I’m beginning to wonder: do I have some knack for selecting truly horrific romance novels to read or have the majority of romance novels jumped off the deep end? Am I just paying more attention to the infuriating plots and characters than I used to? Is my critical eye more attuned, less forgiving? Or do these books have some kind of psychic pull over me that leaves me helpless, unable to resist? Am I being punished?
Also, food for thought: “pirate’s” is an anagram for “rape-ist.”
A Pirate’s Love starts out innocuous enough – a beautiful young woman, Bettina, is told by her pops that he’s arranged a marriage for her and she’s leaving her native France for St. Martin in a month. She’s sad but resigned, not having a great relationship with her father and hoping for more out of life, etc etc. Mom gives her a little pep talk and reveals that her dad isn’t her dad after all, that her dad is really a pirate named Ryan. Bettina’s mom tells her that if she isn’t able to find happiness with her husband, she ought to try to find happiness with a lover. Well gosh.
Eventually she boards the ship and heads for St. Martin. I kept waiting for sparks to fly between her and the burly captain, but they never did and of course that’s because he’s not the hero. But then – pirates! Brigands! Attack! Bettina and her maid are taken hostage by a second burly seaman and our story finally begins.
How does it begin, you may be wondering? With a slow seduction? Sexy banter? No, no, silly. He rapes her. How romantic! Actually, he wanted to hurt her. See, he told her he was going to sex her, but that little moron was all, “you most certainly are not!” and he’s like, “you’ll like it, don’t worry,” but she’s like, “dubious!” and then he’s like, “aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh woman you are SO infuriating! I have no choice but to rape you to make my annoyance known!” He doesn’t take her on a guided tour of Mt. Orgasm – and also, uh, rape – so she’s not real excited about this whole sex thing. I’m already thinking to myself, this is a romance novel?!
This continues on for some time. By that I mean she continues to refuse to just shut up and enjoy having sex with him and he continues to rape her. But sometimes she sort of likes it a little, so I guess we’re not supposed to hold the whole sex-by-force thing against him. Yeah, right, Johanna Lindsey. Just watch me.
Eventually she escapes by swimming to shore (the ship is in port at this point, she’s not, like, swimming across the Atlantic) and ends up at a tavern. All wet. Surrounded by horny sailors. She doesn’t get raped (more) but she does get thrown in prison and the next day who comes to collect her but our favorite pirate rapist? Back to the ship Bettina goes, back to his bed, back to the raping.
But the rapist decides that he sort of wants to keep her around – she’s so beautiful, so intoxicating, so rape-able – so instead of taking her to St. Martin and having her rich fiance pay the ransom he takes her to his house on his island. Guess what he does there? It starts with R and ends with APE!
Then Bettina escapes again and manages to get picked up by some other guy’s ship and finally makes it to St. Martin alone. But before she can find her fiance, she gets kidnapped. Guess who? No, no, not the main rapist, a different rapist, a rapist who tried to rape her on the ship before the main rapist show up and kidnapped her. He’s back to finish the job! But first he needs to go out and get stinking drunk, so Bettina escapes yet again.
And finds her fiance! And he’s so happy to see her! And her mother is there! And he doesn’t rape her! He makes it quite clear that he wants very much to sex her, but when she says, “DON’T YOU FUCKING TOUCH ME YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE,” he…listens. Whoa. Alas, all this paradise is not to continue. She overhears her non-rapist talking to his house guest (who, coincidentally, is the Spaniard who led a vicious gang rape of the main rapist’s mother and then killed her, after also killing her husband…so the main rapist is on a big-deal man quest to find this other rapist and MAKE HIM PAY for killing his family) about how he’d rather keep her on as his mistress since she’s obviously ruined by the rapist-pirate and isn’t really marriageable anymore. Aw, shucks.
And then the rapist shows up to kidnap her home again. Whew, thank goodness, I was getting mighty bored of all the not-raping that was going on. (Not really.) Back at Casa de Rapist, she implies that she had really amazing (consensual) sex with her fiance and he gets all ragey. Betcha can’t guess where it goes from there!
Later there’s a great scene where all the other women who the rapist hasn’t raped try to convince Bettina that he’s really a big sweetie and super honorable and she should stop being so angry all the time and just chill out and enjoy the ride (wink wink nudge nudge, know what I mean). And then my absolute favorite line of dialogue in the whole book:
“Damn you, [Rapist]!” Bettina screamed. “I am pregnant!”
She is pregnant! Oh yes. Of course she is. But since she sort of told him that she sort of had sex with that other guy he’s adamant that it’s NOT HIS BABY NO WAY NO HOW and continues to abuse her and make her feel absolutely terrible about herself. Yay, true love!
So the rapist takes off to try to track down the Spaniard and MAKE HIM PAY and Bettina hangs around Casa de Rapist (oh, I forgot to mention she agreed to stay with him for a year, for whatever dumb reason) and daydreams about him. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Not being raped makes the heart grow fonder? But as soon as he gets back he rapes her again (she’s learning to like it more now, oh goody) and the world resumes its natural order.
Then the rapist’s sea captain friend – who happens to be a hot hot lady – shows up to visit. Instead of being an interesting character, she’s the stereotypical catty girl and the two ladies circle each other and spit fire and act really jealous. Finally Bettina gives in because, even though she loooooves her rapist now, she can see that he’s just so much happier schtupping the sea captain. What he really likes is her jealousy but that’s not revealed till the sea captain stomps off in a huff and she has his full attention again.
And then guess who shows up? Her father! Her real father! And he’s a buddy of the rapist’s! Her mother is overjoyed, they immediately get married like they always wanted to do. Actually lots of people in the book are getting married. But you know who isn’t? The rapist and Bettina. He can’t be tied down! He can’t handle the responsibility! Just the thought makes him want to get all violent! AAARRRR RAPIST SMASH!
The rapist takes off again to hunt for the Spaniard (MAKE HIM PAY and all that) and then, shocker, the Spaniard shows up at Casa de Rapist and takes a very pregnant Betting hostage. They travel to another island to wait for the rapist, so that when he shows up the Spaniard can kill him and Bettina can watch. She’s spent most of the book trying to figure out a way to get him killed, but since she’s decided she loves him now, his imminent death is suddenly a problem.
Bettina begins to go into labor just as the Spaniard finds out that the rapist is on his island, searching for his woman. So the Spaniard ties Bettina to a bookshelf, standing up, refusing to let her lay down and give birth. Ooh, he’s so evil! Ooh, we don’t like him! Boo hiss!
The rapist shows up and there follows a great scene where he’s like, “ah ha! Bet you never thought you’d see me again!” and the Spaniard is like, “look, kid, I’ve raped and killed A LOT of women, I have no idea which one was your mother.” And a bit later, the Spaniard points out that he and the rapist have, you know, rape in common. But the rapist is all, “no way, Jose! I never killed anybody after I raped them! That makes you WAY worse!”
Then he kills the Spaniard and rescues Bettina and helps her bring their daughter into the world and then they go home and get married and live happily ever after, forever and ever, until he gets mad and decides to rape her some more. I’m just saying.
And that’s the story of A Rape-ist Love, or How Cate Came to Find Herself in a Rage on Sunday Night and Had to Watch Hours of Fluffy Teen Comedies and Re-Decorate Her Apartment in Order to Calm Down and Not Take Her Fury Out on Her Boyfriend, Who is a Good Man and Not a Rapist. It’s truly a fairy tale for the ages!
Here’s hoping the next romance on tap has a bit more fluff and a bit less (OK, a lot less) sexual violence. Yikes.