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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle avec audio/vidéo
I want to add my voice to others who have written critical reviews. I LOVE Courtney Milan. I have read and loved every novel she's written; I've even read and enjoyed the modern romance she wrote, a genre I typically don't read, but made an exception for, because SHE wrote it. And this book has many of her strengths. Her foundational writing is great. It isn't easy to get characters in and out of rooms but she manages it with elegance, without pouring on adjectives, but still managing to be distinct. Her description of the relationship between the heroine and her younger brother is also fantastic. They love each other, and the heroine has been making many sacrifices in the name of that love, but over the course of the novel, she realizes that she hasn't given her brother space to grow up, and face his own challenges and mistakes. This realization and ultimate shift in their relationship is beautifully rendered, in my eyes.
Spoilers follow, but I only spoil scenes from the second chapter, that I think every potential reader of this novel should be prepared for:
But - and this is a HUGE BUT -
- the hero is a rapist. He rapes the heroine in the second chapter of the book. I am not kidding. Now - there are a bunch of caveats that can be layered on here. A few pages later, we learn that heroine internally actually agreed to the sex, which I guess is supposed to make everything okay. This consent to sex is actually, in one sense, the "Wicked Gift" of the title. But in order for it to have truly been a gift of consensual sex, that consent needed to be made explicit BEFORE the sex happened. It didn't. For the pages that GRAPHICALLY describe the sex between the two of them, the reader is led to believe that the heroine does NOT truly consent, she is being coerced. The graphic sex is described from the hero's point of view, and he believes throughout that he is coercing her. So in between explicit presentation of sex acts, we get his internal monologue in which he thinks about how despicable his actions are, and how he doesn't need to go through with his plan of coerced sex. But he does go through with it. These pages were perhaps the most uncomfortable pages I have ever read.
Now - if this were a novel about the internal workings of a rapist, and how an ordinary man might come to coerce sex from a woman he is deeply attracted to, then I would say that it was quite interesting. But that is NOT the kind of book I purchased. I purchased a historical romance. And this dark material is a whack to the head that I cannot get past.
Some further spoiler-isn material follows, but only in general terms:
In some respects, the book gets better from here. The hero never does anything despicable like this again. He learns and grows. Okay. But in another respect, it actually gets worse, because Milan has the heroine, the actual victim of his rape, emotionally support through the consequences TO HIM of being a rapist. I can actually believe that there are men who coerce women to have sex, and then go through some form of psychological redemption. But I find it incredibly disturbing that Milan presents our heroine basically loving the hero out of being a monster. I suspect this aspect of the novella would be deeply disturbing to any victim of sexual violence. They might feel that It implies that (some) men might stop being rapists if their rape victims would just love them enough. I assume that Milan does not wish to convey any such message, but to my mind, she comes incredibly close to doing so in "This Wicked Gift".
I found this novel "full of surprises", but I don't mean that as a compliment. I was incredibly surprised that Milan would give us such a horrifying plot line and hero. As others have mentioned, the depiction of the psychological effects of grinding poverty, along with the nonconsensual sex, create an uncomfortably dark mood. I can see that there are many readers who are not unhappy with what Milan created here, but I think every reader should be forewarned about what they are getting into if they read this novella.