I’m taking an advanced course in literature this term, and got to choose a five week course from a rather wide list of themes. I chose popular literature, which includes reading books by Stephen King and JRR Tolkien among others.
Unfortunately, it also included two Harlequin romances of my own chosing. I randomly picked two, knowing that there was no avoiding great physical pain. So I get one contemporary and one historical romantic story. The contemporary, while not too impressive, was at least readable without starting to twitch.
The second one, however, I thought I’d share my thoughts on. Some of you will have seen it before, but why not bring it to a wider audience?
Boy meets girl in 1000something England. Girl is a female land owner. Boy is a normand, the nasty boys who are taking over everything. Boy oogles girl. Boy and boy’s friend are amused that the king will marry her off to whoever he sees fit since she’s technically a vassal but can’t be a knight (historically correct, I believe… I’m sad to say).
Girl attempts to go to church in the middle of the night to hand over a family heirloom bible for safekeeping. Boy comes across girl in dark forest and threatens to hand her over to the sheriff for breaking the law of not being out at night. Girl offers hospitality for not getting locked up. Boy says that won’t do, pushes girl up against a tree, and molests girl. Boy then lets girl go, promising she has not seen the last of him.
Girl is pissed at herself for not fighting, and aggravated that boy liquifies her legs with his manly caress. And he’s so much better at it than her mean little ex-lover who’s now cuddling her stepmom.
Weiila rams her head against the wall.
Now let’s take a step back. The following paragraph I wrote after reading chapter one.
According to the blurb on the back, the king will force girl to marry boy. Weiila strongly suspects that there will be love-making scenes that will be suspiciously like rape, but that’ll be okay since it’s OMG TWU WUV. Weiila also suspects that girl’s blind brother will be used as a Plot Device, and that the stepmom will try to get boy, and ex-lover will try to get girl, with or without actual rape. Boy will certainly have to fight ex-lover one way or another. Boy will most probably have to save girl from ex-lover, probably ending some scheme of stepmom’s.
Now, however, I’ve read four chapters, and have some more to add.
Boy watches girl get handed over to, by the king, some middle-aged Normand of the “slobbering, toothless, known rapist, first wife dead under mysterious circumstances” kind.
Boy takes girl home and molests her some more in her stables, promising to make her his. Next day, when supposed future husband has been found dead in her room (she slept in another room together with the servants after her exlover stumbled in and wanted to get friendly again), boy has a talk with girl and explains that he had bought her from the king anyway. So he’s not the killer, since he didn’t HAVE to kill the creep. Boy also gets some more kissing in, while holding her still by looping her braid around her neck, which makes her feel like he’s treating her like a horse.
Boy also informs girl that he’s not in love with her and doesn’t care if she loves him or not 'cause he just wants some more land and an heir and he does “not need a willing woman for that, only a healthy one”. But she’s got a nice body and he looks forwards to enjoying it.
Girl is rather aggravated by this but he’s a damn good kisser and that turns her into jelly every damn time. Besides, he’s brutal and rude and heartless, but he’s still better than all other men because at least he’s honest.
And there’s a whole lot of stuff about her only problem being that she hasn’t known a really manly man who knows what he’s doing.
All this headwalling is gonna give me a concussion.
Oh yes, and Stepmom is Impressed with handsome hero boy, so she probably has the hots for him now.
And yes, Blind Brother IS being used as a plot device because he’s supposed to become a novice at a cloister and for some reason that hinders girl from running off to become a nun to avoid all this marriage hustle. For some reason Blind Brother’s existence also hinders her from entering a pretend marriage with a priest who’s a good friend of hers, but the reason for that was even more fuzzy. There was just something about Blind Brother thrown in there.
Ah yes, and there was gaybashing too. “Men were hugging in the shadows, in front of everyone”. I wouldn’t be bothered by that line, considering the time this takes place in, but it didn’t serve any purpose at ALL, except as a mention about how horribly sinful the Normands are.
Oh yeah, let’s not forget that there’s a spot of trouble with supposed husband being found murdered in girl’s room, because now everyone is looking for a murderer. Boy suggested (and this was the one SMART thing so far) that girl claim that she killed him in self defense since the guy WAS a known rapist, because then she would be protected by the laws. Her servants could very well cover for her and say that she DID sleep in her room.
But no, no, no, that would be LYING. So Blind Brother and his best friend have to run away because they look like the prime suspects.
Boohoofuckinghoo, pardon my French.
If I don’t survive this, I want Trillian to take over the stewardship of the Staff Porn. Where are my Onimusha games…? staggers off