River of Night (The Companionates Book 1)


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Tech news. Tech culture. News videos. Explainer videos. Sport videos. Money transfers. Health insurance. Money Deals. The Independent Books. Voucher Codes. Minds Articles. Subscription offers. Subscription sign in. Read latest edition. UK Edition. US Edition. Log in using your social network account. Please enter a valid password. Keep me logged in. Try Independent Minds free for 1 month See the options. You can form your own view. Unlike most sheikh romances, where if either partner is sexually inexperienced or hesitant it will be the white woman Jarmakani, An Imperialist Love Story , Ihbraham is chaste.

The former bar bunny blushes when he complements her beauty. What would it be like to make love to a man with such warm, all-seeing, yet gentle eyes? He does not, however, insist on waiting, although their intimacy remains off-page. With their exchanges, Brockmann depicts an America that fails to meet its lofty ideals of racial or sexual equality. Mary Lou is not only an unreliable analyst of gender politics but also a failed feminist: she tried and failed to woo Sam by making herself submissive, compliant, and domestically perfect TS 5 , According to Jarmakani, sheikh novels reject the Arab woman who makes herself small and subordinates her opinions, personhood, and desires to make herself agreeable Imperialist Romance , In Into The Night , this stereotype is displaced onto a white woman.

Interestingly, both Ihbraham TS 5 and Sam agree that a loveless marriage for the sake of security is an unacceptable way for a woman to live.


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  • In being or becoming again herself, refusing to continue acting like a doormat, Mary Lou reminds Sam of her positive qualities—even as she leaves him. She must overcome both to have a successful relationship with Ihbraham. To a greater extent than most white authors, Brockmann explicitly acknowledges and connects racism, sexism, and discrimination based on sexual orientation. Prejudice plays a role in many of her novels. The hero, acutely aware of racism , is offended when the heroine describes him as a bigot for holding sexist ideas In Troubleshooters, racism and sexism play significant roles as does anti-gay prejudice.

    His character arc is the prime, although not the only, place that characters confront stereotypes and assumptions about gay people. Sam is central to discussions about racism, sexism, homophobia and the parallels among them. How the fuck do you fight that? Interracial relationships figure in several Brockmann novels, often merely incidentally. The thematic shift in Gone Too Far to anti-black racism suggests new questions about racial identity and categorization in Into the Night — especially as they are gendered and linked to reproduction.

    Where British romances from the early twentieth century were particularly preoccupied by miscegenation, the hybrid progeny resultant from the union of [End Page 11] Arab male and white female Teo , in the US context as a whole, anti-blackness has been the central structuring principle of racially-based legal discrimination. Of course, the two are not easily separated.

    Or brown. Mary Lou mostly thinks about race in black and white terms. When Mary Lou thinks of Sam and Alyssa having children, Mary Lou imagines their future son would be black, and that it would be difficult for Sam, as a white man, to raise a black child TS 5 , Interestingly, both scenarios imagine sons rather than daughters, focusing on discrimination toward men and boys of color and ignoring girls and women of color.

    In Gone Too Far , however, readers learn that her racism posed the most significant obstacle to marital harmony. Her racism not only posed an obstacle to a liaison with Ihbraham, it had kept her from happiness with a white man. Three interracial relationships structure Gone Too Far. First is that between Mary Lou and Ihbraham. Although they are apart for most of the novel, the question arises of how Mary Lou might have become involved with a terrorist.

    An extramarital affair seems the most likely explanation for her unwitting involvement in the terrorist plot, but Sam cannot believe that she is romantically or sexually involved with Ihbraham. In the other two relationship plots, which eventually intersect, race and racism play essential roles.

    Her husband Walt serves as a surrogate father to Sam. Brockmann here presents skin color as a superficial marker that can disguise underlying similarities or affinities. In this story arc, interracial relationships require people to dig deeper, overcoming first impressions and socially-generated assumptions, whether positive or negative. Alyssa, who is open minded about racial difference, must move past what she thinks she knows about Sam to make a relationship work.

    She must reject her original, erroneous view of him before she and Sam can pair up successfully. Mary Lou was unable to get past a fixed notion of the unflinchingly patriotic soldier hero to love Sam as a person with foibles and flaws. Yet she overcomes dehumanizing stereotypes of violent, fanatical, monstrous Muslim men Arjana, Lyons to know, accept, and love Ihbraham as an individual.

