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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter eighteen or “Pussy Wreck”

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I try to update these with news about The Mister or E.L. James…but this book has all but dropped off the face of the zeitgeist. The initial, desperate clamoring for hype has trickled out. A month after release, the book has fallen out of the Amazon top one hundred. It’s fallen off the top twenty-five releases on BookScan. It’s being beaten by After. In other words, while The Mister sold better than most authors can expect, it did not do the work the publisher had to have been expecting on the heels of blockbuster after blockbuster. Consider: Grey moved over a million copies in its first week. The Mister moved 68,500 copies upon debut, and the numbers have fallen by tens of thousands with each subsequent week.

Hey, remember all that “a rising tide raises all boats” nonsense that romance authors touted to explain why it was okay for E.L. James to rip off someone else’s work and write hundreds of thousands of words glamorizing domestic abuse? You know, because it was bringing so many new readers into the genre and we were all going to make bank? Yeah, if those wonderful new readers had stuck around, The Mister would be doing comparable numbers. Instead, it seems that all Fifty Shades of Grey did was create a weird cottage industry of thin-skinned self-pubbers in an arms race for who can write the most disturbing books chock full of rape, stalking, abuse, and forced pregnancy, who crank out their 10k short stories every week with the help of underpaid ghostwriters so they can game the KU algorithm and make bank.

How’s that rising tide, everybody? You drowning yet? Hope your allegiance was worth it.

My chest constricts as if I’ve been kicked in the solar plexus.

Oh my god, just say he got the wind knocked out of him. That’s literally what you’re describing.

Betrothed?

What medieval claptrap is this?

That’s what I’m wondering. Like, I’m not gonna crack on Demelssia for that word choice, but I’m sure going to crack on the author for it.

She looks up at me. Her eyes wide, exposing her distress. Adrenaline pumps through my body; I’m ready for a fight.

Oh, are you now? That’s interesting. Very interesting. Because you know that around these parts, we love hearing about how the hero wants to fight the heroine when she looks afraid. That was like, our favorite part of Fifty Shades Freed, remember?

“And you were going to tell me this…when?”

IDK, maybe when she thought it would be safe to tell you without you driving her back to London where she could get kidnapped again? Maybe she has had zero agency throughout this entire thing?

Also, my dude, when are you going to tell her that you’re an earl? Because if we’re going to start arguing about lies of omission here…

The pain is instant. Visceral. Shocking. I’m in free fall.

“There,” said the author, sitting back with satisfaction. “The main character has told the reader exactly how he feels, so I needn’t do any of the work to show how he feels through his actions.” A knock on the door alerts her to the truckload of unearned money waiting in her driveway.

My world has shifted. My ideas. My vague plans. Being with her…marrying her…

Reader, the noise I made.

“My vague plans.”

Here’s a writing tip. If you want to show how totally into another character your POV character is? They should have specific plans. Even if they’re specific plans they didn’t realize they had. If Moss had been imagining Demelssia walking down the aisle in a white dress, or holding their child, or whatever, then his anguish would make more sense because either consciously or subconsciously, he’d been seriously planning a future. Written this way, it’s like, “Oh no! My entire being is pummeled by despair because, IDK, maybe I was gonna marry her or something? I didn’t really think about it any sort of detail. But woe! Woe! Suffering and woe!” It just doesn’t make sense to have a character have such an extreme reaction to something he apparently hasn’t thought much about.

Moss asks Demelssia if she loves the other guy and she’s like, no, I left Albania specifically so I wouldn’t have to marry him. And then, I must have missed something. I’ve read this excerpt and the page before it over and over and I still am not understanding something:

“Yes. I was to be married in January. After my birthday.”

It was her birthday?

Okay, here’s what I don’t get: there’s no mention of her birthday before this. At all. January isn’t a day, it’s a whole month. She just mentions she was supposed to be married after her birthday and for some reason, Moss assumes that it means it’s now her birthday? I’m just not tracking this at all.

I stand, and in one deliberate move, raise my hand to sweep my hair aside and gather my thoughts. Alessia recoils beside me. She cowers and claps her head in her hands as if she’s waiting–

What?

You really can’t figure out why? You literally just had a conversation about this.

“Fuck. Alessia! did you think I was going to hit you?” I exclaim, and step back, horrified at her reaction. Another piece of the puzzle that is Alessia Demachi falls into place. No wonder she always stood out of my reach. And I’m ready to kill the motherfucker. “Did he hit you? Did he?”

