Not Happy Ever After

I don’t often read romances, but I will in a book emergency, such as if I need something simple to read while waiting, if I’m not feeling well enough to focus on a more complicated book, or if I know I’ll be frequently interrupted. But I might be rethinking this policy and go back to my “no romance” stance of previous years. I just finished reading a particularly silly romance, where the woman owns a major hotel chain, is super rich, contented with her life, has good friends and a beloved godchild or two. What she doesn’t have is a man, though she’s not the one who feels the lack — it’s her friends who think she needs more in her life.

It turns out there is a man in her life — an employee who’s been in love with her for years. Frustrated that she doesn’t even know he’s alive (except as a valuable part of the organization), he gives his notice, then starts treating her badly. He doesn’t tell her what’s going on but expects her to intuit it. Knows she’s naïve when it comes to relationships (because when would she ever have had time for a relationship?) yet doesn’t make allowances for her naivete and expects her to be as knowledgeable as he is. He introduces her to his family, and when she gives an expensive gift to his sister who is getting married, he throws it at her and yells that his family is not for sale. He grabs her for a kiss and then pushes her away. All this is typical “grooming” behavior for a predator who wants to control another person.

By the end of the book, they are married and living in his house, he is running her company, and she is reduced to working part time. This is supposed to be a good thing because it allows her to do the things other wives “love” to do, like cook and clean and play around with hobbies. Yeah, right.

Since most of what I read are mysteries or thrillers (with a sprinkling of horror and science fiction), all I can think of is that this is the prelude to the real story, where he continues to distance her from her friends and ultimately “disappears” her.

In fact, Jeff once taped a movie for us that was similar to this extended story. The first half of the movie was all sweetness and light. The lonely young woman found someone who loved her and treated her well (unlike the fellow in the above book). She happily married him, moved to his gorgeous home in another state, and . . .

That’s where Jeff ended the movie. He cut out the part where the loving husband terrorized her before trying to kill her and so what was left was a nice, sweet short film of a misfit girl who finds her perfect fit.

Perhaps, in the end, that’s what this romance writer did — cut out the real story, got rid of the violence and terror, and left us with a short romance that was anything but sweet, and definitely not happy ever after!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

5 Responses to “Not Happy Ever After”

  1. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    I’m with you when it comes to romances. Too often they’re either soppy sweet and unrealistic, or they’re bodice-rippingly erotic, neither of which I find entertaining. Many Christian romances are just as bad, altho’ thankfully they lack the latter. I’ve been told the plot’s simplicity and ‘quick read’ are a desirable escape for readers and maybe that’s true for some, but I tend to think intelligent readers see them as more of an insult.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Definitely an insult. But as you say, many people like the simplicity. And the eroticism. (That’s what fueled sales of ebooks in the beginning — the “soft porn” for women who didn’t want anyone to know what they were reading.)

      Some teenage boys and young men read romances to learn what girls and young women want — no wonder the world is in such a mess!


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