I've been slowly getting through a stack of romance novels I borrowed, in order to understand the genre a bit better.
The latest one I picked up left me feeling ill.
This was a book where the hero stalked the heroine, kidnapped her, forced himself on her, threatened violence, destroyed her possessions, and manipulated and belittled her.
I sat there thinking "Are you kidding me? Am I expected to find this romantic?" I was actually shaking with rage, and a few chapters in, I threw the book across the room. Then I had to go and watch some adorable cat videos to calm down.
I'm OK with abusive scenarios in fiction. But if it's being presented as romantic and desirable... NOPE. Can't deal with it.
In my experience, that type of behaviour IRL is the farthest thing from sexy. I read fiction to escape.
How do I avoid these types of stories? Because in this case, the front cover, blurb, prologue, and first chapter all seemed innocuous when I picked it up. The vast majority of online reviews were praising it.