the ask@AAR: What are the most polarizing romances?

OK, I hate to trash another site but I found Book Riot’s article on 8 of the Most Polarizing Romance Novels Ever Written to be, um, a joke. Ravishing the Heiress? The Hating Game? The Heart Principle? The Love Hypothesis?

I don’t think so.

Perhaps the writer is young-ish or new to romance or unaware of the romances that, over the decades, have continued to create intense debate. None of the books on her list are more than ten years old so there’s that.

AAR, however, have been analyzing romance novels for over almost three decades so our perspective has a bit more breadth.

If I, personally, were to list the eight (why is it not capitalized in the title?) most polarizing romances, my list would include:

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Readers have been appalled, or not, by Daphne’s forced seduction of drunk Simon ever since the novel was published in 2000.

This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. This too has a scene some/many feel is rape. Molly definitely doesn’t get Kevin’s consent before sliding in his bed. Bring it up and I promise you, you’ll find two camps who refuse to see the story the way the other side does.

Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey. She forces him, he forces her, then he orders her around and she falls in love. This premise makes many furious. And yet, it has a 4.5 rating at Amazon from thousands of readers and is a DIK here.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston. Is it a romance if the heroine’s most joyful moment is punching her ex in the face? Many readers loathe this book and yet it was on many a Best of 2022 list.

Verity by Colleen Hoover. The woman has sold well over twenty million books. You either love her and have read everything she’s ever written or, like me, you read one and wished you hadn’t.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center. There are some who feel a school shooting isn’t the best plot point in a romance (waves hand) and others who find making it something love helps you past palatable. (This same discussion happens about Roni Loren’s series The Ones Who Got Away.)

Fifty Shades of Grey.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. We gave it a DIK. I thought it was horrific–and I’m not the only one. The hero–to say it mildly–has anger issues and the lifestyles of the leads are bad news. And yet, it has a 4.4 rating from almost 25K Amazon readers.

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. Would you want a guy who beats you with a riding crop and rapes you? The answer, if you’re the eponymous Whitney, the answer is YES! It has, however, many a fan for whom, like many of the bodice rippers of old–Sweet, Savage Love anyone?–was an entry into a world of desire and exciting romance.

I could go on and on but I’d rather hear from you! What do you think are the most polarizing romances? And why?

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