I’m having the worst luck with Charlotte Lamb lately. First there was Savage
Stockholm Syndrome Surrender and now Betrayal. AKA Rapey, Cruel, Entitled Men and the Insane Women Who Love Them.
What gets me the most about Betrayal though, is it knows how crazy it is. Here’s the basic plot, with plenty o’ spoilers:
Cathy accidentally falls in love with Muir while a conference, then has to tell him that she’s engaged. She won’t break her engagement because her fiance was badly injured. (I expected this to be the worst part of the book, the fact that Cathy is staying with her fiance only because he’s disabled. It was actually the least offensive part, since he’s pretty strong and sensible, and not in the market for pity love.) Muir is driven mad by love — yeah right — and rapes her, then somewhat accidentally knocks her down the stairs. He’s then arrested for rape and Cathy has temporary amnesia and can’t speak up for him; after he’s cleared, he refuses to believe she had amnesia, so he then kidnaps her and abuses her both physically and psychologically. Then somehow it all kind of dies down, he decides to believe her about her memory loss — for now? I bet he’ll be bringing it up constantly all the rest of their lives — and Bob’s your uncle. There’s no remorse. (I’m pretty sure everything resembling an apology is accompanied by a “but you made me…”) There’s no catharsis. There’s nothing satisfying to have made all that horror remotely worth reading.
And Cathy feels terribly guilty about forgetting him and him getting charged with rape, even knowing perfectly well that he did actually rape her. Because it wasn’t rape-rape. (How she actually puts it is, “there are rapes and rapes.”) And she knows he’s violent and cruel, and she’s freaking terrified of him, yet she loves him so it’s supposedly a happy ending.
None of this is sugar coated at all. Cathy’s fear is real. The rape is real. The violence is real. The fact that he will probably abuse her every day of her life until he snaps and kills her one day is unexpressed, but frighteningly real.
But what got me most was this throwaway line from Cathy’s friend, speaking about a co-worker:
“She rejoices in a mind which believes that what it wants it’s clearly entitled to.”
And neither of them seem to notice that this describes Muir to a T. But I bet Lamb did.