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Book Discussion & Recommendation > Romanticized Abuse - need sources!

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message 1: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Stoutenburg I've got a little bit of a passion project I've always wanted to work on and decided to start now. Over the last few years, YA and New Adult (adult, too, but I'm attempting to narrow my scope) books have featured increasingly more abusive relationships and passed them off as romantic. Spurred on by Fifty Shades of Grey but not having the time or patience to define general abuse, I ended up writing a paper about Captive in the Dark and how the method of narration turned what could have been a story about Stockholm Syndrome into a romance novel.

This seems like the place to add that part of why I'm not looking at adult fiction is that I understand that fantasies can run the gamut and arguing against the problems in that is too much of an uphill battle for me at the moment. What I want to focus on is this literature geared toward young women (and men but gay fiction has a whole slew of problematic tropes that deserves to be treated with a greater degree of focus). And what I need is a list of books that you have read either about the topic, featuring the topic, or subverting the topic.

The brunt of my thesis would focus on novels from the last 15 years or so whose target audience falls in the 20 and under demographic, but a foundation of classics or contributing factors is never a bad thing. Nonfiction is also welcomed with open arms. I currently have the following on my list:

Twilight (yes, I'm going to be that person; in fact, I've tentatively identified a correlation between its success and prevalence of the abusive lead trope)
Wuthering Heights
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels
Liliom
Hush, Hush
Bared to You
Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

**Note: I'm not judging anybody, especially adults, for reading this material. And the likelihood that the "results" of my research will ever be published or reach a wider audience than the unfortunate few I talk to about it is slim to none. Also, BDSM does not equate abuse or rape, I'm fully aware. As someone who gets tied up for fun, I'll defend safe/sane/consensual until I'm blue in the face.


message 2: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 4 comments Hiya,

I think Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire might fit into this. I think it depicts a seriously unhealthy relationship, not necessarily a one-way street scenario, and there's no physical abuse that I can remember, but there are a lot of mind games being played. I came across it after reading Easy by Tammara Webber and I wanted more "new adult" reads - Beautiful Disaster had rave reviews on Goodreads and I was quite alarmed and disappointed when I finally read it. To be fair, it wasn't inaccurate as a depiction of dysfunctional teen relationships, but it certainly wasn't romantic, IMO.

Good luck with the project!


message 3: by Sonya (new)

Sonya | 13 comments I'm not sure if this works as I don't think it romanticizes abuse, so much as having a different (maybe more realistic) view of it, but "Towelhead" by Alicia Erian was certainly thought provoking. It was also made into a movie with Toni Collette, but the book was disturbing enough that I didn't bother to see the movie.


message 4: by Marina (last edited Oct 13, 2016 02:03PM) (new)

Marina Lovechild | 4 comments Hannah, this project seems amazing!
I can imagine Beauty and the Beast is a big part of it, and don't get me started on all the manga that aims itself towards 16 year old girls who want romance. That's not novels per se though.

Does Interview with the Vampire count? I remember being quite enamoured by Lestat and he treats Louis quite terrible, though I understand if one might treat it as gay fiction rather than for a young woman.


message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 62 comments I can't provide any proof to this but it seems like mainstream adult romance used to have MORE abusive behavior, not less, but that this fell out of favor. Really sick stuff like Rosemary Rogers Sweet Savage Love or Patricia Gaffney's to Have and to Hold but then that's back when the line between historical fiction and historical romance was blurrier. Maybe there's more of it now in self-published romance, I don't know.

I read a book of scholarly essays about Twilight that I read for free through the library system online (otherwise the e-book is 150 dollars or something) but I don't know if it would help it was mostly about the cultural impact of the Twilight paratexts etc. It was called Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the Twilight Series

This perhaps a "subversion" but mainly just its own thing, a YA "issue novel" that was published in 2001 about an abusive relationship from the perspective of the abuser, I don't know if it's done well or not, I just remember it because some schools had it in their required reading and it was a frequently challenged book for a time so it was on those "banned books week" lists (don't think it was ever banned though) Breathing Underwater


message 6: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wenz_nz) | 6 comments It's not a novel but I've always thought the movie Love Actually to romanticize a stalker - Andrew Lincoln's character Mark.


message 7: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 4 comments Wendy wrote: "It's not a novel but I've always thought the movie Love Actually to romanticize a stalker - Andrew Lincoln's character Mark."