Now, wait a second. I get that he’s asking if her betrothed hit her. But how is flinching from a man who raises his hand while angry “another piece of the puzzle?” She already told you at lunch that she was afraid of what her father would do to her if she saw him again.

He thinks that Demelssia looks ashamed.

Or maybe she has some misplaced loyalty to the fucking arsehole from Buttfuck, Nowhere, who has a spurious claim on my girl.

That’s weird. In the last chapter, Albania was a quaint Eastern Block country with rich heritage and culture. Now, it’s “Buttfuck, Nowhere,” because Demelssia has any kind of history there.

Hey, you know what’s really going to put this abuse survivor at ease?

I clench my fists, my rage murderous.

Well, E.L. James has officially confirmed my initial suspicions that she would veer right back into disgusting, abuse-glorifying territory. After reminding himself to calm down, Moss apologizes to Demelssia.

Her head whips up. Her look direct and earnest. “You have done nothing wrong.”

Ehhhhhhhhhh didn’t he, though? He knows you’re a survivor of trafficking and abuse. He knows you’re afraid of men. And he didn’t stop for a moment to consider that your arranged marriage that caused you to flee your country might be more traumatic to you than to him? And that he needed to be supportive, not jealous and selfish?

She watches me warily as I approach, and cautiously I crouch down beside her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. I’m just shocked that somewhere out there you have a…suitor, and I have a rival for your affections.

Yup. You read that right. He didn’t mean to scare her, but he just loves her so much that he couldn’t control his temper.

Everything old is new again.

She tells him that he has no rivals, and he’s like, oh good, there’s hope for us or whatever. Then he asks her if she chose the man she’s supposed to marry, and she’s like, no, my dad picked him. Then she says she can’t go home because she’ll be “forced” into marriage, and Moss asks her for a second time if she loves the guy. Look. She already said she doesn’t. And you should probably be able to pick up on context clues here when she’s saying shit like, you know, I can never go back home because I’m going to be forced, read: made to against my will, marry this dude.

Perhaps he’s old. Or unnattractive. Or both.

Or he hits her.

Fuck.

Dude, you just had this revelation that he might hit her just a page ago. You can’t suddenly realize it again with the same emotional punch. Plus, the first thing he thinks here is what if the fiancé is old and ugly, even after thinking a page ago that the guy must hit her? Are these paragraphs out of order?

I fold her against my body and hold her. And I don’t know if I’m comforting her or myself.

I feel like you should probably be comforting her.

The thought of her with someone else, someone who mistreats her, is horrifying. I bury my face in her fragrant hair, grateful that she’s here. With me.

Here’s another fundamental problem with the way Moss interacts with and views Demelssia. When he learned she was trafficked and being chased by kidnappers, his primary concern was gosh, I hope nobody voided her warranty. The idea that she might have been raped horrified him but learning that she was still a virgin was a total relief. Now, the thought of her being “with something else, someone who mistreats her” is another case where Demelssia’s trauma is reduced to how it relates to Moss and her role in his life. There’s a sense that if Moss wasn’t interested in her romantically, the forced marriage thing wouldn’t be as tragic because it wouldn’t make Moss feel a way. This is another clue that James doesn’t really care all that much for the heroine of this book; Demelssia’s trauma exists only to give Moss even more man-pain, and that man-pain deserves more serious and careful examination than the effects her trauma has on her.

“I’m sorry that you’ve had to put up with so much shit,” I murmur.

Okay, but she didn’t “put up with so much shit.” Nobody dumped a bunch of paperwork on her desk at four p.m. on a Friday. Nobody waged a cold war against her over the church bake sale. This totally minimizes what Demelssia is going through after we’ve heard for pages about how horrible the situation makes Moss feel. It’s not “so much shit.” Horrible crimes have been committed against her. Her personal agency has been stripped away entirely. This is more than putting up with shit.

Just when you thought Demelssia couldn’t be infantilized even further:

Looking up at me, she brushes her index finger over my lips. “That is a bad word.”

He tells her, “I’ve got you,” because he tells her that in every dramatic scene. Then he asks her to dance with him and we end up heading straight into a sex scene. Because there are several in this chapter.

Yes. I said “several” and “this chapter.”

Her legs hold me in place, and her hands run over my back. Her nails etching her passion on my skin.

That is not a complete sentence. You can’t just break up a run-on by throwing a period in there and calling it a day. You’ve got two options here:

“Her legs hold me in place, and her hands run over my back, her nails etching her passion on my skin.”

or

“Her legs hold me in place. Her hands run over my back, nail etching her passion on my skin.”

