I used to be the person that never put books down. I would trudge through a book and wallow in despair about how much time I wasted, but about 2 years ago I started to “DNF” books. I still give every book a valiant effort and don’t put an arbitrary number (100 pages, 25%, etc.) on it, but if I find myself dreading the book or trying to avoid reading I know it’s time to give up.
^^ – That is usually what happens, but every once in a while I find a book where the characters annoy me so much (looking at you After the Ending) or is about a subject matter that I just can’t continue to read. The latter is what sparked this post today.
***TRIGGER WARNING*** – Rape, Kidnapping, Violence
Last week I started reading Twist Me, a dark romance.
Spoilers for the book ahead. Proceed at your own risk of being spoiled.
“Will you ever let me go?”
“No, Nora,” he replies, and I can feel his smile in the darkness. “Never.”
On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Nora Leston meets Julian Esguerra, and her life changes forever. Stolen away to a private island, she finds herself at the mercy of a powerful, dangerous man whose touch makes her burn.
A man whose obsession with her knows no bounds.
Her enigmatic captor is as cruel as he is beautiful, yet it’s his tenderness that devastates her most. Drawn into his violent world, Nora must find a way to adapt and survive—and find light within the darkness.”
Shortly into the first book Nora is kidnapped by Julian Esguerra and whisked away to a private island. Julian is NOT a good guy. He is not your misunderstood redeemable villain. He rapes Nora the day after she brings her to the island and inflicts pain she does not ask for. This is not a healthy BDSM sexual relationship in which a safe word and trust is established, and often Nora is unaware how much Julian will do to her or what is happening. There is scene after scene of Nora crying into the pillow or the mattress as Julian hits her with a belt and penetrates her (in various places) without her permission. Despite her reluctance, Nora feels pleasure and often climaxes during the sexual encounters. Nora knows this “relationship” with her captor is unhealthy, and maybe for some readers that acknowledgement is enough, but I couldn’t get past it.
I have been a victim of sexual abuse and rape, but am not usually bothered more than the average person by scenes in movies or books depicting rape (thank you years of therapy). I just can’t continue to read this book though. I finished the first book in the series and got through about half of the second. I’m not sure why I continued for so long; maybe I was hoping Julian would develop into something other than an abusive asshole? IDK. One scene finally put me over the edge though and I had to stop reading. The scene that did it was
when Nora made Julian mad by flinching at someone calling her Mrs. Esguerra (oh, did I mention he forced her to marry him by threatening her friend’s life?). He “punishes” her by making her perform oral sex on him an then bending her over and (WITHOUT HER CONSENT or any more lubrication than her own saliva) thrusts into her anus. This is followed by him choking her until she almost passes out – again, without her consent – and being filled with the fear that he will kill her.
I can’t. While BDSM isn’t something I personally partake in, I don’t mind reading about it. I cannot read about what I interpret is an abusive relationship masked as a romance. I can’t read about a character who is raped repeatedly, belittled and demeaned, and comes out of each encounter as “I know it’s wrong but I liked it”. After each violent episode Nora exhibits prototypical behavior of an abused person – she makes excuses and says things like (paraphrasing here) I separate the good from the bad, I know he cares for me, etc. If this was a story about how Nora eventually gets away from her abuser I could handle it, but instead it is sensationalized and re-branded as “love”, in my opinion. I’m done.
I want to add: I am not trying to shame someone who does love this book. I have read other dark romances and enjoyed them (Impossible Series), but Twist me just really bothered me. The controlling behavior of Julian and continued raping of Nora was too much, and maybe because of my past I am a little triggered by him. *shrugs*
Now, on to more enjoyable books 🙂 Thanks for reading!