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Jealous Hater Book Club: The Mister chapter twelve, or “WORLD’S OLDEST FIVE YEAR OLD”

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Three things.

  1. There will be no recap tomorrow, as it is opening night for the show I’m singing in, and I plan on relaxing all day.
  2. Please remember that any typos or spelling errors in the quoted text in any recaps are probably my mistake, from my eyes crossing, unless otherwise noted.
  3. England isn’t an island.

Moss runs into Demelssia’s room, where she’s still screaming.

Her words rush out in a torrent: “Ndihë. Errësirë. Shumë errësirë. Shumë errësirë!”

What?

She basically jumps into his lap, repeating herself, because god forbid we use a phrase just once.

“Errësirë. Shumë errësirë. Shumë errësirë,” she whispers over and over as she clings to me, trembling like a newborn foal.

And speaking like a toddler. She’s just repeating, “Dark, very dark,” over and over again. We’ve talked about her “broken English” but we need to really examine her “broken” Albanian. She doesn’t generally think in complete sentences in Albanian. Just random words over and over again. Meaning that even in her native language, her speech is stilted and simplistic. The infantilized heroine strikes again.

Moss is relieved once Demelssia tells him in English that she’s afraid of the dark because he was worried that she was raped while being sex trafficked. He doesn’t say so in so many words, but it’s implied:

Oh, thank fuck.

I’d imagined all manner of horrors and was prepared to fight any number of monsters, but I relax at her words.

I’m so glad you’re not going to have to actually face any of those monsters, Moss. I was really concerned about you.

“It’s okay. I’s okay. I’ve got you,” I repeat several times.

Twenty times overall. We know, we already discussed this.

Eventually, she recovers. We know that she’s recovered because she gets horny at him real quick:

She glances down at my chest, and a slow flush pinks her cheeks.

We’ve got a flush! Don’t worry, we’re going to play all the hits.

Moss tells Demelssia that he usually sleeps naked, so she’s lucky he put pants on. Okay, moving on, then. She tells him that she knows he sleeps naked because she’s seen him, and he takes that news pretty well. She apologizes for inconveniencing him with her psychological trauma, and he mansplains the darkness to her.

“[…] It’s not like London here. There’s no light pollution in Trevethick. The dark here is…dark.”

via GIPHY

Moss asks Demelssia to tell him about the dark or the nightmare or whatever. Probably so he can explain it back to her, but whatever. She doesn’t know the word “truck.” She tells him that a truck brought them to England, so just to clear up the “whether or not Demelssia has seen the sea” issue, it’s entirely possible she never did. They probably drove up to France and took the train over, with them in the back of the truck the whole time. Also, in fairness, I can buy that maybe she’d never been to the beach. If there are people who live in New York City and never set foot off Manhattan, then I can buy someone not making a ninety mile trip to the beach.

The good news is that she clears up that the truck was made out of metal. Also, she knows “metal” and not “truck.” But here I was, thinking she was brought to England in a cardboard boat.

She seems a little more reluctant to hug me this time, probably because I’m shirtlss but I’m not going to leave her to face these gruesome nightmares on her own. In one swift movement, I stand, cradling her against my chest.

She gasps in surprise.

“I think you should sleep with me.” And without waiting for a response, I carry her to my room, flick on the lights, and deposit her on the floor beside the walk-in wardrobe.

Moss isn’t going to leave her to deal with her trauma on her own. Oh, no, no. Moss is going to acknowledge her trauma, then utterly ignore the fact that he makes her uncomfortable and force contact she doesn’t want. It’s imperative that he do what feels right for him, not what is actually right for her, the traumatized person.

Remember when E.L. James mentioned in that article that she doesn’t view Moss as a narcissist? Centering one’s self in someone else’s experiences and insisting you know what’s right for them is something a narcissist would do.

In his room, he gives her one of his pajama shirts and instructs her to go change out of her clothing and into that.

She blinks rapidly.

Shit. Perhaps I’ve really overstepped the mark.

You think?

He asks her if she’d rather sleep alone, which he could have totally asked her before he physically moved her to his room.

“I’ve never slept with a man,” she whispers.

Oh.

“I won’t touch you. This is just sleep–so the next time you scream, I’ll be right there.”

That probably does not sound as comforting as you think it sounds.

Of course, I’d like to make her scream in a different way.

Are you kidding me? You found out she’s a human trafficking victim, you’re like, oh, she’s afraid of me, oh, she must have been through so much, maybe she was raped, but wow, I’d like to throw my dick at her?

Of course, Demelssia wants to sleep in the bed with him. She goes off to change while he marvels that she’s twenty-three and a virgin.

Look. I don’t mind virgin heroines. I’ve written virgin heroines. I’m about to release a book with a virgin heroine right now. What I do mind, though, is the infantilization of virgin heroines. The ones that are pure, untouched, and constantly bewildered. As with Anastasia Steel, Demelssia’s entire characterization is formed around her purity. Virginity in lieu of a personality. Then the hero comes along and unlocks her sexuality, inspiring these feelings in her with nary a consideration of demisexuality. She’s always just straight up hetero once Dick Charming figures out that he fits perfectly. Her sexuality is allowed to arrive only once a man is there to take part in it. Those are the virgin heroines I can’t stand, and I really can’t stand the authors who are obsessed with every heroine being sexually pure and every other woman in the world being the sluttiest sluts this side of Sluttsville.

In the bathroom, we get a cut-and-paste PTSD moment:

She was alone.

In the dark.

In the cold.

With that smell.

Yes. We got it when you did this a few chapters ago.

She is, of course, grateful that he’s protecting her.

Her own Skënderbeu…Albania’s hero.

You know I had to look this dude up. He was apparently instrumental in stopping the Ottomans from conquering Europe. He was also so beloved by Albanians that in World War II, the Nazis named an infantry division out of Kosovo after him.

Don’t ever say you don’t learn shit here.

My favorite part about this is that the following lines, with nothing between, are:

He’s making a habit of this.

And she’s going to sleep with him.

He’ll keep her nightmares at bay.

The last antecedent with male pronouns is Skënderbau. So, she’s going to sleep with a dead guy to keep her nightmares at bay.

If her father found out, he would kill her. And her mother…she visualizes her mother fainting at the news that Alessia is sleeping with a man. A man who is not her husband.

Would her mom faint at the news that her dad murdered her?

Her dear, dear mother had sent Alessia to England thinking she was saving her.

She was wrong. So wrong.

So, I’m actually not ahead of the recaps anymore and I’m dying to know if her half-English mom had to send her to England to get her away from her violent Eastern-European foreigner of a father or what.

So, she puts on the pajama shirt (he didn’t give her the pants, obviously, because then she wouldn’t be half-naked) and goes back out to the bedroom.

Her gaze drifts from his startling green eyes to the tattoo on his arm. She has only glimpsed parts of it before, but even from across the room she can see the design.

A two-headed eagle.

Albania.

Moss tells her it’s a dumb thing he did in his youth.

Inscribed across his biceps is a black shield bearing the image of an ivory two-headed eagle hovering over five yellow circles that are in the shape of an inverted V. Alessia places her clothes on the footstool at the end of the bed and raises her hand to touch his arm, glancing at Maxim for permission.

Then we hop into his POV. Because how he reacts to her touching him is more important than her reaction to willingly touching a man despite her trauma.

I hold my breath as she traces the outline of my tattoo, her finger skating across my skin, her light touch echoing through my body, toward my groin, and I suppress a groan.

Remember how just a few pages ago she was screaming in terror and junk?

She tells him about how the two-headed eagle is a symbol of Albania, but not the yellow circles, leading to this perplexing exchange.

“They’re called bezants.” I sound really hoarse.

“Bezant.”

“Yes. It represents a coin.”

“In Albanian, we have the same word. […]”

Then…why did she repeat it like she was just learning it for the first time? And how does she know “bezant,” a medieval form of currency, but not a simple English word like, “truck?” Like, how often does “bezant” come up in conversation for her?

She asks him what the tattoo means, and he doesn’t want to tell her that it’s his family coat of arms and he got it because his mother hates tattoos, so she would be torn on whether or not she hated it. He tells Alessia that it was just a youthful folly and that it’s time to sleep.

I toss back the quilt on the bed and step aside so that she can climb in. She obliges, revealing long, slender legs beneath the pajama shirt that is way too big for her.

This is torture.

It certainly is for me.

She’s propped herself up on her elbow, and her glorious dark hair falls in a riot of loose waves over her shoulders,

I’m gonna stop you mid-sentence a second here. This isn’t overall important to criticism of the book itself, but I think it’ll be a handy writing tip for the people who come here for that type of thing. “Riot” and “loose waves” don’t really go together. We hear “riot of curls” a lot, because we view curly hair as a chaotic force of nature (as someone with naturally curly hair, I can confirm this), untamed and out of control (again, can confirm). But “loose waves” implies a relaxed grace, like water gently lapping at the shore. Honestly, “riot” and “loose” don’t work together in a lot of contexts. Unless it was like, “A tiger got loose at the zoo due to unsafe conditions, sparking a zookeeper riot,” or something. And even then, I feel like zookeepers are too chill to actually riot.

Wait, what was my point, again?

Not important. Anyway, when describing your heroine’s soft, romantic appearance, “riot” is seldom the correct word to use. The sentence goes on:

past the contour of her breasts, and onto the bedding.

HOW THE FUCK MUCH HAIR DOES THIS BITCH HAVE?!

 

via GIPHY

She looks gorgeous and I’m going to have to keep my hands off her.

Yes. Yes, you do. For all the reasons I have outlined here and in the last recap.

She asks him what “folly” means, and he tells her it’s a foolish action, and I say out loud, “Much like paying money to read this book.”

He gets into bed with her and leaves the light on, so she won’t be freaked out by the dark, thinking again:

This is going to be torture.

Thanks. I didn’t get that from the twenty-six thousand other times you’ve mentioned it. There’s a section break and we’re in Ross Poldark’s  Moss’s dream:

I’m warm.

I’m happy.

I’m home.

A girlish laugh catches my attention.

I turn my head, drawn to the sound, but I’m blinded by the sun and can see her only in outline. Her long, raven hair flows in the breeze, and she’s swathed in a translucent blue housecoat.

Okay, take off the housecoat part, and this is pretty much a spot-on description of the cinematography from, yes, Poldark, when Ross is lying wounded on the battlefield remembering Elizabeth. But whatever, it’s a common dream-sequence conceit. The thing that’s truly annoying about this passage is that the entire thing is written with that weird, reverse-tab thing where the first line of the paragraph isn’t indented, but the subsequent lines are.

I wake with a start.

Again, you can’t wake up in an E.L. James book without being momentarily shocked that you didn’t die overnight. And of course, what has happened with Demelssia in the night? I bet you can guess!

Alessia has trespassed onto my side of the bed, and she’s nestled under my arm, her hand balled in a fist on my abdomen, her head on my chest. Her leg intertwined with mine.

She is all over me.

I was certain. And I mean certain. That this description was used almost word-for-word in one of the Fifty Shades books. I was astounded that it was not. So, this feels repetitive and overused on its own.

And my cock is wide awake and rock hard.

Oh no, I have this erection and nobody to bless with it.

My heart rate flips into overdriive as I make a mental list of all the possibilities this scenario presents: Alessia in my arms. Ready. Waiting. She is so tantilizing, so close…too close. If I roll over, she’ll be on her back, and I can finally bury myself in her. I stare up at the ceiling, praying for self-control.

If you have to use rigorous mental discipline to avoid raping a sleeping woman, you probably shouldn’t be alone with a woman in your house, Moss.

I’m so hard and want nothing more than to grab her hand and it wrap it around my erection. I’ll probably explode if I do.

I can’t believe I’m sitting here weighing whether or not it would be worth it in the grander scheme of things for him to actually do it, on the off chance that “explode” meant he would burst apart in a wet, red spray of chunks and viscera all over the god damn walls.

But before he gets a chance to molest her, Demelssia wakes up and skitters away.

She gasps and scrambles to put some space between us.

“I was enjoying your visit to my side of the bed,” I tease.

“This woman is fleeing from me in terror,” Moss Troldark thought, sexily. “I should flirt with her.”

Okay. I’m gonna quote a line here. And you’re going to either roll your eyes, laugh with bitter nostalgia, or insist that I’m making it up, that it can’t possibly be in the book.

But it is in the book.

It’s so in the book.

“Hungry?” I know I am. And not for food.

Look. Every single writer has a pet phrase they use too much. Laurell K. Hamilton has “I rarely wear base,” and “I glowed like I swallowed the moon.” Stephen King’s characters always have cracking knees. George R.R. Martin has characters eating “capons” like you can buy them at 7/11 and Jacqueline Carrey’s Phaedra doesn’t fall, she’s “measures her length on the ground.” Every writer does it.

But none of those are as annoying and cliché and just outright stupid as “And not for food.”

She nods that she’s hungry and he’s like, wait, is that “yes” or “no” and she’s all pleased that he remembered that detail about her country. And then we go through the whole Christian Grey rigmarole where Demelssia’s nightmares are magically cured by sleeping beside (and all over) Moss. He uses that moment to tell her that he dreamed about her, and then says:

“You look very desireable.”

At least he held off until she was awake? I guess? Is the best we’re gonna get here?

Then he remembers that she’s a virgin. Not a damn thought about the fact that she was kidnapped by sex traffickers. Just that she’s a virgin, and this complicates his plan.

Her simple affirmation is like an ice bath to my libido. I’ve only slept with one virgin, and that was Caroline. It ws my first time, too, and it was a disaster that nearly got us expelled from school.

Wow, now here’s some backstory I’m interested in. How do you have sex go so wrong that you get kicked out of school? And the way the rest of his thought goes makes it sound like he was literally just so bad at sex that his school expelled him:

After that my father took me to a high-class brothel in Bloomsbury.

If you’re going to start fucking girls, Maxim, you’d better learn how to fuck.

Like, does that not sound like his dad is saying, “You better learn how to fuck because you’re so awful at sex, you’re never going to get into college?”

Anyway, Moss tells Demelssia that he doesn’t want to sleep with her until he gets to know her. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t seem to consider that she might not want to get to know him or sleep with him. He’s just like, this is what I want, I want you to also want it, so we’re going to get to know each other so you’ll give me what I want.

We’re still in Moss’s POV when he goes off to take a shower and jack off while he thinks about her.

A virgin.

I frown. Why am I making such a big deal of this?

I don’t know, because you haven’t been given any assurances that you’re actually going to get to have sex with her.

At least she hasn’t been brutalized by those fuckers.

Yes, at least you don’t have to have sex with someone who has been raped. Also, I’m stuck in this place where I’m thinking, you know, on the one hand, virginity is an archaic construct, but on the other hand, how dare someone think that rape constitutes losing one’s virginity. Virginity means you’ve never had sex, and rape is an act of non-consensual violence that happens to involve sexual contact. The whole thing about “well, she wasn’t raped, so she’s a virgin,” buys into the purity culture myth that helps keep rape victims, especially young, female rape victims, in a state of constant shame over the fact that they’re “soiled.” Can we keep the evangelical nonsense out of this book, please?

Obviously, at some point, he’s going to have to think about the fact that maybe she isn’t going to want to have sex with him because of what she’s been through, right? Well, first, we have to think about what’s wrong with her that she’s still a virgin at twenty-three. He wonders if it’s because she’s religious, or if it’s because premarital sex is taboo in Albania. Now, I’m not saying premarital sex doesn’t happen in Albania, but according to my husband’s Albanian friend, sexuality is kind of taboo. Maybe that’s just her family or upbringing, but she made it sound like attitudes toward sex lean toward the conservative.

His second line of thought is that she just plain doesn’t fit his preference:

I like sexually adventurous women who know what they’re doing, know what they want, and know their limits. Breaking in a virgin is a big responsibility. I towel dry my hair.

“I towel dry my hair.” That is a fucking masterpiece. I want to frame this and hang it on the wall. He goes from, “This sex trafficking victim that I’m supposed to be protecting isn’t what I want, sexually. Also, you break in virgins like new shoes. And oh, here’s what’s happening with my hair.” It’s just so comically bad.

Honestly, this book did not start out like this! I really feel like maybe she sent them five chapters or something, they showered her with money, and nobody ever read the rest of the manuscript.

So, now he’s going to think about her trauma, right? Nope! Third on our list is whether or not she wants a long-term relationship! He’s not good at relationships! His two longest relationships were with a grasping social climber and a drug addict! Who’s in rehab! Because she did too much coke–wait a second.

Surely now he’s going to consider that maybe she might not want anything to do with him and that they’re in a situation where maybe she might not realize that refusing him is an option. Haha, nope. Nope, that never comes up, so we jump into her POV.

Demelssia is in the shower, too, thinking about how her bathroom at home was “rudimentary” and the floor had to be mopped every time anyone bathed. And this is apparently actually how it is in a lot of Albanian homes, so there’s like, one other thing that E.L. James actually got right. Note, it’s not something she’s writing in a positive light at all. All we ever hear is how much better England is than Albania.

Anyway, Demelssia gets off in the shower, too, because of course, she’s into him, despite all the other stuff I’ve been saying Moss should consider. She thinks about how safe she feels with him, how she’s never met any man like him but also she’s never met hardly any men at all.

Not having brothers and kept separate from her male cousins in social situations, her experience was limited to the few male students she met at university–

Hold up.

University.

Oh yes, that’s right. Magic credit card girl who has a childlike grasp of her own god damn language? She went to college.

Downstairs, Moss is blasting super loud music, because he knows how to behave when he has a guest. She gets dressed and goes downstairs…

To find him dancing while making her breakfast.

Remember how that exact same thing happened in Fifty Shades of Grey when Christian found Ana dancing and making breakfast? IDK, it just seems like a lot of Fifty happening in this chapter, what with the clinging to another person to chase away bad dreams, and the angst over the heroine’s virginity, and the hungry…but not for food, and now this?

But breakfast isn’t important. Demelssia finally looks out the window and turns into Dora the Explorer:

The sea!

Deti! Deti! The Sea!”

Wanna guess what “Deti” is, from context?

She wants to go down to the sea, so they do.

The sun is shining, but it’s bitterly cold in the howling wind. The sea is a chilly blue, flecked with white surf, and we hear the boom of the waves as they crash against the cliffs on each side of the cove.

You know who else spends a lot of time on the beach in a cove surrounded by cliffs on the Cornish coast?

Wow, that was great alliteration, Jenny. A+, you deserve a Mentos.

They go back into the house and turn down the music and have a half-page discussion about the number of eggs each of them is going to eat.

This chapter is super long and this is the point where it basically repeats everything that just happened with the breakfast and going to the sea, so pardon me for skimming a bunch. They eat breakfast and Moss asks his concierge or whatever to get him a pair of boots for Demelssia then argues with her over who will do the dishes. She doesn’t want him to do them, saying it’s her job.

“Today it isn’t. You’re my guest. Go.” His tone is clipped. Stern. A frisson of apprehension runs up her spine. Please,” he adds.

Okay,” she whispers, and hurries out of the kitchen, confused and wondering if he’s angry with her.

Please don’t be angry.

Why does James think it’s so fucking romantic for her heroines to actually fear the hero? It’s the most disturbing thing.

Demelssia goes upstairs and we spend a couple of paragraphs in Moss’s POV so he can wonder what he did wrong and so he can answer the door for Danny the estate person to arrive with the boots. Then it’s back into Demelssia’s POV where she thinks about how he sounded like her abusive father.

I’m sorry, why is this sexy, again? Also, why do we need yet another E.L. James character who has an abusive parent who is compared to the love interest? What is even happening here?!

She goes downstairs and plays Bach angrily, she and Moss make up, and he asks if she…wants to go down to the beach again.

What happens when they do?

“The sea! The sea!” she cries, and twirls around, her arms in the air. Her earlier pique is forgotten, her smile is wide and her face bright, lit from within by her joy. I stride across the coarse sand and rescue her discarded woolly hat. “The sea!” she shouts again above the roar of the water.

Well, I’m glad she’s got that out of her sys–

She runs toward me with childish abandon and grabs my hand. “The sea!”

On a scale of one to “I can’t go within five-hundred feet of an elementary school,” how uncomfortable do you feel reading this?

My impression so far: I don’t mind a romantic suspense, woman-in-danger plot. I don’t mind isolating characters together in a dramatic circumstances. But this is all done so badly. There are so many opportunities for Maxim to grow and James charges past them like, “Out of the way! My horny readers need me!” in a desperate attempt to get to the sexy parts as soon as possible. For example, how would this chapter have looked if Maxim responded to Alessia’s nightmare by forsaking his own comfort and sleeping on the floor of her bedroom, or just outside the door? How would it have looked for him to have a romantic dream about her in those circumstances, then wake to fantasize not about sticking it to her while she’s unconscious but ashamed that he would have a sexual response, even one he couldn’t control, because he knows she’s been through something horrible and that shouldn’t be his first concern?

There is no reason this story couldn’t have worked as a compelling romance. It just doesn’t work as a compelling romance here because James writes trauma as if it’s something one must get over as quickly as possible in order to avoid inconveniencing the people who want to interact with you. She pays far more attention to detail when describing Maxim’s horniness than she does to Alessia’s tragedy; there are pages upon pages devoted to how much Maxim wants to bone Alessia, and then the odd paragraph or so where Alessia will think, “Zot, the smell!” or “very dark!”

Like, we don’t even know what “the smell” is. Unwashed bodies? Urine? Excrement? We haven’t found out in twelve chapters, but I can name three flower scents from this chapter alone that remind Maxim of Alessia in his sexy dream. The things Alessia remembers are unpalatable, so James glosses over them. That should have been a huge red flag to the people who edited this book that it was neither particularly well developed in terms of characterization, but also that it attempts to sanitize the horror of human trafficking. This book should never have been released in the state it’s in, especially when the changes needed are fairly small and easy to incorporate.

If you remember from the Fifty Shades of Grey recaps, that was why I wrote The Boss (and if you’re new here, you can find links to it for free in the sidebar). I wanted to prove that it was possible to write a book with similar themes without the abuse and stalking and pathologizing kink. I’m damn sure not going to try to write a sexy human trafficking book, but I know for a fact that the underlying concept here could have worked if the person writing it had a shred of human empathy. Because the opportunities are present right there in the text, just like they were with Fifty.

She just chose not to do the work.

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115 Comments

  1. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    Hey, minor consolation, gang: The Poldarkster is falling in both NYT bestseller list and Publisher’s weekly list, dropping form #2 last week to #4 & #5, respectively, this week. (And this is only the second week) Over on Amazon, ~40% of die-hard FSoG fans are panning The Poldarkster. So EEL is pissing off nearly 40% of her fanbase (after 25% got pissed off after the Chedward POV rewrite of FSoG confirmed he was really a rapist-stalker-control freak)

    So, what I’m saying is this: the more she writes, the more ticked off her die-hard fans get and her bright star is fading. How fast remains to be seen, but Faleminderit Zotit, she’s fading.

    So have hope, dear readers. You, too, Jenny.

    And have fun at the show!! Break a leg!

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      AMBER ALERT!!!!!!
      ********************************
      Announcer voice:

      Authorities today issued an emergency Amber Alert for two missing male antagonists, last seen in Chapter 8 of Erica Leonard’s latest novel the Poldarkster The two were last seen dressed in cheap gray suits and black parkas after knocking politely on the Protagonist’s front door and then leaving just as politely when told the McGuffin they were looking for (aka the Protagonist’s love interest) was not on the premises. The Protagonist said the missing men claimed to have been from the “immigration department,” which he immediately suspected, because, to him, There’s no “immigration” department. It’s called Border Force and has been for years. (For our befuddled friends across the pond, the Yank translation of this statement would be: There’s no “ICE”. It’s called TSA and CBP and has been for years.)

      The appearance of these men have stirred up a hornet’s nest within the story for the last 4 chapters, thereby making all characters react passively in an inane manner. If anyone knows of the whereabouts of these missing antagonists, please contact Story Enforcement Patrol immediately so they can be reintroduced into the storyline as soon as possible so readers can make sense of what the F***k is going on.

      ********************************

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        I regret to inform you that the men you are looking for are now in witness protection. Their location and identities cannot be revealed as they are running from xenophobic author. Please do not try to make contact. They are in a better place now, mainly because it is quite impossible to be in a worse place than an EL James novel, and would like to be left alone. They served their purpose, the Sex Trafficked Virgin is going to pop her sacred cherry to the sexual predator love interest any moment now.

        Or, in there words “leave us the hell alone! We won’t go back into that stupid book!!!!!”

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Gasp! The sex-trafficking antagonists have been kidnapped themselves and run away form the storyline! EGADS! Now there are no antagonists for the story! What shall we do? We’ll have to cast for new ones! And, who knows, if they last as long as the first set, we may get them churning through the story faster than current aides through the white house!!!

          May 3, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jules
            Jules

            “Now there are no antagonists for the story!”

            I’m sure we can find an evil blonde whore or two laying around.

            May 3, 2019
          • Caroline is blonde, right? I’m sure she’ll be along to interrupt Cornwallian paradise by THE SEEEEEA because she wants Ross for herself. She’ll declare Alyssianamelza “beautiful” and “a worthy opponent” as she tries to cause trouble to jealously and insanely destroy the twu wuv between an earl and his sex-traffic’d maid.

            May 3, 2019
    • Rec
      Rec

      Wait a second… her MOTHER send her to England?

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Anna Claire
    Anna Claire

    I havent finished this recap yet but i wanted to pop down here to call bullshit on the double-headed eagle as his family crest. The double-headed eagle is exclusively for imperial use. It comes from Ancient Rome and has been used in Europe only for kingdoms / empires claiming descent from the Roman Empire (eg Byzantium, the Holy Roman Empire, Russia). There’s no fucking way some English earl has one on their crest. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Christabel
      Christabel

      I came here to write the same! And she says she did research…

      May 2, 2019
      |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      Yeah, what the actual fuck?

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • And here I thought the double-headed eagle was exclusively for use by the Holy God-Emperor of Mankind.

      And all of his uncountably vast legions of soldiers in the 41st Millennium.

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
      • Artemis
        Artemis

        Same.

        I was like “Oh shit, here’s the big reveal! His dark secret is that he’s a nerd with a boner for space Marines.”

        May 12, 2019
        |Reply
  3. Puff
    Puff

    Once again; I am by pure coincidence reading a fanfic with a literal reader insert where the reader is recovering from being held captive for over a year and is now working as a maid in the home of 2 male characters, one of which is a little too huggy and the other she finds intimidating and scary. And it actually has a chapter where she has a triggered panic attack after finding something in the closet while cleaning. And it actually also has one of the characters (the huggy one) help her to a room after she calms down and keep an eye on her to make sure she’s alright.

    And do you know how THAT exchange goes in this fucking fanfic I am reading FOR FREE compared to this book bought with hard earned money???

    ““Hey, you don’t have to act all brave, you know?” Rus sidles up behind you and places a gentle hand atop your head.

    You duck, and Rus immediately removes his hand.

    “Right…” he murmurs. “Okay…no touching right now…”

    When you turn to make for the kitchen, his expression turns urgent, and he moves to take you by the shoulders.

    But he stops himself, his hands hovering close to you, but not touching. His reaction is strange enough to halt you, however.

    “Where’re you goin’?” he asks in a tight voice.

    “Um…water,” you rasp. “I’m thirsty…”

    “I can get it for you,” he offers eagerly, and he’s gone before you can stop him”

    I am not just copy pasting this for the fun of it, but to illustrated that I am actually infuriated reading these recaps of this thing because I am ACTIVELY and CURRENTLY reading the GOOD version of this story in a free fanfic written by a FAN with no professional experience in writing.

    And it is hurting me to my very CORE that people are willing to PAY Eel for her shitty shitty writing, borderline racist disrespect, and insensitive fumbling of human trauma in favour of having her characters fuck at the earliest convenience. jfc.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
  4. I lost it at “You better learn how to fuck because you’re so awful at sex, you’re never going to get into college?”

    A school that ranks the students based upon sex skills and kinkiness sounds like a porn version of My Hero Academy. Which is probably something that does exist now that I say that.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lovell
      Lovell

      It 100% does! I don’t remember it’s name (it’s been years) but it’s a BL Manga about exactly that 😛

      May 2, 2019
      |Reply
    • Jordan Bell
      Jordan Bell

      I was reading that bit while patting my daughter to sleep and it was really hard to muffle my giggles and not shake the mattress.

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
  5. Sadie Coffey
    Sadie Coffey

    I grew up as a devout member of a very conservative religion where masturbation was totally forbidden (even after marriage) and so were shows depicting any sexuality beyond some heavy kissing.

    I didn’t figure out how to masturbate until I was 24 and I moved in with a lesbian couple, who were like, “Oh my god, you’ve never masturbated, here have all the sex toys!” So Demelssia casually masturbating in the shower was so… unlikely.

    Secondly, I find it infuriating that being kidnapped and transported to another country by dirigible truck or whatever is somehow no problem because “at least nobody put their P in her V.”

    IT WAS STILL TRAUMATIC, KAREN.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
      Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

      Seconded! I also grew in in a super conservative household and I didn’t realize that girls could masturbate until I was reading a non-romance, non-sexy book and one of the characters masturbated. I was curious and once I figured out how to have an orgasm, I was a fan.

      Even if she figured it out, where was the guilt? She freaks out about sleeping platonically in a bed with a guy but sexing herself up while thinking about neurological diseases doesn’t? This book is so much bullshit.

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Mel
    Mel

    “I’m hungry…but not for food” has to be the worst author catch phrase ever. It should be outlawed.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)
      Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)

      I’m thirsty, but not for water.
      I’m tired, but not for sleep.
      I’m vaguely nauseated, but not in my stomach.
      I have a headache, but, like, in my soul.

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • “I have a headache, but, like, in my soul.”

        May I pleasepleaseplease have your permission to use this? I’ll credit it and everything!

        Unlike in an ELJ novel, however, you are entirely empowered to say “No.”

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
    • Jess
      Jess

      Like most things about EL James, it’s not original. Pretty sure I read the joke in Voltaire’s Candide (yes, it’s that old) where there’s an innuendo laden scene that ends with Cunegonde saying something like, “You must be ravening with hunger. Let us first have supper.”

      May 6, 2019
      |Reply
  7. Samantha Pistor
    Samantha Pistor

    Anytime I try to read a book from James, I think I am reading a fanfiction on a site with comments where the author says “if you give me 100 comments, I will write a sex scene”, not mattering if the scene fits the story or not. I had this feeling with 50 Shades and now again, with this Poldark story.

    Don´t get me wrong: there are many great fanfics on the universe and many fanfic writers, but EL James is not one of them. Specially when you see the fanfic style in a book published and making the NWL.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Not to worry, she won’t let success get in the way of writing a good story.

      May 2, 2019
      |Reply
  8. Emily Barnard
    Emily Barnard

    Just… just….

    *rage screaming*

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
  9. Diana
    Diana

    I can’t even process the rest of this story, so I wanna talk about the one thing my brain latched onto for this chapter: double-headed eagles are like, fairly common in heraldry! IDK, I guess it seems reasonable enough for someone to go “that’s a thing that’s on my country’s flag!” but I get the sense that Eel is trying to use it as more of a “they’re meant to be because he has Albania’s emblem tattooed on him and she’s Albanian!” deal. And like, that irks me.

    (For the record, it’s also the Russian seal, and if memory serves correctly, historically pretty heavily associated with Germany and Austria. So I guess Maximus Dickus is destined to be with anyone from any of those places.)

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Diana
      Diana

      Oops, and I see commenters above me actually already mentioned that it’s an imperial crest and the logic fail behind some English earl having it as a family crest. Should have checked before posting, haha.

      May 2, 2019
      |Reply
  10. Maria
    Maria

    i’m not even shocked by how bad this is anymore. to think i was scared this would somehow be good and erika would redeem herself hhhhhhhhh

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      that is what we call an irrational fear, since there was no way in hell it would ever happen. lol

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
  11. Jenn H
    Jenn H

    OK, new headcannon. Alessia is actually a deep cover Russian assassin. She has had the personality of a vulnerable migrant programmed into her, but the programmed personality has completely taken over and she has gone AWOL. All the inconsistencies in her backstory are due to her real memories mixing with the new ones, and because her Albanian persona was only meant to be a temporary one so wasn’t that deep. The men looking for her are her handlers who are trying to get her back before she kills someone she isn’t supposed to.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      That would certainly explain why she appears not to be fluent in her mother tongue…

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • Mana
      Mana

      I would read this…

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jenn H
        Jenn H

        *Adds to list of stories I might one day write*

        May 4, 2019
        |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      But really, who would miss this guy?! I know he’s the Earl of Trevelysomethingham now, but he only seems to know employees and his dead brother’s wife who he boned in high school, which…what?! I’m gonna need clarity on how bad his relationship with his possibly suicidal brother was, because all the information we’ve been given (like Kit calling him the ‘spare’) points to these brothers haaaaatinng each other!

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jenn H
        Jenn H

        Dead bodies tend to attract all sorts of unwanted attention, which is inconvenient. Especially when they’re people you don’t necessarily want dead.

        But… What if Kit’s death wasn’t an accident or suicide? Moss might need to be very careful.

        May 4, 2019
        |Reply
  12. Maxine
    Maxine

    The bit about maxim’ll never make it to college if he doesn’t learn to fuck had me cracking up on the bus XD

    Also, I can appreciate virginity being sexy in a romance novel if it’s treated as ‘wow! I feel so lucky I can make my partner feel good and teach them’ rather than ‘if my future wife isn’t unsullied by dicks i can get a 12 cow dowry instead of a 10 cow dowry’

    Finally, this is probably going to happen because E.L. is stealing every plot point from Poldark but I fully expect Alessia to sleep with Maxim so he doesn’t send her away just like Demelza did with Ross. Which was ew.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
  13. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    *Deep breaths…deep breaths.*

    I’m getting triggered all over the place by this chapter. I can’t even begin to say which one is stronger — the part where he’s contemplating fucking her while she’s asleep (something my father did to me as a child) or the confusing method of how Alessia got to England (did her mother send her there or was she smuggled in by sex traffickers in truck that was dark and smelled bad?). Or maybe it’s just the overall horrible writing. It’s hard to tell, at this point.

    I came close to flinging a bottle of water across the room when I got to the part where Maxim takes Alessia to the shore and she runs around with childlike abandon, delighted at viewing the sea for the first time. This is almost *identical* to a key scene in a fantasy-romance I’ve been working on for the past five years. In mine, the person who is wigging out about the ocean is a humanoid creature who has come to our world; his approach to everyday things is often like a cross between a golden retriever puppy and Jack Skellington discovering Christmas (“What’s this? What’s this?”), with a bit of aloof cat thrown in when he gets in a snit. Also, *my* story is set in England, and I had this scene take place — where else? — at the beaches near Cornwall. (Please note: I have never seen Poldark, I’m learning about it through these recaps; I picked Cornwall because a friend used to own a home there and would talk about it often.) Again, a major event happens during this seaside rendezvous (*nods to Queen*) which reveals something astounding about the character, so it’s not like I can just fucking rewrite the whole thing. But now I’m gnashing teeth over the fact that James did something similar. Maybe I can take a page out of your book, Jenny (no pun intended), do what you did with “The Boss” and keep the scene in my book because *my* character has a different reason for having his reaction (he literally has no concept of large bodies of water and it’s not like he’s *heard* of the ocean but has never had a chance to actually *view* one; he really doesn’t know what “sea” means, so my Earth-bound protagonist has to show him). For James, it’s just another opportunity to portray her heroine as an innocent, mousy little girl in big pink panties — infantilizing her, as you said (which now makes me wonder how the grown women who make up her base audience find it enjoyable because to me, having the hero “hungry for more than food” over someone described in such a childlike manner almost smacks of pedophilia).

    Also, the thing about her broken Albanian: I think we all know that unless you can speak a language fluently, you try to get your needs across with one or two words you might know. One of the best sentences to know in any language is “Where is the library?” because there will be a bathroom there, and it’s usually in an area near restaurants, bus terminals, etc. However, if you have a character who is from a place and speaks a language other than English and you want them to use it, you’d better damn well know a few useful phrases at the very least. Or find someone who can translate for you. As rich as she is, James could afford a fucking interpreter. But then, the bitch couldn’t even be bothered to do enough research to find out more than what she experienced in her one visit to that country, where I’ll bet you any amount of money she didn’t leave her hotel and go out among the people to find out what they’re like and how they live. FFS, when I went to England, I rented a car and immediately got out of London, driving around the countryside where I met folks who lived in small villages along the way. As it’s been pointed out before, there’s a lot of racism over there and I was shocked at how PoC were treated (we may have gained our independence from Britain but a lot of Americans maintained that white privilege). Thankfully, I’m not some fucking bigoted, nouveau riche snob like EL; I’m eager to get in there and learn about different cultures, to do more than just try the local cuisine but to also talk to the people and listen to their stories. If she would step outside her perfect little bubble and get to know the world around her, she might be a better human being in addition to becoming a better writer.

    As my dear friend Tracy would say, “Pull the other one — it’s got bells.”

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • In my current WIP, I have a (vampire) character who speaks German and is fluent in English and French (though he hardly speaks French). The story takes place in America, so he uses English most of the time, but once in a while I throw in some German. I don’t know much German at all, but I have an internet friend I’ve known for years who is German and is fluent in English and he translates phrases for me all the time, because he and I both know translators don’t translate phrases in ways that a native speaker would speak. He also suggested the pet name my German character has for his love interest, Mein Schatz, which translates to My Treasure.

      May 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tami Marie Alexander
        Tami Marie Alexander

        I took Spanish for two years in high school. Years later, my sister marries a guy from Mexico. I try speaking to him in his tongue and he looks at me like I’m nuts. Because, as I discovered, the Spanish I was taught in school is Castillian, not Mexican. It’s similar, but it’s too formal. It’s not the language that is spoken among the people in America who came from south of the border. That said, I had to ask a Mexican-American friend to translate some saucy pillow talk for a story involving a guy who would slip into his native tongue when he was being passionate, to thrill his lover. They don’t teach you the dirty words in Spanish class… But you and I did the right thing, we got people to translate for us. At least we know that we’re getting it right; think about all those tales you hear about the people who get kanji tattoos and later find out it doesn’t say “Strength of Tigers” but “Mu Shu and an Eggroll.”

        May 2, 2019
        |Reply
    • Dinah Lord
      Dinah Lord

      The UK has a *lot* of coastline, so you could shift your scene one county over into Devon, if that helps. There is the most fantastic, flat wide beach just south of a headland in north Devon at Saunton (just west of Barnstaple), where there are sand dunes, and waves from the Atlantic.

      May 7, 2019
      |Reply
      • Squim
        Squim

        Exactly, and if you’re looking for wild coastlines then parts of Wales and the West Coast of Scotland (Gairloch, and up to Ullapool) are just jaw-dropping.

        May 8, 2019
        |Reply
  14. Fluffy
    Fluffy

    A riot of diarrhea escaped Eel’s loose bowels. The mountains of toilet paper used to deal with the situation were subsequently turned into books that could only be enjoyed by people with their heads up Eel’s arse.

    When you wrote that riot and loose don’t belong together, this is what my brain produced. I’m sorry.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Don’t be sorry. That was brilliant, and far more accurate than anything Eel wrote about Albania.

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
  15. Zev J
    Zev J

    “I’m hungry but not for food.”
    I groaned loudly in disgust. Even while you were describing the line before typing it, I knew. EL James is a terrible author. This isn’t clever. I’ve seen authors repeat some things subtly across books in great ways. Not here!

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
  16. Perlite
    Perlite

    *sports announcer* And third attempt to NOT make the MC a reprehensible piece of shit whose world revolves around his dick is… another swing and a miss! Shocking nobody in the audience. The crowd goes mild!

    Like, sometimes people can have sexual thoughts at inappropriate moments, but how they react to them is where we can judge them. And WOW. After ALL the talk of trauma and her fear of being raped, his first thoughts are, “thank god she’s a virgin, even it’s not usually my type.”

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
  17. Angélique
    Angélique

    “Kept separate from her male cousins in social situations” Uhm, what ? Is that a thing ?

