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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter five or, “The Song Remains The Same”

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This was a longer chapter, so this is also a longer recap. I’m glad to see the grand tradition of wildly varying chapter lengths lives on.

P.S. Did you know that I’m actually tagging these entries like a good person? POSITIVELY REINFORCE ME WITH YOUR PRAISE FOR A THING I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THE WHOLE TIME I’VE HAD A BLOG.

We open with Demelssia returning to the apartment the next day. When she finds that the alarm is disabled, she knows that Moss is home.

I’m not clear on the alarm being off meaning that he’s not home, but I’ve never been rich enough to live somewhere with an alarm. I got three dogs, that’s alarming enough. I guess if I were a rich person with an alarm, I would probably keep it armed when I was sleeping, just in case.

He has invaded her dreams ever since she’d seen him sprawled naked on his bed.

Wait, why are we going from present to past-perfect? Wouldn’t it be, “He has invaded her dreams ever since she saw him sprawled naked on his bed?”

Demelssia was so intimidated and thrilled by her sexy, shirtless employer, he’s all she’s got on her mind. It would be super unfortunate if something that’s supposed to be sexy happens today.

Her jeans are soaked from the torrential rain, too.

Oh no.

She shivers as she removes them and struggles into her housecoat, grateful that the plastic bag has kept it dry. The hem falls to below her knees, so that she’s not immodest without her jeans.

Yup. She was just soaked to the bone and had to take off her clothes and clean in a bathrobe today. Tee hee. Hope The Mister doesn’t see anything! Tee hee.

Zot! Turns out Moss is awake and he’s calling for her from the kitchen.

His smile is dazzling, lighting up his handsome face and his emerald eyes. She looks away, blinded by his good looks and embarrassed by her creeping blush.

She observes that he was “cross” when she saw him in the last chapter. Which…didn’t come across at all. I mean, I know she’s skittish of men due to her background, but their whole conversation seemed pretty cordial to me. Maybe if we’d seen the interaction in her POV, rather than his, this wouldn’t feel like an authorial “trust me, this is totally what you read” moment.

Why did Moss need to talk to her?

“Alessia?” he says again.

“Yes, Mister,” she answers, keeping her eyes lowered. At least he is dressed this time.

“I just wanted to say hi.”

And then he waits for her to say hi, and she does, and he walks out, straight into his own POV, dragging us along with him. Again, we get just the tiniest, inconsequential sliver of Demelssia’s POV before we move back to Moss.

Moss is kicking himself for being a nerd in front of her. He’s worried that since her feet are bare, she walked to his house barefoot. Like. I don’t want to be that person, but maybe examine how much you’re paying the people who work for you if you see one of them barefoot and think they must have walked shoeless through the pouring rain for want of shoes. Like, how little is she making cleaning this slob’s house that he’s not like, “Oh, her shoes were probably wet?” He jumps straight to, well, guess she can’t afford shoes. The people who work for you should be getting paid enough to afford shoes! That shouldn’t be a question that even enters your mind!

He realizes he makes her uncomfortable.

Is it me or is it men in general?

It’s a troubling thought. Maybe I’m the one who’s uncomfortable.

I wish James would have extrapolated more here. Imagine how likable Moss would have become if he had gone further with, “It’s a troubling thought,” and acknowledged that it’s not something he often thinks about because he’s a man and he doesn’t have to. Or he could have wondered, wow, what horrible past experience made her so afraid?

Instead, he leaps directly to his own discomfort.

After all, she chased me out of the flat last week and the idea that I fled to avoid her is disconcerting.

Okay, that didn’t happen, but I guess it’s too much work to scroll back up your Word .doc and make it happen. This makes it sound like they had some kind of confrontation that forced him to run away, but literally, the only exchange between them was him being like, who are you, why are you in my house, oh, you’re the housekeeper? Okay.

The lives of these characters must be so exhausting with this amount of manufactured drama coming from every simple interaction.

Moss goes on to talk about how much that exchange with Demelssia inspired him. He’s spent the whole weekend in seclusion, ignoring everyone and every obligation, just to compose. He wrote three piano pieces in one weekend. I need to get me a Demelssia, because holy cow, I could use that kind of break-neck productivity this week.

When he goes to his bedroom, he finally sees it the way other humans see it.

Bloody hell, I’m a slob.

I’ve been wondering why his dates haven’t noticed this, frankly. In the second chapter, his closet is described as basically just having clothes thrown everywhere. And what if he brings a woman back to his apartment on a day one of his dailies hasn’t been there? Do they just not notice that the floor is absolutely covered with clothes and junk?

In the grand tradition of people everywhere, he makes his bed before the cleaning lady can see it. Then he passes her in the hallway.

I regard her retreating figure in the shapeless housecoat: long pale legs, a gentle sway of slim hips…are those bright pink underpants I can see through the nylon? From beneath the headscarf a rich brunette plait snakes down her back to just above the line of her pink underwear, and it swings from side to side as she walks. I know I should look away, but I’m distracted by her underwear. They cover her backside and come up to her waist. They are possibly the largest knickers I’ve ever seen on a woman. And my body stirs like I’m a thirteen-year-old boy.

I love how one of the requirements for being the largest knickers he’s ever seen is that they cover her whole ass. It explains why they turn him on. He’s used to women in thongs, so this is something new and exciting.

We go back to Alessia’s POV now. And in case you were worried that yet another chapter might go by without mentioning that you can see the Thames from his apartment, fear not:

She opens the curtains fully and stares out at the river. “Thames.” She whispers the word aloud, her voice wavering a little.

She thinks about how different Albania was. She lived in an extremely rural area, with “fertile countryside and snow-capped mountains.” London is too crowded and urban for her, which makes sense; the population of London is larger than the population of the entire country of Albania. Like, over twice the size. And she misses her home, so this passage at least gives her a little more personality and conflict. She’s not in London because she wants to be.

This bothered me back when I was still enjoying reading the book:

She wonders if he’s going to be here all day, and the thought that he might bothers her. His presence will keep her from playing her favorite pieces.

But on the plus side, she gets to see him.

The man who’s been dominating her dreams.

What annoys me about this is that just a chapter ago, she was aching to play. She was willing to risk her employment to do so. Playing the piano is a part of her soul or something. And now there’s a hot guy and she’s like, well, just so long as I get to be around this man, I’m fine losing the rare chance I have to do the only thing that’s left from the life I miss desperately.

When Demelssia cleans the bathroom, the smell of his soap or cologne or whatever is clinging to the air and it gives her sexy thoughts that must be denied in triplicate:

Stop! Stop! Stop!

She finds the wastebasket is condom-free and that makes her happy. Then she checks out the photos he took of two sexy nude women. One of them is described as pale with blonde hair, so I’m wondering if we’ll find out that it’s a photo of Elizaline or something.

In Moss’s POV, he expresses dismay that he doesn’t know how to manage a farm, and I express my dismay that he doesn’t just hire someone who specializes in that shit. It’s not like these people don’t exist.

Kit had been reading economics at the LSE when our father died. Ever the dutiful son, he’d dropped out of the LSE and enrolled in the Duchy of Cornwall’s university to study farming and estate management. With thirty thousand acres to oversee, now I understand that it was a sensible decision.

I did the math. That means they own a whopping .01% of England. That’s not sarcastic. I’m saying that’s a lot. And way too much for one dude to keep track of, no matter where he went to school. That’s why people hire other people to oversee their shit.

You know what I wonder? I wonder if he can see the Thames from his apartment.

I stand and walk over to look at the view. On the river there are a couple of barges heading in opposite directions, a police lauch cruising east, and the river bus heading to Cadogan Pier.

Oh, thank god. I’m so glad he can see the Thames from his apartment. That question has been weighing on me.