Yes! If we started thinking about fiction normalizing stalker behavior, that really would turn into a doctoral thesis!


message 8: by Maxipants (last edited Oct 17, 2016 04:35AM) (new)

Maxipants | 1 comments Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels #1)
by Anne Bishop

Abuse, rape, pedophilia and a century old guy falling in love with a 12 years girl, but a lot of people seems to love that book.


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter | 55 comments Totally agree. Also bored by obvious satanic-type names. The many references to different gem types were about as exciting as Jane Austen's characters fascination with everybody's income, and other marks of status. I felt the work to be from an overheated adolescent imagination. Could not stomach an entire chapter. However, since so many people love her work, maybe I'll try something from her other series.


message 10: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Stoutenburg Thank you all for the responses! Sorry for my own lengthy one - wanted to get you all in!

Sonya - Thank you! I hadn't ever heard of "Towelhead" and that looks perfect. Horrible and disturbing since I'm not only a woman but have a younger sister but perfect nonetheless.

Ashley - I can't believe "Beautiful Disaster" didn't make that initial list, as I have read it and agree 100%. And it does add the interesting complication of them both being pretty awful. Apparently that's the appeal but I don't know. Especially not in the context of "ooh, look at how desirable this is, young impressionable minds - if you treat each other badly, it's just because you're damaged and love each other too much." Gag.

Marina - "Beauty and the Beast" is a whole other discussion. (Broad strokes? I don't believe that recent adaptations that strictly adhere to the Disney creation fits into this, as she does not reward him for treating her badly and it only becomes truly romantic as he softens, culminating in him releasing control of her entirely, acknowledging her as an equal.) Manga is also a completely different ball game and I don't even want to touch it. Yaoi in particular, as a romantic genre, fetishizes rape. And "Interview With a Vampire" is too far out of my area of focus, I think. Homosexual, platonic, or the presence of sexual tension between men deserves full-focused attention.

Elizabeth, thank you so much for those two sources. I love anything nonfiction in this area since it prevents me from simply rolling around in my own mind and building up flawed suppositions because I haven't thought to question myself.

Wendy, I don't know if I'd consider that "stalking" since the only evidence we have of him following her is the wedding video and I saw that more as him being helpless to look at anything else in the room, particularly with her being so radiantly happy. On the other hand, I go back and forth on whether his whole admission scene was romantic or crappy.

Maxipants and Peter - I have read the whole series and I actually have to say I love it. And I'd defend it at least on the grounds of pedophilia, as he does wait until she hits the age of adulthood and those who break young girls are demonized by the protagonists while embraced by the society. As for him falling in love with her, I can see how that would be disturbing but it didn't become sexual until she aged up, starting out instead as sort of spiritual. Again, another topic that could be properly debated in great depth.


message 11: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 5 comments does game of thrones count? the khal and the khaleesi?


message 12: by Sonya (new)

Sonya | 13 comments Hannah wrote: "Thank you all for the responses! Sorry for my own lengthy one - wanted to get you all in!

Sonya - Thank you! I hadn't ever heard of "Towelhead" and that looks perfect. Horrible and disturbing sinc..."


You're welcome, Hannah. It's a well written book and would have been "enjoyable" if it wasn't so disturbing. Hope it helps with your project.


message 13: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Stoutenburg Segilola wrote: "does game of thrones count? the khal and the khaleesi?"

Mmh...Not really, since it's not the center of the novel and isn't really all that important after the first book. Thank you though!

Sonya wrote: "You're welcome, Hannah. It's a well written book and would have been "enjoyable" if it wasn't so disturbing. Hope it helps with your project."

It's a disturbing topic so honestly I'm not expecting to find much of anything I read to be uplifting. I have to break up my self-imposed assigned reading with "Discworld" novels to stay sane.


message 14: by Sonya (new)

Sonya | 13 comments Hannah wrote: "Segilola wrote: "does game of thrones count? the khal and the khaleesi?"

Mmh...Not really, since it's not the center of the novel and isn't really all that important after the first book. Thank yo..."