That is how you make whatever the fuck you just tried to do there work, ma’am.

Her eyes are wide and her pupils the darkest, most carnal espresso.

Carnal Espresso is the title of my first smooth jazz album. Oh, and here’s another free tip from me to you: the colored part of your eye isn’t the pupil.

They do it with her on top and I’m skimming a lot of it because it’s just so, so boring. It takes a true talent to write a sex scene that is so bad that it bores the reader to the point of actually reducing their libido, but not being bad enough to actually be funny.

“Ah,” she calls out.

Moss’s deep dicking skills don’t even merit an exclamation point there.

Head tipped back. Calling to the gods, she’s every inch a goddess.

Are these weird half-sentences supposed to make things seem more fast-paced and frantic? Because it’s not working. There are times a device like that can work, but you have to be better at writing to make it work in such a way that it doesn’t jar the reader or make them go back and reread instinctually to see if they’ve missed something. And the weird veer into paganism there is…I guess. I guess if that’s what you’re going with. It’s already printed. I can’t stop you.

It’s enough to trigger my release, and I cry out, holding her to me as I come and come and come.

It’s repeated three times, so it officially happened.

In Alessia’s POV (because again, anything happening during this very sudden sexual awakening must happen in Moss’s POV), she thinks about how her mom never told her that sex felt good, and maybe that was because her parents’ sex life is lacking, and then she’s like, ew, I’m not gonna think about my parents having sex.

So, she thinks about her grandparents having sex, instead.

[…] but her mind wanders, and she remembers her grandmother, Virginia. Now, she married for love. They were happy. Even when they were older, her grandparents would exchange looks that she hoped to emulate.

See? Way, way more normal.

Demelssia compares the way Moss treats her to the way men treat women in Albania. This is going to come as a shock to everyone, but it’s not a favorable comparison. I know, it’s hard to believe, given the fair and even-handed treatment the country and culture has received in this book thus far.

He wasn’t angry with her when she told him she was betrothed.

ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH forever! FOREVER! You can’t write a scene in which the hero says he’s in the grips of murderous rage and the heroine cowers from him, then jump into her POV with, oh, he wasn’t really angry. Nobody is buying it! Not a damn person is buying any of this! You can’t just tell your reader that what they read isn’t what they read.

 

via GIPHY Image: Old ladies arguing and saying, “That’s not how that works! That’s not the way any of this works!”

She thinks about how she shouldn’t ask him any personal questions because it’s not her business to question a man. Which is going to make his life a lot easier in terms of what he can and can’t withhold from her. It’s also going to be great when she inevitably freaks out when she finds out that he has been withholding information from her and then she blames herself for not asking. I don’t know for sure that it goes down that way but I feel like it’s a safe bet that it will. Also, that she’s going to instantly forgive him because Mister Maxim can’t do anything wrong in this book. The author is too in love with him.

So, while Demelssia’s thinking of all this, he starts to go down on her.

Chapter Eighteen Sex Scene Counter: 2 (1 implied)

We go back to Moss’s POV, where he wakes up all entwined with Demelssia because that’s the only way people wake up in an E.L. James book: with a needless description of where every body part is in relation to the other person’s body parts and then the hero gets a stiffy. He suggests they stay in bed all day having sex.

Chapter Eighteen Sex Scene Counter: 3 (1 implied)

Demelssia serves Moss breakfast in bed, where she eats toast (like Ana’s toast-in-bed scene) and Moss complains because there’s too much sugar in the coffee. So, Demelssia goes back to get him different coffee and to dance in the kitchen (like Ana’s dancing-in-the-kitchen scene). She watches the sea a little, then goes back to the bedroom and Moss’s POV, where they…have another sex scene.

Chapter Eighteen Sex Scene Counter: 4 (1 implied).

I pull her up onto my lap so she’s sitting astride me facing the wall. My dick snuggles in the line between her buttocks.

One day…

“We’re going to do this from behind,” I murmur.

Her head whips around to me, her eyebrows raised in alarm.

I laugh. “No. Not like that. Like this.”

And then they do P in the V. Come on, now. Demelssia didn’t know anything about sex when she first got with Moss, and now she knows enough to know about anal?

Ready for some nostalgia?

“Yeah…” she groans, and I start to move. Harder. Really move.

The author starts to copy/paste. Really copy/paste.

