In news directly from the mouth of hell, E.L. James has coyly teased that she may or may not write a BDSM novel featuring gay men as the central couple.
[…]James says she’s been swamped with fans begging for her to write a book that features gay men.
Who are these fans? Turn on your location. I just want to talk.
And it’s not just men asking her to pen the erotica, women are writing in and asking for some man-on-man action too.
I highly doubt it’s any men asking her. It is 100% white Christian moms with “Live, Laugh, Love, Pray” wall decals, three desperately overscheduled “Greybies” named Mykklaryn, Renesmee, and, of course, Christian, who participate in dozens of conflicting afterschool activities that feed their mothers’ pathological transportation martyr needs. The I-would-like-to-speak-to-your-manager army is desperate for an audiobook they can listen to quietly while waiting in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, then cite as evidence that they’re not homophobic, they just vote for strongly anti-gay candidates because they agree with them on other issues. Oh, and sure, they donated to their megachurch’s conversion therapy camp, but they read poorly written butt sex scenes so they just can’t be bigoted.
And gay men, if you are a huge fan of E.L. James, I need you to explain why you’re so into painfully heterosexual and extremely homophobic “erotica” when there are hundreds of thousands of other choices out there.
James’s coquettish “never say never” quote is the most infuriating fucking thing I’ve read in a while. And I have a Twitter account. Yes, bitch. Say never. Say the fuck never. No one, be they gay, lesbian, bi, pan, or queer, needs your straight ass fetishizing them for your ravenous audience and their dubious tastes. We have enough condescending straight women pulling that bullshit in M/M fiction already.
James says the idea interests her because having two men in the relationship would take away the power dynamics based on gender roles.
I cannot wait to read her BDSM novel where there are no power dynamics. I’m sure it will be thrilling, completely accurate, and well-researched.
Also, probably Supernatural Wincest fic.
Now, let’s get back into her current fanfic. Oh, I mean, totally original work that is definitely not a Poldark AU.
They walk hand in hand along the coastal path and stop by an old ruin.
“What is this place?” Alessia asks.
“It’s an abandoned tin mine.”
Alessia and Maxim lean against the chimney stack, staring out at a choppy sea that’s crested with white surf as the chill wind whistles between them.
Moss tells Demelssia that he grew up there and that his brother is dead now.
He digs his hands deep into his coat pockets and stares out at the sea, his face bleak, carved like stone.
So, they have a little moment of grief and discussing his family. And he doesn’t ask her any questions about her family, but she’s okay with that because she changes the subject so she doesn’t have to discuss them. She tells him there are mines in Kükes, which is kind of an understatement, especially when she mentions that this particular ruined mine looks like, “the chimney on the road to Kosovo.” If you look up the area, there’s definitely more than one chimney on that “road” (which is a major highway) between two real, actual, no shit modern places that have thriving mining industries, including the world’s largest Chromium mine, which is the one in Kükes that Demelssia is talking about.
So, remember, the town with the world’s largest Chromium mine has no credit cards or stores.
Moss suggests they walk to
Truro the village of Trevethick to get lunch. And of course, so E.L. James has a chance to air her feelings about Albania just not being up to her English standards:
The stone and whitewashed houses are like nothing Alessia’s seen before. They look small and old, but charming nonetheless. The place is quaint–pristine–with no trash anywhere. Where she comes from, there is garbage and construction debris in the streets, and most of the buildings are build from concrete.
Yes. That’s actually Kükes. That’s the hellscape of trash and construction Demelssia is talking about.
Or, is she talking about London? Because IDK, that pretty much describes the London I went to on vacation once, and everyone knows that brief tourism paints a realistic and sympathetic portrayal of a country.
At the waterfront two stone quays stretch out to embrace the harbor where three large fishing boats are moored.
What’s that classic song Nat “King” Cole did about L-O-V-E? I think we can use that as a template here.
P is for the plagiarism she skirts
o is for the “original spin” she puts
l is lazy writing
d is Winston Grahm’s and she needs to get off it
a, absolute trash so fuck her
r is for the repercussions for this shit
k is knowing that there’ll be none
I’m telling you Poldark is freely up for grabs!
Yeah. Doesn’t scan. You see how late this recap is gliding in. If you want perfection, go find that Blue’s Traveler song I rewrote about Lani Sarem. I’m not making Weird Al money here.
Anyway, yeah. Trevethick is Truro.
There are two pubs in Trevethick, one called The Watering Hole and the other The Two-Headed Eagle. Because The Red Lion was already taken. She points out that Moss’s tattoo is on the sign, and an elderly vicar with a “tr” name is just exiting. He greets them and asks who Demelssia is.
“Father Trewin, our vicar, may I introduce Alessia Demachi, my…friend, visiting from overseas.”
Which fucking sea?! The Adriatic? Would you really refer to a place you can literally drive from as “overseas”, UK people? Like, once she opens her mouth, he’s going to know she’s not an American. Unless he’s never met an American before because he’s a royalist and those bloody colonists have something come to them.
Anyway, the vicar pulls a page from my grandmother’s handbook and reminds Moss what time church starts, then they part. Moss asks Demelssia if she is religious, but she doesn’t get a chance to answer before they go into the pub and are greeted by a dude who unironically calls Moss “Milord.”
Again, I beg of you, UK people, chime in here. Do you address actual earls with “milord” or is this one of James’s bougie fantasies?
We jump into Moss’s POV, where he learns from the barman that “Megan” still works there. And this is a bad thing. Which means brace yourself: the evil bitch who likes Moss is coming.
Demelssia takes off her hat:
With her loose, dark curls falling almost to her waist, her shining eyes, and her radiant smile, she is an exotic beauty.
- “The Issue With ‘Exotic’ Beauty,” Teen Vogue
- “Exotic Is Not A Compliment: How the term stems from colonialism,” Empress
- “Why I Hate Being Called an ‘Exotic Beauty'”, Glamour
- “Why Calling Me ‘Exotic” Isn’t a Compliment”, Rife
- “Stop Calling Women Exotic,” Into The Fold
Now, Alessia isn’t a woman of color. But she is “ethnic,” so all of these points stand.
Anyway, wasn’t there an evil bitch lurking somewhere?
I turn around and Megan is standing in front of me, her expression as dark as her clothes. “Table for two?” she says with a saccharine tone and a smile to match.
Yes, but is she blonde?!
I stand aside for Alessia to precede me, and we follow in Megan’s dour wake.
I know that we’re supposed to read Megan as the vengeful woman scorned, who’s crazy for no reason, right? But we’ve seen how Moss behaves toward women. I’m betting this is totally justified.
Megan takes them to the best table in the place:
“This okay for you?” I ask Alessia, deliberately ignoring Megan.
Again. Any time a woman who is not the heroine is near the hero of an E.L. James story, the hero must ignore her and we must hear about this ignoring.
Jago arrives with our drinks, and Megan saunters off, presumably to fetch menus…or a cricket bat.
Again, you probably deserve it, Moss.
Moss and Demelssia go back to discussing religion. She says that the Communists banned religion in her country, and Moss is like, why do you have that cross necklace? And then Megan comes back and interrupts them with menus.
I ignore her.
Of course, you do.
“It was my grandmother’s. She was Catholic. She used to pray in secret.”
If there’s one thing missionaries are famous for, it’s keeping their faith a secret.
“So there’s no religion in your country?”
“There is now. Since we became a republic when the Communists fell, but in Albania we don’t make much of it.”
None of this is wrong. In fact, some of it sounds like it was paraphrased from Wikipedia:
“Not in Albania. We are a…what is the word? Secular state.
She knows “secular state” but not “truck.”
Religion is very personal. You know, just between a person and their God. At home we are Catholics. Most people in my town are Muslim. But we do not give it much thought.”
But I’ve got a nit to pick and it is a mighty one. Demelssia remembers her grandmother praying in secret. Why? The ban on religion was lifted in 1990. Demelssia wouldn’t even have been born yet at that point. And while yes, Albania is a secular state, that refers to the constitution. The government doesn’t fuss with religion now. It’s totally separate. But according to this site that I was easily able to google, only 25% of the population of Albania identifies as either not religious or don’t declare a religion. Almost sixty percent of the country is Muslim.
Google: it’s right fucking over there.
Hearing about all this makes Moss want to go to church. He asks Demelssia if she likes England, and she’s like, yes, because it’s so multicultural and she’s never been to a big city before.
“Not even Tirana?” Thanks to my expensive education, I know the capital of Albania.
Only rich people get to know what the capital of Albania is. Sorry, plebs.
So, anyway, Demelssia has never been to Tirana. Like, most of the country’s universities are located there, but okay. Let’s say she went to one of the satellite campuses in Kükes, which do exist. And apparently, have no credit cards and are just heaped with trash.
Megan appears with her pinched, angry face and scraped back hair, and my problem subsides.
The problem is an erection he got looking at how beautiful Demelssia is. So, just so you’re aware, he desires the harpy Megan so little that his boner dies at first sight.
BUT IS SHE BLONDE?
Boy, is she still bitter. It was one summer seven years ago. One fucking summer.
So, what did you do to her, boy?
She’ll probably spit in my food–or worse, in Alessia’s.
Yeah, since you had no trouble with Megan’s spit before, clearly.
Demelssia totally notices that something is going on between the two of them, so Moss steers the conversation toward Demelssia’s family.
“Well, my father is old-fashioned, and I do not…how do you say? We do not see eye for eye.”
So, she absolutely grasps the concept of idioms. “Raining cats and dogs,” shouldn’t have been such an Amelia Bedelia moment for her.
Moss gets a sense that she doesn’t want to talk about her family, so he asks her about the country, instead.
She tells me Albania is a special place where family is as the center of everything. It’s an ancient country, influenced over the centuries by several cultures with different ideologies. She explains that it’s both Western and Eastern-facing, but more and more her country looks to Europe for inspiration. She’s proud of her hometown.
She literally just said it was covered in trash and everything in England is so much better, but thanks for your sixth grade report on Albania, Erika.
We are interrupted by Megan and fish pie. Megan plunks the plates down on the table and leaves without a word. Her face is sour, but the fish pie is warming and delicious, and there’s no sign that anyone spat in it.
I hope she dropped a whole handful of pubes in yours. Hers and the fucking vicar’s.
Moss asks Demelssia what her parents do. Her father is a mechanic, her mother is a homemaker. Demelssia says she went to university until it closed, and this really makes me think E.L. James does google things, because while researching something else, I found out that a university in Kükes did close in 2014. So, I mean. She is capable of doing a little googling. But there is at least one other university in that town. Why couldn’t she have been going there? Why is it so important for Demelssia to be tragic and uneducated?
They talk about his DJ job and he skirts telling her that he’s an earl. Then he asks her:
“[…] What about you? How old were you when you started playing?”
“I was four.”
Not really, I guess. According to two music teachers I polled, between age four and nine is ideal, but one of them said they won’t take a student until they’ve had at least some preschool. I guess once again, Moss is impressed by the average.
“Did you study music? I mean, music theory?”
That’s even more impressive.
Wait, whut? How did she not learn music theory, but she can read sheet music? Like, sight read it, even? Music theory is straight up built into learning to play the piano. Maybe not advanced music theory, but am I supposed to believe Demelssia just dropped out of her mother’s sainted vaginë knowing how to read sheet music?
They leave the restaurant without us finding out whether or not the Dread Megan is blonde or not. I’m never going to recover from this. Anyway, Moss realizes before they pay the bill that Demelssia is “tipsy”. They stop at a local shop so he can buy her nightlight, which is really sweet, right?
She takes the package and returns to the counter, where I spy condoms.
Well, I might get lucky.
With the sex trafficking victim who’s here hiding from, you know, the sex traffickers.
And he straight. up. buys. condoms.
Demelssia is distracted by the lipstick display but turns down Moss’s offer to buy her some, and he thinks about how he’s never seen her wear makeup because OBVIOUSLY, she’s a natural beauty who doesn’t need it. As they leave, she spots Tresyllian Hall.
Tell her you’re the fucking Earl of Trevethick.
I will. Not yet.
I want her to know me first.
Spend time with me.
Who…who are you talking to, Moss? Your inner goddess?
They go back to the beach where once again he broods with his hands in his pockets while she revels in the majesty of the sea.
She is giddy. Excited. And in love. This is what it should feel like. Joyful. Filling. Free. The realization surges through her like the bracing Cornish wind and whips her hair across her face.
She is in love with Mister Maxim.
So, she’s in love with him. That’s all it’s going to take to get those over-sized novelty panties down and that trauma forgot.
“Thank you for bringing me here,” she exclaims, breathless.
He grins down at her as he holds her close. “It’s my pleasure,” he says.
“It will be!” she quips, and laughs as his eyes widen and his mouth drops open.
She wants him. All of him.
Doesn’t know the word for “truck,” totally grasps the nuances of clever wordplay. CHECKS OUT.
In Moss’s POV, Drunk Ass Demelssia falls into a wave and gets all wet, and he has to run out and rescue her and lead her back to the house, where he kisses her and helps her take off her sodden outerwear. He tells her she should go change, then makes some phone calls. One of them is to his old buddy, Tom, who asks if Moss has “sealed the deal” yet.
Hey, were you loving this book (no you weren’t) but missing the long email and text exchanges from Fifty Shades of Grey? GOOD NEWS. We get to read Moss’s email to Oliver informing him that he’s in Cornwall and instructing him to pay Tom’s invoice. Then, he texts Elizaline. She asks him if he wants her to come to Cornwall, and he’s like, no, so she’s like, I’ll call you at the hall, and he’s like, I’m not at the hall, and she just won’t stop getting into all his business. But he doesn’t tell her what’s going on.
Moss goes off to look for Demelssia and finds her in the laundry room, pantsless, reading Jamaica Inn (DOESN’T KNOW THE WORD FOR “TRUCK”) and waiting for her jeans to dry. It never occurred to him that she might not have any others to change into.
I try not to look at her long, naked legs. I try not to imagine them wrapped around my waist. I fail.
And she’s wearing the Pink Panties.
IDK, if she only has the one pair of jeans, you might wanna steer clear of that panty situation.
Remember how in the last chapter she had to wear his pajama top and only his pajama top because she had absolutely nothing to wear to bed?
Alessia appears by the door a few moments later wearing SpongeBob pajama bottoms and an Arsenal FC shirt.
They were too small for Michal, the fourteen-year-old boy, but they’re too big on her. This is an important detail because we absolutely must not be imagining her as some kind of fatty, right?
Glossing over, glossing over, glossing over, she tries to come on to him but he’s like, you drank too much, she takes it as a rejection and runs off.
I know the look she was giving me.
Hell. I’ve seen it often enough.
Right before the process server handed you the restraining order, right?
A fuck-me, fuck-me-now look.
Isn’t that why I brought her here?
…no? You brought her there because she’s being followed by…kidnappers?
But she’s tipsy, and she has no one, and she has nothing.
If she wasn’t drunk though, he’d climb on that VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING real quick.
If I fuck her, I’ll be taking advantage.
But then he’s like, oh no, she’s playing sad piano, I might have to fuck her to make her feel better. Oh, and then take her back into danger:
Maybe I should take her up on her offer–fuck her and take her back to London.
Maybe he should have sex with her, then bring her back to where the human traffickers can find her. Sure. This is romantic. Why not. This is how love is now, I guess.
Meanwhile, In Demelssia’s POV:
The music slowly moves through her and out into the room, filling it with the somber colors of regret.
You know. Those colors. The ones of regret? It’s not even worth mentioning what the character with synesthesia as a defining character trait considers regretful colors because everybody just knows.
Moss apologizes for upsetting her, and she’s like, it’s about my clothes, isn’t it, and he’s like, no, also, please play something for me, and we go into his POV where he recognizes the song he was writing that weekend that she first inspired him. It was originally a song for his dead brother, and he starts crying.
I bury my face in her hair and inhale her soothing scent. And I cannot stop the tears sliding down my face.
She’s unmanned me.
This is how I know that E.L. James is a god damned liar when she says she reads historical romance novels. If you read historical romance novels, you know, you know that a hero thinks he’s been “unmanned” when he ejaculates. As in, the hero must halt the heroine’s stroking of his shaft, lest she “unman” him. Pick up any Bertrice Small, Christina Dodd, Laura Kinsale, Jo Beverly, literally any classic historical romance novel and you’re gonna know this terminology does not mean to a romance reader what E.L. thinks it means to a romance reader.
So, I choose to read this as Moss just blew a load into Demelssia’s hair.
Sadly, Moss considers himself unmanned because the act of crying isn’t manly. Which is definitely not a toxic way to think at all. But he can and does cry in Demelssia’s arms.
Which means tomorrow we’ll be reading a sex scene, because he can’t be too “unmanned” for long.
My Thoughts So Far: I think I said all the fuck I wanted to say about this shit show already, so allow me to make a couple notes here.
First of all, as you can see, I’ve been embedding gifs from Giphy. It only just today dawned on me that those might not, in fact, have descriptive text attached to them for my readers who use screen reading devices. If this is you, let me know how the Giphy thing is working out. I can always put the description in the actual text.
Second, I so, so, so appreciate everyone who has thrown money into my Kofi account or signed up on my super disorganized and always running behind Patreon. My money situation is NOT GOOD and hasn’t been for a while. My book royalties have plummeted. After my husband’s mother died last year with negative bank balances, unpaid bills, and no pre-need for her funeral, and then I ended up with the lawsuit thing, we wiped out every last spare bit of money we had. We’re pretty much living off donations and Patreon at the moment and things are looking grim. So many of you chipped into the legal fund, sent money to help with the mother-in-law situation, and I never, ever stop appreciating that. Which is why I hate ever having to say, hey, money is tiiiiiiiiiight, but maybe if you’ve been meaning to donate but you haven’t, or it never occurred to you to toss a few bucks my way, it would be foolish of me not to mention it. I did so many years of living off food stamps and pretending to be a Big Successful Author™ that I definitely learned my lesson to be upfront about help if it’s needed. So, to all of you out there who support me with donations, thank you forever. And to those of you who can’t because we’re in the same boat, hey, aren’t Aldi’s frozen pizzas way better than name brand?! It’s SHOCKING how good they are.