Awesome! I love the Discworld books. Just finishing Maskerade. Let me know how your project goes.


message 15: by Kat (new)

Kat (ltmustbebunnies) | 1 comments Not sure if anyone has put this yet. Spoilers ahead.

In the Throne of Glass series, the main character (a teenaged girl) is held captive by the prince (in part by the king's decree). She enters into relationships with both the prince and the captain of his guard at some point. The relationships themselves don't seem abusive and wouldn't be in another context, but given that she is essentially a prisoner and a slave and these relationships are romanticized, I think they might count.

In the third book in the series, Heir of Fire, the main character meets a man who does abuse her, both physically and emotionally, and is also stronger than her physically (and magically). Later on, she finds her strength, which surpasses his, but then they enter into a romantic relationship despite this history of abuse. Once they are together, the man is no longer abusive, but continues to be territorial. The abuse is attributed to his dark past.

It's frustrating, because I love this series and enjoy reading it, but I do worry the effect it would have had on me as a teenager.

Another big one that doesn't fit what you're looking for but is worth an honorable mention: Severus Snape and Lily Potter in the Harry Potter series. They never get together, but basically Snape is a huge jerk and possibly evil, but then at the end of the series, it is revealed that he was in love with HP's mom the whole time, and was super mean to HP (because HP looks like his dad, who Snape hates) while secretly protecting him from the Big Bad (out of love for his mom). I thought this was super romantic when I first read it (as a teenager), but now having had much more experience with jealous partners and people (especially jealous men) who I have turned down, I think Snape is kind of creepy.. what kind of person bullies a kid because their mom wouldn't go out with them when they were teenagers?

Anyway, people get really sensitive about Snape, so I'd like to end with a disclaimer: it's okay to find the Snape thing romantic. It's okay to like problematic media. But we should still consider the impact media has on teens, especially when it comes to portraying abusive relationships. You can like something and be critical of it.

I'm really excited and interested to hear how all this research turns out! Please keep us updated.


message 16: by Marina (last edited Oct 19, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Marina Lovechild | 4 comments Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, #1) by Kelley Armstrong
I only started reading it myself before losing interest for some reason, but I found it on this list: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9...

So it might be worth checking into. Perhaps someone else here has read it?

Also, I figured out another perhaps better fitting to this category: Lasher (Lives of the Mayfair Witches, #2) by Anne Rice


message 17: by BookPusher D (last edited Oct 19, 2016 02:42PM) (new)

BookPusher D (bookpusherd) | 11 comments I just listened to The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey
because I like the movie, but the book was a little different and so far I think falls under your topic
(view spoiler)

I have only read book 1 of the series, and I feel we will start a love triangle in the next book. Very Twilight. The movie portrayed those details all a little more PC so I was a bit put out while listening.

I also want to say The Wrath and The Dawn duology, but I love how beautifully this retelling is portrayed, check it out and maybe it falls into your guidelines.


message 18: by Marina (new)

Marina Lovechild | 4 comments The Host (The Host, #1) by Stephenie Meyer
Another book by Stephenie Meyer, where an alien and a woman share the same body. The woman's boyfriend captures the woman and sees that she's an alien and wants to kill her, but the memories of his girlfriend just makes him abuse her here and there. ..
If I remember it correctly, I dont remember much I have to say.


...and thats a bummer Bookpusher D! I was considering reading that.


message 19: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Chennault (daphnech) | 68 comments One of the novels of Rosemary Rogers featured abuse of women. I can't recall the title (I've tried hard to forget) but it featured both rape and verbal abuse. To make matters worse, the author reconciled the characters as domestic partners!

A girlfriend later told me that Rogers did that a lot in her books. I can't say that's true because I only read one of her books.


message 20: by Serendi (last edited Oct 20, 2016 07:13AM) (new)

Serendi Looking at the rape list above reminded me.... Maryjanice Davidson's Wyndham Werewolves series starts with a couple of novellas in the "Secrets" anthology series. (view spoiler) A later novel is much tamer and friendlier.

