Here we have a collection of random observations or notes for SBD, related only because they all have something to do with books.
+ Four (more) boxes of books packed up and ready to donate or mail, including the entire In Death series which filled one box on its own. And still, a stranger looking at my bookshelves would NEVER know that the purge was ongoing. In fact, a first time visitor looking at the pruned shelves asked if I had read all of those books and didn’t I think it was excessive? (Obviously not. Are all of his DVDs and game discs excessive? I’m sure he’d look blankly at me if I even mentioned such a thing.)
~ As I mentioned in my last post, I read a Harlequin Presents published in 1982 (c. 1980) that made me stop and think about the generational change in approaches to premarital sex that have occurred in the last 30 years. In modern HPs, there are two frequent categories: those in which the h/h have already established a sexual relationship, and those in which there is no sexual relationship at the outset and the heroine’s virginity is both remarkable and lusted for or prized (but still plucked so to speak). Sexuality isn’t really at issue, and the conflict usually lies elsewhere. In the older HP I read and the others I skimmed, sexuality and particularly premarital sex were THE defining issue. Each of the heroines was a virgin who had been dumped by a fellow who wanted them to put out before marriage. None of the heroes cared about virginity per se or saw it as something to prize; it was expected but viewed as merely an obstacle to sex rather than something to value or gloat over. The glee that heroes in modern HPs feel over finding virgin heroines seems odd, since premarital sex is commonplace, and it contrasts with the general disinterest or disregard demonstrated by heroes in the older HPs. The books felt extremely dated to me, and much older than the 80s.
– In Anne Weale’s A Touch of the Devil, the heroine suffers from a martyr complex — she’s busy supporting and caring for her feckless, drunken step family at the behest of her dead mother. On top of that, she’s still peeved that her boyfriend wanted to live together before they married; she basically disappeared from his life (left the country) and yet she acts as though he was the one who did the dumping. He reappears during the course of the book, but only in order to be seen as the shallow cad that he is in comparison to the True Hero. (Of course, that couldn’t possibly reflect on the heroine’s poor choices and lack of judgment about her interaction with men, could it?)
Anyway, Our True Hero comes along and persuades the heroine that sex before marriage is okay. In fact, marriage is explicitly off the agenda. Yet she wants him enough to give in. But before they have sex, he’s called away on a mysterious emergency. The Big Reveal is that he’s from a very wealthy family, although he has been estranged from them for reasons that are unclear, rather than being the drifter the heroine thought he was. She’s rewarded for her patience and trust with a marriage proposal. I’m not sure what changed in the midst of the emergency that made marriage palatable for Our True Hero, but he asks. And then they wait until they are married for sex…because suddenly premarital sex is wrong? The hero openly admitted he’s had sex with a variety of women, and clearly expected it from the heroine before the Big Reveal, but the change in position is never really addressed. I guess it doesn’t matter — the heroine is rewarded for her faith, trust and willingness to abandon her principles in the face of a hot drifter. Meh.
~ I skimmed the opening pages of several other HPs and found: outright sexual harassment for one heroine; a heroine who is denied a promotion because she’s engaged and thus likely to leave work to get married and have babies, without regard for her skill or talent; another heroine who actively disliked her fiance, which begged the question of why she dated him and accepted his proposal; and two more heroines who at age 25 lamented that they were old spinsters who would likely never marry at their advanced ages. Both the circumstances and the heroines themselves were enough to make my head feel like it was going to explode.