We go into Demelssia’s POV at the end of this scene, and they have another conversation about how they intend to stay in bed all day, then we jump to the next scene, in Moss’s POV, where he is once again waking up (on the same day) and he finds Demelssia playing the piano wearing just his sweater. And we are treated to yet another scene in which Moss watches Demelssia and the narrative again turns to repetitive, breathless descriptions of her incredible talent and how impressive it is that she can play without sheet music, just like every professional pianist in the world.

Her fingers fly over the keys, and the music surges through the room with so much feeling and finesse it leaves me breathless. She leaves me breathless. I can almost hear the orchestra in my imagination.

How does she do this?

Practice. There’s the secret.

She truly is a prodigy.

I watch her. Transfixed as the music soars.

Again, that’s a period where you need a comma.

It’s…emotional.

Don’t bother telling us about those emotions. Just let us know that they exist. That’s good enough.

And once again, he surprises her because she didn’t know he was watching, and he effusively praises her skill. Then they have sex.

Yes. Really. They have another sex scene.

Chapter Eighteen Sex Scene Counter: 5 (1 implied)

If the sex scenes were different at all, maybe this wouldn’t be an issue. No, no. I lie. This many sex scenes in one chapter will always be an issue. This isn’t storytelling, it’s padding. The same with all the repetitive scenes of watching her play piano or someone dancing around the kitchen. The danger and kidnapping and all of that go out the window to meet minimum word count expectations by inserting pointless scenes that devote a few lines to any character development but never really advance the story. It’s like this book was outlined like

  • Chapter Seventeen: big revelation about engagement
  • Chapter Eighteen: aftermath of big revelation

and everything beside that one point per chapter is filler.

All of this sex wouldn’t even be a problem if it wasn’t concentrated in one chapter. If it was an erotic romance, an abundance of sex scenes would be a given. But this isn’t an erotic romance (regardless of what E.L. James asserts), it’s supposed to be romantic suspense. In erotic romance, the character development and storyline are furthered by the sexual interactions in the way musicals further their stories with songs. In this book, the sex scenes are there almost to prevent the author from having to write the plot.

After the fifth sex scene, Alessia says she wants to cook for Maxim again. And yes, I’m still skimming but it truly is boring to the point that most of it can’t even be made funny. Well, I mean…except for shit like this:

Watching him come when she’s on top of him gives her a sense of power. A power she never thought she’d have–it’s heady. Now if she could just pluck up the courage to touch all of him…

Please explain how you’ve had sex with him five times in this chapter alone without touching his dick. Is he doing it real careful, like the Operation game? If he puts it in and it touches the sides, does your nose buzz and light up?

She blushes. “I am a little sore.”

No shit. You’ve probably got a raging UTI at this point. At the very least, you’ve got to be saddle sore or have some pulled muscles. Girl, it is a disaster down there. Your pussy is broken.

They go take a shower, where Moss gives her a backrub and corrects her English again.

“You like?”

“Yes, muchly.”

“Muchly?”

“My English?”

Alessia senses Maxim’s grin.

“Is much better than my Albanian.”

Okay, so, at least he’s acknowledging that he doesn’t have a high horse to sit on here.

“[…] It is funny–I say the wrong word, and it sounds right to me, but when you say it, it does sound wrong.”

“It must be my accent. […]”

This once again feeds into xenophobic ideas about people who speak English as a second language. An accent doesn’t make your English more or less correct.

So, he soaps her up, they get horny again, but this time there isn’t a sex scene.

“I will get dressed and cook for you.”

He cocks an eyebrow. “You don’t have to get dressed.”

YES SHE DOES SHE IS HANDLING FOOD SHE CANNOT HANDLE FOOD WITH HER COOT AND COAL CHUTE OUT THERE IN THE BREEZE.

My germ paranoia aside, that’s also a great way to get burned.

In bed later, Maxim thinks:

It’s been a perfect day.

Making love. Eating. Making love. Drinking. Making love. And listening to Alessia play the piano…and watching her cook.

 

via GIPHY Image: Seth Meyers saying “Yeah, yeah, we know.”

We were there. For every excruciating minute of everything you just recapped for us. Which, by the way, is my job. You’re already a model/photographer/DJ/pianist/earl okay? Leave something for the rest of us.

Moss decides that he’ll tell Demelssia all about how he’s an earl tomorrow then he goes to sleep. Because remember, it’s not a chapter unless it follows you from sun-up to unconsciousness.

My Impression So Far: It’s becoming clear that not only is some of this heavily borrowed from Fifty Shades and its descendants, it’s also stuffed to the brim with filler. I don’t know if there was a minimum word count required by the contract, or if James simply didn’t want to disappoint fans who are used to her books being longer than the fucking bible, but so much of this is extraneous and repetitive that it’s clear that whole scenes were added simply to up the page count. Which obviously makes for a gripping reading experience.

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78 Comments

  1. many bells down
    many bells down

    Okay this is absolutely proof this book was cribbed from Poldark, or some other Regency romance. Because in that era, a betrothal was almost the same as actually being married. It was a binding agreement.

    There’s literally no reason for him to be so furious TODAY over what amounts to “my parents wanted me to marry someone but I didn’t like him.” He doesn’t have “claim on her affections”, she literally said she didn’t want to marry him. It’s like Moby insisting he dated Natalie Portman and Natalie is just like “no I was 18 and you were 30 and creeping on me.”

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  2. Ilex
    Ilex

    Your recaps here are super-entertaining, Jenny.

    But this book … seems so boring.

    While Fifty Shades was problematic, I got the feeling from your recaps that there was at least some authorial passion behind it — after all, EL had started it online just for herself and other adult Twilight fans without knowing how it would blow up, and she and they really cared about the story. But this one? I don’t feel any authorial enthusiasm coming from it. It gives me the feeling that writing it was a chore. (Maybe EL should have pulled a Stephenie Meyer and retired from writing after stealing SM’s story and characters).

    I’m not surprised that this is fading so fast. Half the appeal of Fifty Shades was the “naughtiness/edginess” of reading a BDSM novel. Without that, this is just a boring piece of garbage with all the worst romance novel tropes in it and nothing to care about — do any readers actually feel invested in these characters, who definitely aren’t Edward and Bella?

    But thanks for these recaps, Jenny, because you always make me guffaw at some point! I really need to stop reading these at work.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Truly loved “Maybe EL should have pulled a Stephenie Meyer and retired from writing,” seeing as in 2017, she pumped out The Chemist, a “romance” “thriller” that only just registered as a blip on the literary pop culture frequency. Unless you have more recent info on that front, in which case, do tell.

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        So she did! And it even got decent ratings from some of my Goodreads friends. But it didn’t register with me at all. It only got around 7,500 reviews, which is pretty anemic compared even to The Host.

        May 24, 2019
        |Reply
        • Amalthea
          Amalthea

          Hm. SM did “The Host” and “The Chemist”, and ELJ comes out with “The Mister”. Maybe James isn’t quite finished cribbing ideas. Or at least title inspiration.

          May 24, 2019
          |Reply
  3. Sabayon
    Sabayon

    ‘ “Ah,” she calls out.’
    Because of the lack of exclamation I’m just imagining her saying ‘ah’, possibly while stroking her chin like a cartoon Freudian therapist, while examining his junk
    Also muchly is a great word. Fuck you, Max

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      It’s like that scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

      “Oh. Oh, it feels so good. I just came.” And the entire time her face is -_-

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Whatever is going on, I’m not getting “orgasm” from that quotation.

      May 28, 2019
      |Reply
  4. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Eel pretty much plagiarized her own plagerization-novel yet again? Is there something several steps below “one trick pony”? Like a “half-assed hyena”? That’s her: the half-assed hyena of romance.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Sabayon
      Sabayon

      I read this as ‘half-assed hymen’ at first and thought, now hold on there, if there’s one thing you can’t accuse James of it’s half-assing it on the hymens, whose existence and eventual bloody rupture will surely be described in detail usually reserved for Tudor princesses

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ugh. The only thing missing with her hymen obsession is a Bertrice Small-worthy hanging-of-the-bloody-sheets scene… not that we want to give Eel any ideas. If her next great literary work is an epic about an innocent English major getting kidnapped by Somali pirates and sold into a Middle Eastern harem, but all with a contemporary setting, well, then, we’ll know.

        Also, hyenas are pretty strong, so maybe ELJ’s is the carrion beetle of romance? The vulture of romance? The romance cockroach?

        May 24, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          She is the pubic lice of romance.

          May 24, 2019
          |Reply
        • Vivacia K. Ahwen
          Vivacia K. Ahwen

          Hey, Emily, tread lightly on Bertrice Small –RIP– who will always be my queen of The Durty 😉 She made being a Catholic high school in the 80s tolerable, and was honest-to-goodness the only sex education I ever got. [SOMEONE had to tell me about pony play.] Skye O’Malley 4-Lyfe!