He thinks about how he always wanted to go on the river bus, but his mother would never take him. IDK, dude, you live right by the river and you have a shit ton of money. Just go do it and heal your bullshit childhood wound.

I mean, that said, I prefer his bullshit childhood wound of not getting to go on a boat ride to the childhood wounds of his cousin Christian. Which, by the way, is what I decided. I decided that Chedward Grullen is Moss Troldark’s cousin on the maternal side. Anyway, I don’t think Moss is going to date someone who looks like his mother just so he can “beat the shit out of” her by proxy for never instructing his nanny to take him on a boat.

Moss sits down at the piano to play his compositions from the weekend, and we jump into Demelssia’s POV so we can, you know, see her react to Moss before jumping back into his head right away. But first, she thinks about how much nicer and cleaner and better his rich people kitchen is compared to her parents’ poor people kitchen. Then we get her reaction to the piano playing.

It’s from the manuscript she’s seen so many times on his piano, but the melody goes further than she’s read, the notes soft and sad, falling in mournful blues and grays around her.

Okay, I know someone will probably complain that her synesthesia matches up to the colors he thought about when he was writing the piece and all, but I demand we suspend disbelief for that point because it’s actually pretty romantic and I am grasping at straws to find anything original and interesting.

Cut to someone in the comments pointing out that it’s from some other, well-established piece of media, probably.

As she watches him–his brow furrowed, head tilted, lips parted–he takes her breath away.

She’s captivated.

By him.

Thanks for clearing that up.

By the music.

Oh.

He’s talented.

Can we move on?

She thinks about how he’s the most handsome man she’s ever seen, then remembers another man, one with ice-blue eyes, and it’s a painful memory she doesn’t want to revisit. But now she has to clean the living room, where Moss still is. He’s stopped playing and is sitting at his computer when she comes in, so now that he’s not at the piano with his eyes closed, you know what that means.

It’s time to go back to his head.

Moss can’t concentrate at all with Demelssia there in her provocative housecoat and Hanes-Her-Way underpants.

She moves to plump the black scatter cushions on the couch, and her housecoat swings forward and stretches out across her backside, betraying the pink underwear beneath.

My breathing shallows, and I have to surpress a groan.

I’m a fucking pervert.

Pretty much, if you’re sitting there watching your cleaner, who you already know is kind of unsettled by you, and getting turned on. This scene would have been so much more important in Demelssia’s POV. In the next POV switch, we learn that she was aware he was watching her, and we get her thoughts on it, but getting those thoughts in the moment is more important than hearing about how Moss gets an erection watching her polish the piano:

With a deliberate and even pace, she works her way around the piano, bufffing and polishing, her breathing becoming faster and harder with the exertion. It’s agonizing. I close my eyes and imagine how I could elicit the same response from her.

She looks at his sheet music and he wonders if she knows how to read it, and then she sees him watching her and he sees that she sees and she licks her lip and it’s all supposed to be unbearably erotic except, you know, I keep coming back to the fact that she’s literally your cleaning lady who has do these things in front of you while you sexualize them and you think she’s doing it for so little pay that she can’t afford shoes.

He gets a phone call and steps out of the room, thinking:

Hell, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let her chase me out again.

But…that isn’t…is my copy of the book missing key sentences or something? You got a phone call and left the room, you didn’t run away or get chased out.

Now that the piano polishing scene is over, we get the instant replay from Demelssia. She acknowledges that Moss had been watching her, but she doesn’t have any sort of response to it besides thinking that he must have been making sure she was cleaning correctly because he certainly couldn’t have been looking at her for any other reason. She, however, is all hot and bothered.

You know.

The way women are when they’re alone in a house with a man who is creepily watching them and also signs their paycheck. And they’re already afraid of men in the first place.

I mean, okay, I guess I have to suspend disbelief on this point because yeah, she’s the love interest and they’re going to be in love, but the idea that she’s unsettled by his presence isn’t nearly as effective as would be some kind of indication that his presence makes her feel safe or something.

Let me divert just a second here for a quick romance writing suggestion: if you give your characters needs that can only be filled by each other, it works better than trying to force two characters together who don’t fulfill each other’s needs. We saw this in Fifty Shades, that Ana fulfilled Christian’s need to…cause pain to women who looked like his mom, gross, but he didn’t fulfill any of her needs. When she explicitly expressed them to him, he gave excuses as to why he would not meet her needs based on his own personal wants and desires. We were supposed to be happy that Ana’s love saved Christian, but we were never supposed to examine the part where Ana had to overcome her fear of Christian to do so. That book could have been saved from so many pitfalls if Ana simply had felt safe with Christian, or if he had fulfilled some other need that made the relationship worth staying in, but there was nothing. No incentive at all for her. Here, with Demelssia, it would be so much more poignant and her attraction would be so much more believable if he was the only man she’d met in London who didn’t make her afraid, rather than, “I’m so afraid of him and he’s so hot, I can’t stop thinking of him.”

Demelssia thinks about how her mom would be scandalized at the idea of her daughter ogling a sexy guy. Moss has to go out, so he tells Demelssia that her money is on the table, and she’s like, yes, finally, I get to play the piano. But it’s still raining so Moss offers to loan her an umbrella.

“You’re welcome to borrow this. It’s still raining cats and dogs outside.”

Cats and dogs?

This stopped me. Why wouldn’t she be able to get from the context that it’s an idiom? Why is she confused, rather than going, “Huh, what a weird expression?” There’s a saying I heard in France years ago, that I had to take from context. It was something like being in the salad, and it was like, I heard it and went, “Oh, okay, that’s telling a lie, what a weird way to say it.” I always think it’s weird when we choose to show ESL speaking people being confused by idioms or figurative speech as if the concept doesn’t exist in any other language. And again, as we go on we’ll get even more enraged about Demelssia’s Amelia Bedelia approach to English.

As soon as Moss leaves, Demelssia sits at the piano and we whip right back into Moss’s head, where he congratulates himself on loaning her an umbrella.

I am ridiculously pleased with myself. I’m finally able to help her with this small gesture. I’m not accustomed to doing good deeds–though I probably have an ulterior motive for my kindness, a motive I don’t want to analyze too deeply right now, as it might confirm I’m the shallow fucking bastard I think I am.

Like, as the book goes on, I find Moss less and less likable, specifically for things like this. Before, he thought she didn’t have any shoes. So he lent her an umbrella. And now he’s patting himself on the back about how he did this wonderful thing for her. Bro, you thought she didn’t have any SHOES.

There’s a section break and he’s done with his meeting. Walking with Oliver through the construction on the building project Moss just inherited, he’s dismayed that Oliver won’t refer to him by his first name.

“Oliver. It’s Maxim. Please use my name. You used to. Before.”

“Very good, my lord.”

Remember when this same author wrote an entire five-book series in which the hero refused to call the heroine the name she specifically asked him to call her until she finally gave up trying? And it was endearing and romantic? Weird how when it’s a guy doing it to another guy, it’s a real issue.

Moss suggests that Elizaline could do the interior designing for the model apartment, and Oliver is kind of cagey on the idea, so Moss says he’ll consider some other people, too. Then he goes home and plays the piano and thinks of Demelssia more.

Who would have thought I’d be so attracted to a woman in a nylon housecoat and large pink panties?

The panties are quickly becoming the Thames of her ass, they’re mentioned so often.

How could she have worked her way under my skin in such a short time? I know nothing about her, except she’s unlike any woman I’ve ever met. The women in my life are bold and confident and know what they want and how to ask for it. She’s not like that.

