Monthly Archives: May 2012

Sweet Fiona Apple, That’s A Lot Of Hits

Since literally thousands of you are visiting my blog from Reddit, I thought I should say hello and warn you that if you’re reading the 50 Shades updates via the “Throwing Shades” tag, I’m really inconsistent at tagging my blog entries, so there are probably some recaps that aren’t tagged.

I make no apology for my laziness. Here is a video of a turtle humping a shoe:

No, I really don’t think I’m so great, but thanks for asking!

Because this blog has gotten more attention than normal lately, I’ve been very cautious not to let it go to my head. This is difficult, because I really, really like myself. If I were a different person, but I could still know me, I would want to hang around me all the time. Because I’m hilarious and I have a good complexion and an array of amusing t-shirts. But you can’t just like yourself all the time, because if you do, you look like an asshole.

Today, in an attempt to not look like an asshole, I’m going to share with you five things about myself that I really, really don’t like.

  1. I never remember to call people. I don’t mean that I’ll tell people that I’ll call them and then forget and call them the next day. What I mean is, I never remember to use the phone as a method of communication. I will sit around and think, “I haven’t talked to [friend] in a while. I miss them.” The phone will literally be right next to me, and it won’t occur to me to pick it up and call people. Which makes me look even dumber when someone calls me after a long time, wondering why I haven’t called them. “Um, because I’m stupid?”
  2. Due to my own impatience, I have no idea what coffee or pizza taste like. You know how when waitresses put your plate down at the restaurant, they say, “Be careful, the plate is hot,” and you immediately touch it? Like that, but with food in my mouth. Every morning, I pour myself a mug of coffee straight from the pot. I know it’s a million degrees. I can see the steam curling off the surface, like the caldera of a water horror feature in Yellowstone National Park. But I still immediately put the cup to my lips and take a scalding sip. Repeat, with pizza. The roof of my mouth looks like the tattered red-velvet curtain of an abandoned theatre, or the Spanish moss hanging from the trees in a Scooby-Doo episode.
  3. I get irrationally angry over other people’s intolerance of spicy foods. It usually goes down like this. I’m eating something with someone else. Something like salsa or lamb husseini. I’ll be happily enjoying the heat level of the dish, when the other person will say, “Whoo, this is really spicy!” And I’ll think to myself, “This isn’t spicy.” And a few bites later, “Is s/he going for their water? Come on.” And then I find myself watching the other person suffer, getting angrier and angrier with every bite they take. Why does it matter to me? I don’t know. But I don’t like it.
  4. I’m afraid someone is going to hear me tinkle. It’s a battle, a constant battle, to use public bathrooms. Port-a-potties? HA! Those things are echo chambers. No thank you.
  5. I have professional jealousy over stupid things. When I get jealous of other writers, it’s not because they make more money, have more readers, or get great reviews. I’m genuinely happy for people in all those scenarios. What do I get jealous over? “She got a better deal on her bookmarks than I did? That bitch.” “What do you mean she’s writing a book about a steampunk vampire who flies an airship? Why didn’t I have that idea?!” Or, my personal favorite? “If she comes up with one more good promo idea, I’m going to go blind.”
The worst part about all these things? I could fix all them, if I had any inclination towards doing so. But I like to be multifaceted.

50 Shades of Grey Chapter 17 recap, or “Night Of The Moth”

Aaaand we’re back. I don’t think I have any 50 Shades links or anything to share this time around (and if I do, I’m sure they’ll keep), so let’s get right into the recap, because I have a date with a 40 vol. bleaching kit I’d like to keep.

Ana has a dream that she’s a moth and she’s burning to death, and when she wakes up, it’s all been a metaphor for the fact that Christian Grey is one of those close sleeper guys:

I open my eyes, and I’m draped in Christian Grey. He’s wrapped around me like a victory flag. He’s fast asleep with his head on my chest, his arm over me, holding me close, one of his legs thrown over and hooked around both of mine. He’s suffocating me with his body heat, and he’s heavy.

I used to get drunk and pass out next to a friend of mine, and I would always wake up like this, in the iron grip of dude with a mountain of abandonment issues. Ana has to “process” Christian still being there, and she decides she’s going to use the opportunity to touch him. She barely puts her fingers on him, and he wakes up immediately. So, don’t try to steal Christan Grey’s wallet while he’s sleeping, okay?

Christian frowns when he finds himself all twined around her, and says, “‘Jesus, even in my sleep I’m drawn to you.’” I would argue that it’s the only time he appears to be drawn to her, because we’ve heard all about his cool, impersonal distance for the entire book so far. But whatever. He has morning wood, and Ana, who has been sleeping with him, who has discussed what anal activities she’s up for, is all wide-eyed and embarrassed by his erection.

I flush, but then I feel seven shades of scarlet from his heat.

Seven shades of scarlet, fifty shades of grey, are we sure Ana wasn’t an art major instead of an English major? Christian realizes that he’s overslept for the meeting he needs to be at in Portland. He blames Ana, of course, but he grins when he does it, so it’s a joke, I guess? He gets out of bed and puts on his jacket to leave. So, you’re gonna just roll into that meeting in sweaty, slept-in clothes, is that how you’re gonna play it? Okay, you’re the billionaire. He reminds her that she’s not allowed to drive her car, and that he expects her at his house on Sunday. He’s going to email her a time, because Ana is the only twenty-one year old who doesn’t text. Ana is all smug because Christian stayed over:

Oh my, Christian Grey spent the night with me, and I feel rested. And there was no sex, only cuddling. He told me he never slept with anyone – but he’s slept three times with me.

Pardon me if I don’t immediately laud him for his commitment to you, Ana. The first time, you were drunk and unconscious, so he shouldn’t have been in a bed with you in the first place. The second time, you’d just lost your virginity to him, so the least he could have done on the post-sex politeness scale was let you stay over. This time you were sobbing uncontrollably before he even considered staying. Of course, Ana is feeling a lot better now, so she decides to write Christian an email. Remember, in the last chapter he asked her to talk about their relationship via email, because she expresses herself better there.

You wanted to know why I felt confused after you – which euphemism should we apply – spanked, punished, beat, assaulted me. Well during the whole alarming process I felt demeaned, debased and abused. And much to my mortification, you’re right, I was aroused, and that was unexpected. As you are well aware, all things sexual are new to me – I only wish I was more experienced and therefore more prepared. I was shocked to feel aroused.

Please note, she’s still using some pretty loaded language to describe the spanking. Beat. Assaulted. And she felt some pretty negative emotions. Now, some people really like feeling those emotions during sex. But consensual BDSM should fulfill the needs of both partners.

I was happy that you were happy. I felt relieved that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. And when I was lying in your arms, I felt sated. But I feel very uncomfortable, guilty even, feeling that way.

That sounds fulfilling, doesn’t it? Oh, shit, no it doesn’t. Being happy that someone else is happy because you did something you found unpleasant isn’t the same thing as taking genuine happiness away from the experience. Discomfort and guilt aren’t hallmarks of fulfillment.

Despite the fact that he’s supposed to be running late for a meeting, Christian responds, telling Ana that it wasn’t assault, it was spanking.

So you felt demeaned, abused & assaulted – how very Tess Durbeyfield of you. I believe it was you who decided on the debasement if I remember correctly. Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Two very different things. If that is how you feel, do you think you could just try and embrace these feelings, deal with them, for me? That’s what a submissive would do.

In other words, “I didn’t make you feel bad, you made yourself feel bad. It’s your fault, and you’d better fix it to make me happy. The other women would.”

I am grateful for your inexperience. I value it, and I’m only beginning to understand what it means. Simply put… it means that you are mine in every way. 

Of course, Ana realizes how creepy this sentiment is and immediately fires off an email telling him that she doesn’t belong to anyone. Ha, just kidding. His email goes on to explain that he’s not just happy, he’s “ecstatic” and that the spanking he gave her was “about as hard as it gets” because it was meant as a punishment. He doesn’t want her to “waste your energy on guilt, feelings of wrongdoing etc.” Of course he doesn’t. If she did, she might realize that he’s the one who should feel guilty, because while he states that they’re consenting adults, he obtained her “consent” through dubious means. If she examined their relationship, even a little bit, she might realize this. She emails back that she will try to embrace her feelings of shame, and says that if she wanted out, she’d have run to Alaska by now. Then he emails her back, lines upon lines of totally not creepy stuff:

For the record – you stood beside me knowing what I was going to do.
You didn’t at any time ask me to stop – you didn’t use either safe word.
You are an adult – you have choices.
Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to the next time my palm is ringing with pain.
You’re obviously not listening to the right part of your body.
Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you.
I can track your cell phone – remember.

Remember that Enrique Iglesias song, “Escape”? Where he was like, “You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my incredibly shrill falsetto?” I’m pretty sure that’s how the lyrics went. Anyway, there was a part of that song, near the end, where instead of saying, “You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love,” I’m pretty sure he’s saying, “You can run, you can die, but you can’t escape my love.” Which makes me think he’s going to find this now-deceased woman and fuck her corpse. I don’t know what it is about that email from Christian that reminded me of that. No clue. None at all.

Clown puncher. Corpse fucker. A man of many talents.

Ana realizes that of course, Christian is right about everything. She wonders if he’ll follow her to her mother’s house in Georgia if she decides to take her up on her offer of escape. Instead of asking him, though, she exchanges a few more flirty emails with him before driving off in her new Audi.

The Audi is a joy to drive. It has power steering. Wanda, my Beetle, has no power in it at all – anywhere, so my daily workout, which was driving my Beetle, will cease.

Time for a patented Jen Car Nitpick. Vintage Beetles didn’t have power steering, it’s true, but they didn’t need power steering. Beetles were purposely made light weight. Plus, vintage Beetles were rear-engine cars, meaning the bulk of the weight was in the back, so when you turn the wheel, you’re not trying to fight with your unwieldy, laden down front-end. Sure, steering is going to be more challenging at low speeds, but it’s not like, say, driving a much heavier modern front engine car with broken power steering. It’s not going to be a “work out”.

At this point, even Rutledge is calling me pedantic.

 Ana thinks some more about their morning emails, and how of course it’s her choice whether or not to be with him. She’s not sure she can just lie back and accept her feelings. She doesn’t want BDSM, but she does want Christian.

It’s Ana’s last day at the hardware store, and at lunch time, a courier on a motorcycle shows up with yet another gift from Christian. Think about the last time you got a surprise gift from a loved one, and how you felt. Now compare that with Ana’s reaction:

My heart sinks. What has Christian sent me now? I sign for the small package and open it straight away. It’s a BlackBerry. My heart sinks further. I switch it on.

Isn’t it weird how you put a piece of technology in your book, and then in a while it’s outdated? I do that shit all the time, and it always bites me in the ass. I’ve got characters in Blood Ties who are running around with shitty little flip phones. In two years, mark me, someone is going to read this book and go, “What, he didn’t just send her an implantable mind-link device? Hah, this book is so OLD.”

Christian has already emailed her to explain the present:

I need to be able to contact you at all times, and since this is your most honest form of communication, I figured you needed a BlackBerry.

Hey Ana, do you ever notice that any gift Christian gives you fulfills a need for him? Anyway, Ana is pissed off by the gift, so they email each other about it. I’ve bitched all along about how Ana is unbelievable as a college student because she doesn’t have a computer or an email address, but she picks up that BlackBerry straight out of the box and starts emailing. That’s vivid realism there, because you have to be under twenty-five to understand smart phones.

At four, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton gather all the other employees int he shop, and during a hair-curlingly embarrassing speech, present me with a check for three hundred dollars.
In that moment, three weeks of – exams, graduation, intense, fucked up billionares, deflowering, hard & soft limits, playrooms with no consoles, helicopter rides – and the fact that I will move tomorrow, all well up inside me. Amazingly, I hold myself together. My subconscious is in awe. I hug the Claytons hard. They have been kind and generous employers, and I will miss them.

