I’ve read romance on and off for years. I read my first romance novel when I was a teenager, probably about 14 years old. I’m pretty sure I tossed the paperback in the grocery cart just to see if I’d get a reaction out of my mother. I didn’t. It was a historical romance and for the life of me I can’t remember the title or author. But I do remember being slightly traumatized by the use of the words, “throbbing member”. Back then, I might have paused for a second and taken a quick glance around the room to see if anyone could tell that I’d just said the words, “throbbing member” in my head. Now I’m a jaded romance reader and I freely type the words “throbbing member” on my very own blog. Go me.
Never in a million years would I have thought 14-year-old me would be reading books featuring “throbbing members”. I should have learned back then, never say never when it comes to romance. There have been many themes and tropes I’ve said never to. I’ll freely admit, I am not the most adventurous reader. While I like books that evoke a strong emotional reaction, I am not an extreme reader and don’t need to push my boundaries often.
So, after reminiscing about the good ol’ days, I started to think about what I’ve read and what books proved I should never say never. Three examples came to mind immediately:
Broken by Megan Hart – Marital Infidelity
Martial infidelity is an instant red flag for me. Admittedly, there are times when this does not make me want to rage, usually in historical romance where one or both of the protagonists are involved in a marriage of convenience and have relations outside of their marriage. I may grumble, but I don’t always see red. If you told me about a great contemporary romance where the heroine is married and engages in an emotional affair I’d say no thanks. But Broken by Megan Hart is a never say never book for me. It’s probably one of the most emotionally draining books I’ve read and remains one of my all time favorite books. I still don’t like marital infidelity in romance novels, but this book showed me other side of the fence so-to-speak and it was an amazing story. I’m so glad I read it.
The Downside Series by Stacia Kane – Drug Addicted Heroine
This series features a drug addicted heroine who shows no signs of wanting to get clean. Her life revolves around getting high. Nothing appealing about that, yet somehow I find myself pulling for this heroine and liking her more and more. I detest her addiction and I often feel uneasy about how much I like her. I feel like I shouldn’t like her, but I do. Perhaps it’s because Chess (the protagonist) owns her addiction, never calls it a disease and never blames others for it. Or maybe not, I’m not sure. But again, this is a never say never book for me.
Willing Victim Cara McKenna – Rape fantasy
I know a lot of readers enjoy this theme. It has never appealed to me at all and I never would not have read this book if not for the review I read at Dear Author. Even after having read the review, which convinced me that consent was very clear, I hesitated for a bit. But curiosity got the best of me and I read it. No one is more surprised than me at how much I liked this book. There is no insight into the psychology of rape fantasy, and I didn’t come away enlightened on the topic. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the author’s intent anyway. What I got was two really appealing, decent characters; one who enjoys rape fantasy and sets solid boundaries, and the other who is defining new boundaries for herself within a new relationship. There’s more of course. This was actually the first book that came to mind when I thought about my never say never books.
I asked Samantha what her never say never book is:
Never in a million years did I think I would enjoy reading M/M fiction as much as I do. I didn’t even know it existed! But when reading Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Butch and Vishous relationship developed over time, I found myself fascinated. Then in Lover Unbound when Vishous admitted he wanted to have sex with Butch, my head nearly exploded. It was all I could think about. Here I am years later and I have devoured hundreds of M/M books like they were candy. Now, my absolute favorite book series after BDB is the M/M Cut and Run series, and I fantasize about Jane the ghost floating away into oblivion and Vishous meeting Ty Grady.
What are your “Never Say Never” books? (AKA “throbbing member” books, which will be known from here on out as TM books) What books did you enjoy that you never thought you would?
It took every bit of self-control I had not to post a “throbbing member” graphic with this post. I refrained. You’re welcome.