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • I’m sure it is if you are so beautiful and appealing and winsome that even your male relatives would want to stick their dicks in you. After all, in ELJ’s world, like those old-school romances, rape = proof you are desirable and men just can’t leave you alone, you lucky girl!

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      I really can’t imagine how that would work, logistically. Someone was actively segregating the sexes at every casual family get-together?! Or are they just talking about that annoying party thing where the women wind up in one area, and the men all congregate in another? Not to pull a Not Like Other Girls® but I always defected to the men’s table when I was younger because I got tired of hearing about everyone’s kids and illnesses.

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      Well in some societies it’s kind of normal for men and women to socialize in different rooms or whatever though I don’t know if it would be so heavily enforced.

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      AFAIK, in some muslim cultures there’s a separation between male and female guests at a wedding for example. But if Alessia is supposed to be a Christian I don’t see why this should be true for her.

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
      • So Eel’s gonna plagiarize the wedding dance scene from Fiddler on the Roof next?

        May 4, 2019
        |Reply
  18. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    Oh, hey — I’m rewatching the first “Iron Man” movie and the Stark coat of arms is on the wall inside Tony’s private jet. Guess what figures prominently on the black shield? A double-headed eagle.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Izzy
    Izzy

    I’m actual glad that this book is in spilt POV. That means James won’t need to write another book entirely in her heros POV to confirm he’s rapey. It’s all right here. Though there is less chance he’s a serial killer and while he has mummy issues I don’t think he wants to fuck her look alikes.

    The way Demelssia talks reminds me of my niece. She’s a year and a half and has just started trying to string two words together to make a sentence. So instead of saying nommy and being prompted to say ta, now she’s saying cookie please. That’s Demelssia, barely able to string two words together.

    It pleases me to know that my 27 year old virgin aroace self must be E.L. James worst nightmare. Seriously, I may make her head explode. And I am absolutely willing to believe Moss was nearly expelled for his dismal sex skills.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  20. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    She’s college student. Because why insult Albania’s University while we are at it.

    Also why does EL James keep writing college students people with college degrees who can’t navigate their way out of a paperbag and always know nothing?! It would be stupid even if they were high-school students but college students?! Women instantly forget everything they learnt and repel knowledge just like men cannot do anything but think about sex? Is that how it works according to EL James?

    Ugh.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      *a college student, *why not *and people with

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        *Universities, I really need to go to bed

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Ugh. Yeah. She managed to navigate her way around a university campus, find classes on time, etc., but is absolutely amazed over a grocery store. Totally realistic.

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Everyone knows Albanian colleges are just a collection of shabby sixth-hand classic books in a dusty shack on the far end of the village. They write on the walls and floors with the burnt ends of sticks.

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          what is this…how you say…steeeck? Do they have these…steeeck things at the sea? The sea, the Sea, the SEA!!!!! *jumps excitedly at the mere thought of such a thing as the sea*

          May 3, 2019
          |Reply
        • Mr. Fell
          Mr. Fell

          My opinion of Alessia would greatly improve if it turned out that she has learnt all about love from, like, Pamela… So she’s actually pretending to be a pure, innocent maiden so she can get a rich guy and roll in cash forever.

          May 3, 2019
          |Reply
          • Mr. Fell
            Mr. Fell

            *the story, not Alessia. Alessia is surprisingly fine, is the story that is not fine at all.

            May 3, 2019
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        She also paid all her tuition fees without even once finding out what credit cards are.

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
    • Rakka
      Rakka

      Because there wasn’t any internet or smartphones when she was college age. Obvs.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
  21. Sammy S
    Sammy S

    Eel really missed an opportunity to make Moss seem like less of a colosall dickhead in this chapter with that throwaway brothel line. Moss thinks about that time he went to a brothel with his dad but it doesn’t occur to him to wonder if any of those women were trafficked and feel suitably revolted by the idea? When he’s literally in a house with a sex trafficking victim? Little details like this confirm that, whatever her intentions, Eel wrote Moss as a narcassit, and an oblivious one at that.

    Also, “breaking in a virgin is a big deal”? Get to fuck! First off, this woman has given indication at all that she wants you to “break her in”. Secondly, she’s not a horse. Thirdly, breaking her in implies step one in a life of fucking which, in a healthy sexual relationship, is great. But when you’re talking about a sex trafficking victim, this terminology is staggeringly tone-deaf.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  22. Erin
    Erin

    Relax today away, Jenny! Break a leg!

    it took me several reads to get through this recap. Not because what you had to say about it was boring. Far from it! The story itself just has me rolling my eyes way too much and it’s giving me a headache. Seriously. You deserve a damn medal for reading this hogwash. I’d have given up when the writing reverted back to the author’s writing MO.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  23. merry
    merry

    James is a one trick pony and and all her books are the same – you could play a bingo with them.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  24. Amy
    Amy

    Wait- he almost got thrown out of his school for boinking Caroline? Wasn’t he almost tossed out of school for smoking with a local girl?

    Are we sure that he didn’t *actually* get tossed out? That would explain how stupid he is.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Errapel
      Errapel

      I think he got kicked out of his first school for smoking with a local girl. That’s when he got sent to Eton and met Carline and co, and boinked her. And apparently did so so badly he nearly got expelled. I cannot be arsed to look up the school’s code of conduct, but at a guess consensual sex shouldn’t get you expelled under normal circumstances.

      I dunno, maybe they did it in a class room during a parent-teacher evening?

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        I looked up how you can get kicked out of Eton because of the previous chapter, and a guy was indeed kicked out for having girls in his room (Eton is male only). Eton has a reputation about guys fooling around together because DUH but I don’t know how it works knwo that homosexuality is Legal, I’ll look it up.

        It also seems like most guys usually get kicked out of Eaton for heavy drug use apparently. If both Moss and Caitlin do coke, because that’s connected?

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
  25. Dove
    Dove

    I suspect during the Oral Exams, Moss tried to give Elizaline some cunnilingus while she stood at the podium and read their essay (it’s an exam of your oral skills on a partner giving the oration.) Then Moss was nearly expelled for improperly using an illegal drug, cocaine, in the middle of sex. He didn’t know he was supposed to snort it or do something else so he shoved it into his mouth and they only caught on when Elizaline started going loopy on stage.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  26. Anon
    Anon

    I’m not minimizing human trafficking because, yeah. But my impression of what actually happened to her is that she made this friend and thought he was a nice guy. He took her and some others to England and then stopped at a truck stop or whatever and told them to get cleaned up. At that point, she still thought he was a perfectly nice guy until she overheard him speaking in English about what was actually going on.

    And then she escaped before anything actually happened to her. And from the reviews I read, she wasn’t assaulted in any way up to that point.

    So why is she having nightmares? Is it because of the trafficking or the fiance she ran from? I get she’s afraid NOW because the men are after her, but still other than having to run from them a few times, she wasn’t actually harmed before escaping? Am I getting this wrong? It seems like the main and largest trauma she suffered was realizing she was in trouble and getting away before it got really bad.

    I’m curious about why her atheist parents are so concerned about her virtue when virtue is usually a thing especially religious people care about, but OK. I mean, I can see how a controlling asshole father might be that way even without religion. But why is her mother? And to the point of she couldn’t be around her male cousins even with lots of other people around???

    “HOW THE FUCK MUCH HAIR DOES THIS BITCH HAVE?!”

    My hair is naturally curly (tight ringlets). If I pull it straight, it reaches about halfway down my ass and curled, it hits the small of my back. So, it’s LONG. But I don’t thing it would reach the bed if I were on my side propped up on my elbow and it was falling across my chest. I mean, standing up, if I pull it over my shoulder, it about hits my breasts. She very well may be Rapunzel.

    Add “morning wood” to the list of things Eel doesn’t understand.

    I can see being a little stuck on the “virgin” thing in a not gross way. Sex is a big deal. It’s one of the most intimate things we do as humans and a woman especially can often have pain or bleeding the first time and it can be scary, even if you’re not attaching moral value to it. I’m not sure if that’s what’s going on here (though Eel does seem to think it makes a woman more valuable, so probably), but if Eel wasn’t writing this, I’d still expect the incredibly experience hero to have some qualms about the heroine’s virginity.

