Friday, March 25, 2011

Violence in Romance Novels-good or bad?

We see it every day on TV, the news, or even glancing at video games.
It’s invaded our culture, imaginations, and minds. Not just because it’s in the above things, but also because it’s in our literature.
Look at what’s selling on the bestseller’s list. Spy novels, thrillers, romantic suspense. In each and every one of these genres there is some kind of violence. Murder, shooting, stabbing, fighting.
For the most part, I like a good kick-butt heroine who can hold her own with a man. It’s cool to see her winning the love of the hero because she’s his equal, not the shivering little woman in the corner who can’t take a hit. Every woman wants to be a strong woman, especially one who can physically take care of herself (ie walk down the dark alley without calling her boyfriend on the phone to comfort her).
But when is enough, well, enough? Let’s take out the heroine’s awesomeness for a minute and focus on the violence surrounding her in the novel. Maybe there’s an ex-boyfriend or stalker who she or the hero has to fight. Maybe they’re saving the world together. Violence in these cases is integral to the plot. No getting around it. Romance readers represent a diverse group of people all over the world so I wonder how many of us like the violence—how many of us feel like it adds an edge to something versus others those who feel like it takes away from the purity of the romance between the hero and heroine.
Personally, I like a little kick-butt action. A tough heroine is someone I wanna read about and look up to when I write and read a novel.
But that brings up another question.
What about direct violence aimed the heroine? A guy comes out of the dark and attacks her.
Where’s the line for readers when the heroine fights back. Does she take his head off or fight long enough to run away?
I’m really curious what other readers/writers think about violence in romance. For me it’s a hazy line. A novel by novel basis, I guess. I would say that a Dexter-like heroine would be pushing it for most people, but who knows what readers really want. The only real way to know is to read what’s selling. I guess that’s a good clue.Does anyone have an opinion?


A.C. Nixon said...

Personally I like a kick butt heroine, but she can't kick anyone's butt if no one tries to hurt her. One thing I don't like are rape scenes. Now if the bad guy tries to rape her and she shoves a dull knife in his eye, I'm all for it.

I think it empowers us all a little to see a woman taking care of herself rather than waiting for some man to save the day.

Sheri Fredricks said...

I like the violence, as long as it isn't graphic. I don't care to hear how blood spurts in a romance novel. That's not why I'm there. I like a woman who defends herself, whether physically or mentally. But lets face it, men are stronger. So a strong hero makes for a better read, in my book.

Lila Barton said...

I write and read a lot of paranormal romance so violence is present in pretty much every novel I read and write.

In one of my WIPs, the heroine is abducted by human traffickers. She doesn't manage to escape, but she puts up a hell of a fight. But I don't like violence for violence's sake and no rape by the hero. The threat of death or bodily harm raises the stakes of the story and the external conflict, but it must be an integral part of the plot, not just flashy guts and gore to make the book appeal to a certain type of reader.