I've been thinking a lot about the whole 'forced seduction' topic and how it has suddenly sprung to life again after all this time. I grew up in the UK and romance novels over there came in two main packages. Mills & Boon and gritty.
One of the most famous British authors Catherine Cookson is almost totally unheard of in the U.S. because she writes stories about women who start off poor and drag themselves up by their bootstraps to become entrepreneurs (or wonder women), usually bringing some complete bastard alpha male to heel along the way. You'd think that these 'rags to riches' stories would sell well in the U.S. because, well, that is the American dream isn't it? but they don't because the U.S. market has generally been more focused on the happy ever after fantasy.
One of the first authors who really inspired me was Brenda Jagger. She wrote awesome historicals set mainly in the industrial north of England when everything was changing so rapidly. In her books, couples fight, have affairs and are not always perfect. I love gritty books where a marriage can even survive infidelity by both couples. I love finding out how that can be resolved and how true love triumphs in the end.
When I first started writing in the U.S., I think I brought that more gritty, realistic element into my writing, with heroes who weren't always talking about their feelings or being very politically correct. My rejections usually mentioned this, implying that the books weren't romantic enough for the U.S. market. I wanted to sell so I toned down those elements, concentrated on different aspects of the stories or found places, such as erotic romance, where those elements were more welcome.
But even at Ellora's Cave, infidelity after marriage is not appreciated by readers and doesn't sell. (Four intergalactic aliens and one woman okay, one man one woman trying to repair a marriage, not okay) Some of my favorite U.S. authors, such as Mary Balogh, who originally came from Wales, still have elements of that more gritty style in some of their writing and I like that realism. I suspect any Australian or Commonwealth writer who grew up on M&B and 'rags to riches' books probably has that underlying bias as well. (I must ask Anna Campbell about that-she is Australian)
So to ramble back to my original point, (kind of), I'm glad to see a return of the more graphic books. I'm not a fan of rape, obviously, but I suspect forced seduction is one of women's number one fantasies. I realized a while ago that I didn't really have a right to grumble about young women who choose to express their femininity in ways that I feel are inappropriate. In the same way, I don't have the right to censure other readers for their fantasies. We all have a right to dream.
Would you be uncomfortable reading more old style 'Bodice Ripper' stories or do you prefer the romance genre to keep moving forward, maybe incorporating elements of the older stories with stronger heroines?