You might want to look at the Secrets series. Here's one: Secrets: Volume 6. The stories tend to be more graphic than average, sometimes much more intense as well.


message 21: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs (pooks) Katy wrote: "Another big one that doesn't fit what you're looking for but is worth an honorable mention: Severus Snape and Lily Potter in the Harry Potter series."

Here is the difference, I believe. Their relationship wasn't romanticized in the way I think many of these others are. Snape and Lily, from what we can tell, never had an abusive relationship. He was abusive one time. When he'd been ganged up on by three guys and publicly humiliated, he lashed out at Lily and called her a horrible name.

But more importantly--she didn't put up with it. She did not participate with or forgive the abuse. So this is a actually--like most of Potter--an example of a strong girl not allowing the bullshit. The fact that Snape spent the rest of his life trying to atone for causing her death may seem darkly romantic to many readers, but it seemed to me that the bigger loss was of his only friend, and a lifelong friend up to that point. But again the key is he was atoning for her death, which is not exactly the same thing as carrying on some sort of twisted passion for all those years, I don't believe.

Bottom line: To me an abusive relationship where the abused walks away and says, "Get out of my life," is the positive portrayal.


message 22: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs (pooks) Patricia wrote: "Katy wrote: "Another big one that doesn't fit what you're looking for but is worth an honorable mention: Severus Snape and Lily Potter in the Harry Potter series."

Here is the difference, I believ..."


Oh and I forgot to say--the more problematical relationship is Harry/Ron/Hermione. Ron [and by going along with him] Harry were incredibly mean to Hermione from time to time throughout the series. Maybe? Just a thought.


message 23: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs (pooks) For nonfiction, you really should read Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the RomanceDangerous Men and Adventurous Women. At the time it was published it was considered a feminist look at the subversive history of the romance novel, and it builds a good case for it. It's interesting to note that this was and is published by the University of Pennsylvania Press:

http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/1...

I think you may already realize, but it's worth pointing out in case some don't--the reason why rape fantasies or more oftne, 'forced seduction fantasies' were so popular back in the day is because they were written during a time when the majority of readers had been raised knowing "good girls don't." Premarital sex was discouraged if not forbidden, and once married, women were expected to remain faithful. As a stand-in for the reader, the heroine who could in no way be blamed for enjoying a sexual relationship with someone she wasn't married to was a major fantasy. I'm not sure if you're making a distinction--and certainly in reality there shouldn't be--but among readers and authors at the time there was a definite line drawn between rape and forced seduction--the forced seduction being the guy who takes the woman captive, won't take no for an answer, and simply keeps seducing until the woman is driven made by desire and says yes. Rape was defined as the guy who is violent and forces himself on her [and usually during the act she starts responding].

Again, everybody may already be aware of that, but I felt it worth tossing into the brew.


message 24: by Melani (new)

Melani How to Catch a Wild Viscount by Tessa Dare is a pretty good example. It's a novella, but the hero treats the heroine terribly, and honestly some of the more heated scenes tip-toe the consent line and it's kind of gross. However, it's all excused because he's so troubled by his terrible time in the Napoleon wars.

Blech.


message 25: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 62 comments What's interesting to me about Disney's Beauty and the Beast is that people tend to bring their own interpretations to it but it is what it is, there's nothing too bad in it of itself... If a child of abusive alchoholics or something sees it in could reinforce the narrative of "if I'm just quiet and patient enough he will be inspired to change through my pure goodness". But other people with a wider variety of experiences might see the movie otherwise. I've often seen it interpreted by feminists as either a terrible story about Stockholm Syndrome or a progressive fable about the dangers of toxic masculinity. Children don't always have the tools to interpret the media around them of course so they probably don't relate to it in that way. But it's worth noting that Disney's version was very different than previous versions (though it did crib a lot from Cocteau's 1946 film) and some of the elements of the story were just baked in patriarchy from ages ago when these "beast husband" fairy tales were probably designed to help prepare young girls for the idea of marrying a total stranger much older than them and predate the modern concept of romance. The elements added by Disney give it much more feminist a bent. We all get the version Beauty and the Beast for our time and place. I liked Robin Mckinley's Beauty


message 26: by Marsha (last edited Oct 27, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

Marsha (queenboadicea) | 48 comments Katy wrote: "Not sure if anyone has put this yet. Spoilers ahead.

