Why is the capture trope so popular in romance (particularly in historicals)? Arguably it’s because of the popularity of the capture fantasy.
Capture fantasy involves a woman or a man (but more commonly a woman) kidnapped or held against their will and subjected to the invariably wicked ways of their captor.
You don’t have to be Freud to work out that capture fantasy is a sexual fantasy, and one about submission and dominance (although earlier romance novels never explicitly acknowledged that).In the romantic version, captor and captive end up living happily ever after, or at least happy for now, while the non-romantic version looks and smells a lot like rape (albeit some fantasy version of that). It’s a trope that goes waaaay back – think of all those historical novels where maidens are captured by pirates, sheiks, clansmen, highwaymen and almost anyone else with a penis. And yet the trope also has a bazillion contemporary faces—in speculative romance (where many a handsome alien or dragon shifter takes a captive), romantic suspense (where hostage heroines abound) and erotic romance, where the fantasy is often explicitly discussed and the scene negotiated.
If you’re new to swimming in the capture romance pool, stick with me—I’m going talk about some books based on this trope, starting at the shallow end (consensual capture romance) and slowly move towards the deep end (dubious consent and non-consensual capture romance—also known as dubcon and noncon). Water wings are optional.
Just how ‘accidental’ can handcuffs be, I hear you ask.