Ignoring the insanely fucked-up grammar in that passage (is that an ampersand?!), check out the very telling dichotomy drawn by her acceptance of the money from the Claytons and her reaction to the BlackBerry. She can accept the gift from her employers because they have been kind and generous without asking anything else of her. She knows that their check comes without strings, because that is the kind of people they are. The BlackBerry isn’t a selfless gift. It was given to her expressly to facilitate communication at all times with Christian. But of course, that isn’t covered in the text.

Ana gets home in her new car (given to Ana to assuage Christian’s worry), just in time for Kate to see her driving it. Kate is still not convinced by Christian’s “Mr. Wonderful” act, but she suggests they finish packing. She must have given up trying to save Ana. Of course, before Ana can do anything, she has to check her email, and of course, Christian has emailed her. He tells her to be at his place at one on Sunday, and the doctor will see her at one-thirty. At this point, I was just praying we wouldn’t have to go through her entire gynecological visit, with Christian looming over the doctor’s shoulder, scowling possessively the whole time. Ana doesn’t email him back, and goes instead to pack. Taylor the bodyguard shows up for her Beetle, which has nothing but a flashlight in it. I call bullshit. How long has she had this car, and there’s no other personal items in it? No books, no sweatshirts, shoes, sunglasses, coffee cups, just a flashlight? I can’t buy it.

Taylor tells Ana that Christian is a “good man,” but Ana isn’t sure she can believe him. Which bodes well for this relationship, right? If you can’t tell if the person you’re dating is a good person or not? After they’re finished packing, Jose shows up with take out, and alcohol. Because Ana can’t go a day without biting her lip or pounding back booze.

The atmosphere between Jose and I has returned to normal, the attempted kiss forgotten. Well, it’s been swept under the rug that my inner goddess is lying on, eating grapes and tapping her fingers, waiting not so patiently for Sunday. There’s a knock at the door, and my heart leaps into my throat. Is it?

Is it what? Is it Sunday? I don’t live on the west coast, so I don’t know how time announces itself there. Here, it just barges right in. As for this thing with Jose, really? He acted pretty rapetacular toward you, and you’ve just forgotten it because your inner goddess is horny. Okay, fine. Whatever. I give up at this point.

Kate answers the door and is nearly knocked off her feet by Elliot. He seizes her in a Hollywood-style clinch that moves quickly into a European art house embrace. Honestly… get a room. Jose and I stare at each other. I’m appalled at their lack of modesty.

 Says the kettle whose boyfriend strolled half-naked into the kitchen to get refreshments while she was tied up, naked, in bed. I would like Ana a whole lot more if sex wasn’t this thing that was only okay for her to do with her one true cock. The amount of slut-shaming in this book is amazing. “Oh, yeah, my boyfriend totally ties me up and seriously asked if he could jam his fist up my asshole, but ew, gross, are you for real making out right in front of me? Unacceptable. Only whoores do that.”

Because they are just so disgusted by the sight of two adults kissing, Jose and Ana are going to go to the bar. That’s a good idea, because nothing weird happened between them down there last time.

As we stroll down to the bar, I put my arm through Jose’s. God, he’s so uncomplicated – I hadn’t really appreciated that before.

Oh yeah, he’s uncomplicated NOW, but when he starts turning into a werewolf, that’s when things get complicated.

 COME TO MY ART SHOW, ANA!

When Ana gets home, Kate and Elliot are doing either the Humpty Dance or the Wild Thing, depending on which retro rap act you like best. Ana thinks about how they’re way loud, and she knows she and Christian aren’t that loud. This is the cornerstone of all bad roommate sex behavior. No one ever thinks they’re that loud. At least all Kate has to deal with are Ana’s abusive relationship crying jags. That’s way better, right?

After a brief, not-at-all-awkward-thank-goodness hug, Jose has gone. I don’t know when I’ll see him again, probably at his photographic show, and once again, I’m blown away that he finally has an exhibition. I shall miss him and his boy-ish charm. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him about the Beetle, I know he’ll freak when he finds out, and I can only deal with one man at a time freaking out at me.

Ana is in luck, because a man does freak out at her. Christian, via email, writes:

Are you still at work or have you packed your phone, BlackBerry and MacBook?
Call me, or I may be forced to call Elliot.

And Elliot will answer like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, with one elbow length yellow rubber glove on. Which, unfortunately, I could not find a picture of. But you know what scene I’m talking about.

 Crap… Jose… shit.
I grab my phone. Five missed calls and one voice message. Tentatively, I listen to the message. It’s Christian.
‘I think you need to learn to manage my expectations. I am not a patient man. If you say you are going to contact me when you finish work, then you should have the decency to do so. Otherwise, I worry, and it’s not an emotion I’m familiar with, and I don’t tolerate it very well. Call me.’
Double crap. Will he ever give me a break? I scowl at the phone. He is suffocating me. With a deep dread uncurling in my stomach, I scroll down to his number and press dial. My heart is in my mouth as I wait for him to answer. He’d probably like to beat seven shades of shit out of me.

I love it when the picture does literally all the work.

So, Ana is now afraid to listen to his voicemails, as well as afraid to call him. That’s another sign of a healthy relationship, right? And look a how he blames her for his own emotions. He’s an adult man, he is perfectly capable of reasoning, “Okay, I know she has to move tomorrow morning, and today was her last day of work. She probably went to bed early, I’ll talk to her tomorrow.” But that would be way too easy. Instead, he guilts Ana into calling him. He’s not going to punish her, though, he was actually just worried, and the conversation is weirdly normal, except for the part where he makes her call him “sir”.
We transition past the move (thank GOD. I was so afraid I was going to have to read about them moving boxes and furniture for an entire chapter, because the very foundation of this book appears to be lingering over inconsequential and boring details), to when Elliot has hung up their television in their new house. Hey, Elliot is good at mounting two things! Ana gets annoyed at the way Kate and Elliot have a totally normal relationship. No, I’m not making this up:

“I’d love to stay, baby, but my sister is back from Paris. It’s a compulsory family dinner tonight.”
“Can you come by after?” Kate asks tentatively, all soft and un-Katelike.
I stand and make my way over to the kitchen area on the pretense o unpacking one of the crates. They are going to get icky.

 God, why can’t they just discuss anal fisting and sign contracts like normal couples?

Elliot is adorable and so different from Christian. He’s warm, open, physical, very physical, too physical, with Kate. They can barely keep their hands off each other – to be honest it’s embarrassing – and I am pea-green with envy.

At least Ana is self-aware enough to acknowledge the fact that she’s jealous of the normalcy of Kate and Elliot’s relationship. Although I find it laughable that Elliot is “too physical” with Kate, while Christian has a room devoted to the many ways he likes to beat women.

Kate brings back pizza (what, no vino?) and they enjoy their super expensive apartment that looks out on Pike Place Market. Then the door buzzes, and it’s a delivery boy with a bottle of champagne (there it is!) and a balloon shaped like a helicopter.

“Christian flew me to Seattle in his helicopter.” I shrug.
Kate stares at me open mouthed. I have to say – I love these occasions – Katherine Kavanagh, silent and floored, they are so rare. I take a brief and luxurious moment to enjoy it.
“Yep, he has a helicopter, which he flew himself,” I state proudly.

“My boyfriend has a helicopter and yours doesn’t. Neener neener!” Notice how Christian can’t just send her the champagne, he has to make it about him, somehow? “Hey, I got you this moving in present. Remember how I have a helicopter? I have a helicopter.” He’s like a hyperactive four-year-old shouting, “Look what I can do!” over and over. Kate expresses concern over the delivery, because Ana didn’t give Christian their new address. Christian emails Ana with the codes to get into his building, and the next day she’s headed over there. She wears the plum-colored dress, make up and heels, because dressing down for your first gynecological appointment is so gauche.

Christian is seated on his living room couch reading the Sunday papers. He glances up as Taylor directs me into the living area. The room is exactly as I remember it – it’s been a whole week since I’ve been here – but it feels so much longer. Christian looks cool and calm – actually, he looks heavenly. He’s in a loose white linen shirt and jeans, no shoes or socks. His hair is tousled and unkempt, and his gray eyes twinkle wickedly at me. He is jaw-droppingly handsome.

I imagine that Ana looks like this every time she sees Christian:

Except not blonde, obviously. 

 Just an FYI for those reading along at home, I’ve stopped commenting on the number of times Ana flushes in this chapter, because it’s really a lot. An intrusive amount, most readers would agree. There is a picture of the two of them in the newspaper, taken at Ana’s graduation. She’s basically like, “that’s nice, let’s fuck,” but Christian reminds her that the good doctor will be there to get her all chemically neutered in just a little bit. Ana has forgotten about the doctor visit, but Christian has this shit all handled. He’s even gotten a real OB/GYN and everything.

Christian frowns suddenly as if recalling something unpleasant.
“Anastasia, my mother would like you to come to dinner this evening. I believe Elliot is asking Kate too. I don’t know how you feel about that. It will be odd for me to introduce you to my family.”

Odd? Why?

Because you’re so clumsy, you might wound yourself and then one of his siblings will try to eat you? That’s just off the top of my head. They get into a little tiff, and I’m not sure whose side I’m on. Ana has been crushingly embarrassed of Christian every single time he’s been introduced to one of her friends or family members, but she can’t understand why it would be weird for Christian to be in the same situation? And Christian’s mom walked in on them in bed together. You know, I met my mother-in-law in the exact same way, and the second meeting is crazy uncomfortable. I get why Christian doesn’t want to live through that. However, he’s perfectly fine insinuating himself into every facet of Ana’s life, so tit-for-tat, Christian.

The doctor arrives, after what is arguably the shortest half-hour ever written about in the history of books.

“You’re not going to come as well are you?” I gasp, shocked.
He laughs.
“I’d pay very good money to watch, believe me, Anastasia, but I don’t think the good doctor would approve.”

Um, ew? I’m suddenly not believing his “hard limit” about not being into gynecological instruments.

I take his hand, and he pulls me up into his arms and kisses me deeply. I clutch on to his arms, taken by surprise. His hand is in my hair holding my head, and he pulls me against him, his forehead against mine. 

Oh, come on. She’s getting a pap smear, not getting into the last lifeboat off the Titanic. And Ana thinks Kate and Elliot are too mushy?

Christian tells Ana that he can’t wait to get her naked (wait your turn!) and the chapter ends without advancing the plot at all.

Another 50 Shades Domestic Violence PSA. Now with added author breakdown.

