Does she even need a hero?
Summer Lane is no damsel in distress. For the past two years, she’s been battling her way back from her worst nightmare all by herself. So she doesn’t need the fabulous former Marine Zach Marshall swooping in to save her.
But she needn’t worry. Zach has hung up his shining armour. His instinct to rescue has only brought him heartache, and he’s not about to risk it all again—even though everything about Summer makes him yearn to help. But she just might accept his challenge to step up and conquer her fears on her own. Even her deepest fears, like trust…and love.
This story has a really great premise, and for the most part I enjoyed the author’s writing. However what really stopped me from enjoying it were all the misconceptions about rape and assault the author promoted throughout the book.
We have a hero – a former marine – who now teaches self-defence classes. His sister was attacked a couple of years ago by a stranger in the street.
And we have a heroine who was abducted, held captive, brutally raped and also left with permanent disabilities. She is a recluse when the book starts (and though I understand you can’t keep your heroine trapped in a house for the entire book, she did recover from her fear of leaving the house far too quickly to be believable).
There was quite a lot to like about the characters, and I always appreciate a book where the hero is just a nice, decent man without any silly hang-ups that are supposed to excuse him being a jerk.
However my problem began with the grossly misguided understanding of how and why and when rape and other similar attacks happen.
This was every conservative male politician’s dream book from that perspective. The number of violent and sexual-based attacks mentioned in this book were staggering, but each and every one happened when a woman dared to have a ponytail (I lost count of the number of references to a ponytail being the reason a woman was attacked), and go out and maybe even have a drink in a bar.
Every attack was committed by a stranger in a dark alleyway. Stay home, ladies! Cut off your hair! Even the self-defence class featured a picture of a huge, scary man attacking a little woman with a ponytail.
This is NOT how most attacks happen. It simply is not. MOST women know their attackers – a boyfriend, a friend, a work colleague, a relative. Attacks happen at home more than they do in dark alleyways.
Every attack was also extremely violent. You don’t just get raped, you also get your thighbone shattered and your face carved up. Your reproductive system destroyed. Your arm broken. If it had been one attack portrayed this way, fine. But every woman in the book suffering something just as bad was too much. I certainly didn’t expect this level of brutality from Harlequin’s ‘sweet family’ romance line.
I don’t know whether the author did it on purpose or just fell back on old and sexist stereotypes because they’re still so pervasive, but what would otherwise have been a great little book was instead something very troubling. And I’m sure not cutting my ponytail off in the EXTREMELY slim chance it’ll get grabbed by a huge, strange man in black in an alleyway late at night, right after having my drink spiked in a bar!
I would like to try something else by this author, and I really don’t believe she set out to write such a misguided story about violence against women. Under other circumstances I can see she would be an author whose work I’d enjoy…
Review copy provided by NetGalley.