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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter fifteen or, “I was so bored, I forgot to include this part of the title.”

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No real news, except The Mister did move up from #4 to #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. It has yet to reach #1 on either NYT or USA Today. Which is a great example of exactly how the success of one title doesn’t automatically translate into the success of the next title, even for authors with blockbusters.

Since it’s a slow news day, it’s a great time to remind everyone that any typos or misspellings in the quoted text are my fault unless otherwise noted. I’m really bad at typing. Also, remember that I don’t post the full text of the chapter, just selections, and I sometimes might not mention a detail like, “he took off his shirt,” or something before an excerpt where he’s shirtless. Consider any inconsistencies in that vein the result of omission, unless I point it out.

This is also another great time to remind everyone that I have a book out that has been deemed “adorable” by readers, and you can find out more details here.

Since Alessia losing her virginity was a big moment for…Maxim, we spent the entire sex scene looking through his eyes. Now, it’s Demelssia’s turn to react to having sex for the first time.

Maxim is heavy on top of her, his breathing forced and urgent, while Alessia lies panting beneath him. She’s overwhelmed with sensation and bone-deep fatigue, but most of all by his…invasion.

This is always exactly how you want a woman to feel after sex, by the way. You want her to feel like Poland. Or an Ash tree overcome with beetles. You just want to really make her describe your penis-in-vagina actions in the least positive way possible.

He gets off her and asks her if she’s okay.

She makes a mental inventory of her body. In truth she’s a little sore.

Thanks for being truthful about that, narration. I never thought you’d lie to me until this very moment. Now, I doubt completely. My heart is as shattered as Alessia’s hymen.

She had no idea the act of love was so phyical. Her mother had told her it would hurt the first time.

And she was right.

Though I’ve asserted that E.L. James hasn’t read as many historical romances as she claims, she’s read at least some. Obsession with how much losing one’s virginity hurts, how much you bleed, is kind of a weird focus in historical romance, especially in days of old. I love when I read books where the heroine is a virgin and her reaction is like, wow, this feels different than I expected, instead of oh, the trauma, the pain, the blood, now I have emerged a whole woman on the other side of this rite of passage that must always contain pain to prove my purity.

SHAMELESS PLUG: My new book features a no-big-deal loss of virginity. Did I mention I had a new book out?

Don’t look at me like that. Momma’s gotta eat.

Demelssia thinks about how after the pain and her body got used to him, she enjoyed it.

At the end she’d lost all sense of self and shattered into tiny little pieces, exploding inside–and it had been…incredible.

Now, at that point, she’d had two orgasms with Moss and one that we saw her have solo. It’s only after Moss’s dick gets involved that the orgasms are incredible, though. So, while this wasn’t the full-scale awakening that Christian gave Ana, Moss still does get to be the expert in Demelssia’s pleasure on some level, providing her with an intensity of experience she couldn’t have without him.

He lays down beside her and covers them both up and asks her again if she’s okay and if he hurt her, and she just doesn’t know what to say, so she hesitates and Moss uses that moment to hijack things back into his POV.

I do not understand why E.L. James just didn’t write the entire book from Moss’s POV. She clearly doesn’t care about Demelssia’s experiences or thoughts. At this point, Demelssia has lost her virginity after being raised in what amounts to purity culture and gets a few paragraphs to react to it after the fact, while the entire thing was narrated by a guy who’s had so much sex that at this point it should be like having his taxes done. That’s how unimportant Demelssia is in the scheme of this book. She is not a person, she’s a roadmap for Moss to use while he finds himself or whatever. Just write the whole damn thing in his POV.

Anyway.

I’d been transported from the depths of despair to an earth-shattering climax, but my rosy, postcoital, best-fuck-ever glow vanishes like a magician’s rabbit.

Magicians make rabbits appear.

I reach down and yank the condom off my dick, disgusted with myself.

The following is a faithful transcript of my conversation with Mr. Jen regarding this line:

Me: I’m going to read you a sentence. Or, no, part of a sentence. I’m going to read you part of a sentence, and you just tell me what you think about it. And you don’t have to be nice. I didn’t write it.

Mr. Jen: Okay.

Me: “I reach down and yank the condom off my dick.”

Mr. Jen: [long pause] …yank?

Me: Yank.

Mr. Jen: [long pause] Yank.

Me: Yup.

Mr. Jen: Not…pulled?

Me: Not pulled, not rolled, not removed. This condom was yanked.

Mr. Jen: Huh.

Me: What would happen if you “yanked” off a condom?

Mr. Jen: Well, it would stretch out. And then it would do the rubber band effect. But full of your cum.

So, feel free to imagine Maxim snapping the head of his post-orgasm cock with a rubber band, I guess.

When I drop it on the floor, I’m shocked to see my hand smeared with blood.

Her blood.

Thank Christ! If it was someone else’s blood, it would be fucking weird!

So, like his predecessor, Moss just tosses condoms on the floor? I find this interesting because we know he was a huge slob at home, but he threw the condoms in the trash there.

Anyway, Moss tells Demelssia he’s sorry he hurt her, and she’s like, eh, I was expecting it would hurt the first time.

“So you’d be willing to give it a second try?”

“Yes, I think so,” she says, giving me a coy smile, and my cock thickens in approval.

Again? Already?

Dude hasn’t even had time for his erection to go down and it’s on the rise again?

So, they do the whole was-it-good-for-you conversation, then Moss tells her to say his name because he likes hearing it, and then he says he’ll go run a bath. In the bathroom, he thinks about how “giddy” he is.

Sex with her is better than being amped on coke…any drug.

False. Nothing is better than drugs.

I’ve finally laid my daily.

Check that off your to-do list, I guess.

He thinks about how usually, once he’s had sex with a woman he’s basically done with her, but he doesn’t feel that way about Demelssia. And I have to say, that’s a pretty big fucking chance to take, isn’t it? If you’re sooooo in love with this woman, but you know there’s a possibility you’ll be disinterested in her once you close the deal, wouldn’t you have thoughts about that? Wouldn’t it make you resist wanting to have sex with her? Wouldn’t a competent author examine that before the deed is done?

Yes. The answer is yes. But we’re not dealing with competency on any level here.

I run my hand through my hair in an effort to tame it and remember her blood on my hand.

A virgin.

I’ll have to marry her now.

Go hang the sheets off the balcony so the townspeople will know that you deflowered your virgin bride and any issue from her womb is your legitimate heir.

I snort at my ridiculous thought as I wash my hands, but I wonder if any of my ancestors found themselves in that position. Two of my forebears were involved in well-documented, scandalous liaisons, but my knowledge of my family history is sketchy at best.

I’m sure your ancestor Ross Poldark was involved in some kind of scandal from fucking his maid and marrying her. Things turned out okay-ish for them.

Moss thinks about how he should have paid more attention to shit like their lineage and how to keep the earldom in the family and all that. Then he goes back to the bedroom, sees Demelssia, and thinks:

My daily.

She’s still just the help to him. How charming.

Because he’s naked, she’s shy and doesn’t want to look at him. Then she does and he teases her about it and pulls the covers off her and they’re both naked and headed to the bathroom.

“You don’t have to be shy.” I tease a strand of her hair and wind it around my index finger. “You have great hair. And a great body, too.”

Yes, I’m sure her hair, not her nude body, was her very first concern.

There’s a picture window behind the bathtub, and they gaze out at the sunset over the seat together, which he says is as beautiful as she is.

She’s more than beautiful. She’s the whole package. Bright. Talented. Funny. And courageous. Yes, above all, courageous.

So, when are we going to get to see this “whole package”? Because talented, we’ve seen. But she never speaks in anything other than short sentences and they’re not particularly funny. Maybe they’re meant to be, but she’s been written almost too childlike to have an intentional sense of self-aware humor. Also, courageous? We know she ran from the traffickers at the beginning of the book and when they came looking for her, but since Moss got a chance to rescue her, she’s basically done whatever he tells her to do. I’m not saying her earlier actions weren’t courageous, but she just kind of clings to Moss now, awaiting instruction. He hasn’t seen her do anything courageous.

Then again, Ana was “courageous” and “brave,” too.

She quickly twists her hair into a gravity-defying knot that perches on her head and sinks beneath the bubbles.

