William Shakespeare, Gentlemen of Verona

The Book Stops Here: Regency Rape

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the chance to really devour and enjoy books.

Reading’s always been the most comforting hobby. Growing up, my godmothers and dad instilled the idea of reading. And it’s easy, time-consuming hobby where I learn things. Authors like Jo Beverley and Courtney Milan offer tidbits of history in the notes section, letting me explore with a few tantalizing leads.

Beverley’s death shook me. She was my go-to for really well written romance novels and the reason I found people like Milan and Tessa Dare. Gateway into amazing writers, really. The beginning genre love began a bit earlier however. I discovered romance novels around the same time I moved beyond Sweet Valley High (so probably around age 11). My elder godmom had stacks and stacks of bodice rippers. Turns out that was much more appealing than the other godmom’s horrors or my dad’s patriotic spy novels. I would sit in my closet, flash light on, and read the various novels until late into the night. A born book nerd.

But one thing always stood out in the romance genre, though. I never liked the rape trope.

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Much Ado About Nothing, 1993

Finding Shakespearean Agency

I have a love-hate relationship with the Bard. Some people are firmly in the anti-camp. I just stay along the fringe.

I love the characterizations, but oftentimes I get mired in the dark cynicism of destructive power. Think about Lady Macbeth. Here’s a woman determined to rise in society, to follow her husband’s glory, and a refusal to stop at anything to make that happen. Pretty easy to see the blueprint for most high society dramas, right? It’s like Aaron Spelling just read a lot of Shakespeare and adapted the work.

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