Because she’s working for you. She can’t be “bold” and ask for what she wants. What she wants is to keep her job, and boldness and confidence are like, antithetical to keeping a job as a domestic. He thinks yet again that maybe she knows how to read music…like at this point, it’s basically a complete recap of the boring, over-long scenes we’ve just read. We get it. Let’s move on.

To Demelssia’s POV. She sleeps on a folding cot in a teensy room at Magda’s house, much in the way Demelza slept in a cupboard in Ross’s house but WHATEVER. She starts thinking sexy thoughts and touching herself.

She gasps, embracing her fantasy, and her hand moves farther down, and she imagines that it’s his hand on her.

Touching her.

Here.

I’m sorry, I think you meant, “down there.”

She thinks of him as her body builds.

Climbing.

Higher.

His face.

His back.

 

I’m sorry. Please still love me.

Anyway, she thinks of him in such erotic terms as “behind” that she comes and falls asleep.

In Moss-vision, he’s having a sexy dream about Demelssia polishing the piano in only her panties. This is a little…

Okay, I know I’m supposed to have a huge problem with the power imbalance of an employer-employee relationship, but I really love that trope. Like, I love it so much. The issue I have with this one is like…she’s a human trafficking survivor (spoiler alert, sorry) who doesn’t speak the language of the country she’s in, is tragically impoverished, and is terrified of losing her job. I feel like if we removed even one of those, I would be able to enjoy the romance more. For example, off the top of my head, the human trafficking part, which becomes a very euuurgh situation as the book progresses. I’m trying to not get ahead of us here, but anyway. I just feel like the power imbalance way, way too wide for him to be having sex dreams (and then beating off to them) about his housekeeper doing her housekeeping job. It stretches the appeal of the trope way too far.

So, now let’s get into “Jenny is super fucking confused and wonders if she missed something, or if this is just classic E.L. James.” The next day, Moss goes to the office where the estates are managed. He calls it, “our offices,” and mentions that he’s trying to concentrate, but:

[…]I’m concious that the door to Kit’s office is ajar. It’s distracting. I cannot bring myself to work in there yet. I can almost hear him talking on the phone or laughing at one of my poor jokes berating Oliver about some transgression. I half expect him to bound in off the street. He was so at ease in this world and in charge of his domain.

So, maybe I’m just misreading it, but it sounds like these are things that happened often, and that’s why Moss remembers them? Or is there something I’m just not getting? Because it sounds like Moss straight up has an office in this building and used to hear his brother talking on the phone or laughing and there was this rapport that’s now missing in the office setting?

I stand over Kit’s lifeless, fractured body with the A&E doctor.

Yes, this is him, I confirm.

Thank you, Lord Trevethick, she murmurs.

It’s the first time anyone had used the title.

Now look. I’ve checked in with several people who are from honest-to-God England. And they have reasonably assured me that a random doctor in an emergency room isn’t going to be so well-versed with the peerage that they would immediately title switch. This isn’t like the dude is the crown prince and the king just died. And according to two of the people I polled, nobody even gives a shit who is an earl or not anymore.

Moss and Oliver talk about the estates and how most of the nobility is poor now, but not them. He talks about the ways the various properties make money, and this is one of them:

Tyok in Northumberland is rented out lock, stock, and barrel to a rich American who fancies himself a lord.

I will go to my grave believing this person is Chedward Grullen and his lovely wife Anabella.

While they talk about business, Moss thinks about Demelssia until he gets a text from Elizaline. It reads, I shit you not:

I’m not pregnant. :'(

I have nothing of Kit’s.

Not even his child.

Reader, I died laughing at that crying face.

Moss immediately cancels the workday and texts Elizaline to tell her he’s on his way over, but she wants to go out to a club, instead. Not like, you know. A dance club. A private club where you have to be a member and all that. He meets her and she’s in a real state, wearing Kit’s sweater and walking around with puffy eyes and messy hair. She asks Moss why she hasn’t seen him over the weekend and asks if he’s met someone. Moss denies it, but Elizaline sees through him, especially when he tells her that he spent the whole weekend alone. He finally confesses:

“There is someone. But she doesn’t know I exist.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. Seriously. It’s nothing. Just a flight of fancy.”

Caroline frowns. “This is not like you. You’re never distracted by one of your, um…conquests.”

I can’t help my hollow laugh. “She’s not a conquest–not by any stretch of the imagination.”

Then they decide to get food, and they raise their glasses to toast Kit.

There’s a section break and we rejoin them as they drunkenly arrive at Moss’s apartment. Elizaline asks for cocaine and Moss is like, I don’t have any, which makes me wonder what quantity he’s buying in, because didn’t he just have some earlier in the week that nobody wanted to do with him? Like, IDK, Moss, but maybe it wasn’t your housekeeper that inspired you to such heights of productivity over the weekend.

Elizaline asks Moss to take her to bed and he’s like, sure, the guest room is open. Which is not what she wants to hear.

“Don’t. Please don’t cry.” I pull her back into my embrace. “We can’t do this anymore.”

Since when have scruples stopped me fucking?

 

Earlier in the book, it seemed like they might, at least where Elizaline was concerned. You were trying not to have sex with her when you picked up Leticia.

There’s a section break again and it’s the middle of the night. Elizaline won’t take no for an answer and gets into bed with Moss, but he’s still like, hard pass. He lets her sleep in his bed, though, so you can guess where chapter six is going.

My impression so far: At this point, I was getting a little tired of the repetition. Nothing is really happening aside from Maxim doing earl things, playing piano, and watching Alessia clean. All Alessia does is explain what she’s doing so that we can go back to Maxim’s POV and see him experience the thing she’s doing, then we pop back to Alessia thinking about how hot it was when Maxim experienced the thing. It’s like she’s only there to set up Maxim’s attraction to her, then swiftly step out of the way. The further we go in the story, the less I feel connected to Alessia. She’s beginning to feel like an annoying, boring distraction from the story going on with Maxim. Sadly, it kind of seems like the author felt the same way.

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126 Comments

  1. Laina
    Laina

    Does James think a “housecoat” is like a uniform top or something? I’m honestly so confused.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      I’m really wondering about this housecoat obsession, too. IMO, there is no such thing as a sexy housecoat (sorry, any housecoat fans reading this). So is Alessia really wearing something more attractive?

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Laina
        Laina

        I keep picturing like the thing that Kara is wearing in Detroit Become Human.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ellen
        Ellen

        My gran always offered us housecoats, and they were like uglier dressing gowns. I *never* imagined them as sexy

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
        • SaintSithney
          SaintSithney

          https://images.app.goo.gl/aUWEnZR56rheq672A

          I thought of these. My elderly aunt wore one frequently, though she also frequently wore a sort of knee-length vest with metal shoulder snaps over her clothes, and I was always told that was her housecoat.

          It made sense for not getting clothes dirty while cleaning, but the only garment less erotic would be one of those vintage Easter bunny suits.

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
            Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

            That’s the kind of think my grandma wore and my seventy plus mom wears. That is not sexy. Not even if it were made of black lace. JFC – EL isn’t even trying.

            April 23, 2019
  2. Sam
    Sam

    OK I’m officially declaring that the only hetero employer/employee power imbalance I want to read is one in which SHE is the boss, and she’s resisting her attraction cuz she’s worried about her reputation in a man’s world etc etc, not because she’s like actually scared for her life/being taken advantage of.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Gwen
      Gwen

      100% on board, would read that story instead of this one

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • many bells down
      many bells down

      Yeah, I’m feeling like the lord-and-servant thing just doesn’t work for me in a modern setting. It’s too real. It’s not the escapism I want.
      Like, I feel legitimately concerned for this character being exploited instead of “ooh he sweeps Cinderella off to a life of luxury and hot sex”

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • But it’s a faaaaantasy! It’s what eeeeeevery woman waaaaaants! You’re so judgmental!