Here, the knot on her head sinks beneath the bubbles, rather than her body sinking beneath the bubbles, which is what is supposed to be happening. This is what we call “something an editor should have noticed.”

We go into Demelssia’s POV so she can tell us how expensive the bath gel is and, no shit, how much better the sunset is in England as opposed to Albania:

The sunset in Kukës is spectacular, but it sets behind the mountains. Here the sun is sinking languidly into the sea, illuminating a golden path on the water.

This book should have been called, Albania is good, BUT.

Anyway, we hear more about how her vagina hurts.

She’d done it.

Done what?

It.

So, here’s the thing. This is the wrong tense. James chose to write in the present tense. The past version of the present tense is…past tense. “She’d done it,” is past-perfect, a.k.a., “even paster tense.” Demelssia’s thought should have been “She did it,” or “She’s done it.” Yet another “something an editor should have noticed.”

Honestly, I’m less of a stickler for stuff like this if it’s written in the first person. I tend to view the first person as the narrator talking directly to me, no matter which tense they use. It’s when it gets into the third person that it comes off wonky to me. Your mileage may vary.

Her mother would be shocked. Her father…she shudders to think what he might do if he knew.

So, she has that thought, then goes on to think about how great the sex was, how she wants to do it again, but then:

She feels no shame.

This is another moment where we’re being told something we’re not seeing on the page, or seeing the opposite of. After sex, she’s too embarrassed to look at him naked, she can’t even speak to him at first, then she thinks about what her parents would think of her. That doesn’t scream, “totally unashamed,” to me. And you know what? I don’t find it all that convincing that a woman raised in a super conservative way wouldn’t have shame. I’m not saying it’s right, but I haven’t been Catholic for like, years, and I still feel a little twinge of, “Shouldn’t have done that,” after sex sometimes. I think it would have been okay for Demelssia to feel shame and interrogate those feelings.

But that would cut into the time we need to take to talk about Moss’s willie.

She’s fascinated and embarrassed at the same time.

Large. Hooded. Flexible. Not how it was earlier.

So much has been made of that line and how terrible it is. I feel like I’ve spent so much time in the bad book trenches that I just can’t even react to that description at all. I’m like, sure, it’s bad. But the things I’ve seen, dear reader. The things we’ve seen together. This is nothing. This is almost good writing in comparison to “music to my dick.”

“You’ll get used to it,” he says, and his eyes sparkle with humor. Alessia wonders if he was referring to the champagne…or his penis, which makes her blush even more.

I’m thirsty…but not for dick.

So, it’s not enough that we’re hardly ever in Demelssia’s POV. We have to skew into Moss’s while we’re in her POV, as well. When he gets in the bath:

He grins, waiting for the water to spill over the sides of the bath–but it doesn’t.

How does she know that’s what he was grinning about? Or thinking at all? She doesn’t, but James is so enamored of her hero’s POV that she absolutely can’t stay out of it.

He takes a glass from her and clinks the one she holds. “To the bravest, most beautiful woman I know. Thank you, Alessia Demachi,” he says, and he’s no longer playful but deadly serious, gazing intently at her, his eyes darker, no longer sparkling.

So much of this reads like a rewrite of Fifty Shades of Grey, in which after her bloody, painful defloration, Ana and Christian bathe together, there’s a lot of talk about his dick and how fascinating it is, and a weird focus on the expensive the bath gel he uses. And the bravery. Christian calls Ana brave throughout the books, but if memory serves, the first time he calls her brave is after their first time because I remember thinking, “What’s so brave about fucking you?” There’s even a line in both books that randomly points that the bathroom has double sinks for seemingly no reason, interrupting a more important train of thought during the consideration of the sex that happened.

Demelssia realizes that she doesn’t know Moss’s last name. She actually thinks it’s “Milord” because that’s what people have called him in town. He tells her his last name and of course, she has to sound it out because she’s the world’s oldest toddler and it’s a great opportunity for James to point out how simple this Albanian peasant is.

Skimming over the next bit, all you really need to know is that he washes and massages her feet and legs and it gets her horny. No, sorry, “wanton.” Because she knows “wanton” but not “truck.”

Yeah, I’m never letting the truck thing go. Learn to live with it, everyone.

Anyway, they get out of the bath and he mentions that she doesn’t have to get dressed if she doesn’t want to, because Danny won’t be there until dinner time. And of course, Demelssia thinks about oh, he won’t tell me who Danny is, so expect some jealousy to come up.

We go back to Moss’s POV and the cheap bastard does this:

Downstairs in the kitchen, I switch on the lights and put the champagne in the fridge while I consider Alessia Demachi.

That shit is going to be flat in an hour. You’re rich. Throw it away. Don’t make Demelssia settle for flat champagne.

He thinks about how she’s so sexy, and then goes right back to angst about whether or not he should have fucked her. Like, dude? The time to be all, “Should I fuck this woman?” was before you fucked her. The deed is done. Some things cannot be unscrewed.

I wonder what Kit would have made of Alessia.

You’re not fucking the staff, are you, Spare?

We keep hearing about how kind and good Kit was, but he always sounds like a total dickhole.

At least Moss and Demelssia drink more of the champagne before it goes flat.

So, anyway, like minutes after Moss tells Demelssia not to get dressed if she doesn’t want to, Danny shows up. IDK if he thought he was gonna get a three-way going or what. Moss intercepts Danny outside to get the food. And she tells him that the potatoes have been microwaved? Like, I’m sorry, but if I’m an earl, my baked potatoes better be good and goddamn well done in the oven. Which, by the way, is why the universe will never let me be rich. I will demand too much.

So, earlier in the book, I was imagining Danny as a younger woman. Now, we learn that she has white hair and has worked on the estate since he was a kid. And…he’s making her carry dinner all the way from the main house to his sex nest.

You know what, Danny? Microwave those potatoes. Spit on them, too.

But lest you worry that Danny might still tempt Mister Maxim away, here is her description:

[…]always in her plaid skirt and stout shoes, never in trousers. No. I smile; it’s Jessie, her partner for twelve years, who wears the trousers in that relationship. Briefly I wonder if they’re ever going to marry. It’s been legal for long enough. They have no excuse.

Don’t worry! Danny is a lesbian! Who wears “stout shoes”. And her partner, who has an equally androgynous, male-leaning name? Is super butch! Isn’t that humorous?  One is the girl and one is the boy!

God, I can’t wait for E.L. James’s much anticipated M/M novel that won’t perpetuate any stereotypes at all.

There is a way-too-long interaction about putting the baked potatoes in the oven to crisp them up and who is going to put them in the oven. It’s Moss, by the way. Moss does it. There’s also stew involved, but at this point, I’m so fucking bored with hearing every damn move they make to get dinner on the table that I feel like I’m making dinner and I’m like, fuck it, just put a pizza in the oven and call it a day.

Moss asks Demelssia if she knows how to play chess, and she’s like, a little, and he’s like, oh, I wonder what that means, and I’m like, it means she can play chess a little, this is not a hard concept to grasp and would you like me to make a powerpoint or can I just throw my Kindle directly into the sea right now?

Anyway, she touches his hand and he nearly jizzes himself.

She licks her top lip and deliberately traces her index finger over the back of one hand.

Whose hand? It’s never specified, but we assume it’s Moss’s hand because:

A tremor runs from my hand up my arm and directly to my dick.

So, your dick is on your shoulder? Is that what I’m getting here?

They play a game and of course, she’s excellent at it. Why? Because it’s the only primitive form of entertainment that exists in Albania.

“There is not much to do in Kukës. At home we have an old computer but no games console and clever phones.[…]”

Clever phones.

From the travel website Lonely Planet:

Mobile coverage is excellent, though it’s limited in very remote areas (though most places have some form of connection including Theth).

[…]

Albania has good mobile coverage though it can be spotty in mountain areas.

[…]

It’s very straightforward to buy a SIM card with mobile data from any mobile phone/internet provider. Prepaid SIM cards cost around 500 lekë and include credit. Special two-week ‘tourist’ packages are available. These include phone calls, text messages and internet data.

Oh, and regarding the internet, again, from Lonely Planet:

Free wi-fi is ubiquitous in all but the most basic hotels. In larger towns many restaurants also offer free access.

