Skip to content

Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter sixteen or, “Shop ’til you drop (dead of boredom)”

Posted in Uncategorized

I apologize for the shortness of this recap, but the chapter is short and pretty much unnecessary until the last page.

In which we open the chapter with someone waking up.

The warmth of her body seeps into mine. Enjoying the feel of her skin on my skin, I open my eyes to greet the misty morning and the lovely Alessia. She’s fast asleep and curled around me like a fern, her hand on my belly, her head on my chest. My arm is wrapped possessively around her shoulders, holding her close, and she’s naked.

Setting aside the part where “naked” was already implied by “skin on my skin,” remember how in Fifty Shades of Grey nearly every single chapter began with Ana waking up and ended with her going to sleep? There’s nothing wrong with starting a chapter with someone waking up (in fact, one of my favorite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, begins with the protagonist waking up), but when it becomes an over and over and over again pattern, it makes the book feel longer. I really feel like doing this consistently, every single chapter, tricks the brain into believing it’s been reading all day long, even when it hasn’t. It also provides a reader with a natural stopping point, when you want them to keep turning pages. My advice: use this sparingly. Let your characters get in bed, sure, but don’t necessarily put your reader in the POV of drifting off to sleep. Stop before their eyes close. This is really difficult to do in romance novels, and I find myself using the sleep/wake device more often than I’d like, so learn from my mistakes and E.L. James’s infuriating patterns.

Anyway, it’s implied that they have morning sex, then we cut to:

The sun is shining. The air is crisp and cold. “No Diggity” blares over the sound system as I drive up the A39 toward Padstow.

I have never. In my life. Laughed so hard at something so unintentionally funny in a book before. “I need a really cool song to show how hip and sexy my hero is,” thought the author. “Aha! I have just the thing.”

Anyway, Moss skips going to church with Demelssia because she might find out he’s an earl, so they’re off on a drive.

She flashes me a quick crotch-tightening grin.

That’s her superpower. The dread crotch-tightening grin.

Man, she is captivating.

Man, captivating seems like the only adjective E.L. James knows.

Moss thinks about how sexy Demelssia was in bed, and he’s like, she seemed to enjoy the sex. Which. Okay, if “seemed to enjoy” is where you’re setting the bar, I guess.

My blood heads south at the thought.

Moss is suffering from priapism and it’s only getting worse. Like, come on. One’s dick can only get so hard before it becomes a medical emergency. I’m just imagining the end of his penis blowing out like an overcooked hot dog. Which I think is a description I applied to Christian Grey, so the hits keep coming.

I feel buoyant–[…]

Then get in the sea and let’s find out.

So, they’re going on a shopping trip so he can buy her clothes. And of course, she doesn’t want him to buy her anything because she has her pride or whatever. Like, that pride didn’t stop her from taking hand-me-downs and a free place to live and round-the-clock protection for her friends and a sexy escape to a luxury hideaway, but clothing is where we’re drawing this line.

I sigh. “They are a gift for all your hard work–”

“They are a gift because I have sexual intercourse with you.”

We have to know that she’s not prostituting herself. We have to know that our heroine would never do that.

Honestly, this detail wouldn’t bother me at all if she was like, no, I don’t want to feel like I owe you anything. But that’s not how it’s framed. The implication is that it’s bad to accept gifts from men you’re having sex with because then it’s transactional and therefore, shameful.

I try a different tack. “I’m going to buy them for you anyway, whether you’re there or not. So you can come with me and choose something you like or leave it to me.”

The different tack, see, is him steamrolling over her wishes.

We go into Demelssia’s POV, where she decides that no, Moss is right.

She trots beside him along the quay, trying to ignore the scandalized voice of her mother that rings in her head.

He is not your husband. He is not your husband.

She shakes her head.

Enough!

She’s not going to let her absent mother make her feel guilty. She is in England now. She is free. Like an English girl.

Remember how we just heard in the last chapter all about how she doesn’t feel any shame? What happened to that? Also, pronoun-wise, her mother is in England now.

Demelssia thinks sexy thoughts about Moss while they walk through the streets of Padstow.

Padstow is a filming location for Poldark.

Moving on.

Alessia is amazed people can express their affection so freely on the streets. It is not the same in Kukës.

This has finally helped me put my finger on what bugs me about the depiction of Albania. There is no distinction made between cultural norms and law. The heavy emphasis on, “This was forbidden by law, that was dangerous to do under communism” is never distinct from, “We don’t do that.” It’s not that people in Albanian aren’t allowed to express affection in public. There aren’t laws or penalties for doing so, at least, that I can find through deep googling. It’s just not a cultural norm. More of a, “What would the neighbors think” issue that wouldn’t exist for someone who lived in a less-strict family. But when it’s phrased this way, it sounds like a definite law. It sounds like, okay, this thing is totally forbidden, when it isn’t. It just isn’t a part of life the way it is in other places.

They go into a store in Moss’s POV:

Alessia is hanging on my arm like a limpet.

Ah, what woman wouldn’t swoon to be described thus?

A young sales assistant approaches us. Blond and breezy […]

Uh-oh.

The sales assistant, Sarah, is immediately helpful. You know, so we can finally find out just how thin Demelssia is.

“I think you’re a small, either a UK size eight or ten.”

That’s a US size six or eight. In other words, totally inconsistent with our previous “a fourteen-year-old’s pajama hand-me-down fits” description.

While Alessia tries on some clothes, Moss thinks about how she’s Not Like Other Girls™:

I’ve been shopping with women before, but they’ve always known what they wanted. I am dragged along on these trips either to pay or to give an opinion that will be ignored.

Pfff. Women. Am I right?

He considers sending her shopping with Caroline in London. You know. The place where the kidnappers are? Then he’s like, oh wait, no can’t do that.

I frown. What am I doing?

I’m fucking my daily. That’s what I’m doing.

In my mind I hear her cry as she orgasms. My dick hardens at the memory.

Dude, do you need to go to the hospital?

Yes. I’m fucking her, and I want to do it again.

That’s why I’m here.

In the women’s clothing store? I don’t think Blonde Sarah is going to be thrilled with that. I doubt she gets paid enough to wipe the ensuing arterial spray off the walls.

He thinks about how this shopping trip is “redistribution of wealth,” and I immediately begin construction on a guillotine. Then he picks out a dress for her and she tries it on. Obviously, she’s the most gorgeous woman who ever gorgeoused:

Her hair cascades down below her breasts, which are swathed in a soft fabric that clings.

Everywhere.

Breasts. Flat stomach. Hips. The dress stops short at her knees, and she’s barefoot. She looks sensational–a little older, maybe, but more womanly and sophisticated.

Damn, I guess now that she doesn’t look like a child, his erection can go away.

The fabric clings to her arse, too.

Well, Moss, it would be kind of a fucking weird dress if it was tight all over but baggy in the ass.

The weirdest thing happens in this chapter, you guys. After Moss pays for the clothes (in Demelssia’s POV so we can hear how much money he’s spent on her and more about how Albanians would never kiss in public), they leave the store without the blonde woman hitting on Moss.

I know. I got lightheaded, too. I think the simulation is truly failing.

Moss decides Demelssia needs shoes, too. In his POV. I shit you not, there are seven POV switches in this single chapter.

Ah. Shoes…the way to every woman’s heart.

Women be shoppin’. Am I right?

(Please tell me that reference isn’t too old.)

I’m skipping over a lot of the shopping because we really don’t have to care about the boots they buy, other than Moss’s disappointment that they can’t find “high-heeled fuck-me shoes” for her to wear. He suggests they recycle her old boots, but they’re the only thing she has from Albania, so he says they’ll have them resoled, instead.

Alessia tries not to dwell on Maxim’s generosity. It is rude in her culture to reject a gift, but she knows what her father would call her if he knew what she was doing. He would either kill her or have a heart attack. Probably both. She’d already dishonored him, and until recently she had the bruises to prove it. Once again she wishes he were more open-minded–and less violent.

So, her father is abusive, and over lunch in Moss’s POV, she tells him:

“You buy me all these things, and I can never pay you the money. And I don’t know what will happen to me when we go back to London. And I am thinking about my father and what he would do to me”–she pauses and swallows–”and to you, if he knew what we had done. I know what he would call me. And I’m tired. I’m tired of being afraid.”

How does Moss respond to this?

“That’s a lot to think about.”

He does go on to tell her that he wants to make sure she’s okay, and she’s like, okay, I’m grateful for that.

Her response angers me. I don’t want her gratitude. I think she’s got some old-fashioned notion about being my mistress. And what her father has to do with us, I don’t know. It’s 2019, not 1819.

…but so far, Demelssia has consistently been portrayed as an NPC from a Fiddler on the Roof LARP or something, so IDK why this is all a big, sudden shock.

What do I want? From her?

I’ve had her beautiful body.

And it’s not enough.

It hits me.

Her beautiful body?

Like a sledgehammer. Right between the eyes.

Ah, if only.

I want her heart.

Fuck.

So, they’re in love now, I guess. Whee.

My Impression So Far: The more this book goes on, the more it reads like a reskin of Fifty Shades of Grey but with a different type of kidnapper and some Poldark for extremely bland seasoning. We’ve also spent more time in this chapter focusing on what he’s buying for her and how sexy she looks in it than we do on his reaction to the revelation that she’s been abused. It’s more important to know that our hero’s dick is hard than it is to know what he’s going to do to protect Alessia, aside from sweeping her away on vacation and buying her things. This absolutely tracks with the author’s style, so IDK what I was expecting.

Did you enjoy this post?

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

Or, consider becoming a Patreon patron!

97 Comments

  1. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    Yup, our polite badly dressed Armenian phoneless ATM-less antagonists have been missing so long they’re definitely in cold case territory. But if this keeps up, I’d say it’s looking more and more like we may have to start carbon-dating the evidence to get any information on their whereabouts . . . .

    (Car 54 where are you ? . . . . .)

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

      Jenny, for your edification, the book has slipped to #10 on the Publisher’s Weekly list this week, down from #7 last week, and the NYT list it went down to #7. In terms of actual numbers of books sold, down this week to 24,173 from 32,000 the week before.

      So I think reality is starting to set in, even to her die-hard fans.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I’m seriously wondering if she did a smarter version of what Lani Sarem tried to pull off and then her actual fans kept praising it, people got curious, it started angry discussions about safe sex and BDSM, more people got curious, it kept rising in the ranks via book clubs and all the discussion surrounding it, until it hit #1 and then EEL secured a movie deal which got more people curious about the books. Like, not saying the first ones were that much better, but she was relying waaaaay too much on her name and didn’t do the work to drum up interest. It makes me wonder if she knew this was a dud but she saw her finances dwindling, her name was dying down, and she didn’t have the third POS installment of Chedward’s POV ready so she dropped this turd in the hopes that even as a flop it’d make her more money than it cost to print/digitize. She might be buying good reviews for it but I suspect that’s cheap and she only wanted it to be ranked high enough to not be below a 3 star or something at the end of the day.

        Considering she said she’d only continue this novel as a series if it sparked interest she’s definitely taking the fanfiction approach of letting it sink or swim based on response.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Er sorry, regarding her success with 50 Shades of Grey. Just realized that might’ve been confusing.

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I’m assuming they were a mass hallucination at this point. They never existed.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Errapel
      Errapel

      I imagine they’ll be back just as soon as EEL needs some manufactured drama.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      What makes this so much worse is how the entire reason they fled to Cornwall was that Allesia’s life was in danger from those men and Moss keeps wanting to send her BACK by herself and keeps forgetting that her life is in danger. It’s just so inconvenient, I guess?

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Well, they were very polite and took his word for it when he said she wasn’t there, so these guys are pint-sized Sta-Puff’d marshmallow men. So there’s probably no danger in going back . . . . . Besides, we have to make sure no one drained the Thames, right? 🙂

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Quizzabella
      Quizzabella

      “I think you’re a small, either a UK size eight or ten”. Yeah.. I’m a Brit and a size ten to twelve (it really depends on where you shop). I am in no way an emaciated waif. From the way Allessia is described I’d put her at a size six and quite dangerously underweight (but somehow is all curvy at the same time? ). The Poldark references are hilarious, what is seen can not be unseen. Where is a cantering horse on the clifftops though? Perhaps she might save that for last. Thanks for the reviews, they certainly make me giggle.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
  2. How can they not find a shop which sells high heels in a town like Padstow? Ugh, now she’s making Cornwall sound like a provincial backwater as well as Albania. Oh, wait… no, it’s OK. She’s just writing in Poldark-era Cornwall again.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  3. Rachel
    Rachel

    Wait… they go to Padstow to go shoe shopping? Shoe shopping? Padstow is my hometown and I can never recall ever getting a pair of shoes from there! Yes, you can buy shoes there, but I doubt even the locals go shoe shopping unless it’s an emergency! One of my childhood highlights was going to Truro in the summer for shoes and trainers because there is so much more of a selection there. I don’t even remember going into town for a cheap pair of jelly shoes, so I doubt that the selection is that great.

    Does she know what Padstow has? The national lobster hatchery. Not as exciting, but it would have been more realistic to go to. Or seagulls.

    This book should be making me homesick for Cornwall, but it’s not. I bet she gets flown into Cornwall when she stays there and she probably doesn’t even venture out into town with the swarms of people.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Padstow is one of my favourite places and she’s ruining it for me.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
  4. I’m assuming we also get more descriptions of how expensive the food is at lunch, him demanding she eats, and what wine he chooses, too, because Eel is more repetitive than babies eating and shitting.

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

    “I think you’re a small, either a UK size eight or ten.”

    Because in the UK, they would definitely specify that UK sizes are being used, there, in the UK. UKishly.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • That’s exactly what I thought! She’s so obviously writing for an American audience with one eye on selling the screenplay. She’ll probably insist on the London scenes all taking place outside Buckingham Palace with a Beefeater, a Palace Guard and a Pearly King all having a cup of tea in the background. Gotta flog that British cliche horse. Because fuck remembering where she came from, right?

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        “outside Buckingham Palace with a Beefeater, a Palace Guard and a Pearly King all having a cup of tea in the background.”

        I’d rather watch two hours of that than ten seconds of this book as a movie. Honestly, a movie this shitfest would just be Moss’s dick going hard/soft/hard/soft, then some blood and a Pretty Woman shopping montage. Then we can have two vaguely eastern European goons walking along the Thames eating a Cornetto as he thinks about the life choices he made that led him to this.

        May 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Tami Marie Alexander
          Tami Marie Alexander

          And then a group of Kali worshippers show up and try to cut off Ringo’s finger.

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
          • Heidi Aphrodite
            Heidi Aphrodite

            50 points to Gryffindor! And at least five internets! My mouth was full of chicken strips or I would have laughed out loud in a very quiet office!

            “He is not the Beatle with the ring, he!”

            May 17, 2019
      • Nanani
        Nanani

        The Thames will be in every scene. Even the Cornwall scenes. You can see it from his room after all.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      I thought that, too. Nobody in the US says, “Yeah, I wear a US size 24…” Seriously, who does that, anywhere?

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • A. Noyd
        A. Noyd

        Who can say what size they wear at all anymore?! Sizing is all over the place within a single brand, never mind an entire country.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          God, yes. I wish women’s clothing was more like men’s. If you know your measurements, then it should fit.

          It’s possible for a salesperson to mention that the UK sizing is different but I’d assume it was a store hit up by a lot of international traffic. She wouldn’t just say it like that unless Demellsia mentioned continental Europe sizing or something or the salesperson went into what those sizes might be in other countries based on the accent. I’m assuming the text didn’t do that so it’s just weird (plus I sort of doubt Cornwall has a big international airport hub.)

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
          • Anon
            Anon

            @Dove —

            You would think that would be the case with men’s clothing, but it’s not at all. I’ve been shopping enough with my husband to know that what it says and how it fits even for men are two different things.

            We also have the added problem of women’s body shapes being so different where *most* men are pretty much just straight up and down.

            I’d be happy with just the exact same style of pants in the exact same brand fitting the same. At least then once you found something that worked, you could buy multiples or different colors without having to try every single thing on.

            May 17, 2019
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      The only time I’ve heard people specify which country’s sizes they’re using is when they’re shopping in a foreign country and actively trying to work out the conversion. Maaaaybe recently after returning from a long stay abroad and readjusting.

      Neither of those work because it’s the sales lady saying this rather than the actual foreign person in the scene.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Rhiannon
      Rhiannon

      I don’t actually have such a problem with that, because she might not have bought any clothes in the UK before and I assume they have European sizes in Albania (eg 38, 40) so he might be explaining the UK sizes to her.

      May 20, 2019
      |Reply
    • Larissa
      Larissa

      Beautiful.

      **Belts out Titanium in every key but the correct one**

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Rachel
    Rachel

    You know, the whole angle of Alessia feeling badly or awkward about the gifts because it smacks of prostitution to her could have been really interesting. So of course it’s glossed over by the narrative because it’s more important that we know every single time that Maxim gets a boner.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Let’s talk, too, about how skillfully Eel connected the sex trafficking survivor’s experiences and perspectives with “feeling like a prostitute” in this case, too-

      Oh. Wait.

      May 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • JessC
      JessC

      Isn’t it the same problem that Ana had in 50Shades? That having stuff bought for her made her feel like a ‘ho’?

      Your point is good, but the whole plot beat feels just like treading back over old ground.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • J.
        J.

        She did and it was just another excuse for James to make them fight so they could have lukewarm makeup sex. But it doesnt work here because we have no real idea how it makes Demelissa feel and James has pretty much established we shouldn’t care. Demelissa’s 10x the doormat Ana ever was with 1/4 the personality (and Ana didn’t have much to begin with so that’s saying a lot). Shes just going to do whatever pleases the mister no matter what and how the fuck is this a female sexual fantasy? Unless it’s to be a slave?! How??

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Sadly, a lot of FSOG fans think it would be the peak of female empowerment and hotness to be a man’s slave and let him pay for everything and buy you everything and control everything so your ladybrain doesn’t have to worry about nuthin’.

          I’m perfectly aware that there are cases where M/s or “giving up power” can work in healthy ways, but EL James and her fans have never, ever come close to that dynamic.

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
  7. amblonyxx
    amblonyxx

    I choked on my coffee at “No Diggity”. Did she just google “cool song for 30-something adults”?

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Bunny
    Bunny

    I was sorta hoping for Alessia to pick out an oversize spandex sweater or some other clothing item similarly large, hooded, and flexible.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Bookdragonette
      Bookdragonette

      Pfft, like Moss would pay for something like that. It’s not about her comforts, her clothes should make his dick stand up.

      May 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • J.
        J.

        But what if Moss is kinda weird and large, hooded, flexible sweats are secretly his turn on? He did grow a chubby because of that nylon housecoat.

        May 20, 2019
        |Reply
  9. Bunny
    Bunny

    I just cannot stop laughing at your “I’m just imagining the end of his penis blowing out like an overcooked hot dog” and “Dude, do you need to go to the hospital?” This book is ridiculously bad, I’m so glad we have you to make it bearable for us 😀

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  10. Jenn H
    Jenn H

    The whole “lets get her out of those concealing clothing and into something skimpy” thing is really bothering me. Like, she should wear what she wants and what she is comfortable in. But I don’t get the feeling that her choice in clothing is really hers. It more feels like she is dressing for the benefit of Moss. Which is fine if she really wants to, but still feels a bit squicky. She is being encouraged to reveal more than she would otherwise have been willing to.

    And of course she is gorgeous once she is out of those baggy clothes.

    May 16, 2019
    |Reply
  11. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    Okay, because I will never — ever — fucking read this piece of shit, and I appreciate Jenny for falling on that sword over and over…and over (power of three!)…I have a question:

    At any point, while Alessia is trying on clothes and modeling them — especially the clingy short one — does she ever get really self-conscious and nervous about being on display? Because that’s what happens to most people who have been sexually abused (especially those who were trafficked because they would have to be shown off for the prospective buyer). Yes, he’s seen her naked and they’ve had sex, but being on display can still be a PTSD trigger. And by all rights, Alessia should have PTSD, she already shows earmarks with her fear of the dark. Whatever the “bad smell” is that she can’t bring herself to identify will be another trigger if she gets a whiff of it, again.

    I realize all of this may be expecting WAY too much from EL James. Her female characters are, as has been pointed out numerous times, only there to bask in the glow of the male protagonist and worship his Magical Instant-Rejuvenating Erection.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      How great would it be for Eel to explore the fact that she just became the very thing she was trying to run from? Basically, a man she barely knows took her to a place she’s never been and has her locked away in his house where he can fuck her whenever he wants and now he’s buying her clothes to make her more appealing to him. Moss just sex trafficked her. But he’s hot, and rich so it’s supposed to be sexy or romantic or something other than what it is which is abduction.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        And as far as we know… Magda and Michal have no idea where she is. No one does, except Danny (who had to carry food from one house to the other because Moss apparently didn’t instruct her or she didn’t think to put stuff into the fridge before he arrived… even though the pianos are always tuned.)

        Ick. Maybe Moss hired those guys to show up at his door and he lucked out; one of them strongly resembled the guy that Demelssia recognizes. (Not impossible, especially since she ran as soon as she saw them.)

        I’m still wondering how the fuck soon we get to her being kidnapped (I mean, rescued) and taken back to Albania because this stuff isn’t just gross when you examine it up close but that same lack of self-awareness (or willful ignorance in EEL’s case, most likely) is really tedious. Supposedly, based on at least one Amazon review, Demellsia grows a spine after that and she might have more chemistry with her ex-boyfriend. I can only assume that’s because we won’t see all the internal dialog about his dick hiccuping and slithering around the Thames.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • IMC
      IMC

      The thing is… she hasn’t really been trafficked. Technically.
      She hitched a ride to England with a bunch of other young, attractive girls, they stopped at a rest station where they were told to clean up, she overheard that they were actually being trafficked, and she ran for it. From what I’ve gathered from these reviews, she had no idea of what was going on until that rest stop. Unless the reviews skipped the fact that she had overheard her traders throughout the whole journey and was finally able to make a run for it at the rest stop.
      But even then, she never had any experience of what being trafficked and sold for prostitution actually entails, besides the journey over. And the journey itself must not have been particularly terrible if none of the other girls believed her, when she told them they were being trafficked.
      Her trauma should come much more from her having an abusive father and boyfriend, and from having trusted the wrong people on the journey over and being on the run and an illegal immigrant, which is all mostly glossed over while we get some dubious and ambivalent representation of traffic trauma… which is both inconsistent in its representation and origin. Bleargh.

      May 20, 2019
      |Reply
  12. Dvärghundspossen
    Dvärghundspossen

    Maybe she’s trying to do that scene in Jane Eyre where Jane is really uncomfortable about Rochester buying her expensive clothes? Of course, Jane stuck to her guns…

    Also, James’ obsession with her heroines’ slimness is weird to begin with, but it kind of becomes extra sad when you realize James herself is pretty fat. And then goes on and on and on about “she’s super slim and therefore SO HOT, so incredibly sexy in her super duper slim body!”

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dvärghundspossen
      Dvärghundspossen

      *Looking at pics of James again* Ok I kind of misremembered a bit what she looks like… but still: From the descriptions of Ana and Alessia and how slim they are, you kind of get the impression that they’re like 1/3 of James’ size. If she’d looked like them herself and wrote the way she does, then you’d think she was just full of herself. Now it comes off as some kind of weird self-hate. Because it’s not just mentioned here and there that oh, btw, Ana is slim and Alessia is slim; she makes such a big deal out of it.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Maybe she’s trying to do that scene in Jane Eyre where Jane is really uncomfortable about Rochester buying her expensive clothes? Of course, Jane stuck to her guns…

      I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the fandom gave her that idea and it mutated into what it was in the original fanfic and 50 Shades. Now she’s just milking it for all it’s worth because it’s “fitting” in spite of her using it just as awkwardly here (but for different reasons.)

      Per James, yeah, it’s like… learn to love yourself or try talking to someone about a fitness plan. She could hire a personal trainer at this point. I mean, nothing wrong with writing characters who are your ideal or a body type you’d like to explore but she handles thinness like she handles Maxim’s dick… it’s a one-note attempt at characterization that falls deeply flat because there’s no real thought behind it. She’s trying to make this novel a paint by numbers picture at best.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Er, I do understand that losing weight can be very hard btw (and I did read your additional comment that she’s not super fat.) But unless she wasted all of her money from her prior successes, she could get some help in this department. Money can work wonders for improving your diet (possibly even hiring a cook if desired) and hiring someone to give you the best advice, the best plan tailored to your personal needs and schedule, help you target the areas you’re most self-conscious about, and help you stay motivated. Maybe she doesn’t like exercising (I don’t hate it but getting up the energy can be hard for me) but that’s why you get other people to help you out. Even if she doesn’t have that much money, she could join a good gym and workout with friends or family.

        Or maybe she’s one of those people who’s metabolism makes it insanely hard to see progress. That’s also possible. Her body could be against her every step of the way, but if that’s the case, just get within a healthy range, stay there, and get some therapy to cope with it. I would hazard a guess that her writing hasn’t helped her self-image.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dvärghundspossen
          Dvärghundspossen

          I definitely don’t wanna say that others should lose weight, because there’s lots of both testimony and scientific research on how hard that can be. BUT it’s still weird and sad to stress over and over again that your heroines look really different from you and THEREFORE are super hot.

          Just… cut down on the weird slimness fetish in the novels. The heroines can be described as stunning without this.

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
          • This is exactly why I don’t overly-describe my MCs’ body types. If you want to picture them at any weight, go ahead. I’m sure I’ll address the issue differently in future works — as a fat chick myself, it’s important — but that means I also understand how being raised in almost the same era as Mrs. Leonard, with Sweet Valley High and VC Andrews and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s super-slim, super-beautiful heroines, might affect the way one sees value and beauty in fictional women. Namely, they think it “won’t sell” or “readers don’t want to read” if she’s not skinny and gorgeous and perfect because quack quack quack internalized misogyny.

            May 17, 2019
          • Dvärghundspossen
            Dvärghundspossen

            Emily: Yeah right, Andrews’ BALLERINAS who are super slim but still got BIG BOOBS. Like, raise your hands, everyone who has EVER seen a stacked ballerina…

            May 18, 2019
    • Anon
      Anon

      But the size clothing Alessia wears isn’t even super thin. I mean, it’s a reasonably thin size, but not overly-so. I’m 5’3″ and wear the sizes described when I weigh about 130-140 pounds. Not overweight, but still at the high end of the “normal” range on the BMI scale.

      When I was younger and much smaller, I wore size US 3 in the 1990s at about 110 pounds.So Alessia isn’t that small. Which makes the harping on how tiny she is that much more odd.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dvärghundspossen
        Dvärghundspossen

        Yeah that’s also weird, but maybe it’s just lack of research? All the Albania stuff shows how extremely lazy James is when it comes to research. Like she talked in interviews about how hard it was to find stuff out about Albania, when Jenny could Google everything in like five seconds. So maybe James just went “hm, I wonder what size super slim people wear? Should I find a super slim person and ask her? Or try to Google? Nah, too hard, I’m just gonna throw something out there and hope it makes sense.”

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
  13. Carla
    Carla

    I’m surprised that she’s a size 8/10, obviously she’s still slim, but that’s nowhere near as waifish as I had imagined! From the way Alessia has previously been described I was expecting some sort of, “Oh, you’re so tiny, I’m not even sure if we have your size in stock, this xs might be too big on you!” But I guess that’s not as sexy as everything fitting her and ‘clinging’ perfectly?

    Also, important detail to know about the clingy dress…was it plum???

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Seraphina Bellemonte
      Seraphina Bellemonte

      Not gonna lie. I had the same thought. I thought she was, like, a size 4 at most because of all the emphasis on just how thin she was. I guess I was imagining, like, I don’t know. A pale, doe-eyed Victorian woman wasting away from consumption that can only be cured via the magical sex powers of discount Dorian Gray, I guess.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Lucy
        Lucy

        But then she’d have no boobs or butt and we can’t have that, she wouldn’t be “all woman “ then. You need, somehow, to be tiny, super skinny and curvy all together.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          It’d be interesting if we found out Demellsia wears corsets 24/7 and that’s her preference because it makes her feel good about herself. It’s her only article of clothing from Albania/the first hand-me-down Michal gave her that she cherishes.

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          @Lucy —

          She COULD be that tiny and also have a butt and boobs. I’m an extreme hourglass (a la Marilyn Monroe proportions). Thanks to age and a faulty thyroid, I’m hardly that thin these days, but I was when I was young. Wearing a size 3, I was still a DD cup and had hips and at least a little bit of a butt. Not “Baby Got Back” butt, but there has always been at least some padding back there. So you CAN be both.

          But, I agree (and commented above) that size 8-10 UK (6-8 US) is not what I was expecting from the previous descriptions! It’s thin, but not overly so.

          May 17, 2019
          |Reply
    • licoricepencil
      licoricepencil

      Alessia is basically my size according to this chapter and “curvy” and “all woman” are not words someone would use to describe me. Hah! #selfown

      I’ll (somewhat) forgive the waiflike descriptions because I’m pretty much the same size as I was in high school (I would still wear my high school jeans if not for them getting a hole in the crotch from being worn/washed for so long) and my friends used to jokingly state a thing’s length and size by how many licoricepencil’s it was. “How long’s the table?” “Oh about two licoricepencil’s.” “How much can you lift?” *cue me suddenly being lifted into the air* “Could probably benchpress three licoricepencil’s.”

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
  14. Izzy
    Izzy

    “She’s fast asleep and curled around me like a fern.” For the love of God, just because you said fern instead of ivy, doesn’t mean you’re fooling anyone.

    I think James just forgot to write the blonde sales lady hitting on Moss because obviously that happened. How can anyone resist?

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • H
      H

      Do ferns even wrap around things?

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Their leaves start out curled up pretty tightly so maybe she means that. Doesn’t work well here though does it?

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Blonde sales lady and Megan are my favorite characters, followed by headcanon super fat Michal.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Stormy
      Stormy

      Ha, I was looking to see if anyone else had commented on that. In my head, she used “curled around me like ivy”, someone pointed out that she used that phrase all over in 50SoG, and she just went “Uhhhhh…like a fern, then” and moved on.

      May 18, 2019
      |Reply
  15. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    >Alessia is amazed people can express their affection so freely on the streets. It is not the same in Kukës.

    It really sounds like David Attenbourgh should be saying this.

    Also this “English people are so free with their affection” thing just sounds incredibly funny to me because I keep picturing the face of my English roommate when at a party a bunch of people came to kiss me goodbye.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenn H
      Jenn H

      The broad, sweeping statements about a country that EL James is not familiar with are jarring. The best she can come up with are broad (and horribly inaccurate) stereotypes and a tourist’s superficial impression.

      I think it is an important lesson on how not to write characters from backgrounds that you aren’t familiar with. Not only should you do your research, but those characters have to be individuals first rather than representatives of their category. How many times a chapter does Alessia remind us that she is Albanian?

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Right! And the worst part is that she could differentiate Demellsia and be less broad if she’d just let the heroine go into more detail. But no… she prefers Moss’s POV because it’s easy: it allows her to dip in and then run away before Demellsia has to go into more depth. This is the one time I almost wish we had info-dumps. At least then we’d know EEL did the work! And it would have to be more interesting than the plot, even if it were handled in a very dry, high school essay manner.

        May 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I have a few ex-pat English friends. They’re all huggers, but one of the men is over-the-top affectionate. Think stereotypical gay man affectionate (but he’s straight). Kisses, hugs, loud and exuberant exclamations, calls everyone, “Darling.”

      Maybe all the British people Eel knows are like my friend? lol

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
  16. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    Sigh. Why are James’ ‘heroes’ always so horrified at idea of falling in love. At least with Christian it made some sort of sense. Here, though? Not so much. It’s just manufactured drama. Which we don’t need because we’ve got perfectly good drama in the form of our antagonists, but James seems to have forgotten about them.

    Just… date your daily, you insufferable git. (And stop calling her your daily while you’re at it.) You like each other (god knows why, but you do), the guys who are after her obviously pose no threat whatsoever and who the fuck cares that you’re an earl? Seriously.

    “And they lived happily ever after – him steamrolling over her wishes; her never learning the word ‘truck’. The end.”

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      One day she writes a sequel, where Allessia learns “fuck a truck” and Maxim is furious because he keeps telling her it’s “fuck a duck.”

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Crystal
      Crystal

      Ngl, I would read that fanfic.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      Again, GMTA. I found myself scowling at his constant reference to her as “my daily” even after they’ve been banging all night. I guess that could be why he keeps getting a rager: he’s got the ol’ “Maid Sex Fantasy” going on, there. Surprised he hasn’t bought her a little black and white costume with big pink panties to dress up in.

      This whole book is just bang-your-head-against-a-wall-repeatedly stupid. I cannot believe there are people out there who think it’s good. If this is the height where they set the bar for good writers and literature, then it’s no wonder the human race is doomed. EL James fans need to stop breeding immediately and henceforth be banned from playing in the gene pool.

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
  17. Petra47
    Petra47

    1. It’s true… Women DO shop… 😀 😀

    2. Just popping by to say I just finished Where We Land, and my only gripe is that it wasn’t longer. <3 <3 <3 I loved EVERYTHING about it. EVERYTHING.

    Thank you for being you.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
  18. Alice
    Alice

    What’s ironic is that I was kind of hoping for a shopping scene, but of course not like that. More about Alessia being able to try things to discover what she likes, what her own style is, and less ‘this is what to wear to be sexy’. And seriously f*** Moss about the shoes not being the super high sexy heel or whatever.
    Either you want this shopping scene to bring tension, and bad memories, and question their relationship and you fully develop that OR you want a fun lighthearted scene a la Pretty Woman, don’t just do some weird mix where she has a few issues and we don’t really get to those and he doesn’t care.

    Also, I am a woman and shoes are not the way to my heart Moss… I guess since the blonde wasn’t a seductive whore we had to get some stereotype about women somewhere.

    The whole thing about public affection… Like every thing else, it feels so much “obviously Englandis way better than Albania” and it’s… so annoying! Don’t mistake forced laws with culture! Different cultures have different perspective on affection and touching in public, but they are not wrong or right, it’s jus different! In some countries you’ll easily touch even people you’ve just met, in others it would seem super weird. Stop having Albania being just this backward place!

    And the way Moss reacts when she talks about her issues and her dad… How much more insufferable can you get? How are we supposed to root for this ‘hero’ when these are his thoughts when she opens up a bit about difficult things? She is worried about the future, what happens when the nice vacation ends and they go back to London, she basically says her father is abusive, or at least a conservative figure scaring her still, and he goes “that’s a lot to think about”???? Not “I won’t abandon you in London I’ve got your back”, “I want to help you not being afraid anymore”, anything really but that?? And this is supposed to be love?

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Emily, a newbie
    Emily, a newbie

    I just…really want to know what possessed E. L. to include the sex trafficking element into this story. It doesn’t even play a huge part in the story other than being one of Alessia’s, what, three? Four character traits? The whole topic here is almost as much of a footnote as the school shootings in Onision’s books, and that-THAT is something most would have to actually try very, very hard to do.

    Really though, so far, all I can take in from Alessia is:
    1. Knows English, but also /doesn’t/ know English when it can be made into an “Aw isn’t she just so cute and foreign and adorable and poor and sheltered and did I mention foreeeeiiiign?” moment.
    2. Had synesthesia for a couple chapters.
    3. Kidnapped and almost sex trafficked.
    4. Exotic Albanian Beauty(tm).
    That’s it. That’s all Alessia is. I’ve never in my life read a character that is so /empty/ and just, void of any and all depth or personality. I’ve met rocks with more pizzazz. It’s offensive, in so many ways, and I am trying so hard to grasp how one can write a character /this/ blank when said character comes from such a rich culture, and is supposed to have endured such tragic events. I’m almost outright angry at the lost potential, because by all means, Alessia could have been someone amazing to read about.
    It would have been so amazing and /raw/ seeing through the eyes of this young woman who managed to escape such a dangerous circumstance, watching her try to adjust to a country she’s found herself in by happenstance, witnessing her trauma affect her, yet she still tries. She still fights to get control back over her life because, while she recognizes her PTSD for what it is, she’s not going to let it define her and stop her from living. Imagine if we actually got to see her trauma being defined and explained with more than just the shitty, copy-pasted PTSD episode about “that smell”.
    Alessia could have been such an interesting character, and could have been such a great eye-opener to audiences around the world to learn about human trafficking from a victim’s side, it could have opened up discussions about PTSD and how trauma affects one’s daily life. But most of all, Alessia could have been a great example of how being a victim doesn’t ultimately define someone, nor does it make someone weak. There’s so much strength to be found in being a victim of something, because a victim is also a survivor, and that’s something so, so many people don’t realize.
    But no. Of course we can’t have that. Cause victims can never save themselves, nor can they ever have any independent strength. No, no. That’s just silly. They need a big strong hero to swoop in and guide them through life. Of course. That’s the only way. The NYC Bestseller Way.

    This book absolutely, positively was not edited. Not the whole thing. Absolutely no way. I know that, because if it had been, this chapter either would have been cut entirely, or /heavily/ edited to include any substance. It’s sad, because this chapter actually could have done something for the book. It could have shown us some of this supposed chemistry Alessia and Max have, or done something for character development, or like…anything, at all. About all I learned here is that Alessia has boots from Albania, and that E. L. must have a blonde friend named Sarah because there’s no way she’d let that girl pass over the “blonde harlot hot for the hero” trope otherwise. I know it was meant to be the big “Oh god I love her” chapter, but…I don’t know. The “self-admission” felt icky.
    Probably because Maxim is icky.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      You’re making me want to rewrite this book and do it the right way, addressing all the things you pointed out (which I, too, have been mentioning in comments to each chapter recap). I could really do it justice because I’ve lived this life, I have PTSD, but I am a survivor who did not get “saved” by any hero other than supportive friends and good counseling. I have been struggling on my own to overcome my fears, just as many other women are doing. This whole “you need a man to complete you/make you a better woman/fix you” is bullshit, and women need to stop falling for that line. That’s why women’s rights are a mess, and being threatened every day — BY MEN. Men who are telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies, how we are supposed to look to be accepted and attractive, how to dress, how to please THEM. These same men dominate EL James’ novels. There must be a lot of self-hating women out there who are buying into this fantasy, not realizing it’s the very thing that poses the greatest threat to our gender. Our sense of self is on the line. You want a man? Fine. Get you one who respects you and doesn’t treat you as an object for his own pleasure, but who regards you as an equal. A man who doesn’t care if you don’t have a body so thin and small that he has to order you to eat (and for that matter, he shouldn’t be telling you what to do with your body, period). A man who can control his sexual impulses when he’s around you and loves you for the intellectual stimulation you share. A man who wants you to dress comfortably and not in high heels and tight dresses because that’s what he likes. A man who doesn’t get jealous when someone else looks at you. A man who is proud of you, supports your endeavors, and cheers you on, not one who treats you like an ornament to draw attention to himself.

      I swear, EL is going to turn me into a raging feminist…

      May 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Emily, a newbie
        Emily, a newbie