        *cough*

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        Yeah, that’s the problem when you steal a historic romance and try to set it in the present without changing anything but the names and setting. It just comes across as icky and gross. Making her a victim of sex trafficking makes it disgusting.

        I find nothing at all sexy about this guy. I can’t believe he is hot and sexy when he goes around thinking Fuck a duck, possibly the least sexy swear in existence. He comes across as a very privileged frat boy who wants the one girl who isn’t fawning over him…oh, wait, is this Chedward in Witness Relocation?

        I’m only sticking with this because Jenny is hilariously good at recapping terrible things. I both envy and pity her for this. (envy because turning turds into gold is a great skill, pity because she has to wade through the turd in the first place). But thank you Jenny!. We love you!

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ellen
        Ellen

        If you want a recommendation, Alisha Rai’s Gentleman On the Street is a really good book with a billionaire heroine and a writer hero.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
  3. Zvi LikesTV
    Zvi LikesTV

    Thanks for tagging appropriately!

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  4. Izzy
    Izzy

    “Wait, why are we going from present to past-perfect?”
    Because at no point did this book find itself in the hands of a competent editor.

    Why wasn’t Kit taking that estate management course to begin with? It’s not like he didn’t know he’d be Lord Whatsit one day.

    At this point I’d say Alessia is more of a character than Ana but it’s a narrow margin.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  5. Anon
    Anon

    “I just wanted to say hi.”

    Is he a toddler?

    “are those bright pink underpants I can see through the nylon?”

    Housecoats are pretty damned opaque, but OK. Tis kind of feels like porn for the over 80 crowd. And kind of reminds me of that episode of Friends where we find out Ross had a fling with the elderly cleaning lady or something from their high school.

    “They cover her backside and come up to her waist. They are possibly the largest knickers I’ve ever seen on a woman.”

    Uh. My waist is literally directly atop my “backside.” And there are underwear that cover one’s entire bum without being particularly large. I’m not getting “BIGGEST PANTIES EVER!!!!” from that description, but OK. And she stole this from Bridget Jones.

    This budding romance might be more exciting and interesting if we had even a tiny bit of real interaction between the characters. It all feels quick and force, but maybe because it’s a recap? Does it feel forced in the book? I’m getting zero chemistry here.

    “one of them is described as pale with blonde hair”

    Whoever she is, I’m sure she’s pure evil in human form.

    So Kit didn’t drop out of college. He just transferred and switched majors. And since he was next in line, anyway, why wouldn’t he have just done the latter in the first place? Did he not know he was the heir?

    “… then remembers another man, one with ice-blue eyes, and it’s a painful memory she doesn’t want to revisit.”

    Has she been visiting The Wall? I don’t blame her. Wights are scary and dangerous.

    I know every time a man has offered me an umbrella, I’ve practically come in my pants just standing there. SO.HOT. Is it just me?

    “And according to two of the people I polled, nobody even gives a shit who is an earl or not anymore.”

    Basil Fawlty would care. But you didn’t even think about him, did you? DID YOU?!

    She took forever to get to the point in 50, too. This is an obnoxious habit.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Laina
      Laina

      I don’t think they’re talking about like around your hips. They mean the “natural waist” which is over your belly button and just a bit under your boobs.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
    • Vivacia K. Ahwen
      Vivacia K. Ahwen

      Anon, I had the same thought about Bridget Jones’ “enormous” undah-wears, as well as Miri’s “Granny Pants” in Zak and Miri make a porno. Is “imitation” REALLY the “sincerest form of flattery,” or is it just super-annoying?

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Avery
    Avery

    We’re so proud of you for remembering to tag these entries, Jenny! Way to go!
    (Are you positively reinforced enough, or do you need more?)

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  7. Ren Benton
    Ren Benton

    “In the grand tradition of people everywhere, he makes his bed before the cleaning lady can see it.”

    If I was banging random people/jerking off in that bed every night and had housekeeping services, that bedding would be getting washed every day, but maybe dudes like marinating in a culture of their own bodily fluids.

    We all know the only reason Moss didn’t have sex with Elizaline is that she had her period (the obvious way she’d know she wasn’t pregnant). If she’d offered him a hummer, there’d have been no pretense of being faithful to the employee in his spank bank.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Chip Otle
    Chip Otle

    Whenever I see “Demelssia” the first thing that comes to mind is “Dementia.”

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Hehehe.

      If she is Dementia, then he is uncle Fester, but that can never be, since „Addams Family” is all that is good and pure in the world and James must never, ever touch it.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      As in:
      “Dementia?”
      “It means insanity”
      “Mine’s Fester…It means ‘to rot'”?

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        I loooove that scene. Three lines of dialogue and Bam! you already know they’re soulmates.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
  9. “The panties are quickly becoming the Thames of her ass, they’re mentioned so often.”

    Well, please enjoy this internet you have won.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Seconded.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Also, „the Thames of her ass” feels like it should be part of Fergie’s „London Bridge” lyrics.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
  10. Also, is it wrong that it feels like a huge step for James to have a female character masturbate — or even acknowledge sexual feelings — in a somewhat normal-ish way? Of course, since Our Lady of the Giant Panties (who has nothing to do with James’s Jane Austen [but really the Bridget Jones movies] love) is a sex trafficking survivor, I’m sure James will screw everything up with all sorts of gross, unhealthy sexual stereotypes in five… four… three….

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      The giant panties also appear in the book for Bridget Jones. I had the same thought (see above). She totally stole that from a far superior author.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      I was actually wondering if she’d taken heed to criticism considering Ana’s horror at the implication she might masturbate. So it was a nice progress, I guess. It seems James can listen to criticism, but only to a point.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
  11. Jay Selene
    Jay Selene

    Maybe it’s my asexuality talking, but insta-attraction never feels real to me. It seems like authors use “they smiled and I got horny” as a shortcut to indicate people will/ought to be together and I don’t feel like they’re putting in the work to establish an emotional intimacy that can create a lasting relationship.

    Moreover, I appreciate a good power imbalance fantasy but the reality almost always feels exploitative. As you said, there were so many opportunities to turn this into something deeper but I just don’t find terrified women sexy. If you’ve only ever known her scared, beating off over her lack of eye contact just implies you get off on her genuine fear.

    This is probably the chapter that would have caused me to return the book. That the female lead is there as a prop, that her fear is used to make her “unique” and set her apart/above other women, and that the male lead is self-congratulatory about something as minor as an umbrella, and intent on blaming her for his arousal (he left the room rather than drool on her, therefore she “chased him out”), and places his discomfort over being aroused above her obvious discomfort over working in his vicinity all add up to a mental squick I can’t get past. It’s no longer romantic for me.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Instant attraction can work (IRL and in books). James just doesn’t know how to write it.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • It’s one of my least-favorite tropes in the genre, and I keep getting told I’m “unpublishable” because my characters don’t want to fuck the instant their eyes meet. Some of them want to… exchange a few words, even, first.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Sadie Coffey
        Sadie Coffey

        Emily Barnard, I will pre-order the book in which your characters exchange words before exchanging bodily fluids.

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
        • Sadie Coffey, and I will personally sign it to you with a sparkly Sharpie!

          Trying to finish one of ’em for Camp NaNo, in fact.

          April 22, 2019
          |Reply
    • K R
      K R

      I feel you in that regards. I just don’t understand the “oh crap, this person is hot and I want to fuck them every which way” . Like are people really walking around just thinking about who they find attractive and wanting to fuck them for no other reason? Somehow, I don’t think that’s the case, but it may be due to my own asexuality that I don’t understand those types of scenarios.
      As for her characterization? In any other author’s hands, her past as a victim of trafficking can make a compelling character story if treated right, but why do I get the feeling that Maxim’s magic dick is all that is going to take for all past traumas to go away? That’s not how it works, but that is probably as much characterization we’re gonna get on that end.
      Looking forward to the rest of the recaps.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        That type of insta-lust usually bothers me too.

