I must confess: I have a strange relationship with kidnapping stories. In my teens there was this author who wrote a series of novels involving a series of pretty (but still accessibly clumsy or insecure) women who often found themselves whisked away against their will by dark, dangerous (but still ruggedly handsome) men. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but they all ended up in love. Every. Single. One of them. And man, did I eat these novels up. I tore through them, one after another. I couldn’t get enough. It never once occurred to me that being taken by force was maybe not the best way to start a romantic relationship. Then I went to college and was smacked full in the face with feminism and my weird kidnapping fantasy faded away, forgotten.
Yes, of course I fantasized about it. I—the awkward, chubby, braces-wearing teenager that nobody looked at twice—dreamed about the moment a handsome stranger would swoop down and take me away from all this common high school drudgery. And then in the kidnap van or maybe the hotel room we had to share so he could keep an eye on me, if you know what I mean, we would get to talking. And maybe he would reveal something vulnerable about himself, like he only had to kidnap me so I could save his sick little brother (did I mention in this fantasy I was also a world-famous pioneering neurosurgeon?) and then it would be just a matter of time before we fell in super magical novel love. Mmmm…
But where was I? Oh yes, college. Feminism. In college I learned the word “agency” and discovered that I had some and that it was my 24/7 job to protect it. I learned that it was a bad thing when men (or anyone else, but let’s face it, mostly men) tried to take that agency away. It was a bad thing when men took you away from your life without your consent, even dark, dangerous, ruggedly handsome men with heart-of-gold motives. I know, what a buzzkill.
So I moved on, to Jane Austen, and fantasies of strong, handsome men who disparage you in front of their friends and ignore you coldly before randomly proposing marriage (I’m looking at you, Mr. Darcy). I guess that’s better than kidnapping, right? I thought the kidnapping fantasy was way, way behind me, forgotten altogether, really. And then I read Blood Always Tells (Tor/Forge, April 15), a juicy thriller by Hilary Davidson. All it took was for the kidnapped woman to describe her captor as “close to handsome” and whammo! I was back in high school again. My next, totally involuntary thought? “Ooh, I wonder if they’re going to get together.”
In my defense, they did have a fairly witty repartee. But I’m older now, I should know better. Kidnapping is horrific and traumatic and destroys the lives of real people and their families and is really not acceptable foreplay. Thankfully Davidson’s book goes in a much more interesting direction with the plot—there are numerous double-crosses when former model Dominique Monaghan is kidnapped along with her ex-boyfriend, who claims to have orchestrated the whole thing but could be lying—than a mere thinly veiled love story, but it still got me thinking about why that setup appeals to me even now. There are the obvious things. First of all, let’s just acknowledge that we’re talking about fictional kidnapping here, which is nowhere near as terrifying as actual kidnapping. But you know what fictionally kidnapped people don’t have to do? They don’t have to go to their jobs in the morning. They don’t have to wake up with the baby or figure out what to have for dinner that night (fantasy kidnappers always provide food). They get to take a little trip to a surprise location, and on the way they get the fun of puzzling out how they’re going to get free. Maybe, if the kidnapper is benevolent (and in my fictional fantasy, of course he would be), he will lock them up in a room with books. Books! Who among us wouldn’t love a day with no responsibilities surrounded by books?
So I guess I’m not as reformed as I thought I was. Maybe I wouldn’t mind trading some of my agency for a little unfettered book-reading time. In fiction, of course. And, you know, if my kidnapper happened to be ruggedly handsome, well…I guess I could crank out a little brain surgery. As a world-famous fictional neurosurgeon, that’s the least I can do.
Cover image: http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/household-cleaning-products-kidnap-8920805/
Hilary Davidson: http://www.hilarydavidson.com/Media_Kit.html