        I think that’s what gets to me about this book too. I also suffer from PTSD, still so much so that I can’t really go outside that often because people are Big Bad(tm), but at the same time, I’ve recovered so much and come so far all by myself, and only recently even started getting the outside help that I need to make bigger strides. I just get…almost sick to my stomach, honestly, when I read things about heroes/heroines that have this trauma, but it’s used to make the character just another “Oh woe is me, I’m so sad, so broken, someone please save me because I just don’t know what to do.” It’s a gross misrepresentation, through and through, and really invalidates actual people suffering from trauma and PTSD; because as nice and helpful as it is to have outside support and advice, the only person who can really fight back against your trauma is you yourself. Like I said, there’s just so much power in that, and Alessia had so, so much potential to be that. And in the hands of almost any other writer to ever exist ever, she could have been better. Even by a smidgen. I’d take a hair’s width worth of improvement to her character at this point. She literally just exists as a sex doll with a pull string that spurts out random phrases (sometimes it’s in English, sometimes it’s a “zot”, but never a “truck”, because that’s asking a lot (BARS)).
        This chapter could’ve done so much for their relationship and Alessia as a whole. We could’ve learned more about her, learned her preferences in clothes. Maybe seen her wrinkle her nose at certain fabrics because she’s not a fan, but then she immediately feels a little bit of guilt because she doesn’t want to seem unthankful for Maxim’s “generosity” (quotes because in this AU he’s being genuinely nice, but in the chapter he’s very much so just using this as an excuse to stare at her in pretty clothes; cause she’s a doll for him to dress and her opinions don’t matter.) Could’ve seen her talk fondly about her memories of Albania, since she does seem to love it deep down (hard to see it through E. L. xenophobia, but I can /just/ make it out). Learned more about her family other than regurgitated things we knew and just an affirmation to what’s been hinted all along about her dad; could’ve dove in to the complexities that typically come with living in a sheltered/abusive home and how it feels to just come from it. She could’ve talked about how she loved her grandmother, how she did and still does love her parents even though she knows they wronged her in many ways. Maybe brush on her still trying to fully realize how bad her home life was, and have her say something like, “My dad just thought he was doing what was best for me, but what he did was wrong. I didn’t know it back then, and it’s still hard to think that way about him because he’s my father. But he was abusive. He scared me, and he still scares me. Just thinking about how he’d react to finding out what we did brings back up so much fear, even though I know he’s nowhere nearby. And my mother…her words would cut deeper than any bruise from my father. Her disappointment would be so heavy, just like it always is, because knowing I’ll never be enough in her eyes. I was born trying to reach expectations I could never hope to catch, and I know that now, but the guilt’s still there.”
        Things like that are just some of the many ways one laments when coming from a background like that, and that’s just the basic stuff taken from my own experience and words. Alessia has even more specifics she can add, like the religious background, this offensive xenophobic AU of Albania that’s apparently just so scary and downtrodden that she grew up in, and things like that.
        Can I also just say that, while I am fully aware everyone’s PTSD differs and therefore their triggers and how they react to them is different, Alessia’s PTSD just…really doesn’t come across as genuine or realistic. It very much feels like one of those books (“Forever: Primul” is probably the most drastic, terrible example) or fanfics where the author makes their main character/Mary Su just so abused and tragic, but when you read it, it’s painfully obvious that the author has absolutely no first-hand experience with any of the subject matter. It feels so out of touch to the point where you think “Has anyone ever even been mean to this person?” That’s how E. L. comes off with Alessia; she’s done absolutely no proper research into actual trauma and is just writing what she’s glossed over online or heard from Law & Order: SVU episodes in passing. She’s never spoken to anyone with actual, realized trauma, it showed in 50 Shades and how grossly deaf she was to the public outcry, and it shows here in Alessia’s PTSD “episodes”.

        I agree with all that you said, wholeheartedly. I want to see the heroine Alessia should have been, or just like…a semblance of it. Even just an echo of it. Anything.
        I want there to be a better hero. We need to see a hero that’s everything you described, or even just half of it. Hell, you could still make him a really shitty person in the start but have him slowly turn into something better like this, because meeting Alessia and want to build a bond with her, he starts bettering himself so that he can be what she needs and deserves, while also exhibiting him deal with his grief over Kit and grow from it. That could even be a good resolution to his ill-will towards Kit in the first place, where Kit apparently made him feel like he was lesser, the ‘Spare’ in the family. Through his bonding with Alessia and character growth, he becomes a better man for it, and realizes that he’s now a better person than Kit ever was (because let’s be honest here, Kit sounds like a realllll shitter and just gets worse in every flashback), and then by the end, he’s matured and grown so much that he realizes he’s no longer the ‘Spare’. Maybe before he really was, but now he’s a much better man as a whole, and perhaps even better than Kit himself was. He comes into his Earldom, humble but confident now. He’s happy with Alessia, and while he did help her and be there for her in her time of need, she helped him too; because good relationships are about two people coming together and helping each other, building each other up and not letting them fall no matter how rocky things get. We need this hero to play out.
        We need a “Max”, not a “Maxim”.
        (Sorry for the long-winded rant, I apparently had just…so much to say. But stay strong, fellow PTSD survivor c: <3.)

        May 18, 2019
        |Reply
        • Agent_Z
          Agent_Z

          I think this story would be better if you cut down or removed the romance entirely and focused on Alessia’s relationship with Magda and Michal. It doesn’t have the power imbalance that Alessia/Maxim has and Magda has been far more sympathetic than Maxim despite her limited page time. The one bad thing she’s done (telling the traffickers where Alessia was) only happened because of fear for her son. You could do a story about Alessia finding in Magda the parent she wanted and Magda basically having Alessia as a surrogate daughter.

          May 18, 2019
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            That’s a good point and I’d personally love to know more about those two. They’re clearly good people and also somewhat outsiders so Alessia would feel comradery while being able to discuss Albania versus Poland versus England without having to be so pro-England.

            And maybe Maxim just doesn’t need to be her boss or an Earl. In all honesty, other than spiriting her away at a moment’s notice, we don’t need to leave London or visit Cornwall. I think re-introducing the traffickers at all is a big mistake and the only reason EEL even does it is so Allessia gets abducted and taken back to Albania later but if this is a character driven story then it’s not necessary.

            Also, how they keep finding her, I don’t know. I’d also think they wouldn’t bother because it’s a lost cause. The manpower spent on finding one woman when they could just replace her later sounds pointless. Plus why the fuck do they smuggle her back lol? I still don’t know but hearing about it in Amazon reviews made me wonder… was it an accident that she got sex trafficked or was her mother trying to get her away from husband and boyfriend but picked the wrong people to help her daughter?

            Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree that this was a major missed opportunity, Alessia could’ve been really interesting without the synesthesia or the piano. The only reason EEL decided to mostly ignore Alessia is because she wanted the premise without having to do the hard work of letting Alessia be a real person dealing with this shit. Maxim has almost no hardship and her sole skill in writing a man is to make him think of his dick and treat women like they’re his property so EEL sticks to his POV instead.

            May 18, 2019
        • One of the key things that we all keep repeating, but is important here, too, is that these lacks mean that there is no believable reason for Maxim and Alessia to be so attracted to each other, to the point that he wants to rescue her and she wants to be rescued, and they’re willing to compromise ostensibly-important values to be together.

          Instead, just like FSOG, it’s all “big eyes!” and “handsome!” and “innocent!” and just add a bit of manufactured “danger” for Insta-Soulmates in 24 hours.

          May 18, 2019
          |Reply
        • Tami Marie Alexander
          Tami Marie Alexander

          I have the same problem getting out of the house, I have to force myself, and at a moment’s notice I can cancel plans because my brain says “Stars…can’t do it…not today.” (Fifty points to Griffyndor if you get that reference.) It’s part of my PTSD that stems back to childhood and being put on display (my father would force me put on my stepmother’s bikini when I was a fully-developed 13-yr-old and take pictures of me…and then watch me as I changed clothes…). Throughout my life I have tried very hard to break this fear by getting involved in plays back in high school (where I found I couldn’t project as I began to have anxiety attacks), and the times I had to get up on stage to accept awards for my creative endeavors. I have trouble being in crowds if I’m alone and feel safer if I have someone I know and trust with me. As I told Jenny, I stepped out of my comfort zone to meet her and others for a gathering of local authors (her grandmother sat beside me, which I found very calming as I enjoy spending time with the elderly). There is that side of us that DOES want a “normal” life, to be able to go out and do things and be around other people. I found that going to science fiction conventions was the closest I could get to feeling at ease because I was surrounded by other socially-awkward people, highly intelligent and creative but misunderstood and some just as damaged as I am. Fandom was one of the best places for me to find a voice and acceptance. I was well into my 30s before I started to get therapy for my childhood trauma and then found out I was in an abusive relationship with a narcissist who had been holding my head underwater for years. At 43, I was on my own for the first time ever, and it’s been scary but I’m actually able to work on myself. Oh, I still have random panic attacks for no reason — last night, for example — and I take prescription drugs and try to cope when a new trigger comes out of nowhere (because just when you think you know what they are, you’ll hear a song or smell something that will awaken repressed memories and you’re back to Square One).

