What makes a “dubious consent” story?

Hello, friends!

I have a question for the collective: What makes a dubious-consent/or non-consent story?

I ask because there have been a recent wave of reviews of Blade’s Edge claiming it has non-consensual or dubious-consensual sex scenes in that the heroine and the villainess are chemically altered during the act.

I had thought it was perfectly clear in both cases that the females had already made the decision to have the encounters before imbibing. If I did not, I’d be quite happy to go back and add it. In block caps. In bold. 🙂

There was also a review claiming that the main character only decided to make the relationship permanent while sedated, which also is not chronologically correct in terms of the plot.

Also puzzling, the first of these reviews appeared after the book had been in print for at least a decade. Why is the book being read this way now, as opposed to, say, five years ago during the height of the Me, Too movement?

I’ve always felt that, once a book is released into the wild, it has to stand or fall on its own merits. Reviews are opinions, and nobody’s opinion is wrong—although it could be based on misinformation or misinterpretation, it’s still their opinion.

However, right now I’m sorely tempted to respond to these reviews asking how the readers came to their conclusions. I know that’s an extremely bad idea, so I’m asking here instead. Did they miss the decision points? Was I being too subtle? Is this a delayed change in the general zeitgeist?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


5 comments so far

  1. Ken McConnell on

    I suppose it’s more important that you are being read at all, than how people are only now interpreting your writing. Sounds to me like the PC police are being obnoxious. I certainly wasn’t offended by anything in that book, but then I wasn’t the intended audience either. 😉

  2. Lieselotte on

    The atmosphere is currently a bit feverish. I think that the reading depends on our mood. We pay attention to many things right now that we did not, before.

    I know that I cannot read certain books at certain times in my life, as they irritate/upset/ bore me. I do not make that about the book, though. And even if I did, I would not immediately punish for it. Especially for an older title, our views evolve a lot, around consent & sex, right now. I am not sure that I would get any sex, in real life, based on current expectations: being constantly asked, at each step, and constantly asking, at each step, would ruin my mood and make me say “no”, just because I got fed up. So, I may be the wrong person to ask.

    I do not remember your book in such a way. I did not read it recently, though.

    I remember warriors clashing, and a lot of trickery & conflict based on the idea of women being warriors- so my sensibility reading the plot including the sex scenes would be different than in a book about schoolroom first love, also when it comes to having sex.

    Sorry, that is all I can contribute, no fresh rereading right now.

  3. Lieselotte on

    Oh, and do not reply.
    That cannot go well!!

  4. Rachael on

    I was recently (this weekend) introduced to your books. They came up on the Amazon suggested reading as I was browsing. I downloaded samples and ended up buying 3. For the record, I overall very much enjoyed all 3 and really appreciated the technical background you bring to your writing.

    I saw this post on one of the book’s pages and clicked and it brought me here. So I thought I’d engage in a forum that isn’t a review, to maybe give some perspective on your question.

    In all 3 books that I read, each one had a couple (or 2) engaging in sex for the first time with one or both of the characters under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 3 books, 4 couples. I’m all for liquid courage but this is obviously a theme. Also 2 of the books talked about getting a female character pregnant as a means of keeping her aka locking her down. Granted, it never went anywhere, neither character got pregnant, but perpetuating that kind of thinking is a problem. Trying to trap someone with a child is not a good narrative to push.

    Now, as far as coercing someone to have sex while under the influence, to me that only happened with Talyn with the smoke. That scene made me uncomfortable. With the other 3, it was more hey we’re drunk and we know it let’s get frisky. It is strange though that those 3 couples all had at least 1 of them buzzed. That’s obviously a thing for you.

    Amazon has the books as being published 2 years ago, you’re quoting 10 years, I don’t know which is accurate but with the increased awareness of sexual exploitation thanks to the exposure of Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nasser and the exposure of how lightly rapists are punished like Brock Turner, its not that surprising that your books are catching some flack for perpetuating these themes.

    I do think that reviewers didn’t catch in Blades Edge that Taryn knew about her friend trying to get her drunk and encouraging sex before she imbibed, but they definitely have a point about the pregnancy thing since that was never explicitly discussed with Taryn.

    And you claiming that #metoo peak was 5 years ago is completely wrong, it only started in 2017, 3 years ago, with the NYT article with Jolie and Paltrow and Rowan Farrow’s expose on Weinstein. So you’re two years off. That doesn’t really help your woe is me perspective.

    Personally I think that you engaging with folks can only be to your benefit.

    Hope that helps and gives some perspective.

    • ValRoberts on

      Interesting, thank you for responding. This book was originally published by Samhain Publishing in 2009. The publisher went out of business shortly after I received my rights back.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: