Skip to content

Second Chance Book Club: The Mister, Prologue/Chapter One or “To my overwhelming surprise…this is actually kind of good.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Once again, I stare down the cold, unfeeling face of spring with an E.L. James book in my hands. This time, however, my trepidation is born not of whispered contempt and one-star reviews, but the knowledge of what the author’s past literary efforts have wrought. I have not heard the dread tales told by sailors; I have lain mine own eyes upon the yawning maw and vast, slithery tentacles writhing in the horrors of the deep.

In other words, I’m about to read The Mister.

My mind recoils from the task. Every ridge of my brain, every nerve and memory bears the scars of my past encounters with James’s work. The story that started off amusingly naive before descending into a Lifetime Original nightmare, a fever dream from which the zeitgeist could not, would not, utterly refused to wake. The popularity of James’s celebration of a sociopathic man and the woman who embraced his manipulations until she learned to tolerate all the abuse he expected her to take for his convenience dismayed me so much that by the time we reached his side of the story, I just couldn’t take it anymore. The beast slew me.

But as I said in my post yesterday, I’m ready to give James a second chance. The Mister is, as far as I can tell, an original piece of fiction. In her own sandbox, playing with her own toys, what will James be able to create? Without the fawning adoration of thousands of Fanfic.net users begging for more violence, more abuse, more control, manipulation, and fear, what is she capable of?

As it turns out…it’s actually not too bad. So far.

Prologue: Okay, full disclosure? The prologue didn’t inspire a lot of hope. It opens with an explanation of what the word “daily” means as it applies to newspapers and cleaning staff. And by “explanation” I mean, literally, a single page with the two definitions written dictionary style in case we’re too stupid to pick up the meaning from context. I assume there will be some kind of daily/daily joke in the book that made this necessary, and when I get to it, I’ll be like, “Oh. I see now that the ‘daily’ page was a response to an editorial note.”

Obviously, I’m joking. E.L. James is a guaranteed money maker. There is no way anyone made editorial suggestions beyond typos.

Now, I didn’t want to come right out of the gate with a comparison to Fifty Shades, I really didn’t. But The Mister opens so similarly to Fifty Shades Darker that I had some kind of flashback.

No. No. No. Not the black. Not the choking dark. Not the plastic bag. Panic overwhelms her, forcing the air from her lungs.

It’s written in the same third-person, present-tense as Baby-Christian’s inner monologue was and I developed an immediate rash.

E.L. James has never met a word that didn’t sound better three times in a row. The “No. No. No.” I can see. It’s the following:

It will be over, and then I will be free. Free. Free.

and:

Go. Now. Run. Run. Run. Go.

that really stick out when they’re stacked together. Our heroine is in a flight so desperate, she runs into some woods and makes a nest out of leaves to hide and sleep in. Tossing in words in groups of three makes it seem less like an escape and more like bad slam poetry.

Go. Go. Go. Don’t stop.

I mean.

Cold. Cold. Too cold.

This was probably not written with the intention of making the reader sing, “Vanilla Ice, ice, baby too cold, too cold,” out loud in their bedroom at one in the morning, but it happened and there’s no way to undo it now.

The prologue is basically made up of several micro-scenes as the heroine flees from a shopping center to the woods, to an urban setting. She has an address she’s headed to–

This is where she needs to go. Now. Now. Now.

Could you please. Just for one god damn minute.

I get the effect James is going for here. The thought process was that if she wrote short, choppy, stream-of-consciousness sentences, the passages would feel more urgent. But they don’t. They just feel childish. It was way too childish when she wrote this way in the POV of a four-year-old, so it sure isn’t going to work for an adult. But we get things like:

One foot in front of the other. Walk. It’s all she can do. Walk. Walk. Walk. Wake and walk on. Walk.

And it just becomes monotonous. We see her go into a McDonald’s bathroom to drink water and the food “smells enticing” which is like the only time anyone has ever used that word to describe McDonald’s. Then we jump to the next section and she’s, surprise, still cold and still walking.

And she walks and walks, following the map. A stolen map. Stolen from a store. A store with twinkling lights and Christmas music.

A gif of Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove saying, "Oh right. The Poison. The poison for Kuzco. The poison chosen specifically for Kuzco. Kuzco's poison."

Our heroine arrives at the address she’s been looking for, where a woman named Magda has been expecting her for over a week and has no idea what happened to her.

The word “cold” is used eight times in the prologue. Eight times on one page, going by Kindle’s classification of pages. So is “walk.”

You know, not to spoiler anything, but the less said about the heroine’s POV and how it’s written, the better. At least, at this point. We’ll have time to get into the rest later.

Chapter one:

Mindless sex–there’s a lot to be said for it.

