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Allow me to address your bullshit, Lucia Franco defenders.

Posted in Uncategorized

CW: CSA, Rape, Grooming, Reproductive Coercion

Update: Lucia Franco defenders are now doxing those who dared to speak up about this, posting their home addresses and, in the cases of pseudonymous authors, their real identities, online. This puts people in real danger. If you are a Lucia Franco fan, please let her know that this is happening and that she has a moral obligation to speak out against this strategy of “defending” her. The one-star bombing and mass-reporting of books to Amazon in an attempt to see them removed as punishment? That’s shitty behavior. But the sole purpose of doxing is to terrorize. Those of you in groups with her or who follow her FB page, please tell Franco that this reflects incredibly poorly on her and that a statement of some kind to her fans is necessary to avoid being seen as complicit in endangering other human beings.

If you’ve never heard of Lucia Franco, she is the author of the indefensibly popular Off Balance series. The story, regarded by one Twitter user as “a phenomenal work of FICTION,” is a five-book series about the sexual relationship between a fifteen-year-old gymnast and her thirty-year-old coach who is grooming her for the Olympics. Oh, and obviously, to commit statutory rape with her.

Rejecting this premise, especially in the wake of the Michigan State assault cover-up, should have been obvious. A fifteen-year-old girl can’t consent to a thirty-year-old man, let alone a thirty-year-old man who has sole control over her success in her chosen field. Add to that the fact that this thirty-year-old man has a live-in girlfriend and refuses to engage in safe sex practices (relying on his partners to repeatedly take morning-after pills)…nobody would see this as romantic, right?

The first book, Balance, is, in fact, categorized as romance and has been embraced as a swoon-worthy love story by many readers on GoodReads (names redacted to avoid accusations of an attack or pile-on):

“This story was HOT. I mean, call the fire department and have them on standby hot. I’m in the middle of a heat wave and this was just added kindling to the inferno, hot.”

“Raw and intense, yet sensitive and touching. It will keep you hooked till the very end. Forbidden Romance at its finest.”

“Nothing could have prepared me to be hooked that much by Adrianna and Kova’s taboo relationship. Lucia Franco achieved to shape a story bursting with sinful attraction, but also containing a level of raw emotion that left me overcame by all the feels!”

“To all the fans of fifty shades of grey, kova is the new christian grey. Oh my heart!”

Please note that last one.

This book has 2,095 ratings on GoodReads. Over half of those are five stars.

Balance came out in 2016. So, why is all hell breaking loose just now? I have no idea. In October, the romance media site Frolic recommended it to readers (the recommendation has since been removed and the article edited; at the time of writing this, they had not included any explanation for its removal or acknowledged that the article was edited). This week, bloggers were discussing it openly on social media. The latest book in the series just came out, so maybe that got this whole thing kicked off? All I know is, the Lucia Franco defenders have crawled out of the woodwork to defend her right to classify this “beautiful, complicated love story” as a romance right alongside books featuring heroines who are not being groomed for abuse by their gymnastics coach. As usual, accusations of “bullying,” “trolling,” “persecuting” and “a witchhunt” have flown and the usual defenses have come out. I would like to address them all in one place. Because they are willfully obtuse.

“Free speech! You can’t censor someone just because you don’t like what they write!”

You’re right. Authors and readers on social media can’t censor anyone unless they have access to governmental power that would allow them to do so. I agree that Lucia Franco has every right to pen whatever kind of story she would like. I do not agree that criticizing the book is somehow quashing her free speech or censoring her. Allegations that authors worked together to get her book removed from Amazon out of “censorship” are laughable; Amazon isn’t the government and the book violated KDP TOS, which states:

“You must ensure that all Book content is in compliance with our Program Policies for content at the time you submit it to us. If you discover that content you have submitted does not comply, you must immediately withdraw the content by un-publishing it or by re-publishing content that complies through the Program procedures for Book withdrawal or re-publishing. We are entitled to remove or modify the metadata and product description you provide for your Books for any reason, including if we determine that it does not comply with our content requirements.”

One of those content requirements vaguely specifies that they reserve the right to remove objectionable content or remove books that provide a disappointing reader experience. If readers complained about the book, Amazon can review and pull it (according to some bloggers, it’s possible this is not the first time the book has been removed). Them’s the breaks, kids.

“Don’t like? Don’t read!”

This is not Fanfiction.net, Sunshine Susan.

“You probably haven’t even read it!”

You don’t have to read a whole book to know if you enjoy the themes it contains. That’s what the blurb is for. If I pick up a book about military intelligence, I’m going to put it back down. I’m not going to read the whole thing to decide if I was interested in the subject. And if I picked up a book that sounds like it could be just awful, I don’t have to read it before deciding whether or not I want to read it. That’s what critical reviews are for. No one is required to read a book romanticizing pedophilia before they’re qualified to say that romanticizing pedophilia is wrong.

“Wait, you’re reading it? Why read it if you know you’re not going to like it?”

Because you told us that we have to, Sunshine Susan. In order to criticize the book, we have to read it. Those are the rules you set down. Now, you don’t want us to read it? What are you afraid we’re going to find? Evidence? Because people are finding evidence.

“You don’t understand the genre!”

Many of the people criticizing the book are avid consumers of Dark/Taboo Romance but found that actual child rape was a step too far. Some of the critics are authors in the genre who don’t want their work associated with child rape. Go figure.

“Authors work hard! How would you feel if someone got one of your books pulled?”

I know as well as anybody how much work goes into creating a story and making it happen on the page. It’s grueling. After almost two decades, I almost don’t even enjoy it anymore. And I do feel for authors who’ve seen their books yanked off of Amazon by mistake for weird, vague reasons. But this isn’t vague. This isn’t an author who’s had their book about consensual age play between two or more grown adults removed because the guy’s name is Beast and it got flagged as zoophilia. This is a story about a thirty-year-old man having intercourse with a fifteen-year-old and how romantic and passionate their affair is. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have a book like that pulled from Amazon. Because I would never write that.

“It’s just fiction!”

Time and again, “It’s just fiction!” has been used to justify the nurturing of reprehensible attitudes. “It’s just fiction!” people cried about the novel that, purely by coincidence, published right before a huge spike in sex-toy related injuries. Sure, individuals are responsible for their own choices but that extends to authors, as well. If your choice as an author is to dangerously misrepresent a subject or craft a story that feeds into damaging cultural biases, readers can choose to speak about that.

“That stuff happens in real life! This is an important issue!”

Is it fiction or not? The defense, “It’s just fiction,” doesn’t wash if in the next breath we’re being told to value the realism inherent in the work. And yes, child sexual abuse is an important issue. Writing about important issues requires delicacy. If the authorial intent here is to raise awareness of sex abuse perpetrated by coaches in junior sports, perhaps she shouldn’t have chosen to frame it as a beautiful love story. The relationship between the coach and the gymnast is portrayed as sexy, desirable, and forbidden. It’s written specifically to titillate the reader when they’re consuming this story about a grown man having sex with a child. If you’re defending it as an “issue book” or positioning it as some kind of statement piece then you’ve just cast Franco in the role of a person advocating for pedophilia, not against. That’s probably not as helpful as you think it is.

“I dated older men and–”

Nope.

“The author is a really nice person and–”

Nope. She could make Tom Hanks look like Ted Bundy and her book would still be about a kid getting raped and manipulated by a predatory authority figure.

“Women should lift each other up, not tear each other down!”

This is not a petty, Real Housewives-style backstabbing spat here. This is a social media discussion about a book that was made freely available for public consumption in which child sexual abuse is dressed up like a consensual sexual relationship. No one is “tearing down” Franco. They’re responding rationally to the normalization and romanticization of pedophilia. Yes, she’s a woman. She’s also furthering attitudes that harm women and girls. It is impossible to “lift her up” without turning away from actual victims and potential victims. If people are less concerned with helping an author achieve success than eradicating cultural attitudes that create more sexual assault victims…boo hoo, I guess?

“Frigid bitches, assorted misogyny in the name of supporting women.”

Obviously, the disgusting crones attacking this book are doing so because they don’t enjoy sex, or don’t get any sex because their lives are joyless. Our spider-infested genitals haven’t known a moist touch that isn’t just mildew from neglect and disuse. When we open our legs, it sounds like a door creaking in a haunted house. And of course, it’s undeniably feminist to insinuate this by calling us prudes and making references to straight-laced Victorian literature and Jane Austen. Oh, how boring are we, the unhappy, sexless few who don’t find child molesters the sexiest, most Alpha panty melters of all time. And this isn’t a misogynist position to take; everyone knows that saying a woman’s value is based solely in her sexuality is okay, so long as you’re defending child rape. So, too, is using, as one defender did, the quote, “God save us from women,” from an Outlander book. Yes, it’s women and their womanishness that is causing this problem. If only women could just be cooler with rape and abuse and stop being so ugh, gross and girly. Also, they should stop being jealous because jealousy is clearly the only motivation a woman ever has when criticizing another woman, as we have no critical thinking skills.

I’m sure there are many other ridiculous, eye-roll worthy takes out there but I’ve been away from blogging lately and my tolerance to abject bullshit is astonishingly low. In closing: you can write or read whatever you want but you can’t escape criticism or analysis of your work.

Oh, and since this needs to be pointed out: FUCKING KIDS IS WRONG AND THAT’S WHY THEY HAVE LAWS ABOUT IT.

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111 Comments

  1. *loud applause*

    Thank you, Jenny. I keep saying to people; there is absolutely a place for this topic to be explored in fiction, and that place is in the CRIME FICTION genre.

    Not. Freaking. ROMANCE.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Regret
      Regret

      It would help a lot if this was labelled as a pedofilia rape fantasy instead of romance. I can handle reading from a messed up perspective, but calling this romance completely changes the context within which I would read it.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
      • Emily
        Emily

        I’m not sure about why you think reading pedofilia from a “messed up perspective” makes it okay, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re a normal person and not a pedo?

        anyways. this book violated Amazon’s terms of service regarding underage sex, and I want to keep the momentum going. Stephen King’s IT has a scene in which 12 yr olds engage in a “sexy” (barf) gangrape, and it’s available for purchase on Amazon. please help me get it removed, thanks.

        December 11, 2019
        |Reply
        • Regret
          Regret

          Thanks, I appreciate that. I was worried when posting this, but I try not to censure myself. Most of the time I think I am a good person.

          Honestly exploring the darkest reaches of one’s mind can be a part of getting rid of one’s bad thoughts. Taboos can make something more attractive than it has any righ to be.

          December 14, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jules
            Jules

            I get it. I have a really weird fetish for incest. Doesn’t mean I think it’s right, certainly don’t want to try it myself. I’m just fascinated by the circumstances that would lead two people to do such a thing. Just like it would be interesting to explore what would draw a 15 year old to her coach and what would draw a coach to this particular 15 year old he’s coaching.

            One of the great things about fiction is that it allows you to explore things you really shouldn’t be exploring in real life.

            The real problem here isn’t the book. People have the right to like whatever they like. It’s that there are a group of people who refuse to accept any criticism against the things they like and go on these hate campaigns against anyone who dares to speak against the book. It’s a freaking book. Who cares if no one else likes it? (not directed at you, you seem perfectly hinged and normal and not like someone who would reveal personal details about someone who doesn’t like a book you like as some sort of bizarre vengeance. Seriously, that is just not sane at all.) Fandom makes me worry for the future of mankind. It really does. Not casual fans, casual fans are great. It’s those militant fanatics who ruin it for the rest of us that make me hope for the extinction of mankind.

            December 16, 2019
    • quizzabella
      quizzabella

      Umm, I don’t mind younger heroine and older hero (and vice versa) whatever genre, but 15? With a guy twice her age who literally has total control over her prospects in a very competitive field? Hard NOPE. He’s not grooming her to be a champion, he’s grooming her in the creepy way. How would she be able to say no to him? I don’t at all agree with the doxxing, that’s horrible, but I’m going to avoid these books like the plague.

      December 10, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Maura
    Maura

    Yikes. Just… yikes. Jenny summed up everything wrong with this situation perfectly.

    It’s one thing to write about messed-up dynamics; it’s very much another to claim said dynamics should be the goal for an ideal relationship.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Emily
      Emily

      I could not agree more! The people who like this kind of “romance” fiction are usually the same creeps who wouldn’t shut up about the TV show Hannibal and how that mess of romanticized/fetishized abuse, murder, and cannibalism and “murder husbands” (barf) was “such a good tv show” and “should get renewed”. I’m glad that streaming pile of garage was cancelled, and I’m glad this author is cancelled too! Illegal shit should NEVER be romanticized in fiction, it is NEVER OKAY.

      December 11, 2019
      |Reply
  3. Joan Doe-its-hunting-season
    Joan Doe-its-hunting-season

    Thanks for your comprehensive yet pithy and tart take down.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
  4. patricia erickson
    patricia erickson

    Thank you for writing it so eloquently.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
  5. Cheryl Z
    Cheryl Z

    Yeah that Larry Nassar shit was hot, wasn’t it? The way he sexually abused all those girls.

    My god, why would anyone think this is romantic and make a book out of it? It’s not even tone-deaf, it’s straight-up evil.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
  6. Maile
    Maile

    Yikes! The description of the book made me throw up a little in my mouth. This reminds me of the Flowers In The Attic series. Sure it’s about taboo love but I never thought that the story was supposed to be romantic, it was a horror story not a romance. Yet, I’ve heard it described as a forbidden romance by some. I wonder if they are reading this book?

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Larissa
      Larissa

      Yeah, I remember I HS people telling me FITA was romance – but that shit’s scarier than Stephen King. Or the Blue Lagoon. Weird and creepy!

      December 6, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Same people who think Lolita is “the greatest love story of iur time.”

      I weep for humankind.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
    • I’ve used that as an example re: FSOG as well. It’s like if we were told that Flowers in the Attic was a beautiful love story and we should all want that kind of relationship and if we don’t let our brothers rape us, we’re just frigid bitches, but oh yeah, iTs JuST fIcTiOn, too.

      No. This normalizes abusive relationships. You goddamn well better be able to recognize that this is not aspirational nor desirable.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
  7. Brie
    Brie

    DRAG THEM SIS!!

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Gonna be nonny
    Gonna be nonny

    This is actually fascinating to me after watching fandom drama about “pedophile ships” go completely off the rails. The argument there was that people should be allowed to have fiction that explores less-than-acceptable topics, and defenses of sites like Ao3 are made in the vein that “nothing should ever be taken down anymore”.