        Especially if, as it was written here, there is nothing else that the characters find attractive about each-other. I’ve seen that in many a romance novel and it’s usually really obnoxious. The characters just keep on noticing how sexy some part of another’s person body is, they fixate on it and then start fantasising about having sex with that person. If they then have an interesting, witty conversation or find out there’s something they have in common, then the attraction seems more believable, but often times it’s just “he had really muscular arms, oh my god, he was sexy” followed by “oooh, his eyes were blue, I couldn’t stop looking into them”, followed by “damn, his ass was so fine, it was almost unreal” and on and on, ad nauseum.

        It just makes me feel, like the characters are shallow and uninteresting. Woe.

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
      • Sigyn
        Sigyn

        I tend to fall pretty hard in lust instantaneously, but it goes away if I can’t find something about the actual person to like.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
      • Kimberley
        Kimberley

        LOL magic dick!!! Soooo many think that is the “answer” to frigid partners, or rape victims, or virgins afraid of sex! GAH!!!!!

        April 24, 2019
        |Reply
    • Izzy
      Izzy

      My dislike of the insta-lust trope in this case is less about my own asexuality than it is about the clumsy writing. Most times I just acknowledge that I’m not the target audience for this trope and IRL people possibly do look at a stranger and think to themselves ‘I’m horny and that person is attractive and my type so may as well try my luck.’

      In the case of these two cardboard cutouts I can’t brush it off as a case of just allo things. They act genuinely confused by their attraction to each other. I understand why Demelissa is confused at finding Moss attractive. I don’t think any of us can explain that one. But Moss is perving on his cleaning lady in her inexplicably see through housecoat and her pink granny panties and wondering what makes her so very different to his no name hookups. She isn’t. At all. Moss is horny and Demelissa is hot. Not that deep. But James writes about sexual/romantic attraction like she’s a barely sentient space cloud that heard about that human emotion called love from a 12 year old who learned about sex from reading the fanfiction My Immortal.

      But what do I know, I’m just an aroace who hasn’t made millions from my Twilight fanfiction. I’ll leave that shit to the space clouds.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jordan Bell
        Jordan Bell

        I love your description of how EL James learned about attraction and romance. Space clouds ahoy!

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
    • Mimi
      Mimi

      I’m also ace.

      I know the point of her being in granny panties and a frumpy housecoat is that she doesn’t know she’s beautiful (that’s what makes her beautiful). But it reminds me to be anxious about people unexpectedly sexualizing me at all times and that there’s nothing I can do to stop them.

      She’s not making an effort to look sexually appealing. And she’s also not, like, happily puttering around in her own little world, (like if he found her playing the piano and was like, “Wow, look at her so lost in her passion.”) She’s dressed sexlessly and cleaning things while terrified and he’s getting off on that and THEN BLAMING HER FOR IT.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        It’s surprising that there are so many fellow aces on this blog! I love it!

        That’s also what I find deeply uncomfortable about this scene. There are other fucked up things, of course, but it’s a harsh reminder that you can be doing any-fucking-thing as a woman and end up getting sexualized for it. It’s creepy as all hell.

        I also really, really, really, REALLY am weirded out by the panties thing. Like… he’s turned on by regular pink cotton panties? Why? Is this a kink I’m unaware of? Idk why it weirds me out so much but I feel squicky just reading that. It’s like getting an unwanted insight into someone’s Freudian complexes.

        April 25, 2019
        |Reply
  12. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    “You know what I wonder? I wonder if he can see the Thames from his apartment.”

    You. Are. Killing. Me.

    I’m glad someone else pointed out the Bridget Jones panties ripoff (wait, let me reword that…). But then, we know that EL doesn’t have the ability to rub two brain cells together to get an original idea. Yeah, yeah, I know — no such thing as original ideas, everything is just a retelling; I’ve been in that boat for over 20 years, agonizing over the fear of being accused of stealing from others with something I’ve been hashing out which is why I keep putting it off. It’s like Stan Smith always coming out with his CeleBEARtions after the holidays they represent, I come up with something only to discover it’s too late, someone beat me to it. But in James’ case, she is so *blatant* in her “borrowing” from other stories. The granny panties thing was such a major issue in Bridget Jones, AND it takes place in England, and I haven’t seen it used anywhere else (well, unless you count that episode of Bob’s Burgers where Linda paints her panties on her sister’s portraits of animal anuses). So it’s kind of one of those things that when you think of something unique from a story you automatically go to the only place where you saw it, before. Which is why we keep coming back to Poldark because of all the glaring similarities to that series. It’s the difference between a common trope (e.g. “there’s only one bed and we have to share”) and specifics (e.g. the attractiveness of big pink panties).

    I am growing more and more disturbed by the lack of sensitivity to the sex trafficking victim, that she’s suddenly lusting after her boss whom she just met. As a child sexual abuse survivor, I am still nervous around men, particularly those in authority. Having to undress for a male doctor has me shaking. This girl is on the run from her abusers, fresh from the experience, and she is not showing any kind of nervousness being alone with a guy who clearly has a lot of sex (from the wastebaskets full of condoms) and whom she’s seen in various forms of undress. She is also aware he’s checking her out and she isn’t freaked out in the least. When you’ve been put on display like a prize cow, you get self-conscious about *everyone* looking at you. And if you’re on the run, you’re going to be afraid of being spotted, so anyone giving you any attention for more than a few seconds is going to raise all kinds of paranoid thoughts: does this person know me? Are they connected to the traffickers? Do they want to hurt me? The problem is, James doesn’t think of these things. She lives in a bubble with filters so clogged by her own perception of the world that she just hears words and terminology and doesn’t seek to understand what they mean and all they entail. She doesn’t dig beneath the surface because it’s too much work and she just wants to crank out the books to get the almighty paycheck. That’s all writing is, to her. There is no passion involved, even between her characters. It’s all forced. If she had chosen to focus on Alessia and her journey back to being able to trust men and to believe there was a good man capable of tenderness and love, that would have been a good story. But in this book, she is still a victim of sex-trafficking — and James is selling her to a guy who gets off on huge knickers.

    Pathetic.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Alice
      Alice

      Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if in James’ head she is not scared of maxim because he is an handsome white man instead of a scary eastern european man.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Evil!Blonde Bitch
        Evil!Blonde Bitch

        ^^^this

        April 25, 2019
        |Reply
    • Sadie Coffey
      Sadie Coffey

      This is so true, and so important. And given all of that, it’s hard to imagine that she would put herself in this kind of position, where she’s cleaning houses BY HERSELF, no matter how desperate she might be for a job.

      This fucking story falls apart no matter which way you examine it.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
  13. Masha
    Masha

    JENNY YOU ARE AWESOME AND FANTASTIC AND TAGGING LIKE THE GREATEST TAG-CHAMPION WHO EVER TAGGED! (and now on to read the recap…)

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  14. Small jar of fireflies
    Small jar of fireflies

    Wasn’t there a thing with laundry last chapter? Why didn’t she just go chuck her clothes in the dryer? 15 minutes’ worth of awkward standing, and dress and go.

    Also not liking the part where she’s dressed in something revealing, but doesn’t get to find out about it, and has to keep doing what she’s doing while he ogles her. If the power dynamic isn’t supposed to be a big deal here, shouldn’t they get to be on an even footing?

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  15. Masha
    Masha

    “Oliver. It’s Maxim. Please use my name. You used to. Before.”

