Here http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20060902 Dear Abby says in the last paragraph: "Some might argue that the idealized depiction of romance, and women being "rescued" by powerful, wealthy men, is more worrisome than the sex and eroticism. However, if you are raising your daughter to respect feminist principles, I don't think you have anything to worry about."
To me this says "Abby" hasn't read a romance novel in a couple of decades. No longer are our romance heroines weak shrinking violets in need of rescuing by the big He-man. Today's romance novels feature strong women as well as strong men who are more equal than ever before. In historical romance novels, it is sometimes necessary to show how men and society kept women under their thumbs to be somewhat historically accurate but even our historical heroines rise up, take charge and go after what they want, quite often physically rescuing the hero in the process. In addition, as one wise author noted, the heroes are usually the ones who need emotional rescue.
For instance in my historical romance, My Fierce Highlander, the heroine physically rescues the hero in the opening scene. He was injured in battle and is unconscious. If she hadn't dragged him away and hidden him from his enemies, they would've finished him off. She then uses her healing skills to help him recover. At the end of the story, when it appears their enemy is going to kill the hero, it is the heroine again who saves his life. During the course of the book the hero rescues or saves the life of the heroine a couple of times as well. My point is, they help each other in an equal manner because sometimes the balance of power shifts. Give and take.
As for those who love to read a good mystery but say romance is not realistic, you are kidding yourself about mystery being realistic. Is it dangerous for young police officers to read mysteries? They might think all crimes will be so easily solved. We are not that dense, people. Romance readers know that real life relationships don't always have the HEA (happily ever after) that the books must have. Some people stay married 50+ years and others don't. Those who have been married a long time know HEAs are possible and real. Romance novels are entertainment, but most of today's stories also depict men the way they should act. In other words, men should show women respect and treat them as equals, and NOT try to control, abuse or hurt them. In this way, romance novels can educate abused women by showing them how real men should act and respond to them. You can read more about this and what other romance authors have to say about it at PASIC's blog. http://toberead.blogspot.com/