    Moss: “I’m going to do the dishes and you go have fun and explore and don’t worry about anything.”
    Demellsia (or whatever): “WHY IS HE MAD AT ME???”

    Logical.

    “Also, why do we need yet another E.L. James character who has an abusive parent who is compared to the love interest? What is even happening here?!”

    Um … Have we uncovered yet another psychological hangup of the Eel?

    “That should have been a huge red flag to the people who edited this book …”

    I’m laughing that you have forgotten yourself in this moment and think anyone edited this book. 😉

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • S
      S

      Re: “Why is he mad at me”: Her father was abusive and sometimes children from abusive households have difficulty telling if someone is mad if they aren’t actively happy, because some violent people go from “not obviously pleased/displeased” to beating/throwing things/berating a person really quickly. I have that kind of anxiety too, where someone will be neutral and I’ll be afraid they’re mad at me. It doesn’t have to be “””logical””” to be valid.

      May 6, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        That makes sense. Not much here does, but that does. I’m sorry you have those demons. <3

        May 8, 2019
        |Reply
  27. Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)
    Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)

    Amid allll the things, this one stuck in my craw:

    >> raises her hand to touch his arm, glancing at Maxim for permission >>

    a) He *grabs her off the ground and carries her into another room without warning* and that’s OK
    b) She has to get permission to *touch his arm*

    And mind you, it’s not like they’re already in a negotiated, intentional D/s relationship or anything (yet? ever?). It’s just a completely taken-for-granted double standard.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  28. Okay. Again, I’m also not attempting to minimize human trafficking. But as a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I’m also shocked at how little Demelzalyssiana thinks of the other women who were with her. Like, the guilt and shame and fear most of us feel about the other [potential] victims can be paralyzing. “Who else will he hurt if I don’t say anything?” “How can I enjoy ___ while Another Girl/Woman is being hurt by him?” “Why did I escape/survive, but Another Girl/Woman didn’t?” “What happened to ___? Are they okay? How can I find out?” There’s no suggestion that she’s too overwhelmed to think about these things, or has blocked them, or is struggling with anything besides “icky bad man and bag on my head.”

    Instead, she’s all “THE SEA!” and “THE MISTER!” and “THE PIANO!” with a few “OH NOES THE DARKNESS” moments thrown it. Not only does she come across as a one-dimensional ding dong, it also makes her seem either psychologically fucked up, or just *beyond* callous and selfish and lacking empathy.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      YES! Considering it appears she got away fairly unscathed, I would totally buy her being flipped out about the women who didn’t more than her behaving like a rape victim when at least it comes across as no one ever even so much as touched her arm without permission (until Moss came along).

      The not trusting men makes sense because she thought she could trust the other guy. But the nightmares seem like overkill when she seems to have escaped immediately after realizing what was up and hadn’t had an inkling of it before.

      I have to be missing something. Jenny must have left out an important detail, right?

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Like, the actual tension could be her realizing The Mister Rich Earl has the connections to rescue the other women she was with, or even other women in general being sex trafficked, and could be all conflicted about her feelings and using him and patriarchal power and all that.

        Instead, goddamn sex trafficking is treated like it’s a sweet throw-away detail to make her more rescue-able by the hot rich guy, and the only “tension” is… well, none. We all know he’s going to stick his dick in her and she will love it and it’s just a charming Cinderella story to make us believe in the power of love or some bullshit like that.

        Fuck all of this bullshit.

        May 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • Lucy
          Lucy

          I think another way the sex trafficking angle could have been treated sensitivey would have been if Moss’s own trauma and grief was given more space (Eel seems to forget about Kit’s death half of the time). Alessia could have realized he was making an effort to keep a brave face for her sake, he might have broken down himself at some point, this might have touched her, and then it could have been more of a story about mutual healing.

          May 4, 2019
          |Reply
  29. Dvärghundspossen
    Dvärghundspossen

    It’s even more obvious in this chapter that James plays with the Born Sexy Yesterday trope, even if it’s not EXACTLY that. Technically adult woman, therefore okay to fuck (ok not right now, but pretty soon I bet), but she’s still got the personality of a toddler; she’s just as dependent and as easily amazed by mundane things. And, also, an unsullied Virgin.

    It’s sickening how this is supposed to be some ultimate fantasy.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • I’ll bet “pretty soon” = that night or the next day, tops.

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      Since her books are geared towards female readers, it’s even more puzzling. Do many women really identify with these characters who, like Ana, have managed to graduate from university without a computer or an email address or call credit cards “magic” and can barely speak in full sentences?

      May 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dvärghundspossen
        Dvärghundspossen

        Yeah it’s incredibly weird… I can somewhat understand the appeal of that fantasy for a male audience; they wanna have the perfect girlfriend who’s so naive and inexperienced that she’s gonna be super impressed by everything he does, and also she’s “pure” (ugh) and unsullied by other men’s dicks. (Of course, in full-on male wish fulfilment Born Sexy Yesterday scenarios, it’s not just that the girl is somehow supernatural and literally arrived in this world yesterday; it’s also the case that the dude isn’t rich or super hot like Maxim. The man is completely ordinary, but since the girl is so clueless she thinks he’s great anyway…)
        But why do women wanna put themselves in that role?

        Maybe it’s about escaping all the pesky responsibilities of a real adult life? Dreaming about being some kind of useless cloud-cuckoo-lander who’s still adored because of a natural beauty that takes zero effort to maintain, so in the end you don’t have to do ANYTHING; everything is taken care of for you, you can just go around existing and still have all your needs met and be the most adored person ever.

        I also think the whole virgin schtick could be appealing for similar reasons; you don’t have to take responsibility for sex either. Sex just comes to you. The lack of responsibility on your part becomes even more pronounced if the whole thing is rapey with initial resistance… you don’t have to CHOOSE sex and risk being called a slut or the like, you don’t have to learn how your body works and talk about it with your partner, sex AND loads of orgasms are just delivered to you by someone else.

        All you have to do in this scenario is EXIST; and through mere existence, you get money, luxury, adoration, orgasms etc. Basically the opposite of how real life works.

        … and as I was writing this post, why women wanna fantasize about these scenarios began to make sense..

        May 4, 2019
        |Reply
        • Lucy
          Lucy

          I suppose it makes sense. I think great part of the appeal of characters like Bella Swan and Ana Steele is that they were dull as dishwater, weren’t even particularly likable and yet had rich hot guys become inexplicably fascinated with them.

          May 4, 2019
          |Reply
        • Mr. Fell
          Mr. Fell

          I can see why someone would like this fantasy and you know, fair enough, I just don’t understand how it can appeal to someone on either side when it’s this badly written and the writer herself is not aware of what kind of fantasy she is writing.

          May 5, 2019
          |Reply
  30. Teka
    Teka

    Folly and foolish come from the same root so using one to explain the other probably wouldn’t work. Action also doesn’t seem like a beginner word.

    May 3, 2019
    |Reply
  31. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    I have a theory that E. L. James is secretly an alien android and that is why she doesn’t understand how people work.

    May 4, 2019
    |Reply
  32. Kim
    Kim

    Break a leg, Ms. Trout! Have you been writing a recap a day during tech week? You’re a mad woman!

    May 4, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      Yes. Yes I have. And yes, I am.

      May 4, 2019
      |Reply
  33. MayaB
    MayaB

    I have the feeling that James wrote the first half of this chapter, than went for lunch and when she came back she’d already forgotten what she wrote and didn’t bother to go back and check. Even a child won’t be as excited as Alessia the second time if they saw the sea twice in the same day. And in Alessia’s case, they only had breakfast between the first and the second visit of the beach. Even in this oh-she’s-so-innocent-world it doesn’t make any sense.

    On another note: I was 22 when I “lost” my virginity (I actually very gratefully gave it away). I didn’t have much experience with boys up to that point, but I’ve had masturbated and I was able to make dirty jokes which would make more innocent souls blush crimson red. So I’m tired of the whole trope virgin = innocent and pure. For me at least it also doesn’t add up that Alessia is this absolute pure soul, when we’ve seen her masturbating at least once until now.

    May 4, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dvärghundspossen
      Dvärghundspossen

      Maybe James put masturbation in there as a response to criticism of Fifty-Shades-Ana’s complete lack of sexual experience even with HERSELF.