Whoa now, that’s a real change in pace, ain’t it? This is our introduction to Maxim Trevelyan, the hero of the book. And while a passage like:

Who was it last time? Jojo? Jeanne? Jody? Whatever. She was some nameless fuck who moaned a great deal both in and out of bed.

might make the casual or non-reader of the genre go, “Ugh, gross, no, get him away,” I assure you, he falls in line with the bad boys of romance here. If someone didn’t read romance, this might have been a throw-the-book moment, but I’m familiar with the tropes, so while I rolled my eyes, I kept on going.

We learn that tonight, he’s not with any ordinary one-night stand. He’s slept with his best friend, Caroline, for what is not the first time. He’s all about thinking how wrong the situation is, how he loathes himself, and it’s like, you know, calm down, dude. So, you slept with your best friend. That’s another entire romance novel trope right there.

This is Caroline, for heaven’s sake, my best friend and my brother’s wife.

Oh. No, that’s a lot different than I was thinking. You’re right, that’s really bad.

Ex-wife.

Oh…kay. All right, yeah. Still bad. Probably shouldn’t be doing that, but at least we’ve taken a step down, right?

No. Not ex-wife.

Uh-oh.

His widow.

Yike. But okay, I can see it. It’s a highly emotional time and it makes sense that something like this could happen, as ill-advised as it may be. And it’s a great set-up, really. Our hero isn’t just grieving, he’s destructively grieving? Let me hop right on the James train because this is the angst I live for. Choo choo, motherfuckers!

Caroline wakes and begs Maxim to have sex with her again, so she can forget her grief and pain.

And because I’m hurting, too–because I miss him, too–and Caroline is my connection to him, my lips find hers and I ease her onto her back.

Hello. My name is Jenny Trout. And I am extremely present and accounted for, specifically for this type of thing.

There’s a section break and Maxim wakes to an empty bed and a note from Caroline about having dinner with “Daddy and the Stepsow.” If you thought this was going to be an E.L. James book sans-internalized misogyny, oh ho, dear readers. The “Stepsow” is referred to that way at least through the second chapter and I assume further into the book.

We also learn that it’s only been two days since his brother’s funeral. So. He and Caroline didn’t wait for the marriage bed to cool much, right?

Well, I have some news that will shock readers of the original Fifty Shades recaps to their very marrow.

Caroline is a blonde.

Just a nightcap, she’d said, and I’d gazed into her big blue eyes, brimming with sorrow, and known what she wanted. It was the same look she’d given me the night we learned of Kit’s accident and untimely death. A look I couldn’t resist then.

Oh. So you guys banged like…immediately after hearing that your brother, her husband, died? I guess that could be a natural… Um. You know, I’m not going to police anyone’s grief here.

We’d almost danced the dance so many times, but that night I resigned myself to fate, and with an unerring inevitability I fucked my brother’s wife.

Wow. So. You guys had already flirted with the idea of doing this…and then hours after his death, you acted on it. I mean, again, I’m not policing anyone’s grief but I’m just saying, this is the kind of thing I want to see the hero doing with the heroine. In a historical. And the husband was an evil duke who was mean to her.

Maxim’s brother’s name, by the way, is Kit.

You know. How you name one kid something clunky and Russian that literally means, “the greatest” and you name the other one three letters after a baby fox?

Anyway, Maxim gives Caroline a pass on fucking him so soon and so often, but he’s super hard on himself about it. He thinks about how his brother was always so well-liked, how great he was, and how he deserved better in life. Maxim also describes himself as a “wastrel,” so I’m starting to wonder why this isn’t just a Regency romance in the first place.

Then he tries to steer away from his grief, straight into gross town:

She likes it. I like it, and it’s what I do best, fucking some eager, attractive woman into the small hours of the morning. It’s my favorite recreational activity and gives me something to do–someone to do. Fucking keeps me fit, and in the throes of passion I learn all I need to know about a woman–how to make her sweat and if she screams or cries when she comes.

Caroline is a crier.

Caroline has just lost her husband.

Shit.

And I’ve lost my big brother, my only guiding light for the last few years.

Here,  James is able to do with Maxim Trevelyan what she failed to do with Christian Grey. Both of them are womanizing pieces of trash. But Maxim has a conscience. Christian had a rationalization. Christian Grey would absolutely argue that fucking keeps him in shape, that all he needs to know about a woman is what she’s like during sex, and then he would turn it around to, “because my mom died twenty-three years ago, this is all acceptable behavior.” Maxim is a dude who is two days out from the funeral of a brother he loves. There is actual human feeling and emotional response to Maxim. And he hasn’t used his emotional response to dupe or pressure Caroline into anything; he’s weaponizing his grief against himself, not an outside target.