Albanians! They’re just like us!

No, seriously. They have all the same fucking stuff. And what really pisses me off is that if E.L. James visited Albania “for research,” she would have stayed at hotels. She would have probably taken her clever phone and used her magic card. These would have been basic things she wouldn’t have been able to avoid learning! She has to know that she is depicting the country incorrectly because she has been there.

Anyway, back to this fucking trainwreck. Hey, want to talk about more inconsistencies in Demelssia’s English? She says she likes to read books.

“Oh yes. Many, many books. In Albanian and English. I wanted to be an English teacher.”

She wanted to be an English teacher.

She doesn’t know the word for “truck.”

“But you enjoy reading?”

“Yes.” She brightens. “Especially in English. My grandmother smuggled books into the country.”

SHE HAS BEEN LEARNING ENGLISH HER ENTIRE LIFE FROM ENGLISH BOOKS AND A NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER. SHE WAS GOING TO BE AN ENGLISH TEACHER. THE ONLY REASON ALESSIA IS DEPICTED AS NOT BEING ABLE TO SPEAK VERY SIMPLE ENGLISH IS BECAUSE E.L. JAMES CHOSE TO DEPICT HER THAT WAY.

Now, I don’t know why she made that choice. And it is, perhaps, unfair to assume that E.L. James is simply a xenophobic garbage person. But I’m really starting to lean toward that explanation.

We’ve also got a very weird time/history/age issue going on. They talk about how dangerous it was for her grandmother to “smuggle” in these books that Demelssia has been reading…but again, Demelssia is twenty-two (or twenty-three, at this point I’ve forgotten because I don’t give a shit). She wouldn’t have been alive during those communist years. She wouldn’t have a memory of that danger. And yes, she is saying that her grandmother smuggling books in during communism was dangerous, but Demelssia wouldn’t have any memory or experience of living that way, so it’s a weird detail to include. Like, she’s constantly reminding him of the time her country was communist before she was born. It feels so forced, like, “Look at me, readers! I, E.L. James, know the history of Albania.”

Which would be a lot more impressive if she didn’t spend like 99% of the rest of the time talking about how shitty and backward the whole country allegedly is.

Anyway, Demelssia beats Moss at chess and they talk some more about her life in Albania.

“You say you wanted to be an English teacher. What happened?”

Her university closed. She already told you this.

“My university closed. They had no money. And my courses stopped.”

She was literally studying English at the college level.

And she didn’t know the word for “truck.”

Also, she mentions that she taught English. In a school.

And she didn’t know the word for “truck.”

But perhaps the most frustrating thing about Moss learning, for the second time, that her university closed, is that it means he must not have been listening to her before.

Moss and Demelssia have dinner, and Demelssia insists on serving it to him.

Surreptitiously I watch her as she busies herself in the kitchen. Her movements are neat and elegant. She has an intrinsic, sensuous grace, and I wonder if she’s ever been a dancer.

Why not? You’re a model/DJ/photographer/pianist/composer/earl. She might as well be a dancer on top of all her other shit she’s got going on.

When she turns, her glorious hair spills down around her elfin face, and with a delicate flick of her wrist she flips it out of the way. Her long, slender fingers holds the knife as she slices open the baked potatoes, releasing wisps of steam. With her brow fixed in concentration, she spreads butter on them, and she stops to lick some melted butter from her index finger.

My groin tightens.

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my potato horniness. This description of baked potatoes is the only time my groin has stirred at all in this novel so far.

Back in Demelssia’s POV, she says she’s going to cook for him the next day:

“Do you?” he asks.

“Cook?” Alessia places her hand on her heart, affronted. “Of course. I am an Albanian woman. All Albanian women cook.”

I mean, obviously! All Albanian women are peasants who exist only to do domestic chores! Duh!

“One day,” he says, “will you tell me the whole story?”

“Story?” Her heart begins to thud.

“Of how and why you came to England?”

“Yes. One day,” she says.

One day. One day! ONE DAY!

Hey, that’s my emphatic device! How are people going to tell the difference between your shitty book and me making fun of it, Erika?!

Her heart skips a beat. Those two words imply a tangible future with this man.

Yup. That’s what Demelssia is gonna naturally focus on when asked if she’ll share the story of her harrowing flight from human traffickers. That’s definitely the reaction that a deeply traumatized person with PTSD is gonna have. Cupid’s arrows all the way.

Alessia is confused about how men and women interact in England.

It’s different in Kukës. She’s seen enough American TV shows–[…]

She’s seen American TV shows but has no idea whatsoever about sex or relationships. This is perhaps the least believable thing in this entire book. That’s literally all American TV shows are about. Even the ones that aren’t about romance have romances and relationships in them. Unless all she was watching was Wheel of Fortune.

So, they eat their dinner and Moss offers her banoffee pie and she’s like, no thanks, I’m full, and he forces her to eat it, anyway:

“You are teasing me. You want me to want your dessert?” she says.

“I want you to want a great many things. Right now it’s dessert.” Maxim smirks and licks his lips. With his fork he scoops up a small piece smothered in cream and offers it to her. “Eat,” he whispers, his voice seductive and his heated stare mesmerizing. In response, she parts her lips and accepts the mouthful.

And obviously he was right in forcing her to eat it because she loves it.

I’m so mad about this scene because, in my latest book (that I have plugged enough in this recap), the heroine makes the hero a banoffee pie as a Christmas present. I guess I could have changed it, but I was like, “No! My book was written before this one came out, damn it! I’m keeping my pie!”

Anyway, Demelssia licks some pie off his finger:

Mmm…he tastes clean. Male.

In case you were wondering what gender banoffee pie was.

Anyway, they have more boring sex that I’m going to skip lots of.

His hands slip into the waistband of her pj’s

Her pj’s what?

and cup her bare backside, kneading her flesh as he rubs his nose over her clitoris, on and on.

 

So…um. Yeah, you know what? I’m just gonna move on.

“Maxim!” she cries, scandalized, and she tries to pull his head away.

“Hush,” he murmurs. “It’s okay.” And his tongue replaces his nose as he resists her feeble attempts to stop him.

Yeah, hush, Demelssia. It’s okay for him to do a thing you don’t want him to do during sex because he knows better than you do what you really want.

They fuck up against the wall but Moss is just literally too good at sex and they have to switch to the bed because she can’t handle how great he is at it. Not joking, there’s like a whole paragraph about it.

Alessia cries out as she explodes around him once, twice, again, […]

It only counts if it happens three times. And I’m glad to see that explosive orgasms have followed us into this book. I was worried she wouldn’t explode or detonate during sex at least once.

After the sex, we POV switch into Moss watching Demelssia sleep, and then he remembers the nightlight and he gets that all set up and goes to sleep to end the chapter.

My Impression So Far: I expect the xenophobia, lack of consent, and show-don’t-tell to ramp up in the coming chapters. James started off fairly strong in the consent arena until the hero started banging the heroine. Which adds another disturbing layer to the style of James’s writing: once you say yes once (or, in the case of Alessia, twenty-six billion times until you convince the dude you want to fuck him), that’s it. You’ve said yes to everything from pie to oral sex. Because once he gets his dick in, he owns you.

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113 Comments

  1. many bells down
    many bells down

    Protip: don’t slice your baked potatoes with a knife. Puncture them the long way with a fork and squeeze the ends until it pops open. Then they’re all fluffy inside.

    Yeah, that’s all I took away from this chapter, you’re welcome.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • New Fan
      New Fan

      I ❤️ The potato critiques.

      Now just waiting for some long drawn out construction of intricate Albanian potato dumplings for (wait for it) stew.

      But this would be botched. Meanwhile – since I’m gearing up for a global cookie baking jag… I’m hoping someone has a book on Albanian pastry out there. (Maybe someone from a town with an open University?)

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
      • You can just ask any Albanian woman about cookies, since all Albanian women apparently LOVE to COOK.

        What does this say, btw, about Mrs. Leonard’s assertion that her research is super authentic because her hubby… learned how to cook an Albanian stew. Based on all the gender stereotypes she displays in this chapter alone, much less her greater ouvre, we all know “who wears the trousers in that relationship”… and that that’s exactly how she’d view it, too.