          May 28, 2019
          |Reply
  5. Satoria
    Satoria

    I could swear some of this I’ve read before. Oh yeah!!! Most historical romance stories written DECADES AGO. I’m sorry, but EL just gets worse and worse for me the more I hear. How she ever convinced a publisher to publish her “work” is beyond me. She can all me whatever she likes but I KNOW what I like to read and it isn’t crap.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  6. Emily, a newbie
    Emily, a newbie

    HOOOOLY shit, Maxim asking Alessia if she still loves the dude in Albania.
    Like holy fuck dude, she JUST said last chapter that she CANNOT. GO. BACK. because she’s engaged. I feel like if someone expressed that much of a hostility towards even the idea of going back to their home country because of this ONE specific person, then no. She doesn’t like him. You could throw a dart into Maxim’s head and he’d still miss the point somehow.
    I also just /love/ how his immediate response (aside from the weird jealous, possessive rage he’s feeling) isn’t to ask, oh I don’t know, how the engagement happened? If she’s so against it, maybe ask why is she engaged to him? Y’know, maybe open up a conversation about the forced engagement, while also showing that Maxim has SOME semblence of empathy, and can read off of Alessia’s tone and body language that she’s in a lot of distress over the subject. Could’ve used this chance to make Maxim an actual caring hero who thinks about Alessia’s feelings and safety first.
    But no, his first follow-up question is, “Do you love him?” As if he just needs the reassurance for his own feelings that no, she doesn’t, and she’s still his when it comes down to it. It’s weird, possessive, selfish, and just…so, so gross.

    My soul literally curdled at Maxim being so stupidly blind to Alessia’s trauma responses. I know that she didn’t exactly present her father’s abuse with a huge sign lined with bright lights, but she /did/ still touch on it. One’s immediate response to someone recoiling like that shouldn’t be a ‘What?’ thought followed by murderous intent, but I’d think it would fall more in the range of concern. His lagged apology should have been the very first thing out of his mouth if he cared at all about this woman, or even just had a smidgen of human decency.
    Maxim’s lack of acknowledgement, or even recollection of what she’s been through and why she’s reacting this way, is absolutely gross. It doesn’t even build tension or awareness to the reader of, “Oh wow she /did/ have it bad”, because we already KNOW that she had a bad past. This does nothing. Maxim already knows she had a rough home life, we already know, everyone knows. There is no reason for him to be this dumb about it, inexperienced or not, because when someone you love recoils or looks afraid, you’re immediate reaction generally is to try and soothe it, not just question why.
    Not to mention him just. Fucking YELLING. and CURSING. AT HER. Holy shit. Top 10 worst ways to act around a victim with C-PTSD/PTSD.
    Also really love the small insult to Albania there, Maxim. “Buttfuck, Nowhere”. How quaint. You bleeding heart. True catch of a man, right there.
    God someone please give me a shovel. Just let me bury myself and pretend to be dead to the world. I don’t want to exist on the same plain as someone who wrote this trash and thought, “Wow my hero is so dreamy.”

    Side not here too: Wouldn’t this entire scene with this reveal mean so much more coming from Alessia? So we could actually…y’know…maybe SEE how scared she is of Maxim’s reaction? Witness all the memories this is bringing back in a rushed, swift motion? Maybe compare how quickly and violently Maxim comes to a stand to that of her father when she misspoke? Maybe, actually, get some…ACTUAL PTSD ACKNOWLEDGEMENT?
    This would have been the BEST time to utilize Alessia’s POV. I know we’ve talked about how many opportunities E. L.’s wasted here with the POVs, but this. This is the biggest waste of them all so far.

    Maxim just gets worse and worse by the chapter, honestly. He’s going down as one of my all-time most hated book “heroes” ever (Arthur from ‘This Is Why I Hate You’ still takes the cake, though). Like, when the woman you supposedly love comes at you with all this information, and you’re very FIRST actual thought about the shithead she’s forced to be engaged to is just basically, “He probably ugly and old. Not like me. Cause I’m hot and sexy and good in bed, therefore I am Alpha. I am strongk and best”, that’s just repulsive. On so many levels. So, SO many levels. E. L. has built new levels just for this dude to reach them.
    I have written so many stories with abusive relationships involved, but they’re never, ever idealized or romanticized. It’s always made very clear that the abuse is just that: abuse. My stories have always focused more on the victim themselves, their feelings towards the abuse and the abuser, and them trying to come to terms with what they’ve been through. I always dive in to the complexities of being an abuse victim and just how hard it is to rewire your brain to acknowledge the abuse, realize it was never your fault, and the process of learning to cope with your trauma while finding love and acceptance along the way. Love is never used as a device to “save” the victim, but rather something that they realize is not out of reach for them. It is used as reminder that everyone deserves basic respect and to experience love filled with safety and trust.
    The relationships in my story take time to build, whether it be in the intimacy factor or the actual bond itself, because an abuse victim needs that time to learn that not everyone is going to hurt them.
    Alessia needs that kind of attention in this story. E. L. is trying to paint Alessia as this poor abused girl, but it only comes up when she needs it to for convenience or conflict. That’s not how abuse works, and someone needs to tell E.L. that.