Maxim continues to beat himself up about how much better and more responsible his brother is, then decides he needs to hit the gym. He runs on the treadmill and we learn that his inner-monologue has a thing for threes, as well:

Run. Breathe. Run. Breathe.

Don’t think about Kit. Don’t think about Caroline.

Run. Run. Run.

Oh my god, you and your heroine are going to be perfect for each other!

As I cool down, the treadmill slows, and I jog through the final stretch of my five-mile sprint.

So, you know how much word repetition irks me, both as a writer trying to avoid it and as a reader having to see it, right? This is one of the things I don’t understand about James’s writing. She will hammer one word, like, oh, I don’t know, cold, for example, over and over again eight times on one page, and not just for emphasis; some of the “cold” in the prologue was used in random description where it could have easily been swapped with another adjective without ruining the effect she was going for and already ruining. Here, we have a case where she’s clearly not wanting to repeat “run” so she swaps it out for “sprint.” But that’s the wrong word. Five miles isn’t a sprint. And you don’t jog a sprint. Not even the last part of a sprint. A sprint is where you go all out, full capacity, for a very short distance.

Writing Tip: Word rep is obnoxious to read and write, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Don’t replace one word with a different, incorrect word to avoid it. If you can’t find an equivalent synonym, just bite down on a leather strap and battlefield medicine your way through typing out that repetitive word.

Maxim backs up his “wastrel” remark by explaining that he’s never done a day of work in his life. He’s been the party guy, living off his trust-fund, while Kit worked hard for everything he got. Except for heirs. He doesn’t have any of those, so Kit made Maxim the executor of his will and you know, I’m not 100% sure this isn’t just a regency romance brought into the future.

Upstairs in his shower, Maxim thinks about Caroline and what’s going to happen next. We learn that they’re best friends since boarding school, where they met at thirteen. She was his first love and the woman he lost his virginity to and…she married his brother. I’m dying to know the backstory there. No sarcasm at all, guys. I’m actually really into the book at this point.

He makes it clear that he and Caroline are not going to be together, and that they never got together while his brother was alive, which really goes a long way for me in the “liking Maxim” department. I don’t know if I would be cool with a hero who fucked his dead brother’s wife while the dead brother was alive.

So, Maxim gets dressed, thinks about how his “daily,” an old Polish woman name Krystyna, will be there because it’s Monday. I’m going to be honest, if I find out there is a word for cleaning lady called “daily” and it’s used when people don’t come clean, you know, daily, I’m going to be a very unhappy person for the rest of my life. He goes outside and walks along Chelsea Embankment, which is important to note here because it is on the cover of the book. Also, I haven’t included it here yet, but the fact that he can see the Thames from his apartment is brought up…

Often.

He goes to see his lawyer, Mr. Rajah, and comments on the receptionist’s “olive skin” and how hot she is and how easy it would be to get her phone number. So, this is going to be another book where every side character is a woman who might or might not be a race other than white but who in any case is very attracted to and easily obtainable by the hero.

So, the lawyer comes out and says:

“Lord Trevethick, may I offer you my sincered condolences for your loss,”

And it took me a second to realize that the guy didn’t have a bizarrely-placed lisp or something. Note I would have made, as an editor? “Trevethick and Trevelyan are too close.”

Kit was Earl of Trevethick, see, and with no heirs, that means the title goes to Maxim, who coveted the position as a child. Because Kit was the heir, he was treated better by their mother. Styled Viscount Porthtowan until their father’s death when Kit was twenty, he became the twelfth Earl of Trevethick–

Hang on. What in the Jane Austen is going on here? This is a Regency romance! He’s even sitting alone by the fire, at his club, drinking and contemplating his vast inheritance. Oh, and Caroline? She has been left nothing in the will.

No wonder I’m liking this so much. It could have been written by someone writing Elizabeth Gaskell fanfic and then publishing it to the delight and rapture of the Ton.

Maxim is pretty sure Caroline is going to challenge the will, but at the moment she’s texting him, wondering where he is, and he’s so upset about everything he’s going to talk his feelings out to Tinder and some cocaine. There’s a paragraph break, and he’s brought a woman back to his apartment, where she looks out over the Thames because, again, it comes up a lot. So much, I went back and checked and so far, by page eleven, there have been four mentions of the fact that he can see the river from his house.

Anyway, Maxim has brought this chick, Heather, back to his place, where she does not do the totally free cocaine he subtly offers her, which to me means that Heather can afford her own cocaine, thank you very much. Now, here is another place, guys. Here is another place I have to refer back to Fifty Shades of Grey for comparison:

I step closer so that she has to angle her head to look at me. I’m careful not to touch her.

Wait, there’s more, further down the page:

“What do you want?” I watch as her gaze moves to my mouth. It’s an invitation. I pause for a moment, just to make sure I’m reading her correctly, then lean down and kiss her.

A hero worrying about consent? In an E.L. James book? In this economy?!

It’s actually kind of sexy, with him asking her what she wants, and all the kissing and thinking about how hot her body is, how sober she is, and he asks her again what she wants and then…

She’s turned on. Big time.

Well, I don’t know about you, but there goes my boner.

Not his, though. They go to the bedroom, where there’s more kissing and he undresses her and–

Heather tosses her hair over her shoulder as she turns and gives me a searing look from beneath her lashes.

Damnit, Erika, we talked about this! How many times have we talked about this? So many, Erika! A thousand many!

But at least she’s listened to one of the loudest criticisms of Fifty Shades in that she’s putting a huge emphasis on consent for both parties.

They fall into bed together, and then we cut to Maxim awake at five in the morning, wondering when he can kick her out. And he’s not mean about it, he just wishes he was alone. He remembers a lot of details about Heather that we don’t really need or care to know about, like where she lives and what her job is. Then he remembers Caroline exists.

Three whining texts and several missed calls from Caroline have pissed me off.

Hey, so. She’s your best friend and dead brother’s wife and you fucked her like, within hours of her husband, your brother, dying. Let’s cut it with the “whining” angle. I want to keep thinking you’re a better guy than your predecessor.

On the other hand, the texts from Caroline read:

WHERE RU?

CALL ME!

*POUTING*

And like. Again, not to police anyone’s grief here. But…”*pouting*”? That’s the text a twenty-year-old sends her boyfriend playfully when he doesn’t want to come over. Not the text a thirty-something adult woman (I mean, I don’t know her age, but I assume they’re in their thirties) sends her dead husband’s brother when she’s DTF.

So, here is where the characterization and conflict get a little murky:

She knows the deal; she’s known me long enough. A quick tumble between the sheets isn’t going to change how I feel about her. I love her…in my own way, but as a friend, a good friend.

Earlier in the chapter, it seems like Maxim really loved her and she chose his brother instead. Then he was like, Caroline knows we’re incompatible. Now, it’s like she’s the one who’s chasing him and he doesn’t have romantic feelings for her. This is something that is going to need to get cleared up before we go any further.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen in chapter one. Heather wakes up and they have a little conversation where he says he’ll call her and she’s like, no, you won’t, and oh, before that, there’s another reference to being able to see the Thames from his apartment.

Most of these are mentions of the way the light reflects off the water and onto his ceiling. Sometimes, it’s tied to his emotions. Other times, it’s purely decoration.

Anyway, while they wait for Heather’s car to arrive, we learn that Maxim has a piano, a guitar, and DJ equipment because he’s into music. Also, photography. And modeling. So, he really does just kind of do whatever he feels like, and we’re meeting him at the moment where suddenly, he has responsibilities. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to play with in a character who goes from alpha man-child to responsible dude real quick like. And Maxim has to be responsible; he now owns three estates and a bunch of London property, including the people who work it and depend on him for their livelihood.

Shit got real Downton Abbey, real, real fast for Lord Trevethick.

Anyway, before Heather goes, she tells him she hopes he finds what he’s looking for, and he gets all in his head over what she could have possibly meant by that. Then he goes back to bed and the chapter is over.

My impression so far: Guys…it’s actually not that bad. Like, no, seriously. I’ve read past this point. I’ll probably spend all day reading this unless things take a drastic turn because it has hooked the fuck out of me. The writing is, eh…it’s still not good. Has it improved? Eh…no. Will it probably ever improve? Doubtful in the extreme, given the fact that writers usually stop receiving true editorial guidance once they reach James’s status. But it’s not like I haven’t read worse on AO3 or Literotica and enjoyed it. And I’m interested in this whole concept of a Regency romance plot brought forward into modern times. Maybe this is what people felt when they first started reading Fifty Shades of Grey and went on to like it. Maybe there is charm and charisma to her work that I missed the first time around.

I guess we’ll have to tune in tomorrow to see.

Did you enjoy this post?

Trout Nation content is always free, but you can help keep things going by making a small donation via Ko-fi!

Or, consider becoming a Patreon patron!

59 Comments

  1. JessC
    JessC

    Kit might be short for Christopher. It’s a pretty old-fashioned one, but it would fit the general pseudo Mills&Boon recency romance vibe.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • WuBomei
      WuBomei

      My thought as well, a la your Harringtons, and I don’t know, other actors from GoT? There’s so many. Anyway, I can def see a situation where one names the 1st kid Christopher, called Kit, and thinks, “I’ll call the next one Max! Kit and Max!” And then Maxim just ends up being one of those kids who is always their full name, no matter how hard you try.

