Trying to branch out into uncharted hist-ro waters, I picked up a new author Anna Campbell. The first book I read, well tried anyway, was Claiming the Courtesan. A noblewoman is forced to become a courtesan, and after years of success ends her last affair with an obsessed protector…who tracks her down and holds her hostage. I had to put it down after trying faithfully to slog through because I found the premise and the unfolding character development offensive.
That is hard for me to say, for although I like to give the honest truth in my reviews I also know how tough it is to write quality and new romance. But when there is already so much media violence against women (ala Twilight, etc) in terms of objectification and jenky plots that make us believe relationships like Pretty Woman won’t end up like Sleeping With the Enemy…well I just couldn’t stomach it in my hist-ro. Long standing readers will know of my feminist bent and how I staunchly defend hist-ro as a feminist expression and contemporary reworking of herstory.
So, if you are anything like me stay away from Claiming the Courtesan. Trying to fall in love with a hero is obsessed to the point of being a socio-path is just unacceptable. And when rape is threatened on multiple occasions–well, you get my drift.
I did finish Untouched, despite its similar leanings. Lost in the streets of Bristol, widowed Mrs. Paget is picked up by goons of a reportedly mad Lord Sheene’s dastardly and twisted uncle and guardian. Threatened with her life unless she successfully seduces the mad lord, Mrs. Paget fights her convictions–and finds passion in a most unexpected place.
There was actual likability in her hero and heroine, although it skirted some strange and potentially noxious plot lines. I am sure some women might fantasize about such a scenario, and maybe will find it thrilling and satisfying. I just thought it was mostly in poor taste.
Anna Campbell has talent—she’s no hack–but I do wonder if she “gets” what hist-ro is about…or if she herself feels she is forced to prostitute her writing in order to make a living. It seems like an outsider to romantic fiction who has glimpsed a few harlequin covers and read the back of a couple of books and makes an attempt to fit in–without really understanding the audience.
I could be off base, vastly preferring light and fun romps…but I think she needs to steer clear of the prostitute plots in the future.