    Of course, those age differences are rarely, if ever, 15 yrs old and 30 yrs old. They’re usually 17 and 19, or 22 and 27, or in the case of one fandom, alien and human, which is totally comparable.

    So it does make me wonder, what is the line? If it’s okay in fanfic, is is ok in published fic in general or does published fiction have different standards? And are those differences acceptable for two similar mediums to have differences?

    Obviously, nobody’s writing to promote CSA rates increasing, and it’d be remiss not to mention that the vast majority of fics that deal with those topics are by survivors, but the division is endlessly fascinating as I watch fandoms eat themselves alive with “anti-shippers” becoming a vocal minority and how everyone reacts to things like 50SOG and whatever nonsense this is.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Fanfic is a very different article*. For a start, fanfiction has traditionally been a place to explore topics not included in the mainstream.
      Secondly, Ao3 in particular has a robust tagging and warning system which enables readers to ensure they don’t accidentally come across a topic they need, for their own mental health, to avoid. Until mainstream fiction has that, there’s a massive risk involved in reading ANYTHING.
      Thirdly, and I think most important, this is MONETIZED. The moment you go out and ask for money for works like this, you are putting your work in the mainstream and you are opening yourself up to mainstream critique. If you choose to monetize abuse of any kind and call it romance, you BETTER be prepared for people to have opinions about it, and to voice those opinions publicly.

      *Just going to note that I’m speaking with some authority here, because I wrote (under my fandom name) the Three Laws of Fandom and I dealt with the fallout from it too. Nobody will defend more passionately than I will your right to write whatever you goddamn well want in fanfiction, as long as you tag and warn appropriately.
      https://fanlore.org/wiki/The_Three_Laws_of_Fandom

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yeah! Obviously, people still shouldn’t send hate to the author but they’re free to discuss these issues anywhere people will talk about it. As you pointed out, it’s not something the author has made for themselves and anyone else who enjoys such things… it’s a commercial good being sold to the masses. Consumers have a right to express opinions, especially criticism, in the marketplace and share reviews to warn others who may find it undesirable. And of course, it’s no longer marginalized when a publisher pays for it; it is mainstream. Being published gives it a sense of gravitas that fanfic never has.

        December 7, 2019
        |Reply
      • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
        Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

        And that’s the difference – fanfic is tagged. I like fanfic, reading and writing it. I have things l don’t want to read about and it’s easy to avoid it. I don’t mind two minors above the age of consent having sex in a story. I did have someone tell me I was a horror of a human and I was promoting abuse because I wrote one thing where two adult characters had consensual BDSM sex in a story tagged BDSM along with the kinks. *shrugs*

        When I was early twenties, I knew a guy who was a little older than me and dating a thirteen year old. Her dad knew and didn’t care. My understanding was that the police weren’t able to do anything if her dad wouldn’t press charges because they hadn’t had sex yet. “But she doesn’t look thirteen.” She’s still thirteen and it’s sick. That poor girl was a mess later in life and I’m know it was at least partly due to that as she pressed charges when she was older.

        As the mother of a fifteen year old, I’d go after a thirty year old having sex with my kid with a crowbar and mutilate their genitals before I get serious about hurting them.

        December 8, 2019
        |Reply
      • Emily
        Emily

        EXACTLY! Like, some 15 yr old writing their Harry Potter fiction “to cope” probably can’t hurt more than the five people who read their story, but the creepy concent creators like this author or Bryan Fuller want to be PAID to NORMALIZE abusive, dangerous stuff and get away with it because it’s “just fiction”. completely unacceptable.

        December 11, 2019
        |Reply
        • Casey
          Casey

          It took me until this comment to realize you were probably trolling. I’m kinda embarrassed I didn’t pick up on it sooner.

          December 16, 2019
          |Reply
          • E.
            E.

            She is trolling too badly, so one assumes she is genuine.

            She is trying, bless her little heart.

            December 18, 2019
    • cheerfuloptimistic
      cheerfuloptimistic

      I’ve come across a bunch of fanfiction and AO3 fic which is specifically about adults fucking minors, or is underage smut fic. Like, I’ve come across multiple fics on AO3 tagged as “extremely underage”, without searching for that tag or related ones.

      And you can make the argument that some of the authors creating such fiction are themselves minors or are CSA survivors using it to cope. But I’ve also had the displeasure of watching fully grown-adults get angry at the notion that they shouldn’t be creating and consuming underage porn.

      My point is, while there are people who will treat any age difference in couples as inherently toxic or abusive, there are also people being labeled “antis” because they take issue with the way fandom frequently mishandles topics like rape, incest, slavery, and pedophilia.

      Here are some more in-depth posts/discussions.

      https://bigskydreaming.tumblr.com/post/151302545921/mxdcollection-bigskydreaming

      https://stitchmediamix.com/2019/06/27/fleeting-frustrations-7-archive-frenzy/

      https://diversehighfantasy.tumblr.com/post/171233099061/carrying-the-fandom-load

      https://bigskydreaming.tumblr.com/post/187307511151/like-sorry-not-sorry-but-ive-had-online-fandom

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • Cynthia Haack
      Cynthia Haack

      Tell that to the young gymnasts who have actually had to suffer through this from much younger than 15. The book describes a relationship between a coach, who is in a position of authority, and a young girl. No, it is not right to normalize and make acceptable a relationship such as this. I do not agree with your assessment. Any male over the age of 20, and that is a bit broad in my book, who engages with a girl more than a few years younger is problematic. Shame on them. Find a woman, one your own age to be with.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
  9. njamil21
    njamil21

    Yikes yikes yikes yikes!

    I don’t want to know what was going on in that author’s head to think this was okay to publish and I’m scared to think about the people who would go and defend this garbage. It’s one thing to write a relationship that between a student and a coach, but it’s whole ‘nother toxic thing to have such a huge age gap. And from what I hear of the sequels, things don’t get any better for the heroine.

    It’s a good thing this got removed from Amazon.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
  10. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    When I was 15, I dated multiple men in their 20s and 30s and I didn’t understand why they stopped speaking to me when they found out my age. I thought I was just that ugly, because everyone knows men always want sex from anyone and everyone, unless they’re ugly.

    I had *issues* at the time, and now that I’m old enough to recognize that, I can comprehend that these men didn’t want to break the law or take advantage of a troubled minor.

    Franco’s books and books like it normalize the damaging kind of mindset I had at age 15 and I do not appreciate it.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      Yup. I, too, dated men at 16/17 who either stopped when they realized my Jail Bait status or kept going because they were amoral pedos who wanted to get off. The only proper ending to “Well I dated older men…” is “…and they should have been the adult in the room and rejected me, so fuck them in the ear.”

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ricki
        Ricki

        When I was 16 I had a crush on a 20-year-old and he took me aside, said, “You’re really cool, but when you’re in college, you’re really going to hate the dudes who hit on high schoolers. I’m not that kind of dude.”

        Because that’s how responsible adults behave.

        December 7, 2019
        |Reply
        • Rebecca
          Rebecca

          Yes, this.

