Here, in this first of a new series where we discuss authors we have a love/hate relationship with, Blue Falcon addresses his thoughts about historical romance author Rosanne Bittner.
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Rosanne Bittner, An Author Whose Books I Love (and Hate–a Little Bit)
Many readers have authors they love to read. Some have authors whose work they hate. Still, others have authors whose works they love but may also have issues with. One such author for me is Rosanne Bittner.
Mrs. Bittner’s first romance was published in 1983, and she is still active and prolific today. She has authored 68 books and several series.
Series Published by Rosanne Bittner
- “Savage Destiny” (7 books)
- “Outlaw Hearts” (6 books)
- “High Lonesome Trilogy”
- “Mystic Indian Trilogy”
- “American West Trilogy”
- “Bride Trilogy”
- “Blue Hawk Trilogy”
The Outlaw Hearts, Rosanne Bittner, Bantam, 1993, Alan Ayers front cover artist, H. Tom Hall stepback cover artist
Various publishers have printed her works, such as Zebra/Kensington, Bantam, Sourcebooks, and Warner Books. The great majority of her works are set in the American West, circa the 1800s. Many feature full or half-Native American protagonists. As someone with Native American heritage, I appreciate seeing that.
What I Love About Her Work:
Throughout Rosanne Bittner’s lengthy career, she has consistently produced stellar content.
I say this frequently when I write reviews, and I will repeat it: when I read a book, I don’t want to feel as if I am reading words on a page or screen. I want to feel like these characters are real people, and I observe their lives.
In my decades of reading, very few, if any, authors do that. Mrs. Bittner is one of them.
For me, reading one of Mrs. Bittner’s is like being on the world’s extreme roller coaster. I feel her characters’ pain and every emotion in between.
An example of one of her great works is Sweet Prairie Passion, the first entry in her “Savage Destiny” Series. I’ve reviewed it previously and rated it a 5-star read.
Where I Have Issues with Her Work
While I love Mrs. Bittner’s work, two issues come up constantly in her books. These issues are significant sources of irritation.
Issue #1: Her Books Are Parochial and Patriarchal
Mrs. Bittner’s heroines are emotionally resilient, like Abbie from the “Savage Destiny” series. They have to endure so much agony, and they do it so well. (More on that later).
Although her heroines are strong emotionally, in other ways, they aren’t. Mrs. Bittner’s female protagonists are always emotionally, financially, mentally, or physically dependent on the heroes or supporting male characters.
I have yet to read a Rosanne Bittner book where the heroine has a job. (In the interest of fairness, employment possibilities for women were significantly less in the 19th century than they are today.) Nor are they financially independent.
In two of her books, Arizona Bride and Sweet Mountain Magic, the heroines are heiresses. The money wasn’t gained through her smarts or efforts–but through the hard work of her male relatives.
As a result, the female main character is almost entirely emotionally and financially dependent on a man. This detail dovetails into issue #2.
Issue #2: Extreme Misogyny
In every romance I’ve read by Rosanne Bittner, the heroines–and frequently other female characters–are subjected to emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse.
While I understand that violence against women occurs every day around the world, it feels that the only purpose of the violence is to give the hero carte blanche to kill someone. Or many someones, and usually in rather graphic ways.
I don’t have a problem with this, per se. I very much want villains in books to suffer as much–if not more–pain than they’re putting upon their victims. But the level of violence against women in Mrs. Bittner’s feels heavily gratuitous and exploitative.
Bottom Line on Rosanne Bittner’s Books
I am a huge fan of Rosanne Bittner as an author. See my reviews of her books; I almost always rate them 5-star reads. She is in my top 10 all-time favorite writers.
Even so, I do have issues with parts of her writing and will call them out when I see them.