    “Very good, my lord.”

    Very WELL, my lord.

    Unless Oliver’s complimenting Maxim on his power of recall.

    That’s all I got, except maybe the feeling that in a few more books, ELJ might get somewhere? From FSoG to this, at least her hero now notices the heroine’s discomfort and it actually troubles him, even if only a little. Next book, maybe that will influence his actions? Baby steps, but at least it’s something…

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      That all depends on who she chooses to plagiarize next.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • Jaycie
      Jaycie

      Servants say “Very good” all the time on Downton, so I’m willing to let that go. But it is absolutely improper for anyone to call him “sir”; that’s for knights and superior officers in the military. That said, she generally gets the titling system right here, although I seriously doubt that an earl with as many estates as the Earl of Thickwang or whatever would have the time or energy to manage funds in the City. Even if he hired people specifically to oversee these things, they’d be coming to him constantly to get instructions and signatures. And if he cared as much about the well-being of his hundreds-strong estate staff as much as he apparently did, he’d probably want to be available to them at all hours.

      This book is bringing out my inner Dowager Countess in a big way.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tami Marie Alexander
        Tami Marie Alexander

        In the PG Wodehouse books about Jeeves and Wooster, Jeeves — a gentleman’s gentleman (read: personal butler) — would address Bertie (who had no titles, was just a spoiled rich dolt; see Monty Python’s Twit Races) as “sir.” Side note: if you haven’t seen them, I cannot give enough praise to Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the Masterpiece Theater series, “Jeeves and Wooster.” They were the perfect embodiment of the characters. And you’ll wonder how the English language survived the 1920s with the aristos all speaking gibberish. What ho!

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        I loled at „Thickwang.” 😀

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
      • Sigyn
        Sigyn

        The Earl of Thickwang

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
  16. Is this supposed to be written using British English? This is like watching Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly or Milla Jovovich in Hellboy or Peter Blessed Dinklage in Game of Thrones. We can’t hold an accent! Not for a moment! Pants. Knickers. Not underwear or panties. And WHY didn’t ANYBODY notice before this that she ripped off Poldark????

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Carla
      Carla

      Speaking as an Australian, I know that I use a lot of American-isms because of how much American media I consume! I feel like if EL James is really emerged in American books, shows and movies, (which clearly she is seeing how she copies them) then she’s probably picked up a lot of the language.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • I get that. And I use Britishisms, too, but I’m not a character in a novel. (That I know of….wait…am I????) It seems like James wanted this to be a Proper British novel though…. Like, if Maximoss was really British…wouldn’t he…at least say pants when he means underwear?

        April 25, 2019
        |Reply
  17. Alice
    Alice

    I have to say, I’ve always been confused by ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’. Not confused as in not understanding it, but like why?? Why cats and dogs?

    I’m so tired by the way james handle the “she’s so unique” trope. I’m not against it, not at all, but there is nothing there! They had a basic interaction, and because she wasn’t super forward and everything she is suddenly special. Even though she acted like an employee would. All this also tells me that guy doesn’t actually pay a lot of attention to women, cause don’t tell me this is the first time ever he sees one uncomfortable.

    The :'( in caroline’s message is killing me. Way to destroy any drama or sadness from the situation.

    I don’t even know where to start with the whole cleaning scene. Honestly not much to change to make it a parody.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • E.
      E.

      The reason is a tad disgusting. In the past (basically since they introduced drains) the heavy rains clogged the drains drowning cats and dogs and then their corpses would sail in the cities or would just pile, needed for the night wagons to clean them up (yup, not only those poor sods had to collect the shit but also bloated, rotting corpses of dead, drowned animals. One of the reasons I always find it amusing when people talk about wanting to live in that era.) And something that UK has in abundance is rain, so that was a regular occurrence.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
        • E.
          E.

          Well, considering I had it taught in my second year in the UK by a person with a degree, I tend to believe that this may be an urban legend with though background to be seriously considered as mostly true. Some reading of inventory lists of what was the usual finds after some bigger rains do indicate an increased amount of drowned animals. So I don’t have a reason to doubt it.

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
  18. Jaycie
    Jaycie

    My theory about the pink knickers: E.L. wants us all to know that her new heroines don’t have probable eating disorders, and her new heroes like big butts and they cannot lie. When it comes to responding to criticisms, her hand is as deft as that of a live-action Disney remake.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Nah, she already pointed out how skinny Alessia is when Maxim made the remark about how she needs to be fed. Gag.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jaycie
        Jaycie

        She did? Fuck. Well, at least Alessia enjoys food.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
  19. Sushi
    Sushi

    I’m beginning to wonder if this really is ripped off of Poldark after all, simply because Poldark is actually good. Is EL really that bad an author OK yes, I see what I wrote there, never mind.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  20. Athena
    Athena

    I work at a monitoring center for security systems. I don’t find it hard to believe the alarm wasn’t on when she got there, but for the simple fact that he either forgot to turn it on or set it incorrectly. I don’t deal with the systems themselves, but from working there it seems they have three basic settings, Off, Away, and Stay. Away is when no one’s home and the doors and motion sensors are set to go off. Stay is when only the doors are on so that you can move around inside. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called on an alarm at 3 am and someone has set it to the wrong thing and it went off ’cause they walked to the bathroom or something. Him having the forethought to turn it off because his cleaning lady was coming over sounds less believable for the character.

    My other thoughts on this chapter: WTF! She couldn’t keep the pregnancy drama going past a fucking chapter?! I don’t know how long it goes in Poldark, but seriously? Seriously?! This isn’t fanfic where she actually had to contrive the drama to hook readers, then practically immediately resolved it because “plot hard”. It did last longer than a chapter in Poldark? Right? It had to have. I would much rather have read Moss battling with the growing worry that either he fucked his brother’s widow while she was pregnant with brother’s baby, or he got her pregnant, both when his brother was barely cold in the ground. And then him deciding to become a better person because he wants to be in this kid’s life, whether it be as a father or uncle. And of course the whole worry about who the estate actually belongs to, which isn’t too much of a worry since Moss would probably be seen as guardian of the estate until the kid comes of age. But instead we get this insta-resolution that honestly feels more contrived than stretching it out.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      That would have been an excellent story. All while also wrestling with his feelings for his maid who was a victim of sex trafficking. He has to figure out how to tone down his asshole tendancies and go easy with her while also trying to be a stand up father to this baby (even if it was his brothers, I’d think he’d want o be a father figure) and manage an estate. It could have been a later in life coming of age story about a man baby forced to grow up by all the parts of his life. He can’t hide under countless women, or as EL likes to call them “whores”, or he will lose his twu luv). He can’t hide under a mountain of cocaine and partying, or he will lose his empire, and he can’t hide behind “I’m just a rich asshole who can do what I want” or he will set a bad example for this new baby.

      So much potential. But instead this dreck is what we get. Yay.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
  21. rosered
    rosered

    I will say, i love boss/employee tropes (power imbalance in general tbh), but the fact shes a trafficking victim is really uuuuuugh. I think if i had more faith in EL James to write with sensitivity I’d be more willing to see where it’s going, but I do not. I dunno. James just seems to have the power of writing tropes I usually enjoy in ways that are off-putting even when they’re not outright disturbing.

    Also it might be because I’m reading the recap instead of the book, but it really doesn’t feel like a close loved one of his recently died. I keep forgetting that happened.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      WHY IS THERE GIANT UNDERWEAR ON THE WALL?!

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Bwahahaha!

      Hagrid would approve.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
  22. Angélique
    Angélique

    Being in the salad ? Do you mean “être dans les choux” lol ?
    She is at work and you’re getting hard watching her clean ? Gross. The power imbalance is way too big and also housekeepers in real life get sexually harassed way too much for me to ever find it sexy.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      Maybe “racconter des salades”?

