All the Agency shenanigans going on right now have killed my interest in reading. I know it will come back, but in the meantime the hours I would have spent reading were spent divesting myself of 99% of my print books. I sorted them into pulp, donate, gift and other. I hadn’t looked in these boxes in almost seven years and they comprised my ‘keepers’ from 1980 to 2004. I learned a lot about myself by looking at these with fresh eyes.
First, I discovered I was one heck of a curator. Then I found when it came to romance my keeper shelf wasn’t just the warm and fuzzy reads, it included some serious WTFOMGBBQ book moments. I’d pull a book out and rattle off the plot without hesitation even though it has been twenty years and a lot of chemo since then. I knew the closing lines of several Edith Layton’s books. (I miss Edith so) My once perfect memory is no more, but some things scar the soul forever. So it was with Aleen Malcolm.
See that chick there? She’s 14. Maybe 13, I don’t actually recall. I do remember that she marries this guy who is like, twice her age then follows him around taking all kinds of abuse (physical and otherwise) in a quest for his love. I think I was about the same age when I read this and even then I thought that was some messed up interpersonal dynamics. I think it was also about this time that Luke raped Laura on the American show General Hospital. There was a weird message being sent to American women that some guys are going to rape you just because they love you so darn much. The men and boys in my life seemed to think this was awesome. We’ve come so far in Romanceland. We may have a way yet to go, but the days of 14 year olds who are ‘asking for it’ from men twice their age appear to be behind us. Thankfully.
If you have never read romance from this era, you totally should. Not the good, quality uplifting stuff. The meat and potato rape-o-ramas, the racist plantation novels, the OMGWTFBBQ moments. The days when all the beloved rapists were Scottish, unless they were English, but they were never black. Because love meant being at least half European in your ancestry. (Some things haven’t changed, have they?) Being a woman meant needing to be broken, needing to be tamed, needing to be shown your place and accepting of your master so you could be worthy of his name. Sort of like wanting to read e-books today.