      April 16, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Sushi
    Sushi

    The widow of the dead brother is giving me serious Poldark vibes, not gonna lie. And I’ve just realised the heroine is going to be his maid, just like Demelza and yep, this is Poldark fanfic, isn’t it?

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      OH MY GOD.

      April 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        HE OWNS MINES IN CORNWALL.

        April 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Sushi
          Sushi

          OH MY GOD WHAAAAAAT!? You’re kidding! Really!?
          Tell me Maxim knocks up his dead brother’s widow and she has to marry an evil George to cover it up and I can die happy.

          April 16, 2019
          |Reply
    • Elyssa
      Elyssa

      Literally my first thought. lol

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
  3. Perlite
    Perlite

    More like Lord TreveTHICC. But seriously, off to a better start than the last series. Suspiciously so. Like, she had a stack of Regency novels as a reference but she wanted it in the modern day (hopefully with less stalking).

    At least she kept two lessons in mind: 1) Set it in England so people stop pointing out the Americans using English colloquialisms 2) Making your hero an unrepentant and petulant asshole for the entire book isn’t attractive.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Sorry, clueless Yank here: Is it pronounced “Trev-Lion” or “Trev-eh-Lion?” (“Trev-Thick” or Trev-eh-Thick?”). I mean, why not have even more studly/phallic images in the character names?

      And to quote The Grandson: “Is this a kissing book? WHEN DOES IT GET GOOD?!”

      Gotta love the Poldark analogy, too!

      April 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tami Alexander
        Tami Alexander

        MAXim TreveTHICK. I see James is borrowing from the Bond books for names (Pussy Gallore, anyone?).

        April 16, 2019
        |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Sort of neither: I believe it’s usually “Trev-ELLY-an.”

        April 18, 2019
        |Reply
      • Denny
        Denny

        Alex Trevelyan (played by Sean Bean) is the bad guy in James Bond: Goldeneye. My favorite Brosnan-Bond movie.

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
  4. Sunniegreen
    Sunniegreen

    Damn. A public figure learning from criticism? Is this real life?

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  5. WriterBen01
    WriterBen01

    I’m living for this recap! All the annoyances of 50 shades, but this time with an actually interested plot. Can’t wait to hear your further thoughts on it : )

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  6. Ashley Shadowheart
    Ashley Shadowheart

    I just wanted to say that the Trevelyan last name threw me for a loop, since Dragon Age: Inquisition uses that as the last name for the human Inquisitor, which then all the spoken dialogue uses to refer to you for simplicity’s sake. XD like, that’s just my first association with the name.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jo
      Jo

      The default male name is even MAXWELL, I’m fucking dying.

      April 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Wasn’t Christian Grey’s middle name (mother’s maiden name) Trevelyan? Or am I making that up?

      April 18, 2019
      |Reply
    • Perfidiousness
      Perfidiousness

      It’s also the name I wanted to give my new Siamese cat if it’s a boy, this better not ruin it for me!

      April 18, 2019
      |Reply
  7. Mercedes Vox
    Mercedes Vox

    I’m anticipating a future crossover novel where Maxim Trevelyan is related to Christian Grey’s high-society adoptive mum, Grace Trevelyan Grey.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Hannah
      Hannah

      I was thinking the same thing!

      April 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I … she couldn’t think of a different last name to use? Of all the last names that ever last-named, she has to repeat that one?

      I know Jenny’s impressed so far, but I’m not. It may not have the same stalking/abuse vibes as 50, but it’s still appearing to be both plagiarized (even if from herself and apparently from Poldark, which I’ve never watched so I’ll take y’all’s word for it) and incredibly inconsistent with its own history and how things work in real life.

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
  8. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    I have to be honest: I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Judging by FSoG, James thinks all sort of seriously scary and douchy things are sexy when a hot, rich guy is doing them. This guy is rich and (I’m gonna go out on a not-so-long limb here) hot. So, yeah, I’m anticipating a shoe falling from the sky any moment now.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  9. Juliana Coons
    Juliana Coons

    There is nothing one can find on this entire planet that will ever persuade me to read an EL James novel. Life is just too short to waste time on her puerile, incompetent writing. That said, I read every word of your reviews of FSoG and the sequels (including the excerpts, thus my familiarity with her style) and I loved them. I also loved this review. Aaaand I’m tempted to repeat a word three times. Oh my. Ooooh my. Oooh myyyyy.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      I agree. agree. AGREE!!!!! She could come up with the best plot in the history of writing, so far this isn’t it, it’s just a novelization of every Lifetime movie ever, and I still couldn’t get beyond the fact that she just can’t write.

