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It doesn’t surprise me, either. I don’t understand the appeal, but I don’t have to. I don’t understand a lot of things. In fact, it’s rather self-centered to think I am so important that I need to understand what makes other people happy. Simply put, I wouldn’t jump out of a perfectly good airplane, either, but I know people love it. If I can accept that, then I can accept people liking stories with forced seduction or power imbalances.
I do think the mainstream publishers of romance are probably going to keep playing it “safe” given the climate of outrage we have right now. The thing is, fiction (non-romance) gets a by on this stuff for the most part. Awful people do awful things and we can read all about it in any number of depressing fiction novels these days. I understand that the “bad actors” are usually not there to be redeemed, and are labeled as “bad.” It seems as long as you keep the ending depressing and the person/people un-redeemed, you can have them do anything. If you try a story with a happy ending, then you have a problem if your protagonist has done something somebody feels is beyond redemption.
It’s true I wouldn’t read some redemption stories because of personal triggers.