Creepy Covers Part 2: Satan's Stepback

Ok, so I bought Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and to Hold on Ebay, because it’s out of print.  I just got it today in the mail. I know it’s controversial. I know it contains one or more scenes of forced seduction or rape, depending on your viewpoint. But heck, the cover seemed so innocent!

And then I opened it and saw THIS:

I felt sick. There’s no way to interpret this picture benignly, unless perhaps she’s in the middle of some kind of seizure and he’s holding her for her own protection. Maybe she is really enjoying it, but she had a “brainstorm” and can’t lift the edges of her mouth?  Maybe it’s modesty that’s leading her to punch him rather than cling to him? Maybe he has halitosis, and she has to turn her head away or faint from the odor? And how can anything really bad be happening with all those lovely English flowers around?

It’s no use. Can I really do this? Will NOW rescind my membership? How many scalding showers with my Betty Friedan commemorative loofah am I going to have to take? Wait… is it my imagination or is my Rosie the Riveter poster is actually curling off my wall in protest? Does it matter that I spent most of my workday reading this:

Ok, so why am I reading this? Well, Janine from Dear Author suggested I read it in a comment on my post on the Top 9 Romantic Love Scenes in Romance here. It’s ranked #34 in the latest All About Romance Top 100 Romances poll. It’s also listed on the sidebar as a favorite at many romance bloggers’ sites, and even Rosario loves it.

So I guess, if only in the interest of “research”, I’ll persist. Look for the review later this week.

9 responses

  1. I can’t wait to read your review. I didn’t read the book , frankly never heard of it before reading Janine’s comment. The picture makes me sick. I admire your courage. ; )

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  2. I’ve read this one and it’s certainly controversial. And while I can say I understand why a lot of readers hate it, I enjoyed it. I think it’s because both the hero and heroine were different people at the end.
    But that instep cover – that is pretty horrid isn’t it? I’ll be looking to see what you think of it too.
    And if you do happen to need your pallet clean for this author after reading this one – Wild at Heart, which is my favourite Patricia Gaffney book is at the other end of the spectrum – hero wise. It’s a very tender, heartwarming book.

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  3. I have to admit I’m one of those who loves the forced seduction and I’ve never read a Gaffney (I don’t think, but I have the attention span of a gnat) and I’ll read things that are causing an uproar.

    On the other hand, Anna Campbell’s book (Title?) caused an uproar and I didn’t think it was anything to write home again.

    And didn’t a Christina Dodd book (Title?) cause an uproar? So I went and got it and was yawning about 25 pages in, so I never got to the controversial spot.

    On the cover, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it if you hadn’t drawn the parallels, and still all I’m seeing is her dislocated shoulder, but hey, at least it’s on the INSIDE!!!

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  4. It is interesting — I never interpreted the picture itself as a scene of forced seduction or rape. I think that’s because the love scene that takes place in the garden (there is one in the book) is consensual.

    Anyway, I adore this book, but it is very hard to read in some places, and I think that’s as it should be. I am very interested to see what you think of it, and if you do read it, I encourage you to read through to the end, because there are big character transformations in this book. As Kristie says, the hero and heroine are different people at the end than the ones we meet in the beginning.

    IMO, it is hard to beat this book for sheer writing beauty and for powerful emotions, but Wild at Heart, which Kristie recommends, is my second favorite Gaffney, and a lovely book without any controversial aspects at all.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts…

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  5. Agreeing with Mojo…would have never thought anything of it since all I’m seeing is a painfully anatomical inappropriate arm. But then I did spend time today looking at a painting of an angel with two left hands – I’m noticing a pattern here…

    Can’t wait to read your review.

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  6. Janine — I’m about halfway through and I am VERY impressed with the writing and compelling storytelling. but, yeah, some real problems otherwise. Review to follow!

    Moriah — how could I not have noticed the dislocated shoulder!

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  7. I just wanted to pipe in and say that this is one of my favourite romances. The cover is… all sorts of wrong, and I’m glad you have a feminist loofah available in these testing times, but – it’s a brilliant, provocative, intense, emotionally satisfying read. (Did I mention that I love it?)

    It’s a terrible loss to the romance community that Gaffney went off to write ‘women’s fiction’ (I hate that term).

    Like Janine, I’m also a fan of Wild at Heart (I would recommend it to romance skeptics; it’s lovely), and even some of her really controversial stuff, like Lily, which has the biggest asshole hero you will ever encounter between the covers of a romance. Guaranteed.

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  8. Thanks Meriam, and welcome!

    I know this one has loads of fans, and I can see why. I can’t tell you yet how I feel about this one (not finished yet), but I can say I will definitely read another Gaffney.

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  9. Pingback: Review: To Have and to Hold, Patricia Gaffney « Racy Romance Reviews

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