Every day, I hear more women making excuses for 50 Shades, and for the behavior of Christian Grey in the book. And this weekend, I heard a lot of those same excuses, from a childhood friend of mine. Not about the book. About her marriage.
Without giving enough detail to reveal identifying information, let me tell you her situation. She met a guy from a rich family, and she married him. He doesn’t like her family, though, so she doesn’t really see them anymore. She sees his family. And he doesn’t like her friends, either, so she doesn’t see them anymore. She sees his friends. They go on expensive vacations, all over the world, and they go to rich people parties. But she’s not happy, because he calls her names, he won’t let her have her own money. He has rules she has to follow, and he reacts poorly if she doesn’t. She confessed to us that she was afraid of him – her words, “I’m afraid of my husband,” – and then immediately made an excuse for having said it. And she has reason to be afraid of him. He’s currently being charged with felonious assault against the teenage son of a neighbor. “He does have a bad temper,” she said, in the understatement of the year. Her name is on none of their property, though they do have a joint bank account that he monitors to make sure she doesn’t take out “too much”. She can’t let the laundry go too long, can’t let the dishes stack up, because he has a temper.
But she’s not abused. “He’s never hit me.”
I have no doubt in my mind that she’ll be a inset photo on the cover of People magazine someday soon, one of those women who “falls” off a cruise ship or gets “accidentally” left behind on a scuba trip after an argument with her husband. I’m not a good enough writer to tell you how hearing all of this made me feel. All I can say is that my heart hurts. It makes me feel helpless, and it makes my heart hurt.
And it makes me angry. It makes me furiously, violently angry at every woman who falls for the “romance” in 50 Shades. It makes me furiously angry at the author of 50 Shades, who I have refrained from commenting on at the risk of being accused of professional jealousy or attacking her. But I’m angry enough now that I want to attack her, I want to attack someone, something, anything. I want to be able to protect my friend, but I can’t, because she has been brainwashed by our misguided culture, that tells women over and over how much they want a guy like Christian Grey. Well, a person I love, a person I was at one time so close to that we would literally dream in sync, snagged her own, real life Christian Grey. This is the result. The people around her won’t be surprised at all when she disappears. We’re building up our defenses against it, and planning for it, so it doesn’t bowl us over. Because there’s nothing else we can do. We know we’re more likely to lose her than save her. She’s standing at the base of an oncoming avalanche, and any move we might make to help her will just bury her deeper.
There is nothing I can fight against. I can’t hit something or smash something to make this go away. All I can do is watch as silly, stupid women shovel their money (the be all and end all of power in our culture) into the hands of another silly, stupid woman, creating a sick circle-jerk of abuse as romance. And now I hear that E.L. James is writing a YA novel. Brainwash them while they’re young. Make sure we train women to know their place right out of the gate. But can I even blame those women, or E.L. James? She isn’t the puppeteer here, she’s the puppet. Christian Grey, 50 Shades, those aren’t the cause of the problem, they’re a symptom. And E.L. James is as brainwashed as the rest of us. I can’t even be angry at her.
“The War On Women” is a phrase thrown around a lot lately, and it makes us think of unsmiling, upright Christian men in suits bartering our personal freedoms for money to dig for oil. But the real enemy is our culture, and the attitudes that lead women to devour 50 Shades, to tweet that they’d let Chris Brown hit them. Even in my own attitudes and writing, I see problematic themes, and I rush to excuse them. We’re all making excuses, we’re all being victimized. Women are in an abusive relationship with the culture that surrounds us.
I don’t know how to fix any of this, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t forget it. In the meantime, I’ll just wait. Wait for the call where I learn that someone I have loved fiercely is dead, because she’s been told her entire life to excuse a multitude of sins so long as no one is hitting her. Wait for the return to conservative Christian values that will make me a prisoner in my home country again. Wait for the next pop star to abuse a woman and get a pass for it, wait for the next big best seller to confirm to men that women really do want to be treated like human garbage, wait for the wives of America to find another thing to chat about behind their hands on the playground.
That’s what we’re doing. We’re all waiting, standing in the middle of a building on fire, trying to warn people so they can save themselves. And they argue that they like the smoke, and they’re happy to burn.
There is a real, human cost here. All I want is for someone to acknowledge it.

Sex Scene Saturday: Chris and Maggie AND a ***CONTEST*** AND a CONTEST WINNER AND a cover reveal!

This is a big Saturday for me! It’s time again for another SEX SCENE SATURDAY, where you get to read a snippet of naughty from one of my pseudonym’s hot romances and get a chance to win the book.

Last week, you guys entered to win ALL STEAMED UP: BOUND IN BRASS, and I’m so pleased to announce the winner, by random.org draw:

NATALIE!
Natalie, I will be contacting you about what format you want that book in!
I also want to thank the awesome people who commented or emailed me these past two weeks to tell me they’d bought a book based on the excerpt posted. That’s really cool of you, thanks a bunch! Don’t forget to check out the other authors participating, after the excerpt.
Successful entrepreneur Maggie Harper has lived and breathed baseball since birth. But when her father, once a legendary player, later a team owner, leaves her the Grand Rapids Bengals in his will, she’s in over her head. Orchestrating a successful season is foreign territory, complicated by a sizzling one-night stand with a player who definitely wants something more.

After pitching a disastrous game that cost the Bengals the championship pennant, veteran pitcher Chris Thomas knows his days as a player are numbered. There are more important things to be worried about than the sexy new team owner, but Maggie’s hot-and-cold act is driving him to distraction. A woman has never come between him and the game before, but now he has to make a choice between his love of playing ball and his love of Maggie.

When their entanglement is discovered, the stakes are even higher. Caught between doing what’s right for the team and what’s right for them, Maggie and Chris have to decide what’s more important, a championship season, or a chance at love.

What am I doing? Chris had been doing his best to ignore his rational side all evening. It was stupid of him to have agreed to sneak off with Maggie. It was stupid of him to have brought her back here. It was supremely stupid of him to have his face buried in her cunt and her legs locked around his neck.
This is Coach’s daughter, his brain reminded him. Fuck his brain—he’d never liked it, anyway. Besides, she wasn’t a teenager anymore. No, she was definitely a full grown woman, and she wanted this as much as Chris did, judging from the way she rolled her hips against his mouth.
Beneath his lips she was hot, wet, and open. He ran his tongue over her clit and sucked the hard knot with merciless pressure. She groaned and took loud, deep breaths. When he looked up, he almost laughed. Her head was turned to the microwave and the green numbers on its clock face.
If she thought she would really last ten minutes, she was insane. At least, if she was as turned on as he was. He certainly didn’t know if he could last for ten minutes without fucking her right there on the kitchen island. He rolled his tongue around in lazy circles then dipped down to push inside her. She gave a long, noisy exhalation, and her palm slapped the counter.
“How many minutes has it been?” he asked, bumping his nose against her folds as he raised his head.
She replied through gritted teeth. “Four.”
“Hmm. Not even halfway done yet.” He parted her with his thumbs and stroked down the bundle of nerves slowly, savoring the taste of her, the feel of the frilled edge of her flesh against
his tongue. Alternating between slowly lapping at her and darting his tongue in precision strikes, until she wriggled her hips and clawed at his hair with her shiny red nails.
Her mound, waxed bare, was like velvet on his face. He groaned against her and slipped his tongue inside, curling over her internal ridges. With his hand splayed over her lower abdomen, he rubbed her clit over and over with his thumb, faster and faster, until her whole body curled up from the counter and she screamed, “Oh, fuck!”
He pushed up, laughing, and she wriggled back, pulling her skirt down pretty demurely for a woman who was still breathing hard after a screaming orgasm on a kitchen counter.
“Look, before we go any further…”
“Yeah, I’ll be right back.” He left her there only for a minute, running to the bathroom, shedding his shirt along the way. In the medicine cabinet, he found condoms, and with a grimace of dismay, reluctantly checked the expiration date. It had been a really long time. When he saw that they were good to go, he breathed a sigh of relief and headed back out. He’d expected her to have moved to someplace more comfortable. The couch, maybe, or even upstairs in his bed, if he thought they would make it that far. She sat on one of the bar stools at the island, leaning back with her elbows on the counter. One leg rested lazily over the other stool, giving him a spectacular view of her glistening cunt.
“Six minutes,” she said, in answer to a question he wouldn’t have been smart enough to ask, anyway.
“You wanna move to the couch?” he asked, not sure what they were talking about, just absolutely certain that he would fall to his knees and beg her if he didn’t get inside her soon.
“No, no, no, I don’t think we can see the clock from there.” She swung her long leg down from the bar stool, her heels clacking on the stained concrete as she closed the distance between them. “Wanna go double or nothing? See if you can’t beat six minutes?”
Oh, so it was that game, was it? There was no way he’d be able to last six minutes. She might as well have asked to go six years. As she dropped to her knees in front of him, he held his breath. He tried to keep cool, but all he could think of was how hot her cherry-red lips would look wrapped around his cock. Already painfully hard, he groaned as she unzipped his fly and released him. She stroked one hand down him slowly, bending her wrist as she did. “Wow. It’s just as impressive up close.”
He laughed weakly, too overcome by the flood of sensation as she pumped him. When sweat beaded on his forehead and he closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on anything but the feel of her warm, soft hand gliding like silk over his dick, she stopped.
“Look at me,” she practically cooed, and he was helpless to resist. When he opened his eyes, her lips hovered just a fraction from the head of his cock. Her tongue darted out, and he felt the heat of it, but not the touch, as she wet her lips. “I’m going to make you come.”
Before he could think of a witty retort, she slid her lips over him, gliding them down his shaft until he touched the back of her throat, then pulling completely back, her tongue swiping along the underside of his cock as she went. His toes curled against the cold floor.
Kneeling before him, she looked like a pin-up sex goddess come to life. She held his hips for stability as she bobbed and slid her mouth over him. Her ankles were crossed, the red heels gleaming. Her fantastic breasts pressed against his thighs, and he could vividly imagine how they would bounce as she rode him. He couldn’t wait to experience it, but a look at the clock told him he’d endured only three minutes of her acrobatic tongue and mouth.
Things…weren’t going well. He wasn’t going to make it six minutes, absolutely no way. He might not make it another thirty seconds. “I think I have to give up,” he managed through gritted back teeth.
She slipped her mouth slowly, torturously free, her tongue tapping the underside of his head as she did. “I never said you were going to have the option of yielding.”
Apparently, she did not grasp the seriousness of the situation. “Maggie, I’m telling you, I’m close.”
She pumped him in her hand and swirled her tongue around him like goddamned lollipop. “Make me stop.”
His hips bucked, his balls drew up. The white hot threat of orgasm curled tighter, and in his desperation, he used the only defense available to him. He grabbed the detachable faucet head from the bar sink on the island, and he sprayed her.

So, there is your naughtiness for this week! Tune in to the following awesome authors for more:
Now, you might be wondering, “Jen, how can I win a copy of LONG RELIEF? Well, it’s very simple. Leave a comment on this post (and your email address or twitter handle, for the love of God, just give me some way to contact you) and you’re automatically entered. Contest closes at 6pm EST next Friday, so I can announce the winners on Saturday. If you’re reading this entry at GoodReads.com, please click through to my blogger site and enter there, so your entry isn’t lost like the entries to the “Name Chedward’s Penis” contest were.
If you’ve read LONG RELIEF, then you know that the HARD BALL series centers around a fictional, totally not based on any other team ever, baseball team, the Grand Rapids Bengals. The team’s story continues in my June release, DOUBLE HEADER, a M/M contemporary romance. And you get to feast your horny eyeballs on the beautiful man on the cover, for the very first time ever, anywhere (okay, you may have seen the cover on Resplendence Publishing’s “coming soon” page. If you did, act surprised. I won’t know the difference).
That urge you’re feeling to lick the screen? That’s natural.
So, enter to win, check out my writer friends, drool over that cover, and I’ll see you back here bright and early on Tuesday!

In case you were wondering…

I am not dead, nor am I trapped under something heavy, my fingers just inches from my phone in a cruel, Twilight Zone-esque parody of my own mortality.

Actually, never mind, go with that second one, it fits the situation so well. I’m actually under two very close deadlines, so I’ll be returning with recaps just as soon as project #1 is finished and in the hands of my editor, and project #2 is finishing and in the hands of the work-for-hire guy and my agent.

In the meantime, I have compiled for you my greatest (unfortunately, 50 Shades unrelated) hits. While they are not just me, endlessly bitching about the book you love to hate, I think they’re a pretty good guide to what goes on around here during non-recap hours:

There. That should keep you going while I get these baseball players humping.