        May 15, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          Oh, I’m 100% certain Eeel’s husband is the “wife” in their relationship.

          May 15, 2019
          |Reply
          • JessC
            JessC

            After reading that article, he should not be boasting of copyediting 50Shades. That’s one of the biggest self-owns I’ve ever seen.

            May 16, 2019
          • Anon
            Anon

            “I’m the least romantic fecker that ever lived”

            Well, then he probably could have written 50 because it isn’t romantic at all.

            “… steamy sex scenes and cliffhanger endings.” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

            And I can’t keep reading anymore. That’s as dull and poorly-written as anything Eel has done. They make a great team.

            May 16, 2019
          • “If she was happy, I was delighted – I finally got to watch The Sopranos and The Wire back to back with no one moaning about the violence or the impenetrable slang.”

            Mine, what a passion, what a romance. I also love how he’s trying to downplay his wife’s success as just a hobby born out of frustration. The foundation of a lasting marriage, indeed. His interview is almost as boring as the Mister sex scenes.

            May 16, 2019
          • Cyrus
            Cyrus

            Well, his skill as an editor is readily apparent in that article.

            It’s ‘Avada Kedavra’, dumbass.

            May 17, 2019
        • Angie
          Angie

          “By June it was causing paper shortages in the US, and lumber mills in Canada were rehiring laid-off workers. ”

          Ok, I live in the US and this literally never happened. There was not one single story anywhere that I could find suggesting there was a mass PAPER SHORTAGE due to her books.

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
    • KT
      KT

      Another good way to open a baked potato is to punch it. It makes it fluffy. And it’s really satisfying.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Gretel
    Gretel

    “I’ll have to marry her now.”

    You’re not Rob Stark. You don’t have a sense of duty and a dead father to honour, so no, you don’t have to do anything except be respectful and polite.

    You know, it’s funny how EL paints all Albanian men as super conservative and all women are only property, yadda yadda, but Moss doens’t think differently in any way. He wants to OWN Demelssia and once he’s “taken her virginity”, she’s his duty and possession.
    He tries to force shame out of her, he force-feeds her, he tongue fucks her despite her scandalised reaction, he drags her miles and miles away from London, etc. etc. He’s like a fucking dog and its chewing toy.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  3. ninjacandles
    ninjacandles

    If she were watching Wheel of Fortune she’d know the word “truck”.

    I won’t let this go either, Jenny. I will die on this hill with you.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Literally came here to say the same thing. Mothertruckers.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tami Alexander
        Tami Alexander

        How many people does this truck seat? I call shotgun!

        May 15, 2019
        |Reply
        • Anna Kaye-Rogers
          Anna Kaye-Rogers

          I CAME DOWN JUST FOR THIS

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
    • Comically enough, my reaction to the truck thing is that in England people don’t call them trucks. They’re lorries. She’d have known ‘truck’ if she watched American TV – but maybe would have had to laughingly correct herself to ‘lorry’ because ‘that’s what they’re called in England’.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  4. Ren Benton
    Ren Benton

    “I run my hand through my hair in an effort to tame it and remember her blood on my hand.”

    “I snort at my ridiculous thought as I wash my hands”

    Did he… smear his blood-and-semen-splattered-from-the-yanked-condom hands through his hair? Classy.

    “Anyway, Demelssia licks some pie off his finger: Mmm…he tastes clean. Male.”

    Has he been touching his junk after bathtime? There’s no other reason a hand would taste “male” enough to overpower a freaking banana pie.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • amblonyxx
      amblonyxx

      Yes to the wiping his hand in his hair. I thought I was actually going to barf when he said that.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • I dry-retched a little bit when he only went to wash his hands instead of taking a proper shower. Because HIS HAIR. Yikes.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
  5. Anon
    Anon

    “The sunset in Kukës is spectacular, but it sets behind the mountains. Here the sun is sinking languidly into the sea, illuminating a golden path on the water.”

    I grew up in a somewhat mountainous area and currently live in Florida. I have seen both of these sunsets and they are pretty equally spectacular. This is stupid.

    Oh! I’m currently reading a (good) book and today read a line where a character was “hungry. Very hungry.” And I almost threw it across the room because that will always and forever remind me of the Eel.

    I am not rich and I still bake my potatoes in the oven like a civilized person.

    His nose? HIS NOSE????

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  6. Masha
    Masha

    Re: the communism thing, I think it’s just how ELJ views everything east and south-east of the remnants of the Berlin Wall. I kid you not, I have actually been described as from “the former Soviet bloc” by people roughly her age in Great Britain.

    Also, it might be just me, but when I’m full and then have dessert on top of it, the last thing I want to do is be squeezed in any way, shape or form.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Alexander
      Tami Alexander

      And if you eat on top of being full and then fuck? I don’t know about anyone else but I’d be puking.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      I think some people old enough to remember the Cold War pretty well seemed really steeped in that mindset. E.L. James is incapable of gathering that things have changed and there actually shops, WiFi and consumer goods in those countries.
      What’s baffling is that she’s been to Albania, did she really see no one using a cellphone or a credit card, or a supermarket?

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
      • I’m waiting for a scene where Alyssianamelza is thrilled when The Mister buys her a pair of name brand sneakers or jeans, and comments that they’d go for hundreds of thousands of lek back in Albania.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
  7. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    He cannot read her half the time (hence how he asked her a million times whether she was okay with sex their first time) but now suddenly he totally knows she’s only acting scandalized and pretending to stop him, but is actually okay with his nose “down there.” FML.

    And the forcing the heroine to eat. Again! I hate this so much. No is no, dude, even when it’s about fucking banoffee pie. I bet this is just a charming prelude. He’s probably going to stop listening to her and push her to do stuff she doesn’t want to do even more from here on out.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • GS
      GS

      Honestly? I read that less as “He can’t read her” and more as “My preconceived notions of what is okay for you are more important than your actual feelings and your actual consent”. It’s not a change in attitude. He is STILL deciding what’s okay for her and what’s not okay, it just manifests in a different way.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Bookjunk
        Bookjunk

        Yeah, you’re right, but I’m trying to read it the way E.L. James probably intended it to be read. And in her mind they have an amazing connection etc. etc. so they are now so comfortable with each other and he knows her so well, that he can somehow tell that even though she tries to stop him, she doesn’t really want him to stop.

        No, E.L. James didn’t put any of that down on the page – not them getting to know each other nor them being comfortable with each other, except for sometimes straight-up telling the readers that this is the case, despite all the evidence to the contrary – but the whole thing is way less icky that way. This stupid book is already super creepy, so I’m just trying to read it like it wasn’t written by someone with incredibly disturbing ideas about consent. Just by a horrible writer.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          She wrote it as if his magic dick established one of those stupid magical mental links between partners and it’s still disturbing because this isn’t a paranormal romance any more than it’s a historical one (and it’s still shitty.) Or just that he could read her before but everyone complained about the consent so she threw in a million questions at the beginning to stifle that accusation and decided that was annoying enough, no one wanted to see that happen again, except dropping it like a hot potato makes it twice as stupid.

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
          • Bookjunk
            Bookjunk

            True, lol. I guess I’ll just have to accept that it’s horrible either way. 🙂

            May 16, 2019
  8. Marisa
    Marisa

    This is review is unadulterated magic. I worked at BN when 50 Shades came out and it was hell. I hope this one is easier on booksellers.

    Also, 3 golf claps for EL James for proving it IS possible to write something shittier than her first series.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  9. According to Mrs. Leonard, every innocent virgin who agrees to sleep with a slutty man is “brave” and “courageous.” Everything she is and every value she has is in relation to the Alpha Asshole who wants to fuck her.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  10. De Pizan
    De Pizan

    The thing about the cell phones, excuse me, clever phones, reminds me of a certain part of the population that expects developing countries to be technologically backwards and is either upset or surprised when they do have technological things (kind of like when Fox News was appalled that the majority of those on SNAP in the US had fridges). Case in point, there was a National Geographic picture of Masai warriors in traditional dress with cell phones circulating last week, and the photographer had a caption lamented how technology had penetrated everywhere. But a larger percentage of the population has smartphones in Africa than in the US. Why? Because cell towers are much easier to install in rural areas than landlines, so these places may not have gotten landlines, but are benefiting from cell phone ease/ubiquity. And they often don’t have separate computers, so just get a smart phone to do it all. Anyway, not saying Albania is a developing country, just that James’ insistence and assumption that her main character would be technologically ignorant without bothering to do any kind of research is on that spectrum.