    It’s been said before, but we need to shout it out loud enough for E. L. to hear: Abuse and rape needs to stop being portrayed in romance like this. They are so, so rarely put in the story for the actual victim. They’re never there to show us the victim’s trauma, their struggles, and how they come to grow from those bad times. No, they’re solely used to glorify the hero. Abuse is almost always just a plot device put in to give the hot, sexy hero a chance to shine.
    We really should not be reading this from Maxim’s POV, but E. L. doesn’t want to give the attention to the character whose voice actually matters. No, we have to see how MAXIM reacts to her abuse, we have to see how well he handles taking it, how he feels about finding out. Because that’s what matters, what the big strong man thinks, how he feels threatened, and how he’ll save her.

    And of course, we have the grief banging. It’s mandatory, of course we need it.
    “Oh I’m sorry you got abused and I just triggered you, ya wanna BANG IT OUT?!”
    Swoon.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  7. Jules
    Jules

    Is it just me? I feel like every sex scene (I’m clumping all the ones in this chapter under one long sex scene with snack breaks) starts with her feeling terrified of him? I’m just getting the impression that instead of having her characters try to resolve any of their issues, she just has the fuck it out. Yeah, that’s healthy.

    I can see now, though, why Moss is in love with Dimmy. All she does is fuck him, cook for him and refuse to question him about anything. She is the perfect live action sex toy.

    This book makes me ragier than 50. I didn’t think that was actually possible.

    Is this nightmare almost over? I’m guessing no because nothing has actually happened yet. I mean, the story so far, girl comes to clean boys house, goons knock on boys door, girl flees, boy finds her and takes her to seaside where they fuck, a lot. Oh, and now she has a fiancé she doesn’t want to marry but boy is jealous of this rival for his affection anyway…WHAT?!?!?!

    Something has to happen soon, right? Right? (one more time will make it real!) RIGHT?

    Maybe the Thames will get angry about being sidelined and flood or something. Anything. Plot? Hello, plot, are you there? I can’t find you! Come back to us plot. We need you!

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Tami
    Tami

    *Cue Andy Williams* Where do I begin…? *Needle scratches violently across vinyl* Okay, enough of that shit.

    There are SO many things wrong with this. When he stands up and “deliberately” sweeps his hair aside. I just saw this over-dramatic image of the guy rising up, nostrils flaring and chin lifted, and then his hand coming up in slow-motion before doing this grand flip of his curls like the biggest diva in history. I didn’t know whether to laugh or say, “Oh, Mary — sit your priss-ass down, ain’t nobody got time for your theatrics.” (Which is a great store, located on Plainfield in Cheshire Village…)

    And this is framed by Alessia and her Bambi Eyes staring at him, and then her head “whips up” — seriously? Why did it “whip?” Go back and read just her actions and tell me it doesn’t sound like something out of a silent movie melodrama. Mary Pickford is rolling in her grave somewhere. As Balki would say, don’t be ridiculous. (And then the cast of Clue responds, “Too late!”)

    Look. I know what it’s like to be an abuse victim. I know what it’s like to flinch when someone is angry and makes a sudden move like raising a hand. I know what it’s like to cower and protect your head from the blows you expect to rain down on you because it’s instinctive. But in my experience, when someone LOVES YOU and CARES ABOUT YOU, they don’t see your reaction and continue to SCREAM AT YOU. I expected Maxim to grab her by the shoulders, haul her up and shake her while demanding, “Did he hit you?!” while her head flops about on her neck and her glorious mane of hair gets in her face until she sobs out, “YES! THEY ALL BEAT ME SO TERRIBLE BECAUSE I AM POOR BEAUTIFUL PEASANT GIRL FROM ALBANIA WHOSE ENGLISH IS NOT GOOD!” And then she collapses against his manly chest and weeps. *Scene!*

    Seriously, though — that whole exchange was a prime example of how little the author knows about how to address the subject of abuse survivors. She also has me totally confused because I got the impression Alessia was sold into slavery while IN Albania and smuggled into England where she escaped and hid out with a friend of the family (how did she find this woman, again? Do Albanians have some kind of homing sense that allows them to seek out their own in foreign countries?). Now it sounds like she ran away from Albania to escape this ugly man her father wants her to marry. Where does the sex trafficking come in, precisely? You know, I am beginning to think that the original plan was just to have Alessia running from this betrothal and just to give it a hip, edgy, 21st century twist, James threw in the sex trafficking angle.