50 Shades of Grey chapter 16 recap, or “Shit just got real.”

I read an article this weekend on CafeMom that absolutely infuriated me, but I’m not going to share it here because my blood pressure will spike. Also, I’m saving it for my wrap-up post, because it fully encapsulates everything that is wrong with a culture in which a book like this can thrive. But in short, it was written by a dude saying, “Buy your wife this book, because you’ll have crazy good sex!” And then there were a bunch of ignorant comments about how great the book is and how it doesn’t matter if it promotes abuse because OMG IT’S FICTION U GUIZE DOEN’T LIEK DOEN’T READ!

It was the comments that got me, more than anything else, because I realized where I’ve read comments like these before. AT FANFICTION.NET. This is an utterly bizarre new phenomenon to me. This book is getting fanfic reviews. You might say, “Well, since it was once fanfic, that makes sense,” but it doesn’t, not really. I have a pretty big hunch that a lot of the women buying these books don’t have experience in the fanfic community, but they’re hitting every spot on the fanfic review bingo card, including the ever popular “DON’T LIKE DON’T READ”. Jesus Christ, I’m almost expecting E.L. James to pop up in an interview saying, “I had to write this for school so I don’t care if you like it or not!”
This might require further investigation.
Oh, and before we get started on chapter sixteen, look at what intrepid reader Alyssa made me:

So, you know. Don’t dive into your ass. Asses are not for diving into.
When we left our intrepid band of merry fellows, they had just finished having sex. Like they do. Ana thinks about how good he smells and how awesome it is to be with him, and she tries to touch him but he’s not having any of that nonsense, thanks.

“Don’t,” he murmurs, then kisses me lightly.
“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft gray eyes.
“Because I’m fifty shades of fucked-up, Anastasia.”

I love it when a character will say the title of a movie during the movie. Absolutely love it. Here, it throws me. We all know that this series was originally called “Master Of The Universe”. So, in this line, did Edward Cullen say he doesn’t like to be touched because he’s He-Man? Did this line change the title, or did the title change the line?

Pictured: the inside of my brain right now.

He can’t tell Ana why he doesn’t want to be touched, other than that he’s fucked up. Oh, and they have this conversation while his dick is still in her.

“I had a very tough introduction to life. I don’t want to burden you with the details. Just don’t.” He strokes his nose against mine, and then he pulls out of me and sits up.

Now, I’m not an expert in etiquette or anything, but don’t you usually have the conversation about being emotionally fucked up when you’ve already put your penis away? This conversation is taking place literally moments after orgasm. So, it’s basically been, Ah! Ah! Yes! Oh yes! Spurt, collapse, I had a fucked up childhood. WHO DOES THAT?

Ana is totally frustrated by his reluctance to share anything personal with her, but she makes “an enormous effort to smile at him,” and tells him that she knows she was never really in charge during the sex. In an exchange that doesn’t seem to follow her statement in any way, he reveals that he’s been keeping count (and creepy possession) of her orgasms.

“Miss Steele, you are not just a pretty face. You’ve had six orgasms so far and all of them belong to me,” he boasts, playful again.I flush and blink at the same time, as he stares down at me. He’s keeping count! His brow furrows.“Do you have something to tell me?” his voice is suddenly stern.I frown. Crap.
“I had a dream this morning.”“Oh?” He glares at me.Double crap. Am I in trouble?

Why would you be in trouble, Ana? Isn’t the man you’re sleeping with the totally normal kind of sex-contract guy who understands that there are things in this world that are out of your control, like the quality of wine at your graduation and whether or not another person calls your phone? Oh, shit, no, that’s right. You’re with Christian Grey. Luckily for her, she was dreaming about him whipping her with a riding crop, because he lets the sleepgasm slide. I guess it still counts as “his” orgasm if she was dreaming about him. He gets up and starts to dress, and Ana is totally bummed because she wants him to stay. He’s more interested in her lady health, though, demanding to know when she’s going to get her period. He hates wearing condoms (and actually throws this one on the floor. Pff, who the fuck are you, Chedward? My lazy husband?) and tells Ana, “‘You need to sort out some contraception.’” Of course she does. She’s the woman. If you have the vagina, that responsibility falls directly on you. Ana doesn’t have a gynecologist (because she’s a fucking idiot. I’m sorry, if you’re reading this and you’re twenty-one and you haven’t been to the gynecologist, please go. There seems to be this weird misconception that you only have to go if you’re sexually active and/or need the pill, and I’m so glad to see this pop culture juggernaut reinforcing that dangerous opinion), so Christian offers to have his doctor come over and see her at his place. In terms of romance, nothing says “I love you” like meeting with your boyfriend’s gynecologist.

Ana asks Christian why he’s leaving, because she’s hoping he’ll stay. She offers to drive him home, but he points out how much she had to drink.

“Did you get me tipsy on purpose?”
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“Because you over-think everything, and you’re reticent like your stepdad. A drop of wine in you and you start talking, and I need you to communicate honestly with me. Otherwise you clam up, and I have no idea what you’re thinking. In vino veritas, Anastasia.”

And the award for fucking amazing rationalization for getting someone drunk so they’ll do whatever you say goes to…

Ana asks him to stay and have sex with her again, since, you know, they have that extra condom he can spunk in and throw on her floor. He says he’s crossed too many lines, and he has to go. So, I’m guess this is not the one night a week he kinda maybe sort of is her pseudo boyfriend? He also says he’ll have the revised contract ready for her to sign on Sunday, so they “‘can really start to play.’”

“Play?” Holy shit. My heart leaps into my mouth.
“I’d like to do a scene with you. But I won’t until you’ve signed, so I know you’re ready.”

Do a scene? Don’t sign that contract Ana! He gets off on torturing you by making him gear up for auditions!

Oh god.

Wait a minute.

That reminds me of something.

Christian Grey won’t take his shirt off, ever.

Christian Grey… is a NEVER NUDE.

This is, no shit, the exact pose I am in right now.

Ana seizes on that whole, “we won’t do BDSM until you sign the contract” thing, and suggests that she could eek out a normal relationship with him while he waits for her to sign. Christian advises her that waiting might be a bad idea.

“Could get really ugly.”
His grin is infectious.
“Ugly, how?”
“Oh you know, explosions, car chases, kidnapping, incarceration.”
“You’d kidnap me?”
“Oh yes,” he grins.
“Hold me against my will?”
Jeez this is hot.

NO IT IS NOT. Here’s why it’s not hot. Even though the author is striving for a playful tone, it doesn’t work when the hero has already exhibited threatening behavior in a way that has truly frightened the heroine. This is not some cute little exchange, because Chedward has already stalked and intimidated Ana. He has threatened to rape her, he’s locked her into a room with him. He took her from a bar when she was passed out, and brought her to another city that is hours away from her home. He has proven several times that he has the money and the power to exert his will over her, making this conversation so completely not funny, and totally not hot. He’s telling her that she no long has the option of consent in this relationship, she’s either going to sign the contract and do things his way, or he’s going to force her. The only way it would be funny or hot is if we did not already know he would be perfectly capable of doing exactly these things.


Of course, this all gets thrown to the wayside when Ana rolls her eyes at him.

“I told you what I’d do. I’m a man of my word. I’m going to spank you, and then I’m going to fuck you very quick and very hard. Looks like we’ll need that condom after all.” His voice is so soft, menacing, and it’s damned hot. My insides practically contort with potent, needy, liquid, desire. He gazes at me, waiting, eyes blazing. Tentatively, I uncurl my legs. Should I run? This is it, our relationship hangs in the balance, right here, right now. Do I let him do this or do I say no, and that’s it? Because I know it will be over if I say no. Do it! My inner goddess pleads with me, my subconscious is as paralyzed as I am. “I’m waiting,” he says. “I’m not a patient man.” Oh for the love of all that’s holy. I’m panting, afraid, turned on. Blood pounding through my body, my legs are like jelly. Slowly, I crawl over to him until I am beside him.

 Is it just me, or does this paragraph seem to imply that Ana is doing this BDSM stuff to keep Christian? I know, I know, it’s probably just me, because I’m uptight about sex or not getting enough sex or something. I hear that’s why I don’t enjoy the Anita Blake books anymore, so it’s obviously why I’m not enjoying reading about a woman making sexual compromises she’s uncomfortable with in order to keep a man’s interest.

The scene plays out pretty much how you’re thinking it does. He spanks her, it hurts like a motherfucker, she wants to ask him to stop, but she doesn’t because she doesn’t “want to give him the satisfaction.” Then he jams two fingers up her and says it’s obvious that her body loves being spanked, because she’s wet. Okay, but you did just have sex like, two minutes ago. Then he fucks her face down on the bed, and she thinks how awesome it is that she “survived” her first BDSM encounter.

“Well done, baby,” he whispers, quiet joy in his voice. His words curl around me like a soft fluffy towel from the Heathman Hotel, and I’m so pleased that he’s happy.

Are you happy, Ana? Oh, shit, that’s right, that doesn’t matter. Because this book is all about the fantasy of pleasing a man, not being pleased, yourself. Ana has a difficult time reconciling the way she feels post-spank-sex and the way she feels about the whole BDSM thing. She also slut-shames herself a little while Christian rubs baby oil into her butt. Then, he has to leave, because his man-servant has been waiting in the car this whole time, like that scene in Scent of a Woman where Charlie waits for the Colonel to fuck a prostitute.

Chedward also used to be on Lyndon Johnson’s staff.

After Christian leaves, Ana spends some time thinking:

I close the door and stand helpless in the living room of an apartment that I shall only spend another two nights in. A place I have lived happily for almost four years… yet today, for the first time ever, I feel lonely and uncomfortable here, unhappy with my own company. Have I strayed so far from who I am? I know that lurking, not very far under my rather numb exterior, is a well of tears. What am I doing? The irony is I can’t even sit down and enjoy a good cry. I’ll have to stand.

In other words, Ana is still not into this BDSM thing and doesn’t want to do it. Let’s refer really quick to that abuse literature Kel sent me, okay? Remember these universal red flags?

  • You feel uncomfortable about something he has said or done, and the feeling remains
  • You feel bad about yourself when you are around him.
  • You find yourself accepting him “for now” even though you have plenty of red flags that would help you to terminate the relationship if you paid attention to them.
I’m just saying.
Ana calls her mom, because she’s that shaken up and she needs to talk to someone. It’s an interesting conversation, so I’m going to excerpt it in little chunks for easier digestion:

“Ana? What’s wrong?” She’s all seriousness now.“Nothing, Mom, I just wanted to hear your voice.”She’s silent for a moment.“Ana, what is it? Please tell me.” Her voice is soft and comforting, and I know that she cares. Uninvited, my tears being to flow. I have cried so often in the last few days.“Please, Ana,” she says, and her anguish reflects mine.“Oh, Mom, it’s a man.”“What’s he done to you?” Her alarm is palpable.

Ana’s mom knows immediately that something is really wrong. It’s not mother’s intuition. It’s not some magical connection or someone worrying too much. Ana is so emotionally disturbed that her mother can hear it over the phone.

“It’s not like that.” Although it is… Oh crap. I don’t want to worry her. I just want someone else to be strong for me at the moment.

  •  You make excuses for his character and minimize his behavior.

“Ana, please, you’re worrying me.”I take a big breath.“I’ve kind of fallen for this guy, and he’s so different from me, and I don’t know if we should be together.”

  •  Your past and his are very different, and the two of you have conflicts over it.
  • You tell your friends you are “unsure about the relationship.”

“Oh, darling, I wish I could be with you. I am so sorry I missed your graduation. You’ve fallen for someone, finally. Oh, honey, men, they are so tricky. They’re a different species, honey. How long have you known him?”
Christian is definitely a different species…
different planet.

  •  You think no one else in his life understands him.