    On the I have to marry her now thing—my first reaction was the Ron Burgundy “Well that escalated quickly” gif.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      This exactly, plus a big stinking turd of “noble savage” mixed in.

      Cell towers can reach lots of places that would have been difficult to install or maintain landlines in, plus places that never developped monopolistic landline corps can actually put in the newest tech without needing to drag said monopolists kicking and screaming into the future.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
    • Heidi Aphrodite
      Heidi Aphrodite

      SERIOUSLY. My sister and I visited Guatemala and Honduras a year ago, and, even in the remoter towns and villages, there were cell phones. People who still wear traditional clothing carried cell phones. Women make and sell traditional aprons with special cell phone pockets so they can carry their cell phones around. The only places we couldn’t get a wifi signal (we chose not to buy sim cards and just picked up wifi when we could) were while we were on the road or in one of the smaller villages on Lake Atitlan. Every restaurant that was more than just a fruit stand had wifi. Our hotels had excellent wifi. Rest stops along the Pan American Highway had wifi. Yeah, people were living in tiny, dirt-floored houses and hauling many pounds of stuff to sell in other markets every day, and molding terracotta roof tiles by hand, and weaving on back-strap looms, but they had cell phones. Tiny elderly women had cell phones. It’s still generally a cash-based society, but the bigger shops took credit cards without a problem and almost everyone knew the words “credit card” or “Visa” in English even if they only spoke an obscure Maya dialect. AND THEY HAD WIFI. ugh. I don’t understand how people are so dim. I really don’t.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      I have the impression a landline is becoming almost more of a luxury than a cellphone, it’s expensive and indicates stability. Cellphones are convenient if you move around a lot, for instance.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
    • Jenn H
      Jenn H

      His hand was covered in blood? How hard did he fuck her? Or maybe she just has really bad menorrhagia.

      Be warned, they actually end up going to Albania. I expect it is going to be painful.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  11. Maria
    Maria

    tbh the thing that’s currently bothering me the most (in addition to everything else) is how little they know each other, how little they’ve connected, just how scant the basis for their romance is, but the book wants us to believe they have this really deep connection. and you’re super right about maxim’s attitude towards sleeping with alessia is backwards. if he’s a love em and leave em guy, it doesn’t really follow that after he’s had sex with alessia, he’d reflect that he won’t do what he usually does.
    any time an actually interesting conflict arises, james steamrolls over it. nothing to see here!

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  12. Hannah Daltons
    Hannah Daltons

    Speaking as a virgin who comes from a a super conservative background, may I just say that the thought of some turd burgler not stopping oral sex when I am clearly uncomfortable with it makes my own unsullied vageen curl up in on itself. I would NEVER sleep with that man again, but we ALL know that EL James doesn’t care a flyin’ hoot about realistic interactions between actual humans, as long as her 50 something year old entitled, privileged white butt can get off on it, so should you.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  13. Conny
    Conny

    So we have Maxim in Cornwall with a housekeeper called Danny and a young, inexperienced woman by his side. And here I was thinking the name Maxim was the only thing reminiscent of “Rebecca”. I wonder when the first of Maxim’s high-society friends are going to start hating her and telling her she will never fit in? Caroline will, for sure.

    In other (much better) news, I just went and bought “Where We Land,” and I promise I will treat the banoffee pie with all due respect when I get to it^^

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Alexa
      Alexa

      Ohhh, and *this* Danny is a lesbian, as Mrs. D. from Rebecca was heavily implied to be as well. Hmm…

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I totally missed the Danny thing. She steals everything!

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  14. Anna
    Anna

    THANK YOU for pointing out the past tense thing. I have seen this in SO MANY BOOKS – and I mean actual good books, not just Eel’s nonsense – to the point where I was beginning to think I was wrong to think it was wrong. But if you’re on my side, I must be right 🙂

    Gonna get ‘The past tense of present tense is PAST TENSE’ printed on a T shirt.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  15. Soch
    Soch

    “Large. Hooded. Flexible.”

    I literally paused mid-bite of my chocolate to make this face: ಠ_ಠ

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Alexander
      Tami Alexander

      Taken out of context, one might think this was the description of a king cobra; in reality, it is a mere trouser snake.

      And I wrote that in David Attenborough‘s voice.

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
      • Raven
        Raven

        My brain also jumped right to cobra when I read that description.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
    • Bunny
      Bunny

      It would be funny if it had just kept going.

      “Large. Hooded. Flexible. Bright-eyed. Bushy-tailed. Asthmatic. Tanned. Does own tax returns. Sometimes dons a fedora. Allergic to peanuts and shellfish. Unscrupulous. Bites fingernails. Wears leotards. Gets hiccups frequently. Always tips 20% or more. Susceptible to melanoma. Secretly despises wine. Performs at open mic night. Collects model trains.”

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Cyrus
        Cyrus

        Congratulations, you just turned Moss’ dick into a more interesting character than anyone in the actual book.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
  16. Mel
    Mel

    Ok, I know Eel has had sex, I know this but like…did she really? Ever? I just don’t get why she thinks a woman after her first time just gushes blood. Why is there so much that it’s on the condom and smears on his hands? I mean, I remember there being some blood my first time but it was like, a few drops at most and the condom was not at all covered in blood. Excuse the TMI.

    I just don’t get this, it’s like people aren’t actually living their experiences but reading descriptions about there being blood when you lose your virginity and it’s been purple-monkey-dishwashered to the the point that now, when heroines lose their virginity, it’s like the elevator doors opening up in The Shining.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      My mother apparently bled A LOT her first time, so it does happen. I don’t think I bled at all. It was super painful, though.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Mana
      Mana

      “heroines lose their virginity, it’s like the elevator doors opening up in The Shining.”

      *snorts coffee all over pc*

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Heidi Aphrodite
      Heidi Aphrodite

      My life was like The Shining elevators for four months when my uterine fibroids were trying to kill me (I’m not even kidding; transfusions and major surgery were involved). I can’t imagine that losing your virginity could possibly be bloodier than that, but what do I know? I’m not a best-selling author. /snark

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  17. Maggie
    Maggie

    I mean, all this xenophobia is quite baffling to me, but then I think about the number of people who’ll read this book and just trust EL that it’s a good portrayal. Goddamn EL, why do you have to constantly write about things you know shit about? First BDSM, now Albania and the realities of communism. If your life is so boring, just find a hobby! And write crappy romance about that!
    Also, feeling like Poland after invasion bit was weird, but now that I think about it I guess we really are mostly known in the world for being invaded a lot.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  18. MirandaEH
    MirandaEH

    First, you are MUCH better at self-promotion than Daniel. He could clearly learn a lesson from you.

    Second, just reading these selections after having read your truly adorable new book is a great showcase of ‘Bad writing is like this. Good writing is like this.’

    Third, I’m 100% with you on still being annoyed at truck.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  19. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    Uhh, we last saw our very-polite-story-antagonists who knocked on the door in chapter 8 and haven’t reappeared seven chapter later. Man, this is getting more and more like a missing persons report. F**k the Amber Alert, I’m going full nation-wide milk-carton “Have-You-Seen-This-Child” for the missing characters.

    Whatd’ya think, put ’em on the FBI missing persons report?

    Or should we just say ‘screw it’ and put the poor schnooks on the cold-case list as they’ve been gone for so long now?

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Ah, they are Albanian men and as Eel has shown us, all Albanian men are crap so lets just let em vanish into the Thames which we also haven’t heard from in a while. I hope it’s still flowing through London all large, hooded and flexible like.

      My new head canon is that they realized this weird, illiterate moron isn’t worth chasing and just decided to play games on their clever phones. Of course they first have to get magic cards so they can buy the games, and since the only college in Albanian closed down they may just be SOL. Maybe they should go after her. Then they’d finally get to see the sea… the Sea… THE SEA!!!!!