          December 7, 2019
          |Reply
    • lingli
      lingli

      Coming to this very late, but …

      My best friend in high school (thirty years ago) had a boyfriend when she was 14 who was 21. At the time I didn’t know her well, and when she told me about it when we became close a couple of years later (it was over by then) I remember thinking how she was really cool for a guy that age to want to date her. She even laughed about how he used to like to pick her up from school, because we wore uniforms and he found that … exciting? Sexy? God knows.

      I have a 15 year old daughter now and last year I was visiting this friend and the conversation came around to the relationship she had with this guy. I told her, in as many words, that if I found out that a 21 year old was trying to date my kid I’d make it my life’s work to get him on the sex offenders’ register (if her father didn’t kill him first, I guess), and she was genuinely taken aback, even as an adult now, that I saw the relationship in those terms. And this is why the adults in the situation have to behave *like adults* – because my friend, who was super-intelligent and came from a lovely family and all the rest of it, could not see what was going on at the time. And I’m so glad that those of you who’ve replied had the good fortune to meet guys who were able to act like the adults they were.

      January 19, 2020
      |Reply
  11. Larissa
    Larissa

    I know I should feel shock and horror that this is out there and people aren’t just defending it, but LOVE it… But I can’t seem to summon up more than a burning case second-hand embarrassment for these unfortunate “fans”.

    I understand why people don’t realize how …awful… 50SofG is, but this series has actual pedophilia and statutory rape? How is that at all sexy? It’s like calling Lolita a heart-warming, family time love story.

    Me reading this was a series of cringy “yiiiiikes”.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Sam Beringer
      Sam Beringer

      Yeah. At least in 50 Shades both characters were legal adults. And it was the writing that was problematic; the premise could still be re-worked into something less so while still being romance.

      This is a story that should’ve been tossed from the get-go.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
  12. Should Heathcliff be allowed to go around slapping teenaged women to get them to do what he wants? Rhett rape Scarlet? It’s horrible behavior that happens in epidemic proportions throughout the world, so why are these novels sold on Amazon?

    Publish criticism of books without demonizing the author and intimating that supporters are in favor of child molestation. John Stuart Mill said a lot on criticizing without censuring: there is a subtlety required here. Be annoyed by it and say what annoys you about it but don’t try to get rid of it.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Oh honey, no.
      Oh honey, no.

      Yikes.

      No one healthy thinks Heathcliff is masterbatory-worthy. Much like no one healthy thinks pedophilia is sexy and worth multiple books.

      Though I give you props for trying to compare this tripe to Bronte. Ballsy.

      December 6, 2019
      |Reply
    • Paula
      Paula

      Nobody is “censuring” anyone. Or *censoring for that matter. That word doesn’t mean what you think it means. Nobody in their right mind romanticizes Heathcliff or Rhett. These people are romanticizing A THIRTY YEAR OLD MAN STICKING HIS DICK IN A CHILD. A child that is unable to give informed consent. These people are also saying that speaking out against this romanticization is “censorship”. These people are defending child rape as “romantic” and “hot.” It is perfectly within our rights to say that people who romanticize A CHILD BEING RAPED BY A THIRTY YEAR OLD MAN and who believe that a THIRTY YEAR OLD MAN STICKING HIS DICK INTO A CHILD is romantic and hot are defending child rape. Because that is *exactly what they’re doing.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ash
      Ash

      You didn’t read a word of what Jenny wrote, did You?

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • Liz
      Liz

      Neither Wuthering Heights or Gone with the Wind has a happy ending for the main couple, unlike the book you’re defending. And unlike the book you’re defending, I haven’t seen too many grown women making drooling Goodreads reviews with gifs of barechested male models and exclaiming how it’s so *sexy* how Heathcliff and Rhett mistreat women.

      December 9, 2019
      |Reply
      • Seriously. Bronte’s and Mitchell’s points were NOT “OMG these dudes are sooooo hot, everyone woman should want one of their own, let’s fap!” Their points were that these kinds of abusive dickheads not only destroy women, but entire societies. JFC.

        December 9, 2019
        |Reply
  13. Manda
    Manda

    My take on it is that those books, whether deliberately written or not, are a means to manufacture consent and plant in the public psyche that it’s okay for this shit to happen, when In reality it is not.

    For example, let’s take FSoG. Core message? Money = power. Sex slavery is cool. Real life horror stories? R Kelly and Jeffrey Epstein = men with funds and power to do as they please; and so they did. One, however was a brownstone operation, targeted towards those who had underage proclivities.

    I am wholly convinced there is a movement afoot to legalize child sex abuse. It’ll be done under the LBGTQ banner, so any who oppose will be shunned as intolerant bastards. It’s already started with Desmond The Amazing; if you aren’t familiar, he’s a drag kid. I have no issue with adults in drag performing for adults. They’re fun and I love witty double entendre. But a kid shouldn’t, in my prudent opinion, be performing in a bar in the wee hours of the morning, having money shoved in his clothing. That is sexualizing a child and teaching them to commodity their body. An 8 year old kid, in my opinion, should not know how to take the drug ketamine, which he displays in an interview. The whole situation seems sketchy and has a huge ick factor, when one sees who is a part of that kid’s life (convicted murderer)… but raise concern about it, get called an intolerant asshole. Social engineering is a bitch.

    Here is a shot and chaser.

    https://twitter.com/AlfonzoCortez4/status/1201783090433216513?s=09 <—less than a minute long vid of a woman saying we need to accept pedophiles.

    "Children as young as six are to be given compulsory self-touching lessons that will teach them about touching or ‘stimulating’ their own genitals.

    What do you think?" @TheTalkCBS
    https://twitter.com/TheTalkCBS/status/1197575064285110272?s=09

    I'm telling ya, the rabbit hole is dark and full of terrors.

    December 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Rachel Robbins
      Rachel Robbins

      Manda– Agree 100%. Poor Desmond, poor “Lactacia.” I was eaten alive on Twitter for expressing the same opinion. NOT putting down kids who enjoy / choose drag, but addressing about the parents who exploit them. I made a comparison to the Toddler In Tiara Type Moms; “adulting” small children for their own gratification and egos. According to Twitter Army, I’m anti-LGBTQ+ (while I’m actually part of the rainbow, though that is neither here nor there), a PEDOPHILE, and somehow at the same time a social justice warrior snowflake. Needless to say, I took down my tweets to shut down the daily onslaught of abuse from the left, right, front, and center. Then I didn’t go back on Twitter for months. They do love a good pile-on!

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
  14. Lou
    Lou

    Thank you Jenny for explaining so clearly the danger of those books. I was raped at 17 by my 39 year old high-school teacher, and it took me years to realize that it was rape, and just how wrong it was for my adult teacher to want a sexual relationship with me, because i had been groomed since early adolescence by bad romance novels to believe that sex with older men, especially men in a position of power, was hot. The romanticizing of these kind of relationships are harmful and dangerous, and have real life consequences

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • I’m so sorry for what you went through, Lou, and that this horror show must have raked over some unpleasant old memories for you. I hope you’re safe and happy today.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ash
      Ash

      16 raped by a 36 year old man who spent years grooming me, and my sexuality is still twisted because of it.

      I agree with everything you’re saying and I am endlessly sickened by people who want to romanticize this sort of thing.