“Oh, nearly three weeks or so.”“Ana, darling, that’s no time at all. How can you possibly know someone in that kind of time frame? Just take it easy with him and keep him at arm’s length until you decide whether he’s worthy of you.”Wow… it’s unnerving when my mother is so insightful, but she’s just too late on this.Is he worthy of me? That’s an interesting concept I always wonder whether I am worthy of him.

  • You sense he is pushing too quickly for an emotional connection with you.

“Honey, you sound so unhappy. Come home – visit with us. I miss you, darling. Bob would love to see you too. You can get some distance and maybe some perspective. You need a break. You’ve been working so hard.”Oh boy, is this tempting. Run away to Georgia. Grab some sunshine, some cocktails.

  •  You wish he would go away, you want to cry, and you want to run away from him.
Ana can’t go, because she has job interviews, but she promises she’ll think about visiting. Then, Kate comes home, sees that Ana has been crying, and tells her to dump Christian.

The world of Katherine Kavanagh is very clear, very black and white. Not the intangible, mysterious, vague hues of gray that color my world. Welcome to my world.

 Of course, Ana. No one understands the special and unique, mysterious relationship you have with your abuser. You’re the first victim of an abusive relationship who thinks this way. I’ve been very careful to separate my comments re: abuse from consensual BDSM activities. I have to tread very gently here, because what I’m about to say is a minefield. Ana lies to Kate about falling down and hurting herself, so that Kate won’t know that Christian spanked her. Ana consented to be spanked, but her consent was forced by emotional manipulation, so it really wasn’t consent, at all. Now, she’s lying to her friend about what happened. Guess what we’re reading here? We’re reading a story about abuse, complete with the “I walked into a door” trope.

Kate suggests they drink some wine (because the state wide boil order has left the population with nothing but alcohol to drink, apparently) and Ana realizes that there were “warning signs” about Christian all along, she just wanted so badly to be with him that she ignored them. Rather than talk to Kate about it, she changes the subject to Kate’s day. As it turns out, Christian’s brother might be moving in with Kate and Ana at their new place in Seattle. Immediately, Ana thinks that Christian won’t like it, but then thinks he will have to suck it up. Good for you, Ana. You are not responsible for making sure the universe pleases Christian Grey.

Ana goes to bed and checks her email, and of course, Christian has emailed her to tell her she’s “The most beautiful, intelligent, witty and brave woman I have ever met.” I try to think back to a single thing Ana has said in Christian’s presence that could be interpreted as witty or intelligent, because usually she’s snide and childish. He tells Ana not to drive her car again, and warns that he will know if she does. Probably he’s put some kind of tracker on the damn thing, because that’s how much he cares. She tells him caning is a hard limit, and he accepts that and tells her not to drink too much. This, coming from the guy who was all, “Yes, I got you drunk so you’d do what I wanted you to do.” Ugh, this guy. He tells her Taylor will sell her car for her, and when she argues with him, he says he’s tempted to drive over to her house and spank her again. He also warns against making him angry, because he’s the Hulk. She tells him she doesn’t like him because he never stays the night with her, and then she goes to bed.

Then, we get this very telling paragraph:

 And then this evening, he actually hit me. I’ve never been hit in my life. What have I gotten myself into? Very slowly, my tears, halted by Kate’s arrival, begin to slide down the side of my face and into my ears. I have fallen for someone who’s so emotionally shut down, I will only get hurt – deep down I know this – someone who by his own admission is completely fucked up. Why is he so fucked up? It must be awful to be as affected as he is, and the thought that as a toddler he suffered some unbearable cruelty makes me cry harder. Perhaps if he was more normal he wouldn’t want you, my subconscious contributes snidely to my musings… and in my heart of hearts I know this is true. I turn into my pillow and the sluice gates open… and for the first time in years, I am sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow.

  •  You think no one else in his life has ever really loved him/helped him.
  • You notice he quickly discloses information about his past or present or his emotional pain.
Perhaps the most alarming part? She doesn’t think, “I just got spanked as part of a BDSM game.” She thinks, “He hit me.” That’s where I feel confident in saying that this is not a consensual BDSM relationship, but abuse. That. Right. There. Because Ana clearly feels that it is abuse.
Suddenly, Ana hears Kate shouting stuff like, “‘What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?’” and “‘Since she’s met you she cries all the time.’” Christian has shown up, Ana can’t stop crying, and Kate asks if she should throw him out. 

“Why are you here?” I ask, ignoring his question. My tears have miraculously ceased, but I’m left with dry heaves racking my body.

Wait, was she puking or crying? Christian explains that he came back because he should “look after your needs” and since she wanted him to stay, he will. Okay, except she wanted you to stay before, and you left. He makes her take some Advil, which is a GREAT idea, since she’s just drunk like two bottles of booze, right?

I stare down at my hands. What can I say that I haven’t said already. I want more. I want him to stay because he wants to stay with me, not because I’m a blubbering mess, and I don’t want him to beat me, is that so unreasonable?

Just wanted to highlight that she’s considering it beating now.

 Christian tells her that if he’s supposed to know what’s going on her head, she has to tell him honestly. So, she does, and she’s all, “I don’t want you to hit me,” to which he responds that she wasn’t supposed to like it. When she asks him why he likes it, his response is to intimidate her, although he tells her he won’t hit her again… tonight.

“I like the control it brings me, Anastasia. I want you to behave in a particular way, and if you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn to behave the way I desire. I enjoy punishing you. I’ve watned to spank you since you asked me if I was gay.” I flush at the memory. Jeez, I wanted to spank myself after that question. So Katherine Kavanagh is responsible for all this, and if she’d gone to that interview and asked her gay question, she’d be sitting here with the sore ass. I don’t like that though. How confusing is this?

I’m not entirely sure I can convey, in intelligent, rage-free terms, how I feel about this nonsense. So, instead of focusing on the homophobia, the markers of an abusive personality, the continuing Kate-blame and jealousy, I’m going to just let you watch this video of a star going supernova and you can interpret that as my shivering, full-body rage:

“So you don’t like the way I am.”
He stares at me, bewildered again.
“I think you’re lovely the way you are.”
“So why are you trying to change me?”
“I don’t want to change you. I’d like you to be courteous and to follow the set of rules I’ve given you and not defy me. Simple,” he says.

Here is a video you can watch of a nuclear explosion underwater:

Christian explains that the control he exerts over her gives him sexual excitement, and Ana finds that a somewhat satisfactory explanation, for the time being. Christian says he’s never had to explain his predilections to anyone before, because he’s always around like-minded people. To me, that just points to a stunning lack of self-examination in his life. “I like to beat people with canes and I’ve devoted a very expensive room to just that. I’m sure I don’t need to think about the whys or wherefores, right?” Even if the only conclusion he arrived at was, “It turns me on,” he should have at least thought about it before.

Ana confesses that she feels like she’s Icarus, and he tells her she has it wrong, he’s the one completely in her thrall. Oh, that makes it okay to emotionally manipulate her then, I guess. He stays the night with her, even though he doesn’t really want to, and suggests that since she communicates better in email than face to face, she should keep showing him her real emotions in email.

Because you can delete an email, see. You can’t delete a person crying in front of you.

SEX SCENE SATURDAY: Horace and Tallulah ***CONTEST/CONTEST WINNER!***

It’s Sex Scene Saturday again! Before I post the steamy steampunk excerpt, I should announce the winner of the drawing for BEAST! By random number generator, the winner is BRANDY. Brandy, I need your email address so I can send you your prize.

So, this week, I’m offering up another sexy scene, and another sexy prize. This time, from my steampunk erotic romance, BOUND IN BRASS:

The Two Aces. Victorian London’s most salacious secret, the club is a place where erotic fantasies are played out among clockwork automatons and aether powered machines. Where nothing is off limits and the pleasures are as wicked as the imagination will allow…

Tallulah Applewhite is an American widow abroad, finding all the pleasures Europe has to offer. She gets more than she bargained for when she ventures into the The Two Aces and meets the man known as the Ace of Hearts. Their sexual encounters push her to the very limits of desire, and together they find just what her unhappy marriage was missing.

Horace Sterling has never wanted anything that he couldn’t have, but he’s surprised at how much he wants this fresh Georgia Peach. Uninhibited and alluring, she enflames his passion like no other. The only thing more scandalous than taking up with a widow who should be in mourning would be taking up with a married woman—and both he and Tallulah are in for the shock of their lives…


The walk to the club and the ride in the elevating room were an exercise in impatience. Once he led her through the club, down the labyrinthine halls, to a room where they could be alone, finally, she uttered a groan of relief. He gripped her shoulders, pushing her against the closing door, his knee grinding between her legs. He pulled up her skirts in frenzy, reached between them, and she widened her stance, ready to feel him filling her.
“You’re so wet,” he whispered against her ear. Something nudged her between her legs. Not him, certainly, it was not large enough. She shivered at the memory of his huge cock. She’d actually been afraid for a moment the first time he’d taken it out. Whatever toy he pushed into her now, it did not compare.
That was not to say it was ineffectual. Cold and smooth, it hummed with urgency as he pumped it into her, and she gasped, feeling at once far too constrained in her clothing. She wanted to roll her nipples in her fingers, tightening her grasp as he increased the speed of the wonderful device inside of her. She bucked her hips, and he stepped back, leaving the toy inside her.
“Don’t drop it,” he warned her quickly. “It is a very valuable device.”
She reached down, trying to hold her skirts out of the way. All the while, the cold intruder shook inside of her. There had been other tools that buzzed and teased, he’d used those on her. This was entirely different, as though whatever drove it had a relentless, violent spirit thrashing about inside.
“No, no, not with your hands.”
As per the rules of the game, she dropped her skirts, squeezing her inner muscles around the toy. “What is it, Master?”
A smile crooked his mouth. “Lightning.”
She gasped, and almost dropped the device. “Lightning?”
“Trapped in thick glass, very safe, I assure you.” He unbuttoned his shirt cuffs. “In a moment, I shall leave you to make yourself presentable to me. When I return, that had better still be inside you, and you most certainly do not have my permission to come.”
She gaped after him as he went to the inner door and slipped through it. She stood, cunt clenching on the device that beat harder and harder inside of her, whipping and twisting its entire length. With a sob of frustration, she reached for the buttons of her dress. Every movement seemed to aggravate the lightning trapped within the glass. She struggled out of her gown, her head reeling from the sensations coursing through her body.
She’d just managed to unbuckle her shoes when Horace returned, clad in the same tight leather as when they’d met, the dark brown hide creaking as he walked toward her. The laces strained over the considerable bulge level with her eyes as she straightened. Her gaze passed over every hard ridge of muscle between the waist of the trousers and the silver hoops that glinted in his nipples. Another two bars twinkled just below his collar bones; she’d run her tongue over them while desperately pleading with him to fuck her. His entire body, from his feet to his head, covered in a sleek leather hood and attached goggles that hid his eyes, was a map to all of her most erotic memories. Just looking at him brought her perilously close to the edge.
He held out a pair of leather restraints, silver chains dangling from an impossible number of cuffs. “We are going to play a game, pet.”
“A game?” She squeezed her thighs together. A game would be maddeningly pleasurable, but delay her pleasure maddeningly. The lightning device jerked hard, taking her breath away.
He stepped behind her, one finger trailing along the black lace overlay on her corset. His finger caught the loops of the laces in the back and gave a gentle tug. “Very nice. I think you should leave this on for a while.”
As he spoke, the smooth leather of the collar closed around her neck and cinched closed. He leaned close to her ear. “The same word as before, do you remember?”
She remembered, and nodded weakly. The weight of the collar brought a sharp clarity to her, a focus she’d only experienced under his command. She strove for that almost as much as she strove for each climax.
“On your knees,” he instructed, giving her buttocks a sharp slap.
She dropped, wincing at the bite of the floor. It was not rough stone, not like the dungeon they had visited before, but cold, polished marble that was hard all the same. The device bounced within her.
“I’m afraid this chain might be a bit short,” he said with feigned dismay. “I hope you don’t mind if we proceed, anyway.”
“Not at all, Master.” She swallowed as the ankle cuffs closed around her. The chain between the collar and her ankles pulled taut, but still her body bowed, head bent back when he fastened it. Another set of cuffs slid along the length of the chain; they brushed her back when he pushed her arms into position. Trussed this way, her body arched, her hips and chest thrust forward, her large breasts slipping loose from the corset and jiggling lewdly, pink nipples pointing erect at the ceiling.
And deep in her cunt, the lighting glass still pulsed and snapped.
“Ah, the very picture of loveliness.” He walked in a slow circle around her, reaching out to twist one nipple with his gloved hand. The cool slide of the leather brought gooseflesh to her breast. “How do you feel?”
She wet her lips, faintly aware of the sheen of sweat that stood out on her skin. “Ready to die.”
“Ready to die?” He stroked a lazy S across her bottom, then smacked, his leather glove filling the air with a loud crack. She whimpered in her shock, canted her hips back for more contact. “That doesn’t sound very pleasant. Perhaps I should take you out of these restraints—”
“No!” she begged, her channel growing slipperier, her muscles struggling to grip the device. “No, please, Master.”
He tugged at the chain strung between her neck and legs like a violin string, then dropped to his knees beside her and licked a long curved path up her chest. He’d tossed the mask aside, his auburn curls glinted like burnished mahogany in the low gaslight. His hand slipped between her thighs, his fingers entered her roughly, taking her breath away. “Here is what you’re going to do. I’ll leave this right here,” he punctuated his sentence with a hard roll of his thumb over her clitoris. She cried out, swinging her hips desperately. “And you’ll crawl to me. And if you reach me without coming, not once, I’ll let you suck my cock. Would you like that?”
She wanted to cry, to scream at him and beg for release. But he had not offered that. She squeezed her eyes shut and nodded.
“I didn’t hear you.”
“Yes, Master,” she whispered.
He walked away, to an elegant velvet wing chair at the end of the room. He sat, his fingers already working on the laces of his trousers. She watched, fascinated, a starving woman catching sight of a banquet. He pulled out his rigid length and sighed with relief as he stroked himself. He pumped his fist up and down a few times, his eyes locked on her watery gaze. “All right then. Come to me.”