      I’d say fuck this book but I don’t want to get blood in my hair so I’m gonna pass and just say than you Jenny for taking the bullet on this one for us all. You are a snarky saint and I love you for it.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ethyl
        Ethyl

        I, personally, am starting to get worried about the Thames. I hope it is still being watched over by Dildobrain’s apartment……

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

          Actually, the Thames is more of an antagonist than the missing ones from Albania. You’re right, it might have dried up by now . . . .

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
  20. Jay Selene
    Jay Selene

    I promised myself I wouldn’t have sex until I wanted to, but on my bad-mental-health days, I play a game with myself called “is it asexuality or deeply-seated trust issues?”
    Reading boring sex with trash humans who casually assume ownership over the heroine’s decisions in food they eat, clothing they wear, and sex stuff to try really isn’t making the answer any clearer.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  21. Jo
    Jo

    So, I’m from Argentina and last weekend I was at the Buenos Aires’ Book Fair. I saw the book there (the Spanish translation), but many of the places where they had it were offering it with some kind of discount. One even had a “But The Mister and get a copy of Grey for free!” offer, as if they had a lot of those lying around and they just wanted to be rid of them even if it was by giving them away.

    I checked the best-selling list of one of the country’s biggest bookstore chains and The Mister is not there. Like. Not even at the bottom of it. It’s weird because Fifty Shades was very ubiquitous here in its heyday. This downward trend of the Eel’s popularity seems to be a universal thing, is what I’m saying.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  22. Ulysses
    Ulysses

    2 things: as an English person I’m so confused by James’ writing because I’ve never heard “Danny” as a neutral name here, but also she was referring to trash or garbage in the streets (can’t remember which can’t be bothered to check) where here it would be “rubbish” or “refuse” why doesn’t her writing feel British at all?

    Secondly, most importantly SEX IS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE PAINFUL. Even your first time. She’d already had magical orgasm so she should be pretty wet…. Like why? What’s sexy about pain? Perpetuating this myth is so harmful as young girls just accept painful or just unsatisfying sex as normal. Yes I know first times are often painful and uncomfortable, but that’s usually due to inexperience and tragic foreplay and nerves… None of which were factors here?
    why add this feature in? Whyyyyy?

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • isobel ayres
      isobel ayres

      I know a couple of Danielles who are known as Danni (usually with an i, though), so I don’t think Danny is necessarily unusual.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      First-time sex is often painful. In fact, until I had a baby, it was painful every time if I went too long in between. Some women bleed a lot, some a little, some not at all.

      I’m not defending this author or this book, but women’s body experience things differently and no matter how turned on you might be, first-time sex can be painful for a lot of women and it’s NORMAL.

      I see people comment a lot on this blog about that — that first-time sex is never or should never be painful, that bleeding isn’t a thing. Guess what? Your experience is not universal. And insisting that it is makes you sound just as out of touch and self-centered as Eel. I’m guessing part of her writing about sex is autobiographical. It was quite possibly how she experienced it.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mel
        Mel

        I get that different people have different experiences with sex but I guess I get tired of this being the only way a lot of women’s first times are depicted. It makes a lot of girls think that it’s supposed to be painful or maybe scared of trying. In a lot of cases, if a woman is ready and willing and her partner is caring and listens, the pain/discomfort of your first time can be minimal and a first time can be a good experience and it would be nice to get that kind of representation in media.

        The thing that bugs me most is that in most mainstream media, the woman/girl is most often depicted as nervous and unsure and worried about sex instead of curious and that makes me sad. I often felt alienated or unsure of myself because of how much I wanted to have sex and how often I saw girls being nervous about it or wanting to wait for forever to have it because they were scared and I thought there was something wrong with me for really wanting to experience it.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ulysses
        Ulysses

        Just because it is painful does not mean it should be. I have painful sex for years and then I learned I had vaginismus and now since having therapy it’s much better.
        Having had therapy and spoken to my therapist and literally studied sex as part of my degree I can say for sure that sex should not be painful and we should not be teaching people with vaginas that pain during sex is normal or acceptable.
        This is my point if I had better education I would have told my doctor about the pain much sooner and saved myself ALOT of agony.
        So I’m not generalising my experience. My experiences were very painful.
        But I know now that I should not have put up with it.
        Saying that it shouldn’t be painful does not mean that it never is, its saying that we need to stop acting like it’s a burden we must bear.

        I’m sorry if saying this makes you feel attacked but from what you say about your experiences it sounds like you could have needed some kind of sex therapy or help. Just because you were okay with the pain doesn’t mean we should tell everyone else to be when there is help and recourses available for this.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        In fact, until I had a baby, it was painful every time if I went too long in between.</i.

        I'm with Ulysses; it sounds like there was an issue that possibly could've been resolved with medical help. I'm glad having a baby helped though.

        Guess what? Your experience is not universal. </i.

        Yeah but if people don't bring up frustrations, then things never get re-examined. As you said, the big issue is not giving a well-rounded view. Pain being normal depends on the scenario, the reasons why, and all that jazz. Given how unrealistic EEL's sex scenes are overall, regardless of how autobiographical they might be, it's worth pointing out why her writing fails. The devil is in the details.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
      • Liza
        Liza

        Painful sex is not normal. It is common, yes, but that is not the same thing as normal. Pain is an indicator of any variety of things. It may mean that there is a physical condition that could be addressed. It may mean the person is not feeling it psychologically (ie: maybe they are anxious because it’s their first time). It may mean that there is not enough lubrication/stimulation/etc.

        If we were to tell girls (and boys) that sex should not be painful the first time, that pain is not “normal,” then feeling pain would be a sign to them that something is off, whether that something is physiological, psychological, or interpersonal. They could step back and assess the situation rather than just powering through a painful experience because they’ve been told pain is normal.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
  23. Sushi
    Sushi

    God, every single time I think to myself “maybe I was wrong about the Poldark thing because Ross isn’t a sex-crazed arse and Demelza has an actual personality” Eel does something to confirm that yup, she’s totally cribbing from Poldark and yet somehow managed to mangle every thing about it. Like here with Moss immediately thinking “I’ll have to marry her now.” Yes, Ross married Demelza pretty much immediately after they slept together, but her virginity had nothing to do with it!

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  24. Liza
    Liza

    I get so frustrated with this whole idea of virgin sex = pain. I had no pain my first time. It was a really nice experience. It wasn’t earth shattering. I didn’t orgasm. But it was still good. I want to read more virgin sex scenes like that – where things are nice and good.

    Is there no such thing as a refractory period in EL’s world? I remember this with 50 Shades too. How do these guys get hard literally immediately after orgasm? I don’t get it.

    When did EL visit Albania? For some reason I want to assume it was in the 90s so that I can give her a pass on the whole lack of technology in Kukes thing. Guess I’m feeling particularly generous today.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      I thought they were research trips for this book, so presumably not 1992?

      May 15, 2019
      |Reply
  25. NavigatorBR
    NavigatorBR

    Do we know *when* EL James went to Albania?

    Like were both of her trips in 1992 or something and she didn’t bother to consider or check if the country may have caught up to non-communist countries after almost 30 years?

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Liza
      Liza

      I had the same thought, although I was thinking of it in the context of cell phones (since they weren’t prevalent in the 90s) but it makes sense in the communist context as well. Regardless, the tiniest bit of research into modern day Albania could have solved both issues.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  26. Emerald
    Emerald

    I wonder if Alessia having to tell Moss a second time that her university closed down is him not paying attention or EL not remembering she already put that in there.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  27. Skemono
    Skemono

    At this point I’m assuming EL’s travel agent was someone appalled and horrified by the glorified abuse in 50 Shades, so they booked her on a tour of the local dump and told her it was Albania.

    “There was trash everywhere! And no-one would take my credit card! You couldn’t see the sea anywhere around! I truly have lived the authentic Albanian lifestyle.”