          Nobody likes to be misrepresented. Look at how Albanians are protesting about this book, because it depicts them as backwards peasants. You cannot write about a culture without extensive research (I learned so much about Hawai’i for a ghostwriting project that actual islanders were convinced the author lived in the area — and yet, I’ve never been there). And you cannot write about people who have been through situations without taking into consideration the cause-and-effect. I am fortunate that I have many combat veterans in my family and in my circle of friends to know how they behave when they come home; not all of them talk about it, but those who did painted a picture that stuck in my head and I called on that to present characters for another ghostwriting assignment that had veterans expressing gratitude for the accurate representation.

          And I am not doing this to toot my horn — I’m doing it to show that you don’t have to travel to a country to get the facts about it. You don’t have to serve in war to write about soldiers. You don’t have to be abused to know there is trauma that stays with the victim for years. You just have to do the research. Talk to someone who has been through it, or talk to someone who counsels them. Or just GOOGLE IT, for fuck’s sake! I don’t know any native Hawaiians and yet I learned enough about the language to do more than throw out one word of pidgin here and there to remind the reader “this guy is an Islander.” The information is out there. It’s LAZINESS on the part of the writer not to look for it. And in EL James’ case, it’s an overblown ego that thinks people will buy anything she cranks out because she’s so wonderful, they won’t care if she gets anything wrong. Because most of her fans are just in it for the sex scenes. I don’t want people to read my books because “they’re hot!” I once wrote a 300-page fanfic where I did extensive research into cults and serial killers, and all anyone who read it could rave about were the two sex scenes that I threw in. I find sex scenes boring and redundant because there’s only so many ways to insert Tab A into Slot B. But I know what the audience wants. So does EL. And she’s banking on that.

          You stay strong, too, fellow survivor! PTSD may knock us down but we get the fuck back up again like Hercules Mulligan (more points for that reference!). 🙂

          May 18, 2019
          |Reply
          • Emily, a newbie
            Emily, a newbie

            Your story is so inspiring for me c: Thank you for sharing that with me, cause I know that kind of stuff can be scary to share. Really, I respect you so much for enduring and thank you. I love hearing and seeing people be able to overcome really bad hardships in life, cause it reminds me on my tougher days that there’s still some hope. I’m still recovering from my own major PTSD leftover from lifelong abuse in all the colors, as well as my plethora of other issues (newly diagnosed bipolar disorder, depression/suicidal ideation and all the ugly stuff that brings with it, paranoia, social anxiety (considered nearly agoraphobic, but not *quite*), panic disorder in general, body dysmorphia, ADHD, insomnia, and some hefty physical disabilities). I just barely started being able to get some help over the past two years, almost three, and it’s been an eye-opener, kinda. Like you said about just finding out your relationship was abusive, I kinda didn’t realize that I’d had it *that bad* until going to therapy, alongside my significant other and his friends being outright horrified at how my parents raised me, and making me realize that it wasn’t normal to be beaten in the middle of K-Mart for not being able to decide on some new pants. I’m still trying to even find my comfort zone, since I kinda live in a constant state of anxiety. But I know that what matters is that I’m still trying and working on it. I take my meds, I listen to my care team (well, most of the time; sometimes I’m just not ready for what they suggest), and I’ve gotten to where I don’t immediately cry when strangers talk to me. You’re right about sometimes wanting to be normal, but with that desire, the thought of “normal” both perplexes and scares me too because I just don’t know what normality is or how that would feel.
            Honestly, even as shitty as stuff has been before and the problems I’ve developed because of it, I still acknowledge it’s made me stronger. I have a lot of life experience, and just knowing that I can give other people help and advice in times of need to prevent them from going through the same thing as me builds me up. I have my outlets, like writing my books, drawing, cuddling my army of cats, and fandom-based stuff too. ‘Cause I agree, fandom really does help give you a voice when you can’t find it anywhere else c: and ugh, yes, the random triggers. I still can’t hear certain songs or smell certain scents without going into “Oh shit” mode. (And…what if I’m Ravenclaw? Do I still get the points for catching the reference?? Need them points.)

            I honestly feel terrible for the entire country of Albania and Albanians as a whole for all this. An author with this much reach and influence in the world choosing to write about your country probably seemed almost amazing at first. Like a chance at a rise in tourism ’cause fans with the extra money want to see and just *experience* the beautiful country where Alessia came from, see the city she grew up in, view the sights and take in the culture. Even knowing her history with 50 Shades, I don’t think anyone could have thought she would have been /this/ outrageously offensive and xenophobic. At least when it came to someone like Lani Sarem’s disgusting portrayal of my own people (Ruska Romani, here) and deafness to our rich history and traditions, it was just another day in the life at the end of it. I think most of us Roma are just so numb to the offensive stereotypes that nothing really comes as a surprise anymore; some things definitely strike a nerve a bit harder than others, but ultimately I think we’re so used to being silent and never disclosing details unless we have to that we’d rather just brush it off than risk being in danger. Most other cultures/countries as a whole don’t have that “luxury” (that word feels icky in this context but it’s the only one I can think of) of being that numb, and Albania already has the “European Thug” stereotype thanks to other forms of media. Despite that though, they’ve managed to take a few creative spins as it is to increase tourism (like the tourism board making that “Taken by Albania” campaign inspired after the Taken franchise), and have been able to make things mostly work in their favor. So the fact that E. L. has managed to write something so offensive that it’s being so openly and angrily condemned should be very telling, to readers and non-readers alike.
            It really is all about research, though, and how much you dedicate to it. I know so, so much about World War II and all the inner workings, yet it was mostly without the insight or experience of anyone in my family (when my distant grandparents fled Europe to avoid Nazi capture, my however-many-greats grandfather was very strict on making sure no one knew of what our family was or associated us with any Nazi-targeted group, so much so that he flew into an outright panicked rage at his young daughter when she even mentioned Jewish friends, let alone anything about us).
            I’ve used that knowledge in my own writing, whether it be period pieces or technical sci-fi/fantasy works with specific military strategies at play, and it’s always gotten very good feedback from the few I got to share them with. And even now with my current books, I’m taking extra care to research other countries and respect their cultures, traditions, and history, just because I don’t ever want to come off like E. L. does here. Every country and its people deserve basic respect, doesn’t matter if you’re a huge NYC Bestseller or a fic writer on Wattpad. No one is below you, and no one deserves to be so horrifically misrespresented like this. Not Albania, not the victims of human trafficking, not those who suffer from trauma. Nobody.
            That’s probably what gets to me the most about E. L. James as a person. Just how /unapologetic/ she is about all of this, no matter who is criticizing her and for what. It’s like even though the entire country of Albania is upset and saying, “Yo, you’re horrifically misrepresenting our country and coming off a tad xenophobic, can you maybe apologize?”, she’s still perched up on her pedestal of 50 Shades of Green with a smug grin, turning her nose up and just being like, “Nope! I went to Albania! I know what it’s like there! I’m right, you’re wrong!” It reeks of the same stench as how she approached all those people saying that Christian Grey came off as abusive, because he reminded them of their abusive exes. It’s like no matter what, she has to be the one that’s right, and no criticism is worth her time to actually take in and think about.
            It’s not hard to do the research, like you said. It costs literally nothing to Google these things, and as Jenny has said, every bit of info she’s found has been readily available on Google. She could have Googled anything about Albania, she could have done some research into PTSD and how it affects people, testimonies from human trafficking victims and their families; hell, at this point I’d suggest she figures out how to Google basic sex education and anatomy/biology. It’s just like…just open the browser, Erika. Please. For everyone’s sanity.

            (Aaaaand I love Hamilton c: I get ALL the points.)

            May 19, 2019
      • Jules
        Jules

        I just want to applaud this post. Beautifully said. Thank you

        May 18, 2019
        |Reply
  20. Kyerin
    Kyerin

    Just jumping in to say in my experience a UK size 8 to 10 is more like a US 4 to 6. Not that it matters and sizing is nonsense as others have pointed out, but I guess she’s skewing thinner than you might be thinking.

    Also, do they not have clothes in Albania? Did they weave their own shifts by hand from grass in the spaces where ATMS should be? Because otherwise surely Alessia knows what size she is? I mean, approximately at least.

    May 17, 2019
    |Reply
  21. Sheila
    Sheila

    It hits me.

    Her beautiful body?

    Like a sledgehammer. Right between the eyes.