    And if stereotypes are perilous for national security, the greater danger, Brockmann seems to suggest, is that they prevent real and lasting love. Romance novels set stories of individual transformation within larger social structures to which they may pay more or less attention as author perspective and subgenre convention dictate. Contemporary novels, including those with suspense storylines, reflect on and engage with ongoing political and social controversies as well as established institutions and norms.

    Brockmann is less critical about the former than the latter. However, she largely accepts the basic framing of the War on Terror and American militarism. She more directly criticizes mainstream racial, religious, and sexual- [End Page 13] orientation-based bias and discrimination within the United States. Brockmann simultaneously deploys and undercuts stereotypes, holding difference and sameness in tension. In addition to depicting white men who confound assumptions that Southerners will be racist or soldiers will be homophobic, she individualizes and humanizes members of marginalized groups.

    Brockmann, whose novels draw from and also subvert Orientalist topoi and narrative structures, values difference in part for its instrumental value. Despite the persistence of racist, sexist, and homophobic social structures, her heroes and heroines establish connections with others—family, friends, and lovers—across difference.

    As Ihbraham and Mary Lou agree, radical transformation of unjust realities will be a long time coming. In the meantime, there is love. Even if inadvertent duplicates, self-published titles, and non-romance items are included in those counts, a figure closer to 1, would still represents an astonishing increase in commercially-published sheikh romances in a relatively short period.

    Sarah S. Both drink alcohol and eat pork Such racialized monsters are increasingly familiar in paranormal romances, which features possessive and violent alien, vampire, and shape-shifting heroes. Islam is never mentioned, only ethnicity. What is charmingly exotic at one moment can be merely unintelligible, or even strange and threatening, the next. Homophobia and assumptions also play key roles in TS 8, Hot Target , which Brockmann dedicates to her gay son. In the Troubleshooters universe, what impedes a relationship between Max Bhagat, who has one Indian grandparent, and Italian-American Gina Vitagliano is not ethnic difference but a two-decade age difference as well as a traumatic past incident their story is resolved in TS Ali, Kecia.

    Brockmann, Suzanne. Into the Fire. Ballantine, Troubleshooters Republished in Tall, Dark, and Deadly. Harlequin, Tall, Dark, and Dangerous Accessed July 18, Burge, Amy. Palgrave Macmillan, Center for American Progress Wajahat Ali et. Center for American Progress Matthew Duss et. Chelton, Mary K. Cohn, Jan. Duke UP, Curtis, Edward. Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service. Indiana UP, Foster, Guy Mark.

    Frantz, Sarah S.

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    Holden, Stacy E. Jarmakani, Amira. New York UP, Leapheart, Nicole. Accessed 21 June Lyons, Jonathan. Columbia UP, Malti-Douglas, Fedwa. Princeton UP, McKenna, Lindsay. Taking Fire. Roach, Catherine M. Shaheen, Jack. Young, Erin S. Gleason and Eric Murphy Selinger, Routledge, , pp. Journal of Popular Romance Studies. About the Journal Issues Issue 1. Military romances featuring spec-ops warriors and their terrorist enemies appeal to, reflect on, and sometimes critique patriotic ideals. Bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann, known for her inclusive characters and plotlines, addresses these themes in her Troubleshooters series present.

    Brockmann simultaneously deploys and undercuts stereotypes of Muslim men while appealing to pro-American sentiment.

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    Like authors of sheikh novels, Brockmann appeals to knowledge and relationships as a means of overcoming prejudice. For Brockmann, stereotypes imperil national security if real threats go unnoticed while racialized Muslims are stigmatized as violent and fanatical.

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    Moreover, she claims, positive as well as negative stereotypes prevent intimacy and love from flourishing. Ultimately, while taking cognizance of larger social norms and discourses and critiquing anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-black racism, Brockmann emphasizes individual inner transformation resulting from intimate human connections across racial-ethnic differences. In Sexual Ethics and Islam 2nd ed.

    Oneworld , The Lives of Muhammad Harvard , and other publications, she explores the complex intertwining of past and present Muslim and Western norms about gender, sexuality, and marriage. You can read more at her website www. Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Harvard UP, The Lives of Muhammad. Arjana, Sophia Rose. Muslims in the Western Imagination. Oxford UP, The Unsung Hero.

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