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • “The power imbalance is way too big and also housekeepers in real life get sexually harassed way too much for me to ever find it sexy.”

      Co-signing right here.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        It would be sexy if they had been acquainted for a while, had flirted a bit, rather than her averting her eyes every time he looks at her and calling her Mister, which even would be not terrible were she not a former sex slave completely against her will.

        I am just worried about how the sex is going to go knowing that one of them used to be raped for a living and she is clearly the submissive one, being his servant. It’s all very gross.

        My worry is that EL just chose sex trafficking victim either off a dart board filled with tragic back stories, or it was in the other century source material she’s stealing from and this was the only way she could “modernize” it, and that it’s just going to be a character trait like wearing big pink panties or having brown eyes and will be completely forgotten (or magically “fixed” as soon as she gets his wonderful dick inside her. UGH

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
    • cher
      cher

      Yep. I’m so completely turned off I don’t even have words for it. I have dropped clients if the man of the house likes to hang around while I work. I prefer to have the house to myself generally but don’t mind a woman at home, but will drop any client who watches me work. It’s creepy and makes me feel self conscious.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
  23. melancthe
    melancthe

    I realize any attempt to critique it is a dismal failure because EL James will never accept criticism, BUT. This would be way more interesting if he wasn’t very good at the piano. She could give him pointers, he could gracefully accept them showing he’s not a scary violent guy, it could be a bonding moment… but instead it’s just Edward Part Two. (Didn’t Edward play piano? I feel like he did.) They have nothing in common right now beyond music and attraction, and there is no real reason for him to chase after her. Also this guy has basically been half assing it his entire life, he probably DOES suck at piano.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      The fact, that he’s a piano player drives me mad.

      Let’s look at the facts here:

      1) Stephanie Meyer writes a hero, who loves playing the piano and composes a musical piece for the heroine.

      2) E.L. James plagiarizes „Twilight” and keeps the piano playing hobby for her version of Edward.

      3) James writes a new, „original” story and yet her new hero still loves playing the piano (and the heroine insipires him to begin composing again), because obviously she has no ability to create her own characters and the only way she can think of to telegraph, that the Bad Boy womanizer is actually a sensitive, deep soul is to have him tickle the ones and twos.

      The lack of originality hurts my bones.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
    • Sigyn
      Sigyn

      Yeah, Edward did play piano :/

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • shel
        shel

        Edward is probably the one that makes the most sense since he doesn’t sleep or anything and is 100 years old…. learning a skill sounds like a good way to pass the time.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
    • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
      Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

      That sounds so much more interesting than what’s going on.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
  24. evilisgood
    evilisgood

    Hi! I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but Maxwell Trevelyan is the default name for the human male Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Might just be a coincidence, but as a DA stan I could not let this pass without saying something.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Kate
      Kate

      As another DA fan, this book needs dragons. Everything is better with dragons.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • evilisgood
        evilisgood

        This is an eternal truth.

        April 27, 2019
        |Reply
  25. Maria
    Maria

    not to reference dan olson again but damn if this book doesn’t reinforce the “christian grey is actually the self insert” theory. we spend so much time in maxim’s head and so little in alessia’s that it gives the impression james just isn’t all that interested in her heroine. that combined w/ 3rd person for alessia (to hide her dark past from the reader) while maxim gets 1st just seals it for me.
    power imbalance romances just don’t work in a modern real world setting. love me some devoted master/servant, royal/bodyguard, noble/commoner romances, but this ain’t it. like,,, maybe if they talked more before the sex dreams started… and her backstory didn’t involve sex trafficking… *deep sigh*

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
  26. Ariel
    Ariel

    „Are those pink underpants i can see through the nylon?”

    I am calling bullshit. With anger in my heart and flailing arms, i am calling bullshit.

    No housecoat or maid’s uniform is made of material thin enough, that you can see somebody’s underwear through it. Especially, if it was bought by someone, who by virtue of their upbringing (Alessia mention her mother wouldn’t have approved of her ogling a man) and their bad experience with men would not want to wear anything too revealing, especially to work. Not to mention cleaning uniforms like these are made specifically to be sturdy and resistant to tearing.

    This is just a stupid, contrived way of having the hero creep on his love interest like he’s a ten year old boy, who hasn’t seen woman’s underwear before. Ugh. Why is that sexy again?

    Also, can we just recognize for a moment how dull and dumb the title of this book is? „The Mister”? Really? It tells us nothing of the story. It tells us nothing about the characters. It doesn’t draw you in or peek your curiosity about the plot. The only thing it makes clear is that one of the main characters is of the male gender. Whoopdee freaking doo. She should have just called it “The Man” and be done with it.

    Also, also, Jenny, i applaud your dutiful tagging. Good job!
    (And i actually mean that, since being able to search your blog via tags has helped me before.)

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      *peak your curiosity, damn it.

      April 22, 2019
      |Reply
      • grammar anon
        grammar anon

        It’s “pique.”

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
        • Tami Marie Alexander
          Tami Marie Alexander

          Thank you.

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          *cries tears of shameful humiliation*

          You’re right. I am dumbness.

          To quote Caroline: :’(

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
    • Alice
      Alice

      Imagine if they make a movie out of it, the poor costume department having to make this housecoat thing possible when in all logic it can’t be.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        Oh god, hush your mouth and knock on wood about the possibility of this…thing becoming a movie! We’ve had enough atrocious fanfics becoming films in the last year alone.

        Why must you scare me like this?

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
          Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

          Sis and I drank A Lot of alcohol when we went to see Fifty Shades of CrayCray. So much alcohol. I’m not sure tequila would save this dreck because nothing is happening.

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ariel
            Ariel

            Well, if Alice’s satanic prediction comes through, i’ll be making an industrial sized vat of sangria.

            Or just consuming massive amounts of chocolate caramel fudge…or something. 😉

            April 24, 2019
          • Ariel
            Ariel

            *comes true

            April 24, 2019
  27. Ariel
    Ariel

    “My body builds.”

    What is your body building, Alessia? A Jenga tower? A skyscraper? A tree house?

    What in the unholy fuck is that supposed to mean?

    Did she mean “tension builds in my body”? Cos, if so…writing fail, lady.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • It’s her broken English coming through. Clearly she means that she’s body-building. Gotta get those gains.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        Ehehe.

        If only getting yourself off actually counted as excercise!
        I could be a professional athlete!

        *daydreams*

        (Sorry, if that was TMI!)

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
        • Sigyn
          Sigyn

          Some fitness apps do count “sexual activity” as exercise!

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ariel
            Ariel

            Heh, not the way I do it!

            April 23, 2019
  28. Appoline
    Appoline

    “Moss is kicking himself for being a nerd in front of her. He’s worried that since her feet are bare, she walked to his house barefoot. Like. I don’t want to be that person, but maybe examine how much you’re paying the people who work for you if you see one of them barefoot and think they must have walked shoeless through the pouring rain for want of shoes. Like, how little is she making cleaning this slob’s house that he’s not like, “Oh, her shoes were probably wet?” He jumps straight to, well, guess she can’t afford shoes. The people who work for you should be getting paid enough to afford shoes! That shouldn’t be a question that even enters your mind!”

    I thought that she’d only been working for him for a few days, a week or two at most, and so just hadn’t been paid yet, especially since he pays her later in the chapter. It’s still a weird thought for him to have, but I didn’t think it had to do with how much HE was paying her.

    April 22, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      Also, if you’re paying someone to clean for you, and they show up with bare feet — their feet are going to be filthy, especially if they’ve been walking city streets and in the rain. There would be splashes of dirty rainwater up her legs, too. Or am I the only one who thinks of this, because I’m one of those “shoes off in house” people?

