I've had a book on my nightstand for ages that I've been meaning to read, and just never felt very compelled to do so. It's called "The Wolf and the Dove" by the late Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, and it is often lauded in romantic historical circles as one of those not to be missed novels. One that stands the test of time and tells a compelling story of love against all odds.
Bullshite, I say.
After having picked it up last night and read the first hundred pages or so, I can say with all certainty that the readers in romantic historical circles must be some hardcore masochistic bitches. In the first chapter alone, the heroine's father has been murdered, her mother beaten, her townspeople slaughtered, and she has been raped.
After all that, you'd expect the hero to come charging up on a white stallion and avenge the wrongs done to this poor creature, right?
Nope, he just gets on with the rapin'. Yee haw!
I suppose it's romantic that he's the only one allowed to rape her for the time being. Shows his commitment to the relationship and all. Still, there's just something that doesn't sit right with me.
Maybe it's all the rape?
Well, whatever it is, I'm not sure if I care to see how it's all gonna play out in the end. I mean, even if he had a sudden epiphany that raping a woman and slaughtering her people were bad things, how does one redeem himself?
"Sorry about all the raping and slaughtering I did. Here's a box of Whitman's Samplers and a mixtape. I know how much you like Duran Duran."
Good first step, to be sure, but somehow I don't think it quite measures up. And I like Duran Duran, so that's saying something!
This type of bodice ripper style romance was apparently popular in the 70's, when this book was first printed, and has since fallen out of favor. Seems women today tend to like their heroes a little more heroic than sadistic. Strange as that may sound.
But having tortured myself with the first hundred pages (hey, maybe I am masochistic after all!), I got to wondering why I had bought the book in the first place. It's not like I was enticed by the cover, which is just as cheesy as you'd expect. It's not the sort of book I would normally read--if I'm going to read an historical novel, it's usually set in Regency or Victorian England, or medieval Scotland. Not medieval England. That's just plain nuts!
Well, off to Amazon I went, hoping to find the answer to that burning question, and here is what I found:
Out of 121 reader reviews of "The Wolf and the Dove", 101 of them are 4 or 5 stars.
That means that, of the 121 reviewers, 83% thought the novel was "above average" or "excellent".
Can one of you 83% please reassure me that there's a good twin at the end of this mess? 'Cause, if not, I am dumbfounded. I truly am.