Want to win a digital copy of BOUND IN BRASS? Just leave a comment here on the blog (not at GoodReads.com, too many comments seem to get lost that way, and I want everyone who wants a shot to get one!) before next Friday, 6pm EST! Winners will be announced during the next Sex Scene Saturday! Please be sure to leave your email address in your comment, and good luck!


Want more sexy Saturday goodness? Check out these authors!:



50 Shades of Grey Chapter 15 recap or “I’m halfway done!”

Before we get to the recap, here are some stories that might interest you:

  • An fanfiction author has offered up the finest possible commentary on the unethical success of 50 Shades by “rewriting” it as a Hermione/Draco fic. More details and a link at Crushable, including a link to a comment left by E.L. James, who asks the ficcer to remove it as it is “plagiarising”. The reviews are LOLarious and completely without situational awareness.
  • A fantastic piece on consent, dub-con, and rape in fiction at Full Moon Press’s Blog, with a selection of links to other stories on rape culture in fiction (and real life).
  • 5 Terrifying Secrets About Riding In Ambulances from Cracked.com. Has nothing to do with 50 Shades, I just thought it was interesting.
When we left our intrepid heroine, she had just said, “Fine, okay, whatever, you wore me down,” to her super manipulative pseudo-boyfriend. Then she went home, and he was all, “I’m coming over,” so now, at the start of Chapter 15, he has just arrived. Ana invites him in.

“If I may,” he says amused. He holds up a bottle of champagne as he walks in. “I thought we’d celebrate your graduation. Nothing beats a good Bollinger.”

 Can no one in this story just have, I don’t know, water? Soda? I feel like I’m getting drunk at this point, and I’m not even drinking anything. Yet.

I head into the kitchen. Nervous, butterflies flooding my stomach, it’s like having a panther or mountain lion all unpredictable and predatory in my living room.

 “Sign this contract so I can have sex with you! Meow!”
When Ana comes back from the kitchen, Christian is staring at the books she wants to return to him. Immediately, she thinks, “Crap… this is probably going to be a fight.” He asks if the quote really applies to him, since he’s D’Urberville and not Angel, and she tells him it’s a plea to go easy on her. He tells her that he will go easy on her if she keeps the books. She argues that they’re “too much”.

“You see, this is what I was talking about, you defying me. I want you to have them, and that’s the end of the discussion. It’s very simple. You don’t have to think about this. As a submissive you would just be grateful for them. You just accept what I buy you because it pleases me for you to do so.”“I wasn’t a submissive when you bought them for me,” I whisper.“No… but you’ve agreed, Anastasia.” His eyes turn wary.

I don’t remember the contract being retroactive to the moment they met, but whatever. Ana asks if she can do whatever she wants with the books, and he tells her she can, so she immediately announces that she’s going to donate them to a charity that does work in Darfur. But he’s not happy with that, either, so she says she’ll think about it, because she doesn’t want to disappoint him. SHE WOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING SHE DID NOT WANT TO DO.
Ana is starting to have second thoughts regarding this whole, “Don’t think” thing, and Christian informs her that since he’s rich, he’s going to buy her whatever he wants to buy her. She thinks it makes her a ho.

“It shouldn’t. You’re over-thinking it, Anastasia. Don’t place some vague moral judgement on yourself based on what others might think. Don’t waste your energy. It’s only because you have no reservations about our arrangement, that’s perfectly natural. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”

I hate him for this, but I have to agree with him. If someone wants to buy you stuff, let them. That’s my policy. You want to buy me a car? Buy me a car. You want to buy me some first-edition books? Send them over. I know that a gift is not a contract. Christian appears to. Besides, his manipulation is more subtle than “I’m going to buy you stuff, so now I own you.” He’s into warping their heads and insinuating himself into every part of their lives.
They drink pink champagne out of tea cups. If he gives her a foot rub after, he’s officially my dream man and I renounce every bad thing I’ve ever said about him. But, of course that doesn’t happen, instead Ana wants to discuss the “soft limits” in the contract. Christian wants to talk about her stepdad, instead, and then it’s back to talking about the champagne.

“Did you try the wine at the reception?” Christian makes a face.
“Yes, it was foul.”
“I thought of you when I tasted it. How did you get to be so knowledgeable about wine?”

“I tasted this gross thing and it made me think of you.” That’s amore!

They talk some more about the wine, because I guess it ups the word count? I don’t know, there are so many scenes and conversations in this book that go no where and seem to be shoved in for absolutely no reason other than to watch the characters go about their lives. It’s like watching a Sims family go about their day on their own, only no one pees on the floor because they watched tv for too long and nobody dies in carefully orchestrated fireworks “accidents” in a doorless shed in the backyard. Christian comments that he would help Ana move, but his sister Mia is arriving from Paris on Saturday morning. I’m going to assume Mia is Alice, since she’s the only Cullen who hasn’t been somehow accounted for. There is more interminable chit-chat, wherein we learn that Christian is vaguely displeased that his brother is dating Kate, about what Ana is going to do in Seattle and how very much she wants to do this career thing all on her own without his “undue influence”. Then we get to hear them fight about how much she’s eaten, and even Ana is getting tired of it:

“Have you eaten anything?”
Oh no… not this old chestnut.
“Yes. I had a three course me with Ray.” I roll my eyes at him. The champagne is making me bold.
He leans forward and holds my chin, staring intently into my eyes.
“Next time you roll your eyes at me, I will take you across my knee.” What?!

What do you mean by that interrobang, Ana? He made this perfectly clear before you agreed to the relationship. Christian gets out his list and they read through it.

“No fisting, you say. Anything else you object to?” he asks softly.
I swallow.

No, we know that, already, Ana, we’re talking about what you won’t do.

“Anal intercourse doesn’t exactly float my boat.”
“I’ll agree to the fisting, but I’d really like to claim your ass, Anastasia. But we’ll wait for that. Besides, it’s not something we can dive into,” he smirks at me. “You ass will need training.”

 I really wish my mac was not broken, else I would totally photoshop up one of those demotivator macros to say: “Your Ass: not something we can dive into.” I’m going to be having so much fun with that line, for the next six or so months. “What’s the difference between your ass and a swimming pool? You can’t dive into your ass.” “How is your ass like the shallow end? You can’t dive into it.” Okay, so this is a decidedly limited oeuvre, but I’m not making any apologies. I love that line.

I do like that Christian is all, “We’re going to try anal,” because I lose a lot of respect for people who say, “I don’t like that,” without trying it. Now, you know, as a grownup, if you don’t like broccoli or slasher movies. But I really can’t handle it when people will just throw down a blanket condemnation of something without trying it out first. Hell, even this book. I’ve seen authors making fun of 50 Shades and admitting they’ve never read it. Well, how do they know they’re not going to like it? How does Ana know she doesn’t like anal? She didn’t know if she’d like sex at all, because she’d never wanted to have it. So, shut up, Ana. Let him play with your butt. Do it for the experience.

Christian reveals that he’s had his booty plundered before, and by his Mrs. Robinson. This blows Ana’s mind, because she’s never heard of a strap-on before and has no idea how a woman fucking a man in the ass would work. She has absolutely no idea of sex toys beyond dildos and vibrators, but at least she agrees to swallow semen. Ana’s feelings are hurt because Christian finds her innocence amusing, but she quickly forgives him because:

I examine the list, and my inner goddess bounces up and down like a small child waiting for ice cream.

 This will never not be funny/disturbing to me. Funsturbing.
They’ve gotten to the section on bondage, and Ana is confused as to what a spreader bar is.

“Don’t laugh at me, but what’s a spreader bar?”
“I promise not to laugh. I’ve apologized twice.” He glares at me. “Don’t make me do it again,” he warns. And  I think I visibly shrink… oh, he’s so bossy. “A spreader is a bar with cuffs for ankles and/or wrists. They’re fun.”

Hey, prick, no one makes you apologize. You make yourself apologize when you exhibit bad behavior, like laughing at someone when they don’t know all the ins and outs of the BDSM lifestyle you want to induct them into. Jackass. Ana is also worried about not being able to breathe when she’s gagged. Christian points out that he’d be worried if she couldn’t breathe, too. I’m not sure why, because I’m pretty sure he has enough money to disappear a dead girl if he really needed to, and Ana is super obnoxious. It seems like it would almost be a win/win at this point. She’s all, “How do you do safe words if you’re gagged?” and I’m quite proud of her for thinking of that. Christian tells her they’ll use hand signals, but that he hopes they never have to use the safe word.

I blink up at him. But if I’m trussed up, how’s that going to work. My brain is beginning to fog… hmm alcohol. 
“I’m nervous about the gagging.”
“Okay, I’ll take note.”

Notice how he doesn’t say, “okay, we won’t do that,” just, “I’ll take note,” while she’s too tipsy to actually argue it with him? He’s already refilled her cup with champagne several times, from what seems like a bottomless bottle. Is this really a safe way to be discussing sexual limits? While she’s too drunk to consent?

“Do you like tying your submissives up so they can’t touch you?” He gazes at me, his eyes widening.
“That’s one of the reasons,” he says quietly.
“Is that why you’ve tied my hands?”
“Yes.”
“You don’t like talking about that,” I murmur.
“No, I don’t. Would you like another drink? It’s making you brave, and I need to know how you feel about pain.”

