What the heck happened to 720 Linden Street?
In the event you are wondering why you can no longer find the second book in the Jessie Hayes Series on Amazon, allow me to explain.
It’s been banned by Amazon.
Why? Because of a sexual assault that occurs, which apparently violates Amazon’s incredibly subjective and entirely inconsistent content guidelines. Book Ban—now, on the surface that might not sound like much, but I’d like to invite you to look a little deeper. There are two main issues at play here, and I’m afraid of what each one of them says about our society. First, is the fact that suppressing such material only emboldens a rape culture that already quiets 3 out of 4 sexual assault victims (Statistic from the National Crime Victimization Survey NCVS). And secondly, as readers, we have a right to read whatever we choose to. If a book contains controversial content, whether it be racism, sexism, violence, homophobia, suicide, a sexual assault, etc—we can decide for ourselves to read it or move along.
What we as readers need to understand, is that there is controversial content everywhere. There is also racism, sexism, violence, homophobia, suicide and sexual assaults in our world. Suppressing that specific content does not erase the plague on society, but it affects your First Amendment rights drastically.
Let’s also acknowledge the voice Jessie gives to other victims of sexual assault. She shines a light on the parasitic remnants of rape that linger long after the attack is over. Guilt, shame, self-doubt, fear, and anxiety are all intense emotions felt by victims, and it’s important to recognize the mental elements as well as the physical ones. Notice Jessie didn’t just snap out of it after she realized she knew her attacker. No, there was real, authentic trauma that she had to work through. The book also serves to un-blur the lines between “Consensual non-consent” and straight-up “Non-consent.”
Were the circumstances of her attack typical? NO. Did you want to castrate Silas? MAYBE. But, here’s the thing, there is no one formula to sexual assault. There are many variations to consider, such as diminished capacity, statutory, acquaintance/date, partner, stranger, incest, hate crime, aggravated….and so on—but guess what? They are all still rape. A one-sided, fictitious rape fantasy is still a bonafide sexual assault.
Do miscommunications happen in books, and do characters deviate from the trajectory we expect them to be on? YES. Not every character is going to behave as you think they should. And frankly, if they did, books would be sorely redundant and lack creativity entirely. They would be boring, and we wouldn’t bother holding on for the ride.
Speaking of the ride. The Jessie Hayes Series is a four-book, chronological series where there are many different layers. To define the series by one controversial event negates the other poignant messages in the books. Even if you ignore Jessie and Silas altogether, think of the magic that is Devin and Corey! I’ve never had such a demand for a spinoff book—They are adored by readers, and just imagine how they may have opened people’s eyes to LGBTQ struggles. Think about Salinger, we can ALL relate to his heartbreak—and seeing him emerge from the rubble is what readers are dying for all through the series. The characters are rich and multi-dimensional, and they are constantly evolving.
I think it’s a mistake to remove 720 Linden Street from Amazon, and if you agree—by all means, let them know. What I’d like to ask of you, is if you feel strongly about 720 Linden Street, one way or another, please let your voice be heard. Social media is an incredibly powerful outlet, and Jessie’s story deserves to be read. To construe her attack as “titillating” simply because the book is an erotic romance is outrageous, and frankly, my readers are smarter than that.
Now, be warned, these books are classified as erotic romance, and they are explicit. They also deal with a softer version of BDSM and kink that you may not be used to. It is important to me that I acknowledge everyone in the middle of the road regarding BDSM and kink. I present it as fun and adventurous instead of deviant or brooding. So, if on the kinky spectrum, you fall on either the strictly vanilla, or the heavy BDSM ends, these books might not be for you. However, if you are somewhere in the middle, or open to some new ideas…
Your support means everything to me, I love you guys!