      Much love to you, I hope you’ve found healing and peace. I hope someday we can all live in a world where children aren’t sexualized.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
  15. V
    V

    I have, sadly, read (or more like started, and never finished) way more taboo and rape/y books than Off Balance. And comparing them to Balance, they were fucking disguisting. And I have no idea why we’re not talking about them, but hating on Lucia’s work.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • Michael
      Michael

      Presumably because Lucia’s kicking up more of a fuss over the purported “censorship” that is Amazon choosing not to publish a book that violates their guidelines. And also, there’s always gonna be a worse problem, so by that logic we’re always going to have to move on to some bigger issue.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • Paula
      Paula

      Because a thirty year old man sticking his dick into a child is also disgusting. Nobody’s “hating” on these books – that implies our objections are baseless. We’re talking about the fact that they romanticize child rape and treat it like Larry Nassar and his victims weren’t in the news mere months ago.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ash
      Ash

      That’s always a deflection – yeah, this thing is bad but other things are worse!

      If you’d like to bring some of these other examples to the forefront for discussion, many of us would love to read it.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
  16. Michael
    Michael

    Stuff like this is why I, despite reading romance fiction, stay very far away from the romance fiction community. When something gets criticized, then no matter how justified and thoughtful the criticism is, there are people who’ll insist that no criticism of it can ever be fair or valid.

    To judge by the bad kind of romance readers, the romance genre can never have any flaws; a good feminist can never criticize any female writer; and every time Amazon chooses not to sell a book it’s censorship (as opposed to “a publisher choosing what to publish, as is the point of publishers”); no issues with the current state of the romance genre as a whole may *ever* be acknowledged to exist…

    Yeah, this kind of thing is why I tend to stay away from the romance community.

    Two disclaimers:
    1. I know most people in the romance community are fine people. But if a chocolate chip cookie has had one chip replaced with dog feces, then I won’t eat that cookie even though I know that 99% of it is pure cookie goodness.
    2. The one criticism that seems to be mostly acknowledged is that we need more diverse books. But “These diverse books are awesome! I want to read more of them!” is clearly praise, not criticism.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  17. Leigh
    Leigh

    Fucking kids is wrong and that’s why they have laws about it!
    Thank you! You nailed everything!. I want to add any and all authors who supports this kind of abuse on kids to my do not read list. If anyone has a list of these authors please let me know. Thanks.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  18. Eclairmaiden
    Eclairmaiden

    “No one is required to read a book romanticizing pedophilia before they’re qualified to say that romanticizing pedophilia is wrong.”

    That and the last sentence are the best things ever!

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Ilex
    Ilex

    Thank you, Jenny. Very well said.

    I never heard of this series before your post, and now I’m hoping I never hear of it again.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  20. I have serious concerns about any person that can honestly write about child sexual assault. Let alone the people reading it. What creepy things are going through a persons mind when writing a book that romanticizes child rape?

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  21. Great summation. I want to add to this that:

    1) This kind of bullshit was a money move on the author’s part, or they would have shelved it in erotica and hit the adult button when uploading it.

    But, 2) that means less visibility on Amazon, because of ad buys they can’t do, and because they won’t hit the algorithms for recommendations, etc. Meaning it was a total dick move trying to cash in on romance readers at the expense of other romance writers. Just like the book stuffing problem. (We need to educate readers WHY there’s a difference in listing stuff on Amazon in romance, versus in erotica and getting the adult flag added to a book. Like that Amazon doesn’t actually READ every book that’s uploaded.)

    And 3) MF books are given a FAR wider pass than much tamer LGBTQ+ and kink books featuring consenting adults in them. The absolute fucking privilege just kills me. Because LGBTQ+ and consensual kink books get stuck behind adult flags ALL the time when they aren’t a fraction as graphic, and when they legitimately are “romance” books.

    So, 4) Amazon then starts taking a harder, closer look at other “romance” books and randomly pulling/shadowbanning books that ARE legitimately romance, but are non-traditional. We’ve been here before, in the past, with Amazon rank-stripping erotica books, and pulling them without warning, etc.

    5) The book squicks me out, but no, I did NOT report it, and if the author wants to sell it, fine, but CORRECTLY LABEL it as erotica, or horror, or whatever, and put the adult filter on it.

    6) I love me taboo/dark books, but only if the characters are 18 or older–ADULTS. NOT children.

    7) I see supporters trying to make the comparison to Stephen King books and to Lolita–those are NOT categorized as ROMANCE books.

    8) Why can’t the character start at age 18 if it’s “just fiction?” I mean, I’ve seen the screenshots where the author said TWELVE would be more “realistic.” UM, FUCKING SERIOUSLY? TWELVE???? No. Hard pass. And STILL NOT ROMANCE. Why are people defending that the character HAS to start as an underaged CHILD being groomed for sex??

    9) There are some questions that the actual content, since it glorifies child sex abuse, MIGHT actually be illegal in Canada and elsewhere. If that’s the case? Amazon is WELL within their rights to pull it. So why not make the main character 18 to start with?

    Ugh. Just…ugh. Once again, we’ve gone ~0~ days in Romancelandia without fuckery.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • Soulo
      Soulo

      People are really defending this, saying that we’re “ruining readers enjoyment of taboo romance”. Yeah, I’m sorry that my common sense and morality ruins child porn fiction for you. I’m reeeeal sorry.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
      • The number of readers that cannot recognize rape as rape in their “taboo” romance is shocking.

        If it turns you on to read about coercive sex or rape or whatever, fine. BUT YOU GODDAMN FUCKING BETTER NOT ROMANTICIZE IT AS “SO HOT” IRL. You better recognize that this is not going to fly in the real world.

        December 8, 2019
        |Reply
  22. problemaaaaaaaaaaaaatic
    problemaaaaaaaaaaaaatic

    Kate Bush, for one, would be rather surprised at these hot Puritan takes on Heathcliff…

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  23. Lucy
    Lucy

    This is ridiculous. It’s a book, people can read it if they want or NOT. The same as certain tv shows/movies that have themes that you don’t like. It doesn’t normalise pedophilia and if anyone takes that from this book is stupid and is thinking way too hard. It’s a story about how emotions and love can get you into these situations. We live in a society where age matters and if I actually heard a real life story like this I’d be disgusted and mad at the older person for taking advantage. I don’t think anyone is saying as a real life situation that this is ok. It really is just a book with a taboo story and some people like to read taboo. Why ruin it for those people who enjoy the book, what harm does it cause you.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • Laurie
      Laurie

      Thank you! And this isn’t a kids book it’s for ADULTS who know the difference between right and wrong and fiction and reality. Nobody is forcing anyone to read these book, they CAN just go about their lives and not try to destroy someone’s life and readers enjoyment of taboo romance.

      December 7, 2019
      |Reply
      • Soulo
        Soulo

        This isn’t taboo romance. This is sick. Period.

        December 8, 2019
        |Reply
    • Jo
      Jo

      “Time and again, “It’s just fiction!” has been used to justify the nurturing of reprehensible attitudes. “It’s just fiction!” people cried about the novel that, purely by coincidence, published right before a huge spike in sex-toy related injuries. Sure, individuals are responsible for their own choices but that extends to authors, as well. If your choice as an author is to dangerously misrepresent a subject or craft a story that feeds into damaging cultural biases, readers can choose to speak about that.”

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
      • Soulo
        Soulo

        That freaking part!