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I was going to say she’d catch on when she saw all those copies of her book but I’m sure Albania is very responsible and they’d be recycled. XD

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  28. KR
    KR

    I’m a virgin , so I obviously don’t have first hand experience in this area, but from what I’ve heard a lot of people don’t actually want the responsibility of having sex with a virgin and the sex is usually not that great. Again, I have no first hand experience, but I can see how it probably won’t be that awesome if one partner is not well versed in what they’re doing, so EL might be lying when Maxim thinks this is the best sex he’s had.
    And what was up with that sad description of what I’m assuming was Maxims flaccid dick? Is that supposed to be hot or sexy? SMH

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  29. Lucy
    Lucy

    She’s supposed to be familiar with English culture, yet thinks “milord “ is Maxim’s surname? Isn’t “nobility “ one of the biggest stereotypes of England (as supposed to its reality, I lived 3 years in England without ever encountering an aristocrat, I must have been running in the wrong circles).
    If she’s been studying English for a long time, why the cutesy speech? It would have been much simpler to indicate that she has a slight accent and leave it that, having her speak normally.
    It’s hard to render a non native speaker ‘s expression believably, but it’s possible if you actually, I don’t know, find someone with experience of teaching English to Albanians, instead of making up stuff like “clever phones” and “how do you say truck “.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  30. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    The first time I tried to have sex, it hurt too much and we stopped. It was not sexy for the guy – he’d start to push in, I’d wince and/or tense up. Not super fun for either of us. We got through it and sex got better. If there was any blood, it was a drop or two. Way less than I’d worry about when on my period.

    This book is so much bullshit. I don’t even know how you’re still reading it.

    May 15, 2019
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  31. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    The word “wanton” seems weird to me. Because I pronounce it the same way I pronounce “wonton”, which is a dumpling. Demelssia feels like food?

    Briefly I wonder if they’re ever going to marry. It’s been legal for long enough. They have no excuse.

    Oh, fark off, Moss! Just because same-gender marriage is legal, and they’re in a long-term relationship, they shouldn’t have to marry if they don’t want to. Fark your relationship norms!

    (If you’re making a stew, I’d suggest mashed or boiled potatoes rather than baked. Ovens use more energy – if you’re going to use it, use all of it – roast potatoes AND roast veggies AND roast meat. Maybe I’ve watched too many cooking shows. I’ve even watched a cooking show wherein a British guy visited Albania!)

    Australia is so backward compared to Albania. I was in a public hospital for a week in March, and there was no free wi-fi!

    I don’t know about characters, but I like to know beforehand if there’s going to be a delicious dessert, so I can alter my dinner-eating accordingly. Got to make room for the good stuff! So just springing banoffee pie on her AFTER she’s eaten main? Dick move.

    Don’t think I’ve read any nose-clitoris scenes before. No wonder Demelssia is scandalised by it. What’s Moss going to do next, put his dick in her ear?

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply
  32. Emma
    Emma

    Having read “Where We Land” and being reminded of how amazingly well you include consent in the sex scenes, it makes me even more annoyed at how EL fails so miserably.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  33. Tatl Tael
    Tatl Tael

    Something particularly annoying about the “clever phone” thing is that, in my (admittedly limited) experience with foreign languages, you’re more likely to learn the phrase “smart phone” than the individual words “clever” and “phone” and then put them together yourself.

    The only reason you’d call it a “clever phone” would be if the Albanian term for a smart phone is literally the Albanian words “smart” “phone” and now you’re translating those words into English hoping that they use the same phrase. It would be like translating an idiom literally and hoping it still makes sense. You’d be more likely to describe what it does–“a phone that has internet”–and let the native speaker provide the correct term for you.

    Also, I don’t know about Albanian, but in a lot of languages, the word for “smartphone” is…”smartphone,” or the closest transliteration that language allows.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • NavigatorBR
      NavigatorBR

      Or, you’d default to down to it’s next most basic form which is a ‘mobile phone’, which a smart phone is still routinely called by people.

      Hell, I rarely call my own phone, a smart phone; unless it’s specifically related to the conversation I’m having like comparing a older (2005 era) mobile phone to a newer (2015 era) mobile phone. I typically just call it a ‘cell phone’ or ‘phone’.

      May 16, 2019
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    • Veronika
      Veronika

      I’m german an we call it a “smartphone”. Or just “handy” (which is the “german” word for “mobile phone” [is it mobile phone or cell phone in the US? Never can remember]).
      I tried a translation website for albanian and it stated, it’s also called “smartphone” in Albania. Not some cute albanian phrase or anything. So she has no reason not to call it “smartphone”.
      Except she perhaps grew up in some cellar, never seeing a sunrise, the sea, smartphones, supermarkets or anything. Perhaps her father kept her locked up before he sold her to the sex-traffic guys. I’m just amazed, he had a university put up in his cellar. 😉

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ethyl
        Ethyl

        In the US, it’s mostly cell phone where I live, but I’ve heard both. In the UK, my understanding is it’s mobile usually, or mobile phone less often.

        And I dunno if you know this but “handy” in the US is slang for manual sex with a penis (as in “Joe gave Jeff a handy in the parking lot”), so definitely make sure you use cell phone or mobile phone while visiting the US 🙂

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Veronika
          Veronika

          😀 I know. Germans like to use faux English all the time. I once saw an advertisement in a magazine. It was for a backpack. Only they called it a “bodybag”. I started to laugh hysterically and had to explain to my friends why.

          May 16, 2019
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          • Ethyl
            Ethyl

            Oh my Lord

            May 16, 2019
        • bewalsh7
          bewalsh7

          As someone living on the East Coast of the US, I agree to both points. It’s usually called a “cell phone” or just “phone”. And don’t use the term “handy”, unless you are actually talking about giving/getting a hand-job.

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ethyl
            Ethyl

            I always prefer “old fashioned” personally lol.

            May 16, 2019
          • Veronika
            Veronika

            I knew “handy” wouldn’t be the right term for a phone. I read and watch a lot of english stuff and also planned to be an english teacher for a while. (Didn’t do it in the end, I’m not the teacher type I guess).

            Didn’t know about the hand-job thing though. I guess that’s just not something they teach us at university. So thanks for that, bewalsh7 and Ethyl.

            May 16, 2019
  34. […]always in her plaid skirt and stout shoes, never in trousers. No. I smile; it’s Jessie, her partner for twelve years, who wears the trousers in that relationship. Briefly I wonder if they’re ever going to marry. It’s been legal for long enough. They have no excuse.

    They don’t need an excuse, you entitled little asshole. It’s called a choice. Not everyone should want or need to get married to be happy.

    That book is more painful than anything that happened at the Red Room of Pain.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  35. Emily, a newbie
    Emily, a newbie

    The more I read of this book, the more I firmly believe that the only logical, sound reasoning for E. L.’s success is that she’s actually a reptilian overlord. She’s what those conspiracy theorists have been warning us about. Her arrival was foretold in the ancient, rambling blog posts of yesteryear. They knew, and we just didn’t listen.

    Also, as soon as I read “He tastes clean. Male.” the first thing out of my mouth was “Holy shit she’s a cannibal.”
    And then I got kinda sad because I realized that immediately made the story more interesting in some fashion, and therefore simply isn’t a thing.
    I’m convinced the steamy (both figuratively and literally) potato-chopping scene was written by someone else. No one can convince me otherwise. Probably an Idahoan, and I say this as an Idahoan. Absolutely nobody else would be that passionate about potatoes.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Alessia turning out to be a cannibal would have been really interesting (and therefore we’ll never heard about it). Someone should write a fanfic about it.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  36. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    It doesn’t bother me too much that she didn’t know what truck meant because sometimes this thing happen, especially if you learn from books – I learnt “disembowlment” and “parallel process” before certain animals for istance, and my German and Spanish also suffer from similiar issues.

    However it’s incredibly insulting that Alessia spent all her life learning English but because she’s a silly foreigner she can’t remember any of it. Like, she’s just biologically unable to learn English, the poor thing.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Raven
      Raven

      I have a similar experience with Japanese. I’ve never had formal lessons, so all the words and phrases I know are things I’ve picked up from watching anime. This means I know some basic things like “hello” “mom” and “dad”, but I don’t know the words for “how” or “why” or any other basic question. On the other hand, I know random words like “mongrel” and “tank” and “grudge”.

      Considering she’s been apparently taught English her whole life, Alessia shouldn’t speak it almost as poorly as I speak Japanese.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        Also if she was studying it at Uni, she had to pass exams where she had to display all her knowledge of English, including her speaking skills. Even if she barely made it, second year it’s at least a B2, upper-intermediate. On top of that it’s her life-long dream to teach English, so she would have done way more than just coursework.