      I thought it was SO WEIRD how Ana had never masturbated in her entire life, even though she’s 20 +. Like, I started doing that at age 10, even though I had no idea what it was called at that age since no one had told me? But ok, I have since learned that some women really don’t masturbate… but that brings us to the next installment of weirdness, where Ana’s orgasming all over the place as soon as her One True Dick (sorry, Love) touches her. For someone who’s not just a virgin but hasn’t even masturbated before, surely it would take some time to get there?

      May 6, 2019
      |Reply
  34. Rec
    Rec

    Wait a second… her MOTHER send her to England?

    May 4, 2019
    |Reply
  35. Alice
    Alice

    So Moss likes women confident who like sex now? Wasn’t super obvious with all the slut shaming…

    The father bringing the boy to the brothel is soooo historical fiction. Also, another james’ character with an older woman as a teenager. I really don’t want to know how young he is suppose to be.

    Confused about her changing in his pyjama top. What was she wearing before? Did she go to bed in her day clothes? Why didn’t he give her something before?

    I wouldn’t have minded the line about how it’s darker than London if it had been less mansplaining and more “I don’t know how to deal with this sort of situation so I just talk and talk” you know?

    How we are supposed to root for him when he is showing the bare minimum in kindness is above me. How can he think only about sex in this situation? It’s super gross considering her story + how little they know each other but it’s also… Maybe it’s because I’m always anxious about everything but why isn’t his head filled with questions like “ok what now? does se want to stay england? how can she stay if these men are looking fo her? and legally how could it work? We can’t stay hidden forever, what can I do???”. Hidding is only temporary and he has responsabilities.

    (also wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of ceremony for his brother? there was something about a speech when he saw his mother and sister).

    Alessia comparing him to her father…. wtf… What would have been cool is if they had an argument, she leaves, and thinking about it she realizes that while she is annoyed, he never had any body langage that made her feel like he would hit her. She argued with him, her father would never let it live, but while he was also angry she was never scared.

    I’m also confused by how after comparing him to an abuser she goes to play angrily at the piano. Wouldn’t someone abused more be hidding? Laying low? Rather than go “I’m making sure you notice me being annoyed”?

    Waiting for the explanation on why she couldn’t get a student visa or a traveling visa for england and go to Magda instead.

    There are probably more but let’s just say he is awful and she has no personnality.

    May 4, 2019
    |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      didn’t we suffer enough

      Also… Maurice. I can feel it in my soul.

      May 5, 2019
      |Reply
      • Lucy
        Lucy

        Nooo!!! Maurice is one of my favorite books! And I don’t even want to think how she’d deal with a same sex love story.

        May 5, 2019
        |Reply
    • Michaela Grey
      Michaela Grey

      Is html allowed here? Because

      May 6, 2019
      |Reply
      • Michaela Grey
        Michaela Grey

        Not allowed, good to know. Please imagine me Michael-Scott-in-The-Office-screaming-No-God-No-Please at the top of my lungs right now.

        May 6, 2019
        |Reply
  36. Kelly
    Kelly

    This recap reminded me powerfully of a video essay from Pop Culture Detective called ‘Born Sexy Yesterday’ – the name he gives to the common science fiction trope that sees naive/infantilised women falling into romantic relationships with vastly more experienced men, and how the power imbalance plays out. I know this book isn’t science fiction (although that would make it vastly more interesting), but there are a lot of parallels here. It’s a good watch – I highly recommend it!

    May 4, 2019
    |Reply
  37. Jenny with the Axe
    Jenny with the Axe

    > Also, you break in virgins like new shoes.

    Or like horses. If you’re the kind of person who thinks that training a horse means breaking down its will and making it subservient to humans because it fears punishment.

    Which is not how I like to do things, with any sentient beings…

    May 5, 2019
    |Reply
  38. Isabelle
    Isabelle

    This book is an enraging shitstorm and I really enjoy your recaps. Thanks for doing all this for us, Jenny!

    “The thing that’s truly annoying about this passage is that the entire thing is written with that weird, reverse-tab thing where the first line of the paragraph isn’t indented, but the subsequent lines are.”

    In UK publishing, the first line of each paragraph is not indented, the rest is. It’s weird, but it’s not something that EL did wrong (not that this in any way redeems her and the shitty books she writes).

    May 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      That still doesn’t make sense because the entire rest of the book goes the other way.

      May 6, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jenny Trout
        Jenny Trout

        Now I only have more questions that will never be answered. I will have to take them to the grave.

        May 6, 2019
        |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I have some Alison Weir books that are the English version (one actually came from the UK through Amazon). The first lines of the paragraphs indented just like in the US.

      May 8, 2019
      |Reply
  39. Hi Jenny,

    Been lurking for too long, just popping up to say I love these recaps that allow me to experience all the schadenfreude.

    As a palate cleanser for you and other readers, would 100% recommend Marina Lewycka’s Two Caravans – published as Strawberry Fields in the US & Canada – which is about migrants to the UK on shonky visas and which DOES feature a sex-trafficking storyline with a romance. It’s even fairly comic in places (no, really, stay with me…)

    The couple in question start off not liking each other: both from Ukraine, she’s from the cosmopolitan EU-leaning side and he’s from the industrial, closer to Russia side. When she’s kidnapped, he sets off to save her, trust takes a while to build but, hopefully without spoiling it too much, they’re in a situation where her first time is about to be a quickie up against a wall. She manages to say that she’s not into it, he’s devastated but knows it’s not just about his boner and so he sets about making sure their first time together and her first time will be awesome.

    When it does eventually happen, it’s such an *air punch* moment because flirting has happened, trust been established and it’s genuinely lovely. Of course, it’s young love and who knows what will happen to them but in the moment it works for the characters and what they’ve been through, separately and together.

    So, see E. L. J., it can be done!!

    And if you need some eyebleach, would recommend checking it out.

    https://marinalewycka.com/caravans.html

    May 6, 2019
    |Reply
  40. marie
    marie

    So this is probably more 50 Shades related than this book, but I told my Hispanic boyfriend all about 50 Shades (I started with the “Dios Mio!”s, to which he said “Oh yeah, I say it aallllll the time”, which he never has. We also had a separate conversation about another Hispanic character fuck-up where he’s bothered by the implication that all Hispanic people are extremely religious. He personally is agnostic). So even culturally that was pretty stupid. Once I got to the stalking and general grossness of Christian Grey, he was baffled about why this book was a thing.

    Bringing it back to this book though, wow, I feel like Moss is as bad, if not worse than Christian. Sure, Christian was the worst, but he wasn’t put in the position to gloss over Ana’s trauma. And it seems like her cultural insensitivity to Albanians is so much worse than Latinos for some reason. I will say, I did work with a woman from Kosovo (which is close to Albania, and I think she speaks Albanian actually), and even though she didn’t know a word of English until her late twenties and doesn’t speak perfect English now (until I got to know her better I had a hard time understanding everything she said), she’s not an idiot. She’s a normal person. Damn it.

    May 6, 2019
    |Reply
  41. Ilex
    Ilex

    I’ve only slept with one virgin, and that was Caroline. It was my first time, too, and it was a disaster that nearly got us expelled from school.

    Why are we all stuck with the boring plot of The Mister, when there’s so obviously a much more interesting story going on in the backstory between Max, Caroline, and Kit? It seems like maybe EL can come up with an engaging and entertaining plot — but for some reason, she doesn’t want to share it with us. This is so frustrating to me.

    May 8, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I could be mistaken but since this is Poldark, I’m betting that part of the story is in those novels/series with more depth. It doesn’t involve this bland romance though, so EEL is only referencing it.

      May 8, 2019
      |Reply
  42. Alisha
    Alisha

    IMO, the ONLY good thing to come out of EL James being on this earth is the fact that you wrote The Boss. 🙂

    May 11, 2019
    |Reply
  43. john doe
    john doe

    most hilarious line ive read so far: “Of course, I’d like to make her scream in a different way.” are you fucking kidding me? someone screaming in fear makes you want to fuck them??? and i’m supposed to like this monster?!

    oh lord, had a good laugh at that one. i’d never expect to hear this edgy humour in a “romance” novel…

    May 13, 2019
    |Reply

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