        December 8, 2019
        |Reply
      • No, it is not “just fiction.” From Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Charlie Hebdo, from the Bible and Quran to Catcher in the Rye, NOTHING IS “JUST” FICTION.

        That is the fucking laziest pile of shit excuse for anything. Especially when the same readers also scream about how they want a guy like this in real life b/c it’s “so hot.” Just because you don’t want to think doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same.

        December 8, 2019
        |Reply
    • Soulo
      Soulo

      It is not just a fucking book. Whether or not it’s geared towards adults, do you think teenagers will care? They’ll probably read it anyway! And some of those teenagers will think that this is okay and something to be romanticized. The similar thing happened to me and it took me months to realize I was raped. As an assault victim, fuck you for thinking this is okay to put out into the world.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
    • Casey
      Casey

      This is ridiculous. It’s a blog post, people can read it if they want or NOT. The same as other blogs criticizing certain tv shows/movies that have themes that they don’t like. It doesn’t normalise bullying authors or readers and if anyone takes that from this post is stupid and is thinking way too hard. It’s a post about how the arguments defending this book are flimsy and contradictory. We live in a society where an intelligent and funny author/blogger’s opinion matters and if she was actually advocating for attacking anyone I’d be disgusted and mad at her for taking advantage of her fanbase to promote bullying. I don’t think anyone is saying that she’s not allowed to criticize the book. It really is just a blog post criticizing a book she doesn’t like and some people like to read those kinds of posts. Why ruin it for those people who enjoy the post, what harm does it cause you.

      December 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        This is perfection. 🙂

        January 25, 2020
        |Reply
  24. Sarah
    Sarah

    I actually started reading Off balance not too long ago, as I am a sucker for student/teacher romance, acknowledging that they often rely on power imbalances and, in real life, they’re far more exploitative than romantic. Not even going to try defending that, it’s just something that I enjoy in fiction.

    I cringed when her age came up. My next thought was – maybe it’s a slow burn? I was prepared to wait through years in book time until she was legal before anything sexual happened, even though that itself was a bit too close to grooming for my comfort.

    But no, there is no waiting. They have multiple sexual encounters while she’s fifteen. It would be different if this was framed as a taboo read, or like others have said, as a critique on an industry that allows coaches and others in positions of power to sexually or psychologically exploit children in their care, but I can confirm that it is 100% framed as a romance every step of the way. A forbidden romance, sure, but romance nonetheless.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • Kylie Glessing
      Kylie Glessing

      Yeah, I think a slow burn would have been a good way to handle this. Like, they meet each other when she’s 16 or 17, but he acts like a decent human being and doesn’t do anything gross, helps her achieve her dreams, then later when she’s older, maybe coaching or something, and has dated other people but keeps thinking of him, and she is an actual adult who is able to consent, they are brought together again and KAPOW…all that build-up could have made for a pretty great story. I don’t understand the author’s choice to make the girl 15. I mean, I get gymnasts have a limited window for a career, but there are so many other, better ways this story could have gone. Having her as an 18 year old to begin with would have worked too, even if the gymnastics part had to be altered a bit. There are just so many other ways this could have been done and been a really solid read.

      December 13, 2019
      |Reply
      • Kylie Glessing
        Kylie Glessing

        Ha, just looked up a bit more on gymnastics, and an 18-year-old headed into the Olympics would have been totally reasonable. There was no reason at all to make Ria 15.

        December 13, 2019
        |Reply
  25. Pre-Successful Indie
    Pre-Successful Indie

    I wish it were okay to talk about and critique romance books without people taking it intensely personally. I love diving into “why I like what I like”, but that seems to be Not Done. It’s disappointing. There are a lot of discussions to be had about how people deal with trauma in different ways, for one thing. But nope.

    I’m so far against this book’s concept that you can see my eyeroll from space. And I applaud this post. But the landscape at large is more inclined to say no, it’s just fiction, lalalala I can’t hear you, nobody can ever have a nuanced discussion, rar rar this affronts my very person, we can never ever ever look at why certain tropes took hold in our culture, god forbid, that might be INTERESTING.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      I agree. I will never ever read this book or series but as a teenager I would have been all over it. I also loved Flowers in the Attic as a teen. When I was 15 I had a huge crush on my history teacher and, had he chosen to, he could have groomed the hell out of me. That idea terrifies me now as an adult who has friends with teenage daughters.

      But there could be a very interesting discussion to come from this, about why some people do find this “hot” and “sexy”. What makes it so? But as soon as they say anything, those who don’t think it will attack. And as soon as people who find it disgusting or acknowledge that IRL it is rape, say anything the other side will attack. Very few of us are willing to have an actual discussion.

      Why, when I was a teen would I have been all over this book like it was a hot fudge sundae but as an adult I find it disturbing. I have always been fascinated by the darker side of humanity, as in, how does it come about. And can we truly separate fact from fiction? I know a lot of the support for these books is “it’s just fiction” but technically, so is history. History is written by the winners. So is news. News is written by people with a bias to tell a certain story. And fiction, be it book, film, music, has a way of slowly creeping into our collective psyche and changing us as a society.

      Now, I don’t think that reading this book will make someone go “oh, hey, I read in that book where an old guy like me totally banged some 15 year old. I’m going to go get a job at a school so I can get a position of power and act out that hot moment” but I can see a teenage girl with a crush on her teacher reading this and thinking that his grooming of her is okay because it so many people were defending the relationship in the book. I can even see an adult using the book to tell the teenage girl “see, this is perfectly normal, it’s romantic.”

      It shouldn’t be banned, but it shouldn’t be called romance when one of the two people involved isn’t truly able to consent.

      But most importantly, the people who criticize the book should NOT be harassed or bullied or put at risk for voicing an opinion!!!!!!

      December 9, 2019
      |Reply
  26. Erin
    Erin

    I came across several tweets in the past few days where people were discussing this, but no one would out the author or title. Not that I was going to go look at it because I have a twelve year old daughter and I would personally castrate any man who would try this shit with her. Key point, it all felt kinda vague to me at the time. Thank you for being one who named the author so I know to avoid her no matter what she writes. Also, thank you for being someone who puts her voice and platform to good use and calling out ridiculous, scary nonsense.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
  27. So eloquent. Thank you for saying what needs to be said. The women defending this book are obviously so entrenched in the patriarchal culture they’ve been brought up in, they can’t see the forest for the trees. Attitudes like theirs are why child sex victims and rape victims still don’t always get the outcomes they deserve.

    December 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ash
      Ash

      I can’t believe the shit they’re spewing, especially the “well its not for kids, its for adults!”

      Yeah, because adults romanticizing child rape to the point where they find it some beautiful, emotional romance is totally healthy.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
      • Laurie
        Laurie

        And we can’t believe the judgmental hate you’re all spewing. We’re not talking about prepubescent children here. You can have your opinion and we can have ours you don’t have to read it or like it. Just because we enjoy something in our FICTION doesn’t correlate to how we view the same subject when it comes to the real world.

        December 8, 2019
        |Reply
        • Soulo
          Soulo

          First of all, you came into a space where we will defend no such thing. That’s YOUR problem that you came to this space. We are not talking prepubescent, but the character is still a MINOR.

          December 8, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ash
            Ash

            Defenders of sex crimes against teens are always quick to point out that the victim has already gone through puberty. Its no coincidence fans of Balance will whip out rje same argument.