        And… This is the result!

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
  37. Alice
    Alice

    I can’t say how pissed I am at he whole “she’s the whole package, she’s brave and funny and smart and everything”. Where is this heroine? I’d really like to read about her instead. This is so lazy fom the author, you can’t just go “she’s amazing, just believe it!”.

    Why doesn’t Moss ask her why she didn’t go to another university when the first one closed? It’s kind of important to the conversation? It would also explain him asking again when he already knows her university closed.

    She has always been speaking and reading English(going as far as prefering reading in English than Albanian), she studied it as her life goal and yet… She is shownhave big troubles with it sometimes? But I guess she couldn’t have been too confident in herself right?
    If her POV showed us that she speaks very well but that anxiety makes her afraid of mistakes so she sometimes prefer ask a word even if she knows it? And once she feels more at ease, she speaks freely and well?

    Also the whole “we only had an old computer” and everything… I thought she somewhere mentionned watching Netflix and HBO?? (also what does a conservative household can watch on hbo?)

    Also, genuine question here: would her grand-mother really need to smuggle English books? The bibles I understand but would every novels also be banished? Or would only certain subjects be forbidden?

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      She has always been speaking and reading English(going as far as prefering reading in English than Albanian), she studied it as her life goal and yet… She is shownhave big troubles with it sometimes? But I guess she couldn’t have been too confident in herself right?
      If her POV showed us that she speaks very well but that anxiety makes her afraid of mistakes so she sometimes prefer ask a word even if she knows it? And once she feels more at ease, she speaks freely and well?

      Maybe her grandmother wasn’t allowed to teach her, thanks to dad, so she tried to play dumb? And also the English in school would surely be a bit different, more stilted and formal, so it gave her anxiety. Also, you only retain a language if you have someone to speak it with and after Nana died, she might have lost some of her fluency which learning from a college wouldn’t necessarily bolster beyond remembering some of the more common words (like a truck or at least vehicle/car lol.)

      So, it’s possible to make this work and I like your ideas too. It’s super frustrating that EL didn’t see this as an opportunity so much as a solution to keep her from tackling the language barrier in any meaningful way. Clearly, EEL wants to have her exotic cake and to eat it too. Admittedly, I don’t think she has enough interest or skill to make anything more difficult entertaining, and it’s not what people reading a romance necessarily want, so I don’t blame EEL for working around it, but the least she could do is make her excuse sensible by adding in proper details!

      (also what does a conservative household can watch on hbo?)

      Not to mention, most streaming services are limited by the rights they’re willing to pay for. Everything is sold per region, possibly per countries, depending on how it’s broken up, I don’t know the exact details. All I know is that it varies significantly across Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Americas, so it’s possible to be blocked off from a LOT of popular shows on HBO if you’re international. Ten years ago I’m not as sure, it’d depend on how cable handled things then, but it’d depend on which channels were available and which shows they’d bought through syndication.

      If they have an old computer then I doubt her parents would pay for HBO so she’d have to watch that in college (for some reason…) or in England and… Does Magda have money for HBO?

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Well, maybe not HBO originals, but anything they were licensing… 😛

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
      • Alice
        Alice

        James basically wants her heroine to be all soft and innocent (which becomes bad English and childlike behaviour) but she wants to be able to claim she wrote a strong woman who’s not a victim and everything (so piano genius, great English reader, all these talks about her intelligence and humor) but it can’t work since she doesn’t put the work for it (and since i suspect she doesn’t reall want to. She wants to write the first, and is only doing the second as some sort of defense).

        Yeah for HBO there’s also the issue of how it can be accessed in Albania. For example in France we can’t access HBO, but there is a french streaming service who bought the rights for all hbo content. So I don’t know how it works in Albania, but it sounds weird with what we know of her family.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Don’t forget chess! She only knows a little but beats Maxim… which could be a great scene and full of personality for both characters but is just more of the same empty platitudes, I’d guess.

          I didn’t know that about France but that makes sense in retrospect (it’s how the US handles anime.) I’d hazard a guess that Albania has a similar situation then; some streaming service bought the rights to the HBO content but it’d still be a bit expensive and if they just have an old computer and her family is super conservative, I doubt they’d have an account. 🙂

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
  38. Dove
    Dove

    Unless all she was watching was Wheel of Fortune.

    I wish Demelssia watched nothing but that, Jeopardy, and the Price is Right because that’s all her parents found acceptable and she’s a big trivia/puzzle buff. Then when she went to college, she discovered SpongeBob and PAW Patrol (because she’s still the world’s oldest toddler.) She knows truck but can’t bring herself to say it or really remember it because it rhymes with fuck and that embarrasses her Catholic upbringing.

    But that would give her some quirky personality and we can’t have that! ;P

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  39. Amalthea
    Amalthea

    Vaginismus. Why do these authors never consider it? Many women, even women who have given birth, experience it. My hubby and I couldn’t have penetrative sex for years because everything painfully locked down. It’s especially common with women who have experienced trauma, are afraid of childbirth, or have been raised with shame surrounding female sexuality. As a sex trafficking survivor she could well be suffering from that. It would even make for interesting conflict if James cared about building tension and connection between these two.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      That would actually make a really interesting storyline and give our “heroes” something to overcome. Imagine if Moss has madly in love with this woman but caused her intense pain every time he penetrated her? Would he find alternate ways to please them both? Would it be too much for this obvious sex addict to overcome? Would Dimzelda try to “grin and bear” it for the man she loves (is it bear or bare, I can never remember because neither one makes much sense to me)? There might actually be a plot and storyline….ooooooh, that’s why Eel didn’t go that way. Nvm.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Alice
        Alice

        It could also be interesting to have a character understands they have this sort of problems. I mean we’re told so much that periods hurt and everything that so many women don’t realize their level of pain is not normal? Also because doctors just wave it away as ‘this is normal, this is just someone super weak with pain’. But again, not a plot for james.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
      • Knowing Eel, Dimzelda would definitely grin and bear it, and her pain would be framed as super romantic. Someone else could probably write this scenario really well, though–romance is definitely the best genre for exploring sexual problems, and I’d love to see more of it.

        And if it helps, it’s “bear” as in “carry” in the sense of “endure”.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          Thank you. That does help. I always think of it as bear the animal and I’m like “are Bears really good at enduring hardship?”

          And yeah, in Eel’s hands Dimzelda would grin and bear it and Moss would think she was the strongest, bravest woman ever and that thought would give him a hard on and he would help Dimmy prove how brave and strong she is by sticking it in her no matter how much pain it caused, ’cause he’s got a dick and he’s gotta use it!

          In someone else’s hands, however, it could be a very poignant and bittersweet story of sacrifice and love.

          May 16, 2019
          |Reply
  40. I can and will not even start to write down, what that part with the yanked off condom caused in my head.
    The pictures. So hilarious. I want this to be in the movie.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  41. Brian
    Brian

    I’m going to picture him with a bloody “There’s Something About Mary” cowlick from now on.

    Thanks, eel.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
  42. I’ve decided things make a bit more sense if I make the following assumptions:
    1. All that blood after sex? That’s because Moss stripped off a layer of his skin using that condom off.
    2. The reason he thinks the sex is so much better than coke is because his dealer has been taking his money and selling him chalk powder instead.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
  43. Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)
    Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)

    >>One day. One day! ONE DAY!>>

    o/` Sweet Caroline, DAH DAH DAH o/`

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
  44. Mylissa
    Mylissa

    Maybe I’ve misremembered the recap, but didn’t Delmessia masturbate in an earlier chapter? Obviously women are all different, but presumably she’s had an orgasm before sex with Maxim? Isn’t that the point of masturbation? Is eel trying to tell me that Maxim is so good with his dick that penetrative sex with him is way better than all clitoral stimulation orgasms – because in no universe do I buy that. I feel like she’s TRYING to tell me that Delmessia is having sex with someone she cares about and who cares about her and that is what makes that orgasm special, but she’s not talented enough as a writer for that.

    As a fanfic writer, I feel like I learned some stuff from this recap, to make sure if/when I write any smut, if it starts getting boring I might as well fade to black.

    May 20, 2019
    |Reply

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