This isn’t news to anyone who follows me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, but I LOVE BOOK GOSSIP. Authors flipping out at readers, bloggers, reviewers? I so enjoy those posts. I never comment on them directly, but I share thoughts about them with everyone else. Usually these dramas happen overnight or while I’m offline, so I’m always late to the party, but still…
This latest drama (at the time of drafting – there could’ve been another since) is a new varity, though: pulling from publication because of some readers “misunderstanding” the characters. That in itself could make sense, but the book’s reviews on Goodreads and Amazon have been overwhelmingly positive, 4 or 5 stars. Had the book been tanking, with an average rating of 1 or 2, I can see why you’d want to pretend this novel never happened, but that’s not the case here.
Basically, the only “bad” reviews I read mentioned problems with writing, pacing, characters, and plot. But you see that in reviews for almost any book.
But how could readers “misunderstand” the characters? The spoiler was only mentioned in two reviews I found. Sometime before the novel takes place, the hero and his then-girlfriend are in a BDSM relationship. She’s into auto-erotic asphyxiation. And so the guy strangles her…to death. I understand that death can happen this way, but usually when the person is doing it alone, without any supervision. And if doing it with a partner, the partner will squeeze the trachea until the person passes out. The partner doesn’t push it to the death zone. We could brush it off as a mistake, but it’s still manslaughter.
Only it doesn’t go to trial. These families are both extremely wealthy and well-known. So while the woman’s family probably want the guy punished for killing their daughter, they don’t want news to spread of her alternative sex life. So the death is all hushed up, the guy faces no punishment, and so he gets his own novel with a new partner.
So the guy is wealthy, possessive, and extremely creepy and has something to do with someone’s death. This is basically its own sub-genre of erotic romance. If it was a thriller, or generalised erotic fiction, this kind of character would be well suited to the story. Readers would be meant to feel that he’s rather shifty, and not to be trusted. But in a romance? HELL NO!
Edward Cullen, Christian Grey, Gideon Cross, Damien Stark, and now this guy. It’s hardly a Speshul Snowflake situation, when this archetype is becoming ever prevalent in erotic “romance”. Notice that I use quotes. When reading romances, you’re supposed to WANT the characters to be together forever. And if you don’t feel that way, then the author has failed to convey the right tone that would make you love the characters together. And no, creepy guys are NOT romantic.
This is NOT a revolutionary story that readers won’t be able to process. We HAVE read this brand of character before. So why would you act all Speshul Snowflake and threaten to pull your book from purchase because of those who “misunderstand” your “art”? No logical reason, except as a publicity stunt. Because instead of pulling it immediately, the author is leaving the purchase links open for one last day for everyone to buy now before it’s gone.
Add it all up, and my logical brain diagnoses Publicity Stunt. And sales are certainly up since she announced she’s shutting up shop on this story. Mission accomplished.
This author’s works were never on my wishlist, so it’s no big loss to me. But she’s definitely on my mental list of Authors-to-Avoid. That list seems to grow longer every week…