            December 8, 2019
          • Due to delayed puberty in competitive gymnasts being A Thing, actually it’s quite possible that the character IS still pre-puberty.

            December 8, 2019
        • Ash
          Ash

          Yep, I am absolutely judging you for finding this disgusting shit as hot and romantic. Of course it doesn’t correlate to how you behave in the real world, you’re too old for those predators so you can sit there and think its just the hottest thing ever.

          December 8, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jules
            Jules

            It makes me wonder if parents of 15 year old girls think this is romantic. I can see someone who doesn’t have interaction with teens, who doesn’t have a teenage girl in their lives that they love or care about thinking this is hot. I find it…difficult to understand how someone who does know a teenage girl would be able to look at this, look at their teenager and think it’s okay.

            December 9, 2019
  28. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    I think I could at least respect the defenders if they were willing to be upfront. They like to diminish the harm by calling it “age-gap romance”, and “taboo romance”, and “dark romance”.

    It is ephebophilia-romance. If the supporters of the book acknowledged that, then everyone would have common ground to start a meaningful and respectful discussion.

    But since the supporters refuse to call it ephebophilia-romance… Then it’s impossible to just go “let’s agree to disagree”.

    I won’t go into their mentions and try to debate them. They can have their space to write, read, recommend, defend, and support ephebophilia-romance. I refuse to allow them to do that in my space.

    December 8, 2019
    |Reply
  29. Soulo
    Soulo

    I am a sexual assault victim. I say victim instead of survivor because “survivor” is a word used by those who haven’t been through what I’ve gone through. It’s make them more comfortable to see me as a survivor than to see my pain as victim.

    I was assaulted by my ex-boyfriend. But, prior to this, I would read problematic books as a young girl, thinking that shit was romance. Because of that, it took me months to realize and accept that I was assaulted. I couldn’t fathom why I felt so violated all that time. He couldn’t have possibly done that. He loves me. All this crap.

    Books like these? They hold weight for young girls and boys. They can seriously be swayed to believe that this is okay. Like I was led to believe that what happened to me couldn’t possibly be rape. STOP ROMANTICIZING THIS BULLSHIT AND SHOVING THIS TRASH DOWN THE THROATS OF CHILDREN.

    December 8, 2019
    |Reply
  30. Sovosi
    Sovosi

    I wonder how Franco would react if I sued her for plagiarism. Because I wrote a fic back in 2015 titled Off-balance, where the young female character was a gymnast and there was an older male character who, in the canon, is cca 30 to her 15 and in a position of power over her. Except this was an AU where they were both kids about three years apart, nothing sexual nor romantic was even hinted at and it was more of a gen-feel-good-fluff fic with the female character being a gymnast was a random choice on my part.

    December 8, 2019
    |Reply
  31. Terrie
    Terrie

    I guess I’m somewhere in the middle on this. I feel like writing a book about this topic right after the Nassar case shows extremely poor judgement on the author’s part. I find the topic repulsive and I have to give the side-eye to the author and the fans. There’s zero doubt that it violates Amazon’s ToS.

    And yet….

    I find the collapse of all sexually predatory behavior towards minors into a single term of “pedophilia” does nothing but muddy the waters. While I certainly would be taken aback by someone admitting that they wrote/read this kind of material, and support anyone who says “I wouldn’t trust them because of it,” the truth is, that we’re not mind readers, and unless someone outright says “I like it because it’s about child rape” we don’t know what it is about this story that appeals to them.

    Additionally, unlike 50 Shades, which was many people’s sole exposure to BDSM, the issue of statutory rape and teachers/coaches/etc exploiting students is as far away as the newspaper of the evening news. That makes these books merely one message among many. To say books like this are why such things happen is a gross oversimplification. Young people’s vulnerability to predators rarely hinges on a single factor, and where it does, it’s much more central to their lives than a book.

    I support the book being pulled. It violates Amazon’s ToS. End of story. I support people being disgusted by the book. It’s in poor taste. It’s not the first book that’s made me go “What the hell were they thinking?” and I doubt it will be the last. I don’t support turning it into an issue of personal morality.

    December 8, 2019
    |Reply
  32. Ash
    Ash

    When people talk about fiction not having any real effect on society, they’re being willfully ignorant. Just look at the era where Woody Allen was thriving – his films were about very young women finding the right kind of love, not in young men but in the older, more experienced mature man. This was an extremely common trope in fiction and our society mirrored that. Just talk to any woman who came of age in the 60s or 70s. It was commonplace for teen girls to hook up with men 30 and up.

    Another example is still commonplace, luckily it seems to be on the way out, but the idea of teen boys and mature women or MILFs. Look at Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher and see society’s response to Vili Falou’s rape at the hands of Mary Kay. Men thought it was hot and women thought it was a beautiful, forbidden love story full of emotion.

    You may not realize how you internalized all the little bits of what you intake every day, but it should be telling when you have a mirror held up to your mindset and you respond by completely ignoring the mirror and instead spewing defenses, genuinely hurt that someone wouldn’t except the foul nature of what you choose to consume.

    December 8, 2019
    |Reply
  33. Rachel Robbins
    Rachel Robbins

    Was anyone else squicked by Jacob Black and Renesmee in the Twilight series for the same reason? The rationalization for grooming and eventual pairing: Well, “no one can resist that kind of love and devotion.” Also, Renesmee may only be about four at the end of the story, but she’s this hybrid which means she looks/acts like she’s 18 and ripe for werewolf plucking. So that makes it romantic and acceptable, amirite? How many molesters have pulled the “Well, she’s really mature for her age” card? I don’t think the Twilight series shouldn’t’ve been published (for the most part Twi-Saga was endlessly and unintentionally hilarious), but that particular relationship should have been talked about / examined far more than it was, esp once the movie came out.

    December 8, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jo
      Jo

      OMG, yes!! That was the point where I almost threw the book across the room!

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ash
      Ash

      Yes, and one of the other werewolves imprinted on a young girl as well, a young girl he then spent every possible moment with, claiming it to be a “big brother” relationship when it was really keeping a girl isolated from developing relationships with her peers, thus assuring she would have no option but this adult who has been grooming her for years and years to love him and only him.

      It becomes even more skeevy when you factor in the Mormonism of the author and the trend towards very young brides of older men in some sects.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
    • Soulo
      Soulo

      Yeah, I thought the same thing, and the movie just made it even weirder. In my head, I was just like, “Just because you unrealistically speed up her aging process in a matter of 7 years, doesn’t mean she’s not 7 years old.” The idea that a guy (Jacob) would be ready and waiting for a girl to be biologically ready for only 7 years is creepy. That basically means he has those 7 years to groom her so that she’ll be with him. I forgave the sparkly vampires. I only *half* forgave Bella’s unhealthy portrayal of love towards Edward (which was pretty much obsession, let’s be honest). But this thing with Jacob and Renesmee. Nah, son.

      December 8, 2019
      |Reply
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      And let’s not forget that Bella is ~17 and Edward 108. But he looks 17, so I guess it’s alright then…

      December 9, 2019
      |Reply
  34. Liz
    Liz

    I can’t believe people are actually caping for erotica with “children or animals” (as one Tweet said). Dark romance readers and authors are the whiniest entitled crybabies out there. Sure, enjoy your nasty rape fantasy books, but don’t cry about freedom of speech when your rape fantasy books get removed from online retailers, and don’t try to tell me your rape fantasy stories are actually romantic and not rapey at all.