So, in other words, his plan really is to get her drunk so she’ll consent to just about anything. That’s four refills. Of course, by this point in the book, Ana is basically a pro at drinking, because she’s doing it all the time. She’s also biting her lip, so if you’re playing the drinking game along at home, you should probably dial the 9 and the first 1 right now, just to be prepared. Unless you live in some other country that isn’t America, then you’re on your own, because I have no idea what number you should pre-dial, I just know that your liver is going to melt.

Ana was never spanked as a child, so she has no idea how she feels about it. It could be awesome, it could suck, she has no clue. She asks him if he could, you know, not do that whole pain part, but it’s non-negotiable. And really, what did she think that room full of whips and canes was about? Christian promises that they’ll work up to it, and you know, as creepy possessive weird as this guy is, I can believe he’d be an okay dominant in that capacity. If he’s at the point where he’s requiring a contract about what is and isn’t okay in bed, this is a guy who takes his shit seriously. It’s all the emotional manipulation and the horror show of unresolved issues that should make her want to run, not the BDSM stuff. Then, he drops a bombshell:

“Well then. Look, earlier today you were talking about wanting more,” he halts, uncertain all of a sudden.Oh my… where is this going?
He clasps my hand.“Outside of the time you’re my sub, perhaps we could try. I don’t know if it will work. I don’t know about separating everything. It may not work. But I’m willing to try. Maybe one night a week. I don’t know.”Holy cow… my mouth drops open, my subconscious is in shock. Christian Grey is up for more! He’s willing to try!

Okay, let’s maybe not start printing those wedding invitations just yet. There was a whole lot of “I don’t know,” and “I’ll try” in there. “I’ll be your boyfriend one night a week, maybe, I don’t know,” isn’t really a confirmation of anything other than his dick might be feeling sentimental right now. His “maybe, I don’t know,” act comes with a condition:

“You graciously accept my graduation present to you.”
“Oh.” And deep down I know what it is. Dread spawns in my belly.
He’s staring down at me, gauging my reaction.
“Come,” he murmurs and rises, dragging me up. Taking his jacket off, he drapes it over my shoulders and heads for the door.
Parked outside is a red hatchback car, a two-door compact Audi.

Didn’t the Cullens get Bella a Porsche so bad ass that it was actually make-believe? Tsk tsk, Chedward Grullen. Tsk Tsk.

One of the things I’ve been taken to task for in these recaps is for not saying anything “good” about the book. Like the old rule, say one nice thing for every three negative things, or whatever. The fact of the matter is, there are some parts of this book that are downright charming, and I would love to read them in a much, much better erotica that wasn’t a plagiarized version of Twilight. But it seems like everything cool thing I find myself liking is bookended by a lines or a scenes that I can’t reconcile with my morals and values. And believe me when I say I have very few morals and values. A perfect place where this is highlighted is after she receives the car. They argue over whether or not she’s going to accept it (she can accept the BDSM lifestyle she hates to be with him, but she can’t accept a fucking Audi? Get over it, lady!), and finally she agrees to take the car “on loan” like the computer. The Chedward says what are arguably his hottest lines in the entire book:

“It’s taking all my self control not to fuck you on the hood of this car right now, just to show you that you are mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I’ll buy you a fucking car,” he growls. “Now let’s get you inside and naked.”

That’s not just hot to me because I have fantasies of a certain Top Gear host saying something somewhat similar to me. It’s hot because it’s hot. But then, like a train arriving at Fuck You Jen station, this is next:

Boy, he’s angry. He grabs my hand and leads me back into the apartment and straight to my bedroom… no passing go. My subconscious is behind the sofa again, head hidden under her hands. He switches on the sidelight and halts, staring at me.
“Please don’t be angry with me,” I whisper.
His gaze is impassive; his gray eyes cold shards of smoky glass.
“I’m sorry about the car and the books,” I trail off. He remains silent and brooding.
“You scare me when you’re angry,”  I breathe, staring at him.

See? How can I go, “Ooh, hot!” and then still think, “Ooh, hot!” when he’s acting like the husband in Sleeping With The Enemy? Ana has never seen that movie, though, because like two seconds later, she’s all hot for him again.

“I like this dress,” he murmurs. “I like to see your flawless skin.” 

Maybe that’s a compliment when it’s coming from a guy who hasn’t just been so angry that he frightened the heroine, but now all I can think of is this:

 It signs the contract, or it gets the hose again.
After Ana helps him move his couch into that van, they start to get down. He totally wrecks her panties, but the way it’s written kind of sounds like he’s giving her a wedgie and her underpants just are not up the strain:

His fingers hook into my panties at the back, stretching them, and he pushes his thumbs through the material, shredding them and tossing them in front of me so I can see… holy shit.

Even like, a peer critique should have caught that you don’t want your heroine saying she can see “holy shit” when her ripped panties are on the floor in front of her. It implies skid marks, and it kills the mood almost as fast as a hero being so angry that he actually frightens the heroine. There’s some nipple play and some grinding, and then Chedward tells Ana that she is “in charge”. Which makes me wonder if he really doesn’t understand what “dominate” and “submit” mean.

Ana clumsily undresses him and then there is some more talk about her biting her lip (DRINK!), and she compares his penis to Christmas. There’s some beej action, but of course he stops her before he comes, because she’s not really in charge, and that makes Ana’s inner goddess look “like someone snatched her ice cream.”

So, after Ana gets a condom on him (a feat she manages on her first try, at 21, with little prior sexual experience. Meanwhile, I’m nearly 32, with a sexual history that rivals Madonna’s, and I still can’t figure out how to get a condom on a fucking banana at those sex toy parties), she learns how to have sex cowgirl style:

I am fucking him. I am in charge. He’s mine, and I’m his. The thought pushes me, weighted with concrete, over the edge, and I climax around him… shouting incoherently.

I’m not quite sure “I am in charge” is the kind of head space you want from your full time sub, but after Chedward orgasms, the chapter is over, anyway.

50 Shades of Grey chapter 14 recap, or “I’m pretty sure I’ve read this book before, but with vampires in it.”

Let me begin this recap by being brutally honest with y’all. I am not sure, after filling out the domestic violence questionnaire for Ana, how “funny” I can find this book anymore. When I first finished reading it, I thought it was funny, because how could anyone not understand that this isn’t a good relationship? But stuff stops being hilarious when a social worker sends you all her red flag charts and you realize that the book you just read is being held up as a romantic ideal by women all over the nation.

Last night, I went out with my husband and his mom to celebrate Mother’s Day. Our celebration ended up, as so many of them do, at the casino buffet. We were seated next to a table of women who, just as we got settled into our meals, started discussing 50 Shades. One of the women mentioned that a friend was reading it, but wouldn’t refer to it by name. Another said she had read it, but she could never tell her husband, because he would be “furious”. My first thought was, “Her husband is an English teacher.” My second thought, and the one that is probably most accurate was, “He is probably a controlling freak of a man who would hate that his wife was exploring her sexuality in any way, because he feels inferior about himself and becomes jealous and unreasonable over stupid things he should have no desire to control.”

So, if this recap seems needlessly morose and utterly humorless, bear with me.

Chapter fourteen begins with Christian standing over Ana with riding crop. He’s wearing ripped jeans and she’s wearing nothing but shackles. Then he hits her directly in the clit with the riding crop, and she goes off like a firecracker on July 3rd.

But oh, snap, it was just a sexy dream. She goes into the kitchen, where Kate can immediately tell that something is different about Ana. Because she vastly overestimates everyone’s interest in her sex life, Ana is sure that Kate can tell she just had a sleep orgasm, and that’s why she says that Ana looks “odd”. Just off the top of my head, Ana, you’re wearing pajamas and Christian’s suit jacket. That might make you look slightly odd.

See how ridiculous that looks? And not just because it’s on the guy from Chuck.

I also want to just backtrack a moment and point out that Ana has never had an orgasm in her sleep, and had no idea it could happen. It just seems unusual to me that in all of her teen years she not only never felt any sort of sexual feelings that might manifest in the urge to masturbate, she also never had an orgasm in her sleep? Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people (some of whom identify as asexual, some who do not) just don’t have much of a sex drive. What I find alarming about this scenario with Ana and Christian is that it perpetuates some myth of female sexual awakening happening only when the perfect partner presents himself. Ana’s libido only activates when the man who should have access to her sexuality has become a part of her life. Now, I’ve refrained thus far about inferring anything about E.L. James’s personal life from her writing, but I will say this: I am absolutely, 100% certain that somewhere in E.L. James’s house, there is a veritable treasure trove of late seventies/early eighties historical romance novels.
Kate asks how dinner was, which Ana responds to with a mental, “So it begins.” because remember, a friend asking you anything about your personal life is tantamount to being tortured by Torquemada. Ana has to dance around the questions:

What can I say? His HIV status is clear, he’s heavily into role-play, wants me to obey his every command, he hurt someone he tied to his bedroom ceiling, and he wanted to fuck me in the private dining room. Would that be a good summary? I try desperately to remember something from my encounter with Christian that I can discuss with Kate.
“He doesn’t approve of Wanda.”

Who the fuck is Wanda? I assume she’s talking about her car, here, but according to the search I ran on the book, the car is only ever referred to as “Wanda” right here. Ana distracts Kate from talk of Christian Grey by asking if she wants to practice her graduation speech. While Kate goes to get it, Ana does the dance of endless circles we’ve already seen a billion times already:

Last night I found it hard to sleep. My head was buzzing with various options. I am so confused. Christian’s idea of a relationship is more like a job offer. It has set hours, a job description, and a rather harsh grievance procedure. It’s not how I envisaged my first romance – but, of course, Christian doesn’t do romance. If I tell him I want more, he may say no… and I could jeopardize what he has offered. And this is what concerns e most, because I don’t want to lose him. But I’m not sure I have the stomach to be his submissive – deep down, it’s the cans and whips that put me off. I’m a physical coward, and I will go a long way to avoid pain. I think of my dream… is that what it would be like? My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheerleading pom-poms shouting yes at me.

In case you were wondering, Ana’s “inner goddess” is just the device by which the reader is going to be allowed to reason that Ana desperately wants the relationship she’s only settling for.

Kate comes back into the kitchen with her laptop. I concentrate on my bagel and listen patiently as she runs through her Valedictorian speech.

Maybe it would be more polite to concentrate on the damn speech you offered to listen to. Ana’s dad arrives to take her graduation, and they greet each other in a wholly American fashion, both of them saying they’re “pleased to see” one another. Then Ana offers Ray tea, and before he can answer, we’re in the parking lot at the college with no other transition at all. They head into the “sports auditorium”, where Ray notices that something is “off” about Ana:

“Good luck, Annie. You seem awfully nervous, do you have anything to do?” Holy crap… why has Ray picked today to be so observant?
“No, Dad. It’s a big day.”
And I’m going to see him

I think that if you’re more excited about seeing the creepy guy you’re pseudo dating than the fact that you’re about to graduate from college (something that only a little over half of the people in this country get the privilege of doing), they should just keep your degree and force you to work at a women’s shelter for the rest of your fucking life.

There are a few paragraphs about Ana’s nerves as she’s waiting for the ceremony to begin. She’s not nervous about accepting her degree and symbolically stepping into a new phase of her life, of course, she’s just nervous about seeing Christian Grey. Then, he appears:

Christian stands out in his bespoke gray suit, copper highlights glinting in his hair under the auditorium lights. He looks so serious and self-contained. As he sits, he undoes his single-breasted jacket, and I glimpse his tie. Holy shit… That tie! I rub my wrists reflexively. I cannot take my eyes off him – his beauty as distracting as ever – and he’s wearing that tie, on purpose no doubt. I can feel my mouth press into a hard line. The audience sits down and the applause ceases.
 “Look at him!” One of the girls beside me breathes enthusiastically to her friend.
“He’s hot.”
I stiffen. I’m sure they’re not talking about Professor Collins.
“Must be Christian Grey.”
“Is he single?”
I bristle.
“I don’t think so,” I murmur.
“Oh.” Both girls look at me in surprise.
“I think he’s gay,” I mutter.

