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A Spell for Susannah Paperback – 25 Nov 2008
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I couldn't make it more than a third of the way through. This book has the dubious distinction of explicitly endorsing more different types of non-consensual sexual activity as "romance" than any other book I have read in some time. Namely:
1) Don't even remotely expect the characters to show any concern for whether what they're doing feels good for the other party, much less check for consent prior to kissing/touching.
2) Sexually harassing behavior on the part of the hero (unwanted leering, sexual comments, etc. that make the heroine uncomfortable) are the prelude to "romance."
3) The hero is unable to control his urge to touch/kiss the heroine (whether or not she's interested) and it's all her fault for being so darned attractive and dressing provocatively. Great... the good old "she asked for it" defense, but it's ok because the omniscient narrator can see in her head and she really did like it even though she was uncomfortable, thought she shouldn't be doing it, and felt threatened... NOT.
4) The heroine says "stop," the hero doesn't stop, the heroine likes it anyway. THIS IS HOW WE GET RAPE CULTURE! Stop means STOP, not keep going and she'll really like it when you're done! Ack!
5) The hero and heroine have an explicit conversation where he educates her that if she starts one level of sexual activity with a man (i.e. kissing and touching), she is in the wrong if she is not willing to go all the way. And she AGREES and feels bad about her behavior afterward!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! No, no, no, no, no... consent to one activity is not consent to ANYTHING else, consent can be rescinded at any time, and NO ONE has a right to anyone else's body or sexual activity EVER regardless of prior activity, prior consent, whatever. There is no such thing as a point of no return past which sexual activity must continue; it is ALWAYS an option to stop ALWAYS!
If anyone reads this book and does not notice these issues, please please please google "what is consent" (loveisrespect.org has some good resources) and read up. This isn't "romance." This is the foundation of rape culture. The beliefs endorsed here lead to people raping and sexually assaulting others and then not seeing anything wrong with what they just did. These beliefs lead rape victims to blame themselves and doubt whether what they want and what feels good to them matters at all. True, this is "only a book," but it undermines everything I've been trying to teach my teens about consent. For much better romances that show how consent is really sexy, read Courtney Milan's Brothers Sinister series instead. The Countess Conspiracy (The Brothers Sinister) (Volume 5) is the single best exemplar of consent I have ever encountered in a romance book.
Also, this book managed to ruin itself in the first 1/3 with random unnecessary homophobia and insults, too. I hate to think what's in the rest of it.