In the Throne of Glass series, the main character (a teenaged girl) is held captive by the prince (in part by the king's decree). She enters i..."


Katy wrote: "Not sure if anyone has put this yet. Spoilers ahead.

In the Throne of Glass series, the main character (a teenaged girl) is held captive by the prince (in part by the king's decree). She enters i..."


I have never found Snape romantic because I saw him as a jerk from day one. I came to the Harry Potter series when I was already in my 30s. I was mature woman not some giddy, romantic adolescent. Thus, I wasn't about to view Snape's behavior with rose-tinted glasses.

First off, he came off as a bully, using his powers as a little Caesar to run roughshod over most of his students, especially Gryffindor students. Having grown to respect Hermione's obvious intelligence, I was outraged to find him ignoring her in class in favor of bullying Harry. (Poor Hermione. If she'd been sorted into Slytherin or even Ravenclaw, she would have gotten points for her knowledge. But she was a Gryffindor so forget about fairness from Snape.)

This pattern of bullying continued throughout the series and having it explained by knowing that Harry's father bullied Snape in their youth was no excuse. Snape may have been a stellar Potions master and no slouch as a magical duellist. But he sucked as a teacher. You know the saying: Those who can do, those who can't teach.

Certainly he couldn't teach Harry. Harry needed to learn Occlumency. It was crucial for him to block out Voldemort's terrible thoughts. But Snape was too busy venting his vitriol to teach him. Some help he was.

Secondly, people laud Snape for taking care of Harry in spite of his dislike of him. No, I don't think so.

In Harry's first year, he faces off against Quirrell and an imprisoned Voldemort in an effort to get the Sorcerer's Stone. Where is Snape? Nowhere.

Harry's second year finds him facing a deadly basilisk. Dumbledore sends Harry a hat with a sword in it and a phoenix; the phoenix tears cures the basilisk poison that is killing Harry. What did Snape do to help Harry? Nothing.

In Harry's third year, Snape shows up to protect Harry from Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Ah, but Snape's not there for Harry; he's there for revenge. (It states it in the book so I'm not making up that part.) If he wanted to keep Harry safe from a potential werewolf, he would have brought Lupin's potion as he originally intended. But he saw the Marauder's Map, realized a chance to get even with two childhood tormentors and his priorities shifted. He sped off to catch the two men, leaving behind Lupin's potion. When he was knocked unconscious and thwarted in his malicious design, he spitefully outed Lupin as a werewolf, forcing him to resign. Not much help to Harry, was Snape?

Fourth year--ah, yes. Harry along with Cedric Diggory is whisked away to a cemetery. Cedric is killed, lots of Death Eaters show up, Harry's blood is drawn and Voldemort is brought back from the dead. Could Snape have helped? We'll never know because once again he was a no-show.

In Harry's fifth year, he and his friends faced off against a whole bunch of Death Eaters in the Ministry of Magic. Dumbledore shows up and defeats Voldemort; Harry's friends prove more than capable at routing the Death Eaters. But where is Snape? Once again, nowhere to be seen.

Sixth year. Wow, do I even need to go into this one? Snape spends so much time helping poor Draco Malfoy he has little care for Harry. He murders Dumbledore in front of Harry and then takes off with the Malfoy brat. He keeps other Death Eaters from killing Harry but I think that's a moot point. Any of them could have decided to disobey him. Where would that have left young Harry?

Seventh year finds Harry and his friends on the run. Thus, their interaction with Snape is nil (thank goodness). All Snape does for them is chuck a sword into a frozen lake; Harry nearly drowns because of that stunt and who saves him? Not Snape!

As for the wickedness that rendered Harry an orphan, I find myself agreeing with Dumbledore: Snape is despicable. He basically becomes an accessory to murder before the fact by getting Voldemort to target an entire family, including a child barely over a year old! Then he tries to make up for his error by begging that only Lily be spared. Screw the kid; he wants to save his precious inamorata, a girl he lost years ago because he was too chicken hearted to tell her he loved her.

Snape is no hero. He's certainly not a tragic romantic figure. He is a villain standing in the wrong place. You don't want Snape as a romantic lead. Hell, you wouldn't want him as a friend because, let's face it, he kills his friends.