    December 9, 2019
    |Reply
  35. Seriously. Bronte’s and Mitchell’s points were NOT “OMG these dudes are sooooo hot, everyone woman should want one of their own, let’s fap!” Their points were that these kinds of abusive dickheads not only destroy women, but entire societies. JFC.

    December 9, 2019
    |Reply
  36. Katie
    Katie

    Has the author said anything or is it just her fans attacking people who criticize the series? I really couldn’t find a statement from Franco about it, but granted I didn’t search for longer than a few minutes.
    Either way, why the fuck are her fans up in arms over criticism? Enough so they’ll give names and addresses of critics?

    December 9, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      yeah, that is straight up disturbing. Love the book, hate the book, you do you, but this trend of doxing people for stating an opposing opinion about a book is just disgusting. The normal, adult response would be “okay, I think you’re an idiot, but I’m going to get on with my life because it’s just a bloody book! And not even one I wrote and am profiting from!” I can almost (still in a “you’re insane” way but at least a slightly more understandable “you’re insane” way) see the author being super upset about criticism, it’s her “baby” an all that, but as a fan of a book/series/whatever, if I see someone bash it, I silently mock them for being stupid and not getting the genius of the work and just ignore then from then on. I don’t hunt them down and threaten them or tell other people to threaten them and release all their personal info. That’s disgusting and incredibly mentally disturbed.

      December 9, 2019
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      • Katie
        Katie

        It’s bananas. I understand when an author is upset, but not when an author verbally attacks critics. I do not get when fans turn feral. It’s one thing to be mock angry or passionate in explaining to critics why you love it, but this kind of thing is next level.

        December 9, 2019
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        • Jules
          Jules

          Feral is the perfect description! It is the strangest phenomenon to me.

          A good author might get upset but would also look at those critics as a tool. So, this number of people didn’t like this story because they think it glorifies child rape. Maybe next time I should put some kind of disclaimer that I do not condone child rape but that this is a non-real world fantasy. Or maybe the author will read that and just shrug it off. It is only the painfully insecure who flip out and attack anyone who says something negative. That and those special little snowflakes who grew up thinking that they shit rainbows and every thought that pops into their heads is a priceless gem meant to be shared with the world. I miss the good old days when kids had to earn a trophy, work hard for good grades and were told that failure is okay, just pick yourself up and try again.

          December 9, 2019
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  37. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    I hate the phrase “it’s just fiction!” because words DO mean things and fiction has had a big effect on the world, both for good and bad. For example, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead have influenced the politics of the American right.

    December 9, 2019
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    • Ash
      Ash

      Ayn Rand is a perfect example. The amount of influence those books have had can’t be overstated.

      December 10, 2019
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  38. Delta Juliet
    Delta Juliet

    So, a friend of mines now-EX fiancé recently got out of jail for this exact thing. Gymnastics coach and a 13 year old girl. Who the F thinks this is “hot”??

    December 10, 2019
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    • Soulo
      Soulo

      When I was a freshman in high school, one of the gym coaches kind of faded away from the school. I found out it was because he had been engaged in inappropriate contact with a female student. I’m not sure if there was actually intercourse involved, but he had been sending nudes. He lost his wife (and probably his kids), and rightfully so.

      December 10, 2019
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  39. Perlite
    Perlite

    Reading some of the five-star reviews and uuugh, the one with the mom who gaslights her underaged daughter just in case she has a “Kova” in her life, while also ignoring her to read this dreck (She’s the one that wrote the “call the fire department” comment). Please, someone, keep her daughter away from her.

    How does anyone find a story about a man repeatedly raping a minor and basically flaunting the fact that no one will believe her and that he holds her career in his hands ROMANTIC? FSoG really messing with people’s perceptions of what a “perfect dom” is (Hint: not a rapist or abuser)

    December 10, 2019
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  40. Wtf
    Wtf

    I’m really peeved by the fact that the male Russian trainer’s last name is Kournakova. It shouldn’t end with an A! Men’s last names in Russia don’t end with an ova, they end with OV. Did the author just heard of Anna Kournikova (tennis player) and decided to change the wrong letter in her last name?

    Oh, and also all the kid fucking is gross.

    December 11, 2019
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  41. emmers
    emmers

    I used to read CM Stunich before she did this in the book ‘I was Born Ruined’. No content warning or anything, just a 15/16 yr old being raped by several 30 yr olds. I left a review and reported, but I guess the 215 positive reviews outweighed the 4 who had concerns…

    The blurb calls it a ‘new adult romance’ which I find especially gross.

    December 12, 2019
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  42. […] [TRIGGER WARNING FOR: discussion of child abuse, statutory rape, transphobia, racism] some of the current issues in the writing world (which I now feel compelled to keep up to date with), I discovered the […]

    December 30, 2019
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  43. Larki Lark
    Larki Lark

    I don’t really have an objection to any of this blog… I just want to point out that not all child sexual abuse is necessarily pedophilia. Hebephilia and ephebophilia are also things. Also, just because someone is a minor(or not yet an adult) does not necessarily mean that person is still a child either, as adolescence or youth is also a thing and relatively separate from either childhood or adulthood.

    Okay, I [unintentionally ]lied – I do have ONE objection, my only objection is that the vivid intolerance for certain kinds of sick B.S. is causing a generalization of Franco defenders here… Unless it actually was the SAME PERSON first using one defense and then turning around and also using another but totally contradictory defense, yes different people absolutely can have totally different standpoints about why – in their opinion – a particular book’s content is or isn’t defensible; it doesn’t matter if some people’s defenses are totally contradictory to other people’s defenses, you shouldn’t assume they actually all agree that both defenses are actual defenses for this book’s content. Just because they’re all still equally wrong as each other doesn’t make generalizing them as if they’re all one massive but singular person okay.

    That being said, I haven’t actually read this book myself(and I don’t think I would even want to read it at all), but I do agree that criticism of someone’s written work is definitely not the same thing as tearing someone down either as an individual or as a person and I do agree that this particular written work does not at all seem like it is or would be a good or titillating romance to me either. I think it is actually possible to write an “important” or “complex” book or story about a questionable or taboo topic that delves into or reflects upon the topic in question without that book or story explicitly condemning or condoning it; you can also delve into or reflect on a topic completely and totally apart from whether you personally agree or disagree with it, and you can write about characters who do or don’t regardless of one’s own personal standpoints on the issue(s) as well. However, I don’t know that this particular book actually does any of that, from the sounds of things it certainly does not[ but then again personally I do only have this blog’s word and opinion(s) to base that observation on myself so how could I really know for sure or for certain either way].

    March 23, 2020
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  44. Abby
    Abby

    Agree!! So agree. Also the concept that pain during sex was “ hot” that being torn was good that being so sore after etc was just too creepy. Couldn’t finish the book. It was too rapey, just so very rapey.

    June 15, 2020
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  45. Just noting that apparently the last book in the series, Dismount, has a cover reveal and a release date of July 17 announced and lots of book bloggers are talking about it so wheeee here we go again.

    Tweeted a link to this post.

    June 29, 2020
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