      I do love, love, love Jenny for recapping though, so I get all of the silly plot and none of the terrible writing, well, some of it, since Jenny does take some lines from the source material, but that is buried amongst Jenny’s genius so it’s tolerable.

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
  10. K R
    K R

    Romance is not really my genre, I most likely would never read this story on my own, but I enjoyed the FSoG recaps and am interested in these.
    The main male seems a lot better than Christian. We’ll need to meet our female protagonist to see if she is better than Ana?
    Why do I get the feeling Caroline is going to be a thorn on the future relationship?

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  11. Tessany
    Tessany

    If this is truly a regency rip off, Caroline only saw money, title, and a place in high society from Kit. Now that he’s dead, she has to assure her place and go after the younger brother, using his one weakness against him- Sex. Caroline is going to be the villain of the piece!

    Also Caroline Bingly anyone?

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  12. Camelia
    Camelia

    I got to admit that I’m a bit hooked at the moment too. I decided to read along with you, so I’m looking forward to this. I can be very forgiving when it comes to bad writing but plot is life. And, so far, the plot seems to have potential.

    Sure, Maxim is the typical sexed-out rich playboy that is common in this kind of romance story, but he has a conscience and seems redeemable so far. Plus, I love when a strong heroine comes along and challenges the hero to grow the fuck up. I hope this happens and the heroine is good. I can’t stand another Ana.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  13. Kyerin
    Kyerin

    Trevelyan? TREVELYAN! Ok so I realise not many non-Irish people will know this, but the most famous owner of that name is the Sir Charles Trevelyan who wouldn’t feed the people starving in the Great Famine because he essentially thought it was nature/God’s way of toughening up the Irish peasantry (I am paraphrasing heavily, but that’s the gist).

    He is the first person that comes when you google the name and it’s his most famous (infamous?) legacy. Super weird choice of character name when there are so many posh British names to choose from. Unless the plan was to remind us how shit the landed gentry is as a concept, which could be fun…

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jessieheels
      Jessieheels

      All of this!! I felt the same when Mama 50 was called Trevelyan. Absolutely fucking disgusting, but par for the course for Erika.

      April 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I don’t think EL has the intelligence or talent to create such a subtext. She seems to just really like the name. And based on her attitude over the years, that background makes me think maybe she idolizes that guy.

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
  14. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    I’ve [ghost] written my share of Regency romances and only liked the film versions of “Sense & Sensibility” and “Pride & Prejudice” for the actors — otherwise, I found Austen’s work redundant and boring (I must not have had any lives in that period or at least that area because it holds nothing for me). At any rate, so far I am enjoying your review, but — and this is a big-ass BUT — to me, it’s already coming off as another FSoG. Maybe not with the poor representation of BDSM, but I’m also reaaaaal tired of the whole “rich, sexy guy who bangs everything with tits and the timid, virginal lass who crosses his path” trope. Which is where this seems to be headed. As someone else pointed out, we’re going to find out the girl in the prologue is going to wind up hiding out from whoever was making her run, run, run in the cold, cold, cold by taking on a job as one of his chambermaids. Plot twist: she’s actually from a wealthy family, herself, and managed to escape kidnappers or some evil “stepsow” of her own who wants her out of the way (a la Snow White), so once they fall in love he won’t be marrying beneath his station, he’ll be joining houses with another prominent family. I’m calling it, now.

    P.S. Bless you for using the Kronk gif. I kiss your tattooed knuckles for that one. <3

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  15. Jessieheels
    Jessieheels

    Trevelyan. So I’m getting the same angry reacts to the name as when you did 50 Shades. Nothing at all to do with you, Jen. I’m just an Irish girl who’s not over the famous potato “famine” or “great hunger” as people tend to call the genocide that happened here. Which Lord Trevelyan was very involved with.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  16. Liz
    Liz

    I did not get the “stepsow” thing until I read your comment a couple times – I thought James just kept misspelling stepson for some reason!

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  17. Mike
    Mike

    Sounds like it might actually be a decent story if it were written by someone who could write, or at least had an editor who had some actual control… I dunno, I don’t have a lot of faith that it won’t turn out terrible. I went into 50 Shades thinking it couldn’t possibly be as bad as everyone had made it out and felt basically the same way you’re talking about this book. That with a rewrite it could be okay. Then I got deeper into the book and got so angry I couldn’t contain it. So I’m just expecting that to happen again. So I applaud you for being able to go into this in good faith because I could not.

    April 16, 2019
    |Reply
  18. Lucy
    Lucy

    I read the free sample on kindle at it struck me as well, a little dull, where Fifty Shades exercised a train wreck fascination on me.
    I just hope that James did better reasearch on the heroines background that she did on BDSM, though.