Snape romantic? Yeah, right. Shoot me now.


Gnome Claire *Wishes she was as cool as Gnome Ann* I though there were unhealthy relationships in Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7... and Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

In Throne of Glass Celena is so defined by men and whether or not they find her attractive and then she gets into a relationship with such a huge power imbalance (she's basically a captive/slave/under a death threat).

Becoming Alpha though is really terrible, Dastien a 20 year old teacher at (17 year old) Tessa's, school kisses her and scratches/bites her up enough that she changes into a werewolf (most girls die instead of changing, like 0.01% survive). He risks her life and even surviving the bite means her whole life gets changed and then he is controlling, jealous and "stalker-ish". This is from the book itself:
“Not cool. That’s more than a little stalker-ish, dude.”
He gazed down at me. “I thought girls liked that kind of thing.”
“Yeah. It’s kind of nice.” I grinned.


*crying*


message 28: by Marsha (new)

Marsha (queenboadicea) | 48 comments Trust in Us definitely falls into the abuse category. But there’s little romance in it. It’s just one sexual romp after another with a dollop of love thrown in as a sop to the readers. The “trust” in the title sounds more like a plea from the author than anything given or received by the characters.

Then there’s Zachary Black: Duke of Debauchery. He’s just a raging ball of fury when it comes to his future inamorata. He’s so nasty to her, I’m wondering why she didn’t try to brain him with a food tray.

Love’s Gamble is another piece of “romantic” tripe. I was so disgusted by the purported relationship of the lead characters that I actually gave it a no-star rating, the very first I ever did in my time as a Goodreads member. When I read about other people’s four- and five-star reviews, I wondered if we were reading the same book.

I’ve seen this trend a lot in recent romances that I’ve read in the last few months, making me wonder if we’ve progressed in our strides for feminism as much as we’d hoped. Clearly, we’ve got a long way to go. This stuff is awful and I make sure to state it as such in my reviews. I wonder how readers might react if the tables were turned. How about having some dominant female use her power, money and influence to bring some poor hapless boy working as a janitor, dishwasher or pizza delivery boy to heel? Would readers want to read about that, I wonder?


message 29: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 62 comments Hannah wrote: "I've got a little bit of a passion project I've always wanted to work on and decided to start now. Over the last few years, YA and New Adult (adult, too, but I'm attempting to narrow my scope) book..."

Hannah, I wasn't familiar with the concept of "New Adult" so I looked it up, and according to Wikipedia it features protagonists of the age 18-30 and is intended to be marketed to readers 18-30. Is that right? It seems very broad. Can you clarify what you mean by "New Adult" because otherwise people are going to be recommending you romance novels all the livelong day which don't fit your criteria


message 30: by BookPusher D (new)

BookPusher D (bookpusherd) | 11 comments From what I have noticed in the diff genres of YA, NA, & Adult: New Adult is where there are sexytimes but not as graphicly descriptive or focussed on as an adult romance. It is usually a character 18yrs through the 20s (usually early 20s), but is geared towards readers just trasitioning out of the teen yrs. It is read by a lot of YA readers, and seen as a little more steamy than a YA (fade to black scene) but has light sexual encounter description.

Hope that helps. So far there is no real distinction unless the publisher advertises it.


message 31: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (wolfymask) Hannah wrote: "I have read the whole series and I actually have to say I love it. And I'd defend it at least on the grounds of pedophilia, as he does wait until she hits the age of adulthood and those who break young girls are demonized by the protagonists while embraced by the society. As for him falling in love with her, I can see how that would be disturbing but it didn't become sexual until she aged up, starting out instead as sort of spiritual. Again, another topic that could be properly debated in great depth."

This is exactly what I was gonna say about that series! Glad you understood that.

I unfortunately don't have any suggestions for your research since I mostly read adult romance novels now, but this research sounds fascinating, and I would love to hear more about it! I'll also keep an eye out for titles that I think will help :)


message 32: by Vaelkyrja (last edited Oct 29, 2016 01:44PM) (new)

Vaelkyrja Has anyone mentioned Uprooted by Naomi Novik? Not only does Novik pass on a perfectly good opportunity to include a pretty healthy lesbian relationship, but actually does a complete body swerve (of the "we've just been worshipful best friends, that's all" variety) and goes straight for the "Dragon"/magician/definitely-a-dude-no-lesbians-here character.

