Awful Eighties Book

I’m not going to name this book or the author, because as much as I dislike the book, it’s thirty years old, so I don’t need to warn anyone away. Also, the author is a prolific writer, a best-seller in several genres, and this was from early in her career. I assume she was writing to meet the trends of the time.

I haven’t read many romances from the 1980s, but those I have read tend to feature realistic characters and situations, and, compared to 1970s stories, stronger women and less dominant men. There’s usually overt reference to condom use, and less emphasis on the heroine’s virginity. These are all things I like. I was hoping for another Lucky in Love, from the Temptation imprint. However, there were a lot of imprint categories in the 1980s, and obviously not all of them got the modernization memo.

Our couple have a well written meet, at a night class, with delicious erotic tension. We’re off to a good start. He offers her a ride home, there’s some mutual flirting, and he turns into a dominant obsessive jerk. She runs a home business, which he mocks, while he is fabulously wealthy from a job that doesn’t require any of his time. He insists that they will sleep together, regardless of what she wants. The first half of the book is her saying no, and him pushing, and this was not pleasant reading. He kidnaps and isolates her (barely justified by a suspense subplot), and eventually she gives in. Of course it’s the best sex either of them have ever had – or at least it is for him. Her virginity is implied (and there’s no mention of a condom or any birth control). After sex, he declares that she belongs to him. At the climax, he defends her from a weak subplot danger, then informs her that they are getting married, and warns her that he’ll be even more demanding. And we never do learn why either of them were in the night class.

There must have been a market for stories where pushy rich men mock and coerce younger women, and I suppose there still is, but it’s not something I enjoy. Usually the back cover blurb is enough to warn me away, but in this case it was misleading.

PS. Still on track for an hour a week working on my romance (featuring a strong woman, who is not a virgin, and a man who falls for her but doesn’t expect to own her). This month I’m also taking an online course, working on character growth, which is helping my understanding of the relationship between plot and character. We all know that every character has to want something, but why they want it is material for both the character and the plot.