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
      • Sigyn
        Sigyn

        No, I agree. She should have gone to rinse her legs and feet in the bath or something.

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
  29. Jordan Bell
    Jordan Bell

    ” I need to get me a Demelssia, because holy cow, I could use that kind of break-neck productivity this week.”
    Makes her sound like a new ADHD med.

    April 23, 2019
    |Reply
  30. Gretel
    Gretel

    Okay, here it comes because I have things to say about Alessia’s work clothes.

    1. she has to take off her pants because they’re soaking wet and apparently also her shoes (???) but she could’ve at least thrown the pants in the dryer and used a hair dryer to dry (too many drys in here lol) her shoes. Just accepting a semi-nude situation is ridiculous.

    However my next point is more important:
    2. WHY DOESN’T SHE HAVE WORKING CLOTHES?!
    We’re an immigrant family so when my mom came to Switzerland form Spain her diploma was worth nothing so she worked as a cleaning lady. And she always had street clothes and cleaning clothes!
    THOSE ARE TWO SEPERATE THINGS!

    For several reasons:
    a) cleaning is basically a prolonged workout. You’ll sweat and you don’t want to wear the same clothes you used for cleaning to then go outside. It’s sticky, gross, and you potentially undercool yourself. Effects might include: catching a cold, aching muscles and joints, a fucking UTI.
    b) your normal wear is not made for cleaning because chemicals might drop unto your clothes, discoloring it. The clothes might tear or get dirty. So maybe don’t clean in your jeans and cute top but get some comfortable pants and cottong top that you’re okay with getting used. You dress at work for practicality, not for fashion, so you need to bring a change of clothes.
    c) You don’t go cleaning a house wearing your normal street shoes. You’ll make everything dirty. You change to indoor shoes so you don’t make a huge mess and to put something comfortable at your feet that you can wear for 3+ hours that won’t chaffe your skin raw.
    d) You’re not your cleaning job. You have to adapt according to weather. Is it hot or cold? You can’t wear your wool sweater, thick pants and boots to clean but you can’t also run around in flip flops and a skirt. Practicality, lady!

    Even when I’m cleaning my own apartment I use specific clothing items that I don’t mind getting dirty or discolored and I would never wear one outfit for going to work and actually doing the cleaning. Especially because you’ll probably look like a slob and you might want to not look unkempt, sweaty, and disgusting after 5 hours of hardcore cleaning when you go buy some grocery.

    She should’ve had another pair of pants and work shoes. Hell, she could even use yoga pants and some cheap sneakers. Anything’s better than running around in drenched jeans, sticky underwear and dirty shoes.

    April 23, 2019
    |Reply
    • Sigyn
      Sigyn

      I love reading the comments because of information like this
      Also, I’m sorry your mom’s diploma wasn’t worth anything in her new country. That must have sucked.

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
  31. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    Yay Jenny, good job tagging!

    I love that he’s getting hard from seeing bright pink granny panties.

    To be fair, “I’m so scared of him and he’s so hot; I can’t stop thinking about him” is exactly how I feel about my crush.

    I love the phrase “The Thames of her ass.”

    I misread “Thank you, Lord Trevethick” as “Thank you, Lord Trainwreck” for a sec.

    April 23, 2019
    |Reply
  32. Anon
    Anon

    Thanks to this damned book, I’m now getting housecoat ads on FB.

    April 23, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      That is too funny!

      April 23, 2019
      |Reply
  33. Oh boy… this is a lot.

    I mean… WOw.

    First, You can tell that ELJ got her start in fandom BECAUSE she’s very much reliant on story set-up, sentence structures, and tropes that were born and/or honed in fandom. Even in her Poldark 2.0, you can tell she’s stuck on some writing conventions from fandom that she should’ve let go ages ago.

    Next, oh lordt – ELJ writes female characters along this three way split where they’re mothers, innocent maidens, or temptresses and harpies and like… it’s tiring. I’ve seen folks continue to try and reframe her work as feminist and like… only for a version of feminism that hates other women. That’s basically the only way that’s possible.

    Also, she writes the most unlikable heroes ever. Wow. I want to fight Moss. Just… his internal monologue across his POV parts are just gross?? And he’s such an asshole?? Already?? I mean, he’s less of an ass than Podward, but like… that’s not a hard bar to clear considering how awful Podward is.

    April 23, 2019
    |Reply
  34. Tammi
    Tammi

    “Wait, why are we going from present to past-perfect?”

    This drives me fucking SPARE. And since so many books are written in present tense now, and it seems all the editors in the world went on vacation starting a couple years ago, I’ve just started avoiding present tense books. WHICH IS WHAT I WRITE. Yikes.

    April 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tammi
      Tammi

      Amelia Bedelia! OMG order my coffin!

      April 24, 2019
      |Reply
  35. Kimberley
    Kimberley

    OMGGG I LOOOOOOOVE YOUR REVIEWS!! (Sorry for the SHOUTY CAPS, yes, I stole that from someone *coughcough.*)

    I laugh and get tinglessss all over from your words!!!

    I must find books you have written!

    A fan ♥

    April 24, 2019
    |Reply
  36. Lorne
    Lorne

    “She’s wearing a shapeless housecoat” he thinks, then goes on to describe how it fits her so well he can see all her shapes.

    April 26, 2019
    |Reply
  37. em
    em

    “Kit had been reading economics at the LSE when our father died. Ever the dutiful son, he’d dropped out of the LSE and enrolled in the Duchy of Cornwall’s university to study farming and estate management.” …why make up a completely fictional place after saying he went to a real place? why would the duchy of cornwall even have a university? so much which could be improved with a cursory google… love your recaps btw!

    April 26, 2019
    |Reply
  38. thegreatdragon
    thegreatdragon

    I’m absolutely convinced that ‘housecoat’ is supposed to refer to a housekeeping dress (either a scrub-style dress or a double-breasted lapel.) I’m not sure where E.L. James got confused.

    I wondered if this was one of those UK/US linguistic differences in the vein of ‘jumper’ but the internet doesn’t seem to think so.

    April 26, 2019
    |Reply
  39. thegreatdragon
    thegreatdragon

    It’s still early days, but something that already bothers me is that he’s a skilled pianist who composes music. It’s one of those things that happens in books where women aren’t allowed to be better than (or exclusively skilled at) things that the male characters don’t approve of or partake in themselves.

    I’d be far more interested in the piano if Max just had it because he’s rich and idle and it seemed like a good centerpiece. Maybe instead of taking advantage of the piano lessons his parents offered him when he was little, he skipped them and screwed off with his friends instead.

    It would provide a nice contrast to Alessia, who has a passionate interest in music, clearly developed skills, but a lack of resources to perform it herself.

    The world is Max’s oyster and he’s a slob with no skills and little merit besides his social capital. Alessia is disadvantages but clever and artistic. They bridge this gap slowly when Max hears her playing the piano and his attraction to her grows. He lets her use his piano whenever she wants and maybe he starts to appreciate how complex and wonderful the piano is. There could be a scene of him trying to do simple scales and frustratingly recalling how little he cared when he had the opportunity. Maybe she shows him some scales and they laugh and have a sweet moment that really start to kickstart the romance.

    I don’t know. I’m just not interested in male characters who are ~amazing~ at everything. Esp. when I know there’s going to be a scene later of Alessia watching this dude playing the piano and not feeling any jealousy over it or any urge to be there playing herself.

    April 26, 2019
    |Reply
    • thegreatdragon
      thegreatdragon

      I wrote this comment too early into the recap :/

      April 26, 2019
      |Reply

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