A little while ago, I read a thread in a forum discussing violence in romance. I’m not linking to it here, since it mentioned Eyes specifically, and that discussion isn’t the sole inspiration for this post. Not only that, I’m not rebutting what was said but agreeing with it. I’ve thought about it before, and my ideas on the subject have been cumulative. Other forum threads and reviews and individual emails have mentioned the violence in all my books one way or the other. Eyes probably provokes the most discussion, but then it’s sold more copies than any of the others so more people have read it.
Needless to say, the violence in my books isn’t too much for me, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a point at which violence does become too much for me, and I agree with the person who speculated that age has something to do with it, that as we grow older we become less tolerant of mayhem. It’s certainly true for me.
I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and a while back simply cut out any story that features a serial killer in the way so many do. I don’t care if Kellerman’s Alex Delaware or Connelly’s Harry Bosch is after a serial killer, but I’m not reading those books that feature scenes in the killer’s POV. My tolerance for the good guy coming upon the violence and going after the bad guy is fairly high. My tolerance for being in the head of some pervert who’s busy slicing and dicing victims is non-existent. I don’t care if his mommy was mean to him. I don’t care if he was abused by an army of other perverts. I don’t want to see the world through his eyes. I don’t think I ever enjoyed those kind of scenes, but they didn’t always bother me so much. I used to read quite a few of those types of books. So is the change in attitude age, or is it been there done that and too darn often?
Another forum thread I saw recently talks about boredom with the books that reader usually reads. I have that too, and it’s one of the reasons I can’t stick to romance or for that matter to mystery, thriller or suspense. Surely in that case it is the been there done that syndrome.
We all draw the line on these things in different places, but is it a moving target for each of us? I think it is for me. For instance, I know I’m far more sensitive to any hint of coercion in romantic relationships than I used to be. Those of you who have followed my publishing adventures since the beginning know how my opinion of rape romances brought the wrath of the romance police down on my head, but as time has passed I’ve gotten worse. The experienced rake luring the dumb bunny virgin? Icky. The guy who sets out to ruin a girl so she’s in the position of having to marry him? Yuck. I want balance in relationships, but I also worry that leaves me with a much narrower type of relationship to write about. It sure leaves me with a narrower selection of romances to read.