Aggie, the main character, is a prisoner of the Dragon. During her time in his castle, he beats her, physically and energetically, and is unrelentingly mean. He threatens her life. He makes fun of her while they have sex! Ugh.

Don't get me wrong-- I loved nearly everything else about book, despite how incredibly problematic it was. I just can't actually recommend it for anyone unaware of the issues.


message 33: by Elizabeth (last edited Nov 02, 2016 08:54PM) (new)

Elizabeth | 62 comments BookPusher D wrote: "From what I have noticed in the diff genres of YA, NA, & Adult: New Adult is where there are sexytimes but not as graphicly descriptive or focussed on as an adult romance. It is usually a character..."

But if degree of sexual content or explicitness was a defining factor in New Adult, then NA erotic romance wouldn't be a thing? Looking at lists of NA romance it seems a lot of New Adult seems to be erotica or erotic romance, which is bought in large part by women in their 30's and 40's even though it features protagonists in their 20's... Really there doesn't seem to be any consensus in the industry as to what NA is?

Like I see why Hannah is specifying "books with a target audience of 20 and under" for her thing, but also there is a factor of who books are targeted at and then who actually buys and reads them. Just like YA is intended for teens but 55% of YA readers are OVER 18. Now, some NA may be read by people who are under 18, even though the books are targeted to people 18-24, but you can also say the same about Adult romance. There's nothing really keeping children from picking up an Adult romance novel or a New Adult romance novel, neither of them would normally be in the YA section of a library or bookstore but we have the internet now and sections don't matter. Really the more I think about it, why include NA in with YA, NA is just Adult.


message 34: by Angie (new)

Angie (anchilada) | 17 comments From my reading experience, NA seems to emphasize the "New" in New Adult. Situations in college (being away from home finally), starting a career, first serious relationship, maybe first sexual experience... situations outside the confines of high school or living under a parent's roof.

I'm 29 and remember a lot of "early 20's" type of situations but am happily out of those rough years :)


message 35: by Jessica (last edited Nov 03, 2016 07:11AM) (new)

Jessica (j-boo) | 182 comments This is not a book and so probably not relevant to your project, but I can't help but mention something this "romanticized abuse" brings to mind that really bugged me.

In the video game "Life is Strange" you play a female high school student named Max. As Max, you can basically choose one of two romantic paths to take - with a classmate named Warren, or with your bestie named Chloe. Max and Chloe were best friends growing up, but then Max's family moved away and she failed to keep in touch. She moves back at the time the game takes place and runs into Chloe again, who has turned into something of a wild child. With blue hair and tattoos, she smokes weed, owes the local drug dealer lots of money and resorts to holding another teenager at gunpoint to try to bribe him for the cash, and constantly butts head with her so-called stepdildo (stepdad, but he kind of is a dildo).

Many people rooted for the Max and Chloe romance, but their relationship was so emotionally abusive I wanted to barf! I hate to say that I think some people rooted for them simply BECAUSE it was a lesbian relationship, something otherwise sorely lacking in popular media?

The things I took issue with stemmed from the way this game is played - it presents you with difficult choices, and whatever you decide effects how the rest of the game plays out. So I kind of get the reasoning behind the situations I abhorred, but here they are:

Chloe kind of uses Max, and taunts her for being a wuss when she isn't quite so keen to break the law as Chloe is. At one point, her stepdad finds weed in her room, and Chloe says, "Oh, that's Max's," so that she won't get in trouble. You, as Max, have the choice to either go along with Chloe's lie and take the heat, since you don't have to live under the same roof as this man, or else deny it. If you tell the truth and say you had nothing to do with the weed, Chloe gets upset with you. "Thanks for nothing back there, Max."

The one that REALLY made my blood boil was this: Max and Chloe are at a diner together. Max's phone rings, and she sees it's a call from her severely depressed classmate, who is suffering from some extreme bullying at school, to the point where she has become suicidal. She's reaching out to Max when she calls, but Chloe says, "Are you seriously going to answer that? I thought you were here to hang out with me, not talk to your friends." O.M.G.

That last bit is so incredibly cringe-worthy to me (maybe moreso because I had a relationship like that myself back in college), and yet so many people "ship" Max and Chloe.

So yeah, maybe not relevant if your project is about books alone, but that's what came to mind when I read "romanticized abuse." And P.S. "Life is Strange" is overall a good game! I really actually quite enjoy Chloe as a character, I just don't think her relationship with Max is a healthy one - although it does get better later in the game, as Chloe actually apologizes for the ways she's acted.

P.P.S. You can watch Felicia playing through this game on her Twitch channel - with all her commentary, watching her play was just as fun as playing it myself! Even funnier when her brother Ryon joined her stream uninvited. "Biggie size my cocaine order, would you?" LOL

P.P.P.S. Although you TOTALLY made the wrong choice at the end, Felicia! HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH THE THOUGHT OF ALL THOSE DEAD WHALES ON YOUR CONSCIENCE?!


message 36: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 7 comments For adult romance: To Have and To Hold (Wyckerley Trilogy, #2) by Patricia Gaffney To Have and To Holdby Patricia Gaffney, wow this one is bad, and it doesn't even have the excuse of being an 80s bodice ripper. He is mentally, emotionally, and sexually abusive. He enjoys having power over her life, humiliates her, manipulates her, sexually harrasses and rapes her. He forces kisses on her and enjoys seeing the tears in her eyes, she says "no" but he still rapes her. She's already been kicked by life, and he gets aroused by the idea of having all of the control and power over her. It's sick.

For YA/NA/Whatever: Gambit (The Prodigy Chronicles, #1) by C.L. Denault Gambit by C.L. Denault, let's see...he kills the bouncer at the pub her family runs, he mauls and man handles her a fuck-ton, controls her by grabbing her hair, puts her in cuffs and restraints, yells at her/gets very mad at her a lot, and it all just gets brushed off with "well he's a commander, he's used to being obeyed."


message 37: by Shaitarn (new)

Shaitarn | 23 comments I'm probably going to ruffle some feathers here, but doesn't Bitten by Kelley Armstrong fit this trope?

The main female character (warning - spoilers ahead!) is engaged to a guy who's a werewolf. He doesn't tell her anything about this, but he bites her in an attempt to turn her without any sort of consent whatsoever because "he loves her and wants to be with her". Well, whoopee! Why don't you ask her how she feels first, you jerk?

And that 'love scene' (where she's tied to a tree, I think?) is borderline-rapey. No, just - no.


message 38: by Laura (new)

Laura (theloudlady) | 180 comments What I find in a lot of horror and fantasy adult romance novels is the use of "otherness". This idea that because the characters are mates, brides, soul-bound, or whatever term the author picks, this behavior is not only acceptable it is romantic.


message 39: by Allison (last edited Nov 14, 2016 02:26PM) (new)

Allison (allisongrubbs) | 1 comments "The Dark Heroine" by Abigail Gibbs - it starts with the protagonist brushing off an attempted rape by convincing herself that they are in love with each other, so it's fiiiine. I was so disgusted that I didn't even finish the book.

ETA: Oh! One of the reasons I was so disgusted was that the author had developed entirely within the purview of Goodreads - putting out teasers, crowdsourcing beta readers, etc. And she was a teenager when she wrote this, so I feel extra disgusted that she celebrates abuse and rape culture in a non-ironic way. Blech.


message 40: by Caribou Reviews (new)

Caribou Reviews (cariboureviews) | 5 comments The girst Lauren Kate "Fallen" novel and her Fallen short story collection, "Angels in the Dark" is a great example. Infact reading Angels in the Dark was horrible. I read the first Lucy story in it where she is with the school's biggest jerkoff that treats her like shit was absolutely ridiculous. I understand women in abusive relationship and understand the comment about the beast softening but very rarely in real life dors thr msn actually change. Been there done that!


message 41: by Caribou Reviews (new)

Caribou Reviews (cariboureviews) | 5 comments Almost everything Nancy Madore writes, especially her Beauty and the Beast "Erotic Bedtime Stories" has this effect. In her B&B Beauty actually is unhappily married as she prefered the beast.


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