Let’s get two things straight:
1. I firmly believe that anyone can say anything they want about my books or anyone else’s. Whether it’s based on looking at the cover or actually reading the book, whether it’s true or false or hateful or offensive, I feel like once it’s published, it’s open season and not my business. I don’t condone shaming, attacking, or admonishing reviewers or bloggers IN ANY WAY.
2. To that end, I avoid reading reviews unless directly pinged by the reviewer, and I especially avoid reading bad reviews because they straight-up make me feel crappy.
We good? Good.
I recently redid my website (www.whimsydark.com; learn it, live it, love it), and I didn’t have a high-res image of my book Wicked as She Wants, so I did a Google image search. And all of a sudden, I started seeing chunks of reviews and gifs that I didn’t want to see.
And one word kept cropping up again and again:
And I get it. I do. It’s shorthand for “that guy’s face looks faux-serious and mean and weird like he’s going to rape somebody ha ha.” And I get how using the word rape like that can take power away from the word and the act and the perpetrator, that if we can turn it into a joke and laugh at it, we gain dominion over it.
But as a rape victim, I’ve got to say, I don’t like it.
It makes me feel awful.
Y’all know that traditionally published writers don’t have a ton of say in our covers, right? And even if we have *some* say, we’re not picking out the cover models and encouraging them to have pleasant, trusting, harmless smiles. The covers happen, and they may or may not accurately represent what happens in the books or how the author feels about the books. So the covers are the covers, and they are made by someone who is not me.
But the books are written by me, and I want you to know that my books don’t contain rape.
And my sex scenes ESPECIALLY don’t contain rape.
Or even verge on it.
And that’s a promise. My relationships feature strong women and confident, powerful men, and every first sex scene includes some form of consent.
In Wicked as They Come (Blud #1):
"Please," I begged.
"Surrender," he said.
The thumb circled lightly, lazy and maddening. I thought I might explode.
I turned my head and nipped his earlobe, whispering, “Haven’t I already?”
In Wicked as She Wants (Blud #2):
"Go on," I whimpered.
He pressed tighter, almost inside, one finger circling my flesh just above.
"It’s your first time, isn’t it?" He kissed me gently. "We should go slow, make sure you’re—"
With a rugged growl, I rolled over on top of him and settled down, taking all of him and claiming what was mine in a savage thrust.
Because, y’know, she’s a feral vampire version of Princess Anastasia, and she wants the sex.
In Wicked After Midnight (Blud #3):
No telling! It just came out. Go buy it and find out for yourself. But I’ll tell you right now that Demi takes what she damn well wants and Vale’s glad to be along for the ride.
Point is, I go out of my way to make sure that none of my sex scenes could in any way be construed as rape, rapey, or with either character giving nonverbal or verbal cues that what’s happening is not okay. I’m careful to craft scenes in which the characters make their consent clear.
And, yes, there are characters in my books who have been victims of rape. Imogen ofThe Mysterious Madam Morpho has a very tragic past that Henry is determined to help her heal from, and Frannie of The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance had her virginity stolen in a way that she regretted and that destroyed her ability to trust men. Even Jacinda of The Damsel and the Daggerman was the victim of an attempted rape, and she escaped with scars and blood on her hands from fighting off her attacker.
Point is, I don’t find sex scenes that verge on rape sexy. I don’t find heroes who would condone rape attractive. Criminy and Casper are predators and Vale is a thief, but they’re all kickass fighters with a deep sense of honor who would hunt down a rapist and rip out his throat.
Part of why I write these books is for an escape, and part of it is healing. The healing is never done, and if you’re a rape victim, you know this. Certain triggers, certain ways of being touched, certain sights or smells or tastes will take you back to that moment. And so I try to write books for people, like me, who need to know that the heroine is in good hands and will be honored, loved, and pleasured in ways that feel safe.
So I’m not saying that the covers properly depict the dudes as I picture them; I’m just saying that Criminy and Casper would be offended and distraught to know that anyone called them RAPEFACE.
I remember my rapist’s face every day, and that’s not what I see when I look at my books.
I see loving relationships, hot sex, sweeping world building, and grand adventures.
If you take the time to read them, I hope you will, too.