By: Abigail Sharpe
I recently finished a contemporary romance that was published in 1981, when I was nine years old (for those of you who don’t want to do the math, I’m 41 now). The book itself was a first edition and it showed in the yellowing pages, damaged corners, and the price on the cover - $2.50!
The story took place in the early 80s. No cell phones. No cable TV or 24-hour news or iPads. Folks had to pick up a land line or drive to someone’s house if they wanted to talk.
The main plot of the story was for Jenny the Heroine (a very 80s name) to find a new husband, one who loved her and not her money, and one with whom she was compatible in bed. So she sampled quite a few men of her acquaintance. After each encounter, they all told her how much they had always loved her and proposed. It made me wonder – why did they propose AFTER they made love? If they had always been in love with her, couldn’t they just admit it and propose without getting naked?
Unlike today’s contemporary woman, Jenny was extremely reactive, letting things happen to her instead of taking charge and doing the things she wanted. Whether it had to do with business or men, she never, ever, went after what would make her happy. Her first sexual encounter was “forcible seduction,” and instead of kicking the guy in the balls and calling the police afterward, she graciously agrees to introduce the man to her business partners so they could work together to solve a problem while internally, she seethes with loathing.
Jenny didn’t want any of them nice guys she sampled, though. She kept returning to the Forcible Seduction guy, going as far as to SWIM IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN TO HIS HOUSE FROM HERS (because they both conveniently lived on the beach) while telling herself it was only for exercise. At the beginning of every sexual encounter, he would yell at her and later, not-so-forcibly seduced her some more. He. Was. Awful. AWFUL! Abusive and controlling and a complete narcissist. When he found out she was on the pill, he threw them away. Did she go out and get the pills refilled? NO! Because he told her not to.
I. Don’t. Get. It. This was supposed to be romantic?
And guess who Jenny ends up with at the end? Right. The Forcible Seduction guy. Forget the nice guys, right?
I’m so glad today’s contemporary romance woman would not take this shit from anyone. Sure, maybe at the beginning of the book, our heroine might be timid and lack assurance and let some asshole guy tell her what to do. But with the HELP of the hero, not in SPITE of him, she’ll find her way to self-confidence and her Happily Ever After.
Have you ever read something in a romance novel that completely ticked you off?
About the author:
Abigail Sharpe writes contemporary stories of love, laughter, and happily ever after, where the hero actually likes the heroine - most of the time. Her first book, Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy, was released in May by Grand Central and her second, Who Wants to Marry a Doctor, is coming at the end of 2013. You can keep up with her on Goodreads or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AbigailSharpeBooks or on her website -www.abigailsharpe.com.