I've considered going in a few different directions with this category, as I'm pulled numerous ways. On the one hand, I think of contemporary romance's predecessors; the "bodice rippers" that featured heroines who had no right to be desirous of another and therefore had to be forcibly taken. Am I the only one who thinks of Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" when they think of these? Rape in which the hero is the rapist is blasphemous. Rape in which the heroine is attacked by another is depressing. Readers tend to shy away from both these days. Tread carefully.
After you're done gagging, consider this: there are some writers who are interested in this. An October 2011 thread on Nanowrimo had an author posing the question of whether anyone had ventured into this realm with success. Specifically, the would-be author wanted to do a brother/sister romance. You can imagine the response. The thread has since been deleted. While I don't think I should have to explicitly state this; I will nonetheless. Do NOT write an incestuous romance. Readers don't even want to consider it. The end.
When I read a novel, I fall in love with the hero. I am the heroine. Er go, I don't want my hero knocking the make up off of my heroine's face. I don't want him getting angry enough to shake her, shove her, intimidate her with the threat of violence, or any way behave as if he might do so after the story ends. If he does, I will not pull for said romance. Instead, I will pull for a bigger man to show up and scrub the concrete with his face or some variation thereof. So, let's leave the abusers out of romance, O.K.?
As I've mentioned, the hero of any novel belongs to me for a spell. Part of this unspoken agreement requires him to be able to perform sexually without incident. He should not have erectile dysfunction. Better still, I don't want anyone to have any sort of sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted disease, or anything at all that might make me squeamish. In fact, this blog post is starting to make me squeamish.
In creating this series on The Unspoken Rules of Romance, it was my hope to gather some of the most prevalent taboos or reader expectations and offer them in one place. Some of the taboos I've presented are able to be violated, provided writers do so with foreknowledge of what they're up against and an understanding of why they're up against it. I won't go into which ones fit this category, however, suffice it to say that domestic abuse and incest won't make it.
I do hope you've enjoyed the series.
Missed Part of the Series?