RS: A Literary Taboo?

I’m reading a book! *gasp*

I know, I know. A long time has passed before I read anything for fun, but given that last week was a holiday I thought it was about time that I gave myself a bit of pleasure in that regard. While Ileandra munched through ‘The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter’ with almost no breaks, I’ve finally been able to start on a book I’ve had on the Kindle for quite some time: ‘The Sweetest Taboo’ by Harper Miller.

Now . . . I don’t know how or where or when, but I know the name Harper Miller. It pops up a lot and I’ve convinced myself that I’ve read many, many books by this woman. I haven’t. At least, not from looking at the available books listed on Amazon. But something about this woman has drawn me in and I feel like I know her, even though I clearly don’t.

Anyway, that’s by the by. It is only the start of what I want to talk about today which is the title of the book, the category it falls under and how I feel about it as a whole.

First up, ‘The Sweetest Taboo’ as a title is great. It brings to mind the song by Sade and makes me thing sweet, sexy, sensual things.

However . . . the taboo part bothers me and the tagline which follows: ‘An unconventional romance.’ I haven’t finished reading the book yet, I’m less than 50% through it, according to the Kindle, but I have to wonder what is taboo and unconventional about the relationship? Is it the fact that it is a D/s dynamic? That it’s a D/s dynamic between a man and a woman? That the D/s dynamic is between a white man and a black woman? I’m not far enough through to tell, though part of me leans towards the idea that it is all of the above and that Harper has been very clever with her title. Hats off to her.

But . . . ! Why?

I suppose the BDSM aspect of the relationship is going to be unconventional however you swing it, but what about the interracial side? It could very well be that I’m over thinking this – I do that a lot – but there’s another layer to this ‘unconventional romance’ that, while it isn’t given centre stage, does bear thinking of. Why are interracial couplings so exciting/taboo/unconventional? And I don’t mean just white/black, I mean any mixed coupling at all?

DSB’s first boyfriend was a white man three (or six?) years older than her. He lived in Darlington and was an absolute sweetheart. But when she visited him the looks they received together ranged from open-mouthed shock to outright rage. And why? They hadn’t done anything or said anything, they just went about their business.

Her current significant other is another white man (more years) older than her and in the early days, based in Leicester which is, apparently, the multi-cultural hub of the Midlands, the curious stares seemed far more linked to the age gap (though of course it’s impossible to tell for sure without calling people out on it, something that DSB is never likely to do).

I guess, in my rambling sort of way I’m asking why there is a market for these specific things that are considered ‘taboo’. And why they are considered taboo? I mean, it is like guiltily watching gay porn while crowing about your heterosexuality? Is it like scoffing a tub of ice cream all by yourself and hiding the tub when your other half comes home so he doesn’t know what a pig you are? *ahem*

I want to understand . . .

As I look today, ‘The Sweetest Taboo’ has 86 reviews on Amazon. 86! Double figures the likes of which I can only dream of. I’ve not read them all – of course! – but the comments are glowing and I wonder what drew these readers to the book in the first place. Unless Harper had a strong following before she started publishing, these people have come to her fresh. So what drew them in? The cover (which is GORGEOUS by the way)? The tagline? The title?

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m just sooooooooooo liberal that I just can’t process why anybody might have a problem with LGBTQ relationships, or BDSM, or interracial couplings, or polyamory or any number of things that I’ve been writing about since I started this writing gig. But isn’t it interesting?

And on the flip side of that, why do I like writing about these things so much? What draws me in? The ‘Slippers & Chains’ series has a D/s interracial coupling at its core and touches on LGBTQ relationships as well as polyamory! It’s all in there. So why?


I guess when I have the answer to these questions I’ll know more about the world as well as myself, but until then I’m just going to stew on it. Sorry for the babbly, rambly, not-very-well-joined-up post.

I’ll bring it all back together tonight for my goals. Promise. 😉

Raven's Signature In Black

About Raven ShadowHawk

I take great pleasure in writing erotica and am merely one side of the proverbial coin. My other half, 'Ileandra Young' writes fantasy and the occasional comedy piece. My six-part series 'Meeting Each Other' is available in full, through Amazon and Smashwords while my debut novella 'Sugar Dust' is now re-released (!) available through Amazon via Little Vamp Press.
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5 Responses to RS: A Literary Taboo?

  1. sallyedmans says:

    Something that I have to keep reminding myself is people tend to live in ideological echo chambers, and people who live in our one tend to see a very liberal slice of society. We are constantly bombarded with people sharing posts on Facebook that reiterate that we should all just live and let live, we have lower levels of racism, ablism and homophobia, and if someone oversteps the line we are more likely to call them out on their behaviour. Then I go other places and mix with normals, and I realise that ‘gay’ is still an insult and people are scared to leave a depressive in the same room as their children. Geekworld is educated and accepting, but the rest of society still lingers in a place where things we talk about openly are considered taboo. None of the stuff you mentioned seems strange or taboo to me, but I’m used to my friends talking about stuff like that openly. The bulk of society don’t, so it’s taboo to them.


    • Y’know . . . I’d never thought about it that way but you’re totally right. I get such a shock sometimes, when I talk to (some) people outside my most friendly circles and realise that they are (at least to my mind) unenlightened, bigoted cocks (sometimes. And not everyone . . . honest . . .). o.O

      But why? And how? I mean, it’s not unusual to realise that a person naturally gravitates towards those similar to themselves in all things, hobbies, jobs, appearance, political stance, yadda-yadda, but whhhhhy?

      Oooh, I feel like I’m going to be asking this a lot in days to come, but thanks for point that out. I think I knew it on some level, but just never managed to articulate it.


  2. I think that two characters in a relationship are exciting when they are quite different and that there may be barriers to get past. Look at, for example, Tauriel and Kili in The Hobbit film trilogy. The idea of an elf befriending or being in love with a dwarf is something which is considered abhorrent by other characters

    In the same vein, characters which have a different dynamic when they’re alone (or in the company of characters who are accepting of that dynamic) are exciting for the reader.and the author to explore.


    • Oh I agree! Differences and conflicts are are the bricks and mortar of any decent story, but my question seems to be ‘why those differences?’
      Though you’re right; even though there was no basis for this in any of the books (at least that I’ve found . . . unless you count Gimli and Legolas – ha!) Kili and Tauriel’s relationship is beautiful and whether PJ meant it or not, an equally beautiful message to those who watch. Love blooms everywhere and watching those in love fight against a society that would keep them apart, for any reason, is entertaining.

      Meh . . . I’ve actually finished the book now, so I have a clearer idea as to the real unconventional nature of the relationship. All being well I’ll review it on Thursday and give my full thoughts there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: RS: Book Review – The Sweetest Taboo: An Unconventional Romance | Writing: A Conversation Without Interruptions

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