Ana’s obsession with gayness is immature and gross. She’s embarrassed to have asked him if he was gay in the first chapter, and her embarrassment continues through the first four, I believe. Now, she’s saying he’s gay to what? To weed out the competition? To make him seem foolish? It’s almost like “he’s gay” is, to Ana, the worst thing she could possibly say about someone. I don’t find that funny. Because I’m not in fourth grade.

As the Chancellor gets to his feet and kicks off the proceedings with his speech, I watch Christian subtly scanning the hall. I sink into my seat, hunching my shoulders, trying to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I fail miserably as a second later his gray eyes find mine. He stares at me, his face impassive, completely inscrutable. I squirm uncomfortably, hypnotized by his glare as I feel a slow flush spread across my face. Unbidden, I recall my dream from his morning, and the muscles in my belly do the delectable clench thing. I inhale sharply. I can see the shadow of a smile cross his lips, but it’s fleeting. He briefly closes his eyes, and on opening them, resumes his indifferent expression.
Following a swift glance up at the Chancellor, he stares ahead, focusing on the WSUV emblem hung above he entrance. He doesn’t turn his eyes toward me again. The Chancellor drones on, and Christian still doesn’t look at me, he just stares fixedly ahead.
Why won’t he look at me? Perhaps he’s changed his mind?

Or maybe you’re staring at him, and it’s making him uncomfortable? I think everyone has had the experience of someone staring at them and trying desperately not to acknowledge that they’re being stared at. The very last thing you want to do is look at the starer when you’re the staree.

Above: photograph of Ana at graduation.

Kate gets up to give her speech, and Ana is “so proud of her at that moment, my errant thoughts of Christian are pushed to one side.” But then, in the next paragraph:

Her theme is What Next After College? Oh, what next indeed. Christian is watching Kate, his eyebrows slightly raised – in surprise, I think. Yes, it could have been Kate that went to interview him. And it could have been Kate that he was now making indecent proposals to. Beautiful Kate and beautiful Christian, together. I could be like the two girls beside me, admiring him from afar. I know Kate wouldn’t have given him the time of day.

Technically, Ana, you are like the two girls beside you, admiring him from afar. But let’s not pick nits, as I am so prone to do. We can’t get through even a little bit of Kate doing anything without being reminded how beautiful she is, in comparison to how utterly grotesque Ana is.

Christian gets up to give a speech about how his grant to the university is part of his goal in eradicating hunger world-wide. Because (and I know you didn’t see this coming) he knows what it’s like to go hungry. Ana begins to realize that maybe his entire life wasn’t as full of privilege as she’d imagined.

Ana waits through over four hundred students before she is called up to the stage, and when she does, Mr. Non-Disclosure Agreement decides to have a personal conversation right there:

“Congratulations, Miss Steele,” he says as he shakes my hand, squeezing it gently. I feel the charge of his flesh on mine. “Do you have a problem with your laptop?” I frown as he hands me my degree.
“No.”
Then you
are ignoring my emails?”
“I only saw the mergers and acquisitions one.”
He looks quizzically at me.
“Later,” he says, and I have to move on because I’m holding up the line.

She had to sign a form letter saying she wasn’t going to tell anyone they were seeing each other or sleeping together or something, but he’s going to openly jaw with her about ignoring his emails on a stage in front of like, a thousand students and a stadium full of their associated family and friends. I don’t think Chedward actually knows what “discreet” means.

The ceremony takes another hour to conclude. It’s interminable. Finally, the Chancellor leads the faculty members off the stage to yet more rousing applause, preceded by Christian and Kate. Christian does not glance at me, even though I’m willing him to do it.
My inner goddess is not pleased.

I wish I would have kept a running list of shit that Ana doesn’t like. I actually did that when I first read Twilight, even though I quite enjoyed that book. At around chapter four I said, “This girl doesn’t like anything,” and I started writing stuff down. If I were doing this for Ana, I would add “graduating” to the list. Granted, I’ve only graduated once, and that was from a small Catholic high school, but I was pretty jazzed about it. I can’t imagine pouring the time, money, and commitment into college and then finding graduation “interminable”. I feel like literally nothing is good enough for Ana, except Christian. Maybe that’s the point.
After the ceremony, Kate comes out to the audience and tells Ana that Christian wants to see her, and we get the obligatory line about some girls gaping at her, because being the target of another female’s envy is every woman’s life aspiration. Ana goes to see him, and then this happens:

“Thank you,” he says, and before she can reply, he takes my elbow and steers me into what looks like a men’s locker room. He checks to see if it’s empty, and then he locks the door. Holy shit, what does he have in mind?

and then he locks the door.

and then he locks the door.

and then he locks the door.

No! Unacceptable! But the fun continues:

“Why haven’t you emailed me? Or texted me back?” He glares I’m nonplussed.
“I haven’t looked at my computer today, or my phone.” Crap, has he been trying to call? 

Why hasn’t she emailed you or texted you back? I’m going to go out on a limb here; since we know she has no problem with your repeated threats to rape or imprison her, or your recent act of actually imprisoning her,  I’m going to guess that the reason she hasn’t called or texted is because she had her college graduation to worry about. There are other things going on in her life that are not focused on you, Chedward. And beyond that, didn’t she ask you for some fucking space? It’s been less than twenty-four hours, and you’ve sent multiple emails and texts?

Chedward goes on to explain that he’s been worried about her because her car isn’t safe. She tells him that it’s fine, because Jose services it for her, since it used to belong to his mother. Of course, when she mentions Jose, Chedward is displeased. I’m displeased, because this whole “I’m worried about your car” thing is a blatant rip-off from Twilight, (wasn’t Bella’s unsafe old truck once Jacob’s dad’s?) and yet, here we are.

Bonus point for you checking off items on your abusive relationship bingo card: Ana actually apologizes to him for making for him worry.

Christian demands an answer re: BDSM from Ana, saying that the waiting is making him “crazy”. I doubt that “crazy” is a shore he landed upon after only a few weeks of sailing, but justify your weirdness however you want, Christian. He wants an answer “by tomorrow”, because love is patient, etc. Because this book is set in a universe where behavior like this is totally normal and romantic, Ana does not say, “Then my answer is no, dick, unlock the door.” Instead, she agrees and tells him she needs to get back to her stepdad, because they have plans. Christian insinuates himself into those plans through blatant manipulation, because he wants to meet Ray:

“Your stepfather? I’d like to meet him.”
Oh no… why?
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
Christian unlocks the door, his mouth in a grim line.
“Are you ashamed of me?”
“No!” It’s my turn to sound exasperated. “Introduce you to my dad as what? ‘This is the man who deflowered me and wants us to start a BDSM relationship’. You’re not wearing running shoes.”
Christian glares down at me, and then his lips twitch up in a smile. And in spite of the fact I’m mad at him, my face is unwillingly pulled into an answering grin.
“Just so you know, I can run quite fast. Just tell him I’m your friend, Anastasia.”

This is my friend, Anastasia. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Remember, Ana would never do anything she didn’t want to do, but here she is, introducing Christian to her father. This is what those domestic violence pamphlets Kel gave me would call “quick involvement.” Ana so greatly doesn’t want to introduce the two of them that when she asks her dad to come have a drink, she’s silently praying he says no and gets them the hell out of there. Ana clearly feels she has no say in how this goes down, and she’s looking to her dad to rescue her, which he obviously can’t, because he has no clue what’s going on or that Ana wouldn’t want to go get the drink she just suggested.
Here’s another red flag that Ana is in an abusive relationship:

Ray hands me a glass of champagne or cheap fizzy wine, I suspect. It’s not chilled, and it tastes sweet. My thoughts turn to Christian… he won’t like this.

Ana has no control over the cost, the temperature, or the flavor of the wine served at her graduation, but here she is, worrying that Christian won’t like it. What happens if he doesn’t like it? What’s the consequence? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, because there shouldn’t be any consequences for things Ana cannot control.

Kate’s gorgeous, blonde brother, Jasper Ethan turns up, fresh from Europe to surprise Kate. Ethan has his arm around Ana’s waist when Christian approaches and looks “frosty”. I’m guessing that at some point in the meeting, Christian is going to realize that Ana’s dad has probably changed her diaper or given her a bath during her childhood, and then he’s going to punch him out.

“Hello, Ray,” Kate kisses Ray on both cheeks, making him blush. “Have you met Ana’s boyfriend? Christian Grey.”
Holy shit… Kate! Fuck! All the blood drains from my face.
“Mr. Steele, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Christian says smoothly, warmly, completely unflustered by Kate’s introduction. He holds out his hand, which, all credit to Ray, Ray takes, not showing a hint of the drop-dead surprise he’s just had thrust upon him.
Thank you very much, Katherine Kavanagh, I fume.

Here’s another interesting moment. It’s Christian who has insisted upon meeting Ana’s stepfather, and it’s Christian who has left their relationship undefined as per his own terms. So Kate, when put in the position of introductions, selects the wrong terminology, who is at fault? Not Christian, because Ana can’t blame him for anything. So, the blame must be shifted to Kate.

“And this is my brother, Ethan Kavanagh.” says Kate to Christian.
Christian turns his arctic glare on Ethan, who still has one arm around me.
“Mr. Kavanagh.”
They shake hands. Christian holds his hand out to me.
“Ana, baby,” he murmurs, and I nearly expire at the endearment.
I walk out of Ethan’s grasp, while Christian smiles icily at him, and I take my place at his side. Kate grins at me. She knows exactly what she’s doing, the vixen!

Kate isn’t doing anything. Christian is getting jealous on his own, because he’s a possessive, controlling, creepy, creepy guy. Yet Ana still interprets his “baby” as an endearment, despite the fact that he said it only to stake a claim.

Christian and Ray have a little conversation that turns to fishing, and Ana realizes that Christian is charming her father just the way he charmed her. She goes and talks to Kate’s parents, and then criticizes Kate for “outing” the relationship to Ray. Kate admits that she did it on purpose, because she thinks it will help Christian with his “commitment issues”. Kate is clearly as romantically immature as Ana is. Then, Ana delivers one of my favorite lines of the entire book:

“I’d better go rescue Ray or Christian. I don’t know which. You haven’t heard the last of this, Katherine Kavanagh!”

Ray goes to the bathroom, leaving Ana and Christian alone together… in a tent full of people. So, naturally, this is the perfect time for Mr. Secretive to have a super secret discussion about the BDSM contract. He wheedles her, saying, “You know it’s going to be good, don’t you, baby?”, which is, I’m pretty sure, how about 60% of all date rapes begin, and Ana confesses that her reluctance to sign the contract is because she wants more from the relationship. Christian again tells her that he doesn’t really know how to do the romance thing, and then Ana agrees to the contract.

Yup. Just like that.

Then Ray comes back from the bathroom, and he and Ana are going to leave to have lunch.

They shake hands. I feel sick. Ray has no idea how Christian intends to look after me.

Feeling sick is a pretty good sign that you’ve made the right choice, isn’t it?

Ana goes home and finds the missed calls, no messages from Christian, and another email sent the night before inquiring about her safety. She emails him back, and they make plans to see each other that night at her apartment. She takes the first edition books he bought her and wraps them up, putting another quote from Tess of the D’Urbervilles on it:

“I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only – only – don’t make it more than I can bear!”

Voila. Instant abusive relationship, just add water.