital Luke and Laura fan along with my Mother too!

I guess I have to laugh as we are all in this Dangerous Hero group so, yes we all likely like dangerous heroes. Which can be a moral or ethical or just a taste issue as these sometimes generically dangerous heroes could also be a danger, at least at some point, to the heroine as well 8-0)

For me, my current hard limit is that I do not like books that glorify abuse of woman or that promotes severe physical or emotional abuse that leaves permanent physical or emotional scars OR books that have an abusive anti-hero who never actually reforms...

You will laugh but I just read Savage Desire which was the 3rd (year 2000) sequel to Sweet Savage Love. I had to get the paper back used from Ebay and read it in Dec 2013.

Though both suffer tremendous trails yet again **sigh**, I was so happy to see Steve finally reform by regretting his rapes and committing to never force Ginny in anything again!
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Hope springs eternal for our Dangerous Heroes :)


message 27: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 181 comments MaryReadsRomance wrote: "BDSM may actually being used as an excuse for some female abuse in fiction and in real life, but from what I understand, in most experienced circles (from reading only), BDSM is consensual and most..."

Your definition is what I believe too, Mary. BDSM is not about permanently scarring your partner. In fact, authors I've spoken with who've done their research, say it's about the lovers being able to trust one another completely. You certainly couldn't do that with a person who is going to lose control of themselves in some kind of psychotic breakdown.

Danielle, you hit the nail on the head when you talk about different strokes for different folks in reading(paraphrasing). I've been titillated by things I'd never tolerate in real life. I just think we should keep emphasizing that we aren't giving a license to victimize people. There are sickos who think that's what the romance genre is about. I'll be the first to admit there can be a high level of exaggeration. But it's about escapism and folks I've met on Goodreads appreciate that.


message 28: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Jan 26, 2014 11:33AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 9577 comments Mod
MaryReadsRomance wrote: For me, my current hard limit is that I do not like books that glorify abuse of woman or that promotes severe physical or emotional abuse that leaves permanent physical or emotional scars OR books that have an abusive anti-hero who never actually reforms...

This is for me as well. I am a huge Anne Stuart fan, and she writes some very edgy heroes, but I believe that they love the heroine and that has impacted them deep inside. And I think that there is a thin line between showing a morally questionable hero and a completely amoral, psychopathic character who enjoys hurting others. That doesn't work for me and never will.

@ Andrea, I agree with this: I've been titillated by things I'd never tolerate in real life. I just think we should keep emphasizing that we aren't giving a license to victimize people. There are sickos who think that's what the romance genre is about. I'll be the first to admit there can be a high level of exaggeration. But it's about escapism and folks I've met on Goodreads appreciate that.


That's why we do give a forum for discussing these aspects of Dangerous Hero reading on this group. We don't need to justify our choices, but it's okay to talk through our concerns and misgivings and what we can and cannot deal with.


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