I have a pretty good TBR pile at any given moment. It’s because I can’t resist the lure of new books. I buy them even when I know I have so many I haven’t even read yet. Yesterday, I picked up one that I’d had for a couple of months. It had a nice cover, and it promised me a military hero. It was a single-title mass market book and the spine labeled it as a romance. The back cover copy promised me romantic suspense. Right up my alley!
Things went downhill pretty quickly. I thought that the hero’s involvement with whips and chains and sex toys was a cover. Um, no. I started skimming, hoping I was wrong, hoping it would all turn out right. About the time the hero forced the heroine into a sex act involving, ahem, alternative orifices, I’d had it. Naturally, though she protested and didn’t want to do it, and he forced her anyway, she found immense pleasure in it by the end. To say I was uncomfortable and a bit furious is probably an understatement.
Now, I am no prude. I will read erotica. I have recently read and very much enjoyed Sydney Croft’s Riding the Storm, which is very well written and has a STORY that suits the subgenre. I have Colette Gale’s Unmasqued on the TBR pile and I look forward to it. But to force me into reading something that should more properly be labeled erotica when I’m not expecting it?
Angry. And I feel like I wasted my money on a story that I thought was going to be the particular kind of story I like most. Not even close!
Laura Kinsale wrote a historical (Shadowheart) featuring bondage and whipping that was pretty amazingly done. The difference, I think, is that the character who liked to be hurt liked it for a specific reason. Allegreto would never, ever perpetrate pain upon the heroine. Maybe I was more sympathetic to Allegreto because I’d read For My Lady’s Heart many years ago and got to see him as a boy first. Though I was still somewhat uncomfortable with the bondage and whipping, I trusted Kinsale to write an amazing story.
And I fully realize that my own biases are coming into play here. I find NOTHING sexy about pain and humiliation. A hero who likes to hurt women, even women who like to be hurt, isn’t deserving of the hero label as far as I’m concerned. But that’s just me. Others are certainly entitled to feel differently.
You can bet that I won’t ever pick up another book by this author. If I could take this one back for a refund, I would. A look over her Amazon comments tells me that people either love or hate her. And those who love her know what she’s writing. I didn’t, and I’m mad for being duped into buying a book I thought was going to be something else.
There’s a place in fiction for this type of story, obviously, but don’t fool me into buying it by labeling it as a straight romance. It wasn’t and I’m not amused.
Have you ever bought a book that turned out to be something entirely different? Were you mad or did it introduce you to a type of story you might not otherwise have read? If you were me, would you throw this book away, keep it as a prime example of you can’t judge a book by its cover, or donate it to the library (anonymously, of course)?