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    Woohoo! Love the recap. This is reading like a regency romance. It’ll be interesting to see how (if) James can pull off a modern twist with this by understanding (or not) what works now and what can’t. Bride and Prejudice did a great modernization of P&P.

    And what in the name of Jane Austin? I’m going to start saying this.

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
  20. MackyDN
    MackyDN

    I read an excerpt, and she kinda sorta definitely lost me at “fuck a duck”.

    It took me back to the uncomfortable times of “shit or bust time”.

    Her heroes sure do have an “interesting” way of expressing themselves.

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      As a British person, neither of those expressions particularly stand out to me. Maybe we’re just weird.

      April 18, 2019
      |Reply
  21. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    I’m gonna assume the bits about how he loves Caroline but they just can’t be together are just him trying to convince himself not to get emotionally involved with his brother’s widow, which is why the excuses change every time they are mentioned. I’m 100% here for this plot.

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
  22. Hey Jenny, sorry to break it to you but ‘daily’ is a British term of reference for a cleaner, because she comes in daily. It’s slightly archaic now but it has a long tradition to it.

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
  23. Conny
    Conny

    Long-time follower, first-time commenter here 🙂
    Usually I check your blog every morning. The last two days I forgot, and so I only just discovered that I’d missed out on something potentially spectacular 😮 I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this new … thing. (I did solider through the entire FSoG trilogy even though I hated it with a vengeance before I hit 30 % of book 1, and it did not get any better.)
    Some thoughts so far:
    – Erika sure loves the name “Trevelyan”. Having lived in Ireland for a while, I certainly know who the most infamous bearer of this name is, and it really makes me wonder why she is using it again. Is she even aware that it’s not just a posh-sounding British aristocratic name but one that will stir unpleasant memories for more than just some of her readers? Is she going for a link to FSoG by making Maxim’s family related to Chedward’s mother??
    – Kit is short for Christopher, is it not? (Thinking of Kit Marlowe here.) Whereas “Maxim” inevitably makes one remember “Rebecca”: another arrogant, aristocratic almost-anti-hero (alliterative, too^^) who marries “below his station” (which I am guessing will be a plot point here).
    – I agree with you, Jenny, that at least for now Maxim seems much better cut out for the role as protagonist than Chedward ever was. He seems to have personality and a conscience.
    But let’s face it: no matter how bad (or surprisingly not-so-bad) this turns out to be, I’ll be there with you every step of the way gobbling up your reviews. So much better written than the book you’re reviewing^^

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Rebecca’s Maxim was actually a decent, good person, though. Most of the negatives stemmed from him wanting to protect Mrs. de Winter from ugliness rather than from arrogance. And he never thought of her as beneath him. Only Mrs. Danvers did, and that was out of jealousy and anger and maybe some grief.

      Aside from rich man/innocent woman, I don’t see any other parallels between anything James has done and Rebecca (and I don’t even like that book!).

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
  24. E.
    E.

    I am… curious.
    -shocked-

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
  25. Anon
    Anon

    Maxim got the good name and a trust fund and Kit got the meh name and had to work for his money. Did their parents hate Kit?

    “Kit was Earl of Trevethick, see, and with no heirs, that means the title goes to Maxim, who coveted the position as a child. Because Kit was the heir, he was treated better by their mother. Styled Viscount Porthtowan until their father’s death when Kit was twenty, he became the twelfth Earl of Trevethick”

    Except for the above-mentioned lack of a trust fund and having to work really hard to … inherit a landed aristocratic title and all the money that came with it? (In fairness, a lot of British aristocracy is penniless now, but that seems to not be the case here, so what in the lack of logical flow is going on with this family?)

    And he couldn’t have left Caroline anything because that’s not how aristocratic inheritance works. Even in 2019.

    “And like. Again, not to police anyone’s grief here. But…”*pouting*”? That’s the text a twenty-year-old sends her boyfriend playfully when he doesn’t want to come over.”

    50 was like reading a 10-year-old’s fantasy about life. James has matured 10 years since.

    I’m also wondering about their ages because either Daddy Dearest died tragically young or they’re at least in their 40s or 50s in order to have inherited above-mentioned title and lands, etc. Or they were born when their parents were older … Is this ever clarified? Why do *I* know more about British aristocracy than EL does? She grew up there …

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      “I’m also wondering about their ages because either Daddy Dearest died tragically young or they’re at least in their 40s or 50s in order to have inherited above-mentioned title and lands, etc. ”

      Here’s what Jenny writes: “Styled Viscount Porthtowan until their father’s death when Kit was twenty, he became the twelfth Earl of Trevethick–”
      So I think we can assume that they can be between mid-twenties and mid-thirties. My tip is on 28-9.

      April 18, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Oy! Thanks. I must have forgotten I read that. lol

        So either their father died young and Eel didn’t think it necessary to explain or he was really old when they were born.