    Like one of the Mary Poppins puppets from Arrested Development

    May 18, 2019
    |Reply
  22. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    Is anyone feeling like this book is the literary equivalent of Taken? We got Albenians, sex trafficking, xenophobia that would make the Regan era blush and a blatant male power fantasy figure as the lead.

    Also, asking any experts here, would Maxim (and Christian Grey) qualify as sex addicts?

    May 18, 2019
    |Reply
    • Emily, a newbie
      Emily, a newbie

      Hm. A “Taken/Poldark” crossfic. That’d be…bold. Just have Alessia’s dad be Not-Liam Neeson. Then we find out that while he *was* an abusive piece of shit to her before, after learning his daughter was kidnapped, he has this whole development arc where he wants to right his wrongs and swears if he can save his daughter, he’ll try to be the father she deserves. I’d read it c:

      One of my close cousins is a sex addict, and while I can safely say with 99.9% certainty that Christian doesn’t fit the bill (he’s less about having sex, more about the power and lording it over his subs), I could maybe see it in Maxim a little. At least, I can see it in the beginning, with how he’s overall described and the whole “bin full of condoms every night” thing. Though if he does have a sex addiction, he’d probably be having a much harder time swaying temptation from all the other women swooning for him. My cousin has always struggled with remaining loyal to a woman, no matter how much he loves her and is attracted to her. From what I know from my cousin’s venting, that’s almost the worst part about a sex addiction. No matter how much you love someone, how attractive they are to you, how happy they make you or anything else, it’s still very hard to remain loyal to one person when someone else attractive is off to the side, batting their eyelashes and flirting with you when you’re alone. It’s like a combination of seeking that “high”, and making sex out to be an “escape” out of habit or need.
      So with that in mind, I feel like if Maxim were a legitimate sex addict, he’d likely have issues not being attracted to other women, even if he does deeply love Alessia. He probably wouldn’t have just been able to give up nightly sex with randos cold turkey upon meeting Alessia, either. Most likely, he would have still gotten laid just as often, but maybe afterward would have his thoughts go back to Alessia, either to fantasize about her too or (if this is after he started catching feelings) feel a twinge of regret for not being able to just focus on Alessia, and for once again giving in to temptation. Maxim also doesn’t seem to express that he outright “craves” sex, or feels like he desperately “needs it”, similar to one saying that they need their fix. I don’t even recall Maxim ever viewing or referring to his sexcapades as an actual “escape”, aside from the grief-fuck with Caroline. Once again, this is me just going off of the years and years I’ve listened to my cousin, watched him struggle with loyalty, and hearing him vent, so this is just what I know from him, his experiences and his struggles.
      I honestly don’t even think E. L. would see sex addiction as an actual problem, let alone address it in a way that’s not entirely tone-deaf and grossly romanticized. Maxim’s just written this way because E. L. wants to hammer it in that her hero is just so hot and sexy and he’s suuuuper experienced in sex, so he can always hit ALL the right buttons no matter what. His constant boner for Alessia is just to remind us how gorgeous she is and how effortlessly perfect she is, because we apparently need to be told this in SOME fashion every other paragraph. Alessia’s worth is entirely dependent on how much Maxim wants to fuck her, and how amazing she is in bed despite limited experience. And of course, relationships entirely depend on how much sex you two have and how good it is, absolutely nothing else. Chemistry? Feelings? Development? TRAUMA?! Penis solves it all!

      Kinda wish he had a sex addiction though, because that would actually do something to make him a redeemable hero, and maybe even spark some sympathy. Or really anything other than disdain and cringe.

      May 18, 2019
      |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        Such a story would be difficult to write in a way that doesn’t make it look like you’re glorifying the abuser but I don’t think it is impossible. It also might be important for Alessia to not necessarily forgive her father even if she is grateful he saved her.

        Or hell maybe do a canon divergence where the traffickers get Alessia again and Magda and Michal are the ones to save her, with Magda feeling guilty that she sent the traffickers after Alessia even though she was only doing it to protect her son. Seriously, Magda’s way more sympathetic than Maxim has been despite her limited page time. The one terrible thing she did was because she was trying to protect her son.

        Thanks for the reply regarding sex addiction.

        May 18, 2019
        |Reply
      • Tami Marie Alexander
        Tami Marie Alexander

        You can’t see me but I am giving you a standing ovation for this comment. You’re spot on about addiction. I have family members who were alcoholics and drug addicts. My father is/was a sex addict (he discovered sex with a neighbor boy at age 12, raped his own younger sister and brother at 16, cheated on my mother with a whore in Vietnam — which, come to find out, he named me after her — and with neighbors while my mom was working; oh, and he sexually abused all three of his own daughters, and his second wife was aware of it because she’s the kind of sick freak who could put Sybill’s mother to shame). I, myself, have a food addiction, which I have gone to extremes to fight (including having gastric bypass; if I eat too much or the wrong foods, I get Dumping Syndrome). I agree with everything you said about Maxim because I — and others, here — have said the same thing re: his Amazing Penis of Amazingness. I would love to see him at the bottom of the Thames, where he would have a perfect view of his apartment.

        You, my friend, GET IT. In every way. BRAVA!

        May 18, 2019
        |Reply
  23. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    I find it weird that she was almost sex trafficked, but she’s fine with him buying her a bunch of stuff because they are having sex. She worried that her father would think she’s a prostitute, but not worried that Moss is kind of treating her like one with his – “wear this because I find it sexy and I don’t care to hear your opinion about it” attitude.

    I’d find this so much sweeter if he took her shopping, asked what she wanted (imagining she wants a sexy dress and fuck me pumps) and she said wanted jeans that aren’t hand-me-downs and converse shoes (or something that isn’t super expensive but she sees as “a fancy name brand” even though he doesn’t. Like when Kimmy Schmidt got her shoes in the pilot episode.) And then he’s happy because she’s happy and he stops thinking with his dick, because gross.

    May 18, 2019
    |Reply
    • Stormy
      Stormy

      But then she’d have to have, like, a personality. And not just whatever Maxim/ELJ wants to project all over her. And that’s hard.

      May 18, 2019
      |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      YES! Because jeans and Converse can be sexy, too!

      May 18, 2019
      |Reply
    • Emily, a newbie
      Emily, a newbie

      YES. Her line of basically “You just want to buy me things to repay me for the sex” actually made me just. Pause, reread it a couple times, then kinda pull back from the computer monitor and stare at the wall, just thinking ‘Did that really just happen?’
      Could be wrong, but I feel like someone who was almost a sex trafficking victim wouldn’t joke so…/lightly/ about that kind of thing. Like, one could maybe argue that, “Oh she’s not fluent enough in English to understand the underlying context.” Which, I mean-yeah, sure, that could be a valid argument, I guess. Or maybe it was the sole attempt to show how unashamed she is? Sure, I could see that too. But we will never know how Alessia meant it, because E. L. Won’t. Write. In. Alessia’s POV.

      May 19, 2019
      |Reply
  24. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    “It’s 2019, not 1819.”

    This from the guy whose thoughts after sex was, “Well I guess we got to get married now that I’ve taken her virginity”.

    May 18, 2019
    |Reply
  25. Anon123
    Anon123

    “Well, Moss, it would be kind of a fucking weird dress if it was tight all over but baggy in the ass.”

    Maybe it’s got a bustle. Because something about Poldark.

    May 20, 2019
    |Reply
  26. Misfit
    Misfit

    Delmessia reminds me of Anezka from Jane the Virgin, so that’s who I’m picturing every time she’s mentioned.

    Is it guaranteed they’ll be married by the end of the book? Because it feels pretty certain from here.

    May 20, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      The reviews say it’s a “Happy For Now” ending so I’m guessing they won’t but it’ll strongly imply that they would.

      May 20, 2019
      |Reply
  27. “I want her heart” is clearly indicating a change in tone as it’s revealed Moss is really Poldark and has gained immortality by eating the organs of beautiful young women. Run, Demelssia!

    May 21, 2019
    |Reply
  28. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    US size 6-8 is a nice size and not one that’s normally considered all that small. I mean, don’t get me wrong, i would love to be a size 8 again, but when I think “small” like how Alessia is supposed to be small, I think size 0-2.

    I love the description “NPC from a Fiddler on the Roof larp”. Maybe I should model my SCA persona after her.

    May 21, 2019
    |Reply

Leave a Reply

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