After finishing Doris Lessing's The Grass is Singing, I felt somewhat caught up in the dark mood of the book, and decided to read something more lighthearted next. Catherine Coulter's Lord of Hawkfell Island was the result of this decision.
This is one of those books I've had on my shelf for years, intending to read it but never quite getting to it. As a result, I no longer read this type of book — "this type" being romance.
(Note: The spine of my copy actually proclaims it a novel, but don't be fooled. This is a "smut book," as we used to call them when I was in high school. It just happens to have a good plot and a bestselling author's name on the cover.)
Lord of Hawkfell Island is definitely a fun, easy read, which is what I wanted. It is also suspenseful, as I seem to remember Coulter's books usually are. However, in reading my first "smut novel" in many years, I realized I'm not as entertained as these as I used to be. For one thing, my feminist sensibilities are more highly developed than they used to be — all the tying the women up, protecting them, etc., doesn't appeal to me, even in the slightest. (In fact, I can't imagine it ever having appealed to me!) The constant fighting between the hero and the heroine — pretty much a given in any romance novel — also fails to entertain. It makes me think of all the bad relationships I had when I was younger, all the fights and passionate make-up scenes. Hmmm, I wonder where I got the idea that that was normal, even expected...
Feminism aside, I think my tastes in literature have simply matured beyond the vapid, formula stories that romance novels provide. (I mean, really, how many romance novels feature a captive woman and her handsome captor falling in love? At least a third of them, I'm sure.) In college and in the years since graduation, I've read plenty of really good literature, and I've developed a taste for nonfiction as well. And while I'm not saying I'll never read another romance novel again, I doubt I'll be tempted very often.