        April 18, 2019
        |Reply
  26. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    What are the chances of ELJ reading/watching Poldark? My Google abilities are failing, and I need to sleep. But this is the best of the evidence I could find:

    https://twitter.com/bbcone/status/566914890451800066 Some of the comments on this Tweet from BBC One announcing Poldark casting have tagged in ELJ. This likely means that ELJ reTweeted the Tweet, but I haven’t found direct proof of it yet. Though the Tweet has 378 ReTweets, Twitter will only list 20 accounts who reTweeted, and ELJ isn’t one of them. My bad luck. Now I’ll have to comb through ELJ’s Twitter to 15th February 2015. Advanced Search only lets me search through HER Tweets, and not stuff she’s ReTweeted, so I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, and hope my Internet/laptop doesn’t die from scrolling through over 4 years of ELJ Tweets.

    The comments in question:
    https://twitter.com/AlisonAjt/status/567081726674210816
    https://twitter.com/Purrlcat/status/567004881807216642
    https://twitter.com/pamlangworthy/status/566926231275569152

    This Guardian recap of Series Two, Episode Seven: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/oct/16/poldark-recap-series-two-episode-seven-heavens-the-tension

    I share that link because of this: “Who needs a naked bath when you can get ambushed by customs officers? Someone tell EL James to put more customs officers in her next book.”

    Are there customs officers in The Mister, by any chance?

    More of my grasping at straws:

    https://twitter.com/E_L_James/status/901548206198333441 “My SIL just admitted that she watched an ep of #GoT & thought this is very tame. When it finished she realized she’d been watching #Poldark”

    Someone comments with this and posts a still from Game of Thrones: https://twitter.com/GillianNicholl8/status/901556648161849344 “Certainly #ShadesOfTrenwith about the bedroom decor in #GoT”

    ELJ replies with: https://twitter.com/E_L_James/status/901577062938537984 “Note the bed posts… #InterestingAccessory”

    The commenter replies with this, and a still from one of the Shades movies – a close-up of Ana’s wrist tied to a bedpost: https://twitter.com/GillianNicholl8/status/901578563802894336 “Yep that #InterestingAccessory”

    And here we see that BBC Radio Cornwall caught on faster than we did. Linking to the official announcement of THE MISTER: https://twitter.com/BBCCornwall/status/1088536985357176833 “So .. #FiftyShades author @E_L_James has revealed her new book #TheMister is partially set in lovely #Cornwall #MaxinTrevelyan #AlessiaDemachi If only we had Fifty Shades Of Pol-Darker.. #Poldark”

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I’ve never been to Cornwall. I want to go. My main reference for it is Doc Martin and especially the shots they have in that show of the gorgeous scenery. Leave it to James to ruin is for me. :-/

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
  27. Bree
    Bree

    Isn’t Trevelyan the maiden name of Christian Grey’s adoptive mother? Are we in some kind of weird pre-50 Shades spinoff and the unnamed heroine (the one currently wandering through the forest/McDonald’s) is going to get pregnant and their daughter is going to grow up and adopt Christian Grey?

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Khristle
      Khristle

      She’s setting up for a crossover, probably. Can you just imagine, she’ll have a whole 50 Shades extended universe.

      April 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Bree
        Bree

        And then Stephanie Meyer will write a fanfic about how Kit Trevelyanthick Porthtowan isn’t really dead, he’s actually a vampire living in the English countryside with an OC who is brunette/brown eyed/pale/waifish but is Definitely Not Bella Swan.

        April 17, 2019
        |Reply
  28. Evil!Blonde Bitch
    Evil!Blonde Bitch

    It’s too bad EL James’ only “familiarity” (I use that term broadly) with literature is Tess of the D’Ubervilles. I’m getting some serious King Claudius vibes from Maxim and Caroline fucking literally hours after Kit dies. Shakespearean villain vibes really aren’t what you want to give your hero, Erika.

    April 17, 2019
    |Reply
  29. Caroline (a nice one who doesn't shag at funerals)
    Caroline (a nice one who doesn't shag at funerals)

    Even in historical romance the arrogant-asshole-aristocratic-manwhore hero is Out Of Vogue now.

    BTW I am buying your books from now on just based on the writing in this recap, Jenny.

    April 18, 2019
    |Reply
    • Bree
      Bree

      I’m dying at your username

      April 18, 2019
      |Reply
    • Jordan Bell
      Jordan Bell

      Caroline, Jenny is an amazing writer. He fiction is so immersive and more-ish. The blog writing definitely gives you a taste of it. You’re in for a treat!

      April 20, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jordan Bell
        Jordan Bell

        *Her fiction, damnit!

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *