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LDS novel deemed too racy to publish

Published: Friday, March 5 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

Anita Stansfield considers herself a spiritual writer, and others have called her a pioneer of LDS fiction for her ability to construct chaste but romantic novels that have moralistic lessons that appeal to conservative readers.

But her longtime publisher, Covenant Communications Inc., has refused to pick up her latest book, arguing "The Captain of Her Heart" includes offensive material inappropriate for a Christian audience.

Covenant, which has published all 25 of her books, refused to back the romance novel because its protagonist has premarital sex, Stansfield said. And two major LDS book retailers have said they won't stock the book even though Stansfield created her own company to publish the book.

Stansfield, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says that's unfair because her books have always dealt with "real-life" issues — including adultery and rape.

"I have dealt with these issues, but I've dealt with them in a way I felt was appropriate and non-offensive," she said. "All of a sudden, they just rejected this book based on the premise that the characters committed a sin."

Deseret Book judges works by any author on an individual basis, said Keith Hunter, the company's vice president. "We're a retailer, not a library. We choose our inventory based on research from customers and purchase the ones they think people will want.

"In the case of this particular book, there were concerns about the content," he said.

Hunter emphasized that the store would special order the book for customers who requested it.

Seagull Book & Tape also is not carrying the book.

A spokesman for Covenant Communications did not immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Stansfield says she's convinced that only a fraction of her audience is offended by the work. However, she says it's an enthusiastic minority giving the impression that she has offended more readers than is actually the case.

"In the world, sexual issues are discussed very lightly and very crudely. Some people are so offended by that they don't want to talk about it all, because they're afraid it will put them in the same category," she said.

"It's something that's a part of our lives, and it's something that should be discussed appropriately."

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