    I want this fucking story to make up its fucking mind what it wants to do.

    Also? When you’re an abuse survivor the last thing you want is to screw your brains out for hours on end after experiencing a major trigger. Alessia’s reaction to Maxim brushing his hand through his hair and his evident anger was spot-on, but moving right on to all this boning makes it seem like foreplay. The woman has PTSD, for crissakes! PTSD linked to the threat of sexual abuse! You don’t trigger her abuse fears and then she’s DTF! *Repeats Jenny’s insert GIF of “That’s not how it works!”*

    And then the image of her sitting at the piano in nothing but his sweater? You’re telling me her naked, over-fucked cooch is sliding around on the bench? Well, she’s a daily; I’m sure she knows how to remove lady-nacre stains from polished wood surfaces…once she peels her ass off of it (will it make the sound of a suction cup popping when she does?).

    I said a few recaps back that it seems like James was motivated by word count, and how many she was required to stuff into this pathetic novel. Even when I ghostwrite and my client tells me what he wants, there are X number of sex scenes required per X number of words, and they should be spaced accordingly. Cramming that many into one chapter is — what’s the word I’m looking for? oh, yeah — STUPID. It’s shit like this that makes me angry all over again because there are some fantastic fanfic authors out there who write hands over fists better than James. They are not one-note wonders, and they deserve to be given the chance to go pro. It boggles my mind how this bitch managed to get chosen when she has little to no grasp of how to write. (And I know I keep saying it but she’s MARRIED to a guy who TEACHES WRITING!)

    Gah. I need to go scrub my brain out with vinegar and baking soda. This nonsense always seems to make it fog up more than usual. Jenny…I don’t know how you do this, hon.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Emily, a newbie
      Emily, a newbie

      *Applause to this entire post*

      Really though, I think that’s what pisses me off more about this book than any of E. L.’s previous work; it’s falling in the same vein as H4M to me, almost feeling personal here. E. L.’s portrayal of PTSD victims here is insulting to people like us who actually KNOW how it feels to live like this every day. She could have just made this another shitty, run-of-the-mill, “Hey let’s glorify my abusive hero but paint it as real romance cause that’s what sells” and I wouldn’t be too angry. I’d still be angry, yes, but not /as/ angry as I am about this.
      If you’re going to portray someone with PTSD from abuse, any shade of abuse at all, you need to do your research. Maybe talk with some victims, or just lurk on some messageboards if you want. Hell, just surf some Wiki articles. Whatever you prefer. Just DO. THE RESEARCH. It’s 2019. E. L. has the technology, she didn’t have to cut corners like this.
      She didn’t have to misrepresent an ENTIRE mental illness like this.

      My mental illness sucks, okay. I will admit that, and I always will. I will never be proud to have PTSD, or any of my other problems. I hate being in constant ‘fight or flight’ mode. I hate how I can’t do basic human things like other people, because my triggers make things too terrible. Most of all, I absolutely loathe how sometimes I do have to be doted on, how some people have to basically tread on glass around me to make me comfortable. Because my illness doesn’t just affect me, but those around me, and I /hate/ being that burden.
      PTSD is a reality that I would never want to wish on anyone ever. But at the same time, the illness is grossly misrepresented as it is. From being “only a Veteran’s illness” to people thinking you’re overreacting, it’s hard to have it be taken seriously. I want so badly for people to stop seeing it in just those two colors and rather the vast template of hues that it is, but books like this just drive more and more nails into the coffin of my hope.

      E. L. has written PTSD out to be just another thing the hero needs to save the lead heroine from, when it’s nowhere NEAR that fucking easy. It’s gross, it’s insulting, and I hate it so much. I hate that some people will go into this, read it all, and believe this is how PTSD is. You trigger someone? Ahhhhh, just bang it out, it’s fine. Nevermind that they’re likely going to need a little bit to come down from the memories you’ve just forced back into their mind, nevermind that she’s probably about to cry, or is at the very least scared of you. Don’t even bother seeing if they want to talk about the memories you just made them relive, cause really, who “talks” when you’re just SO in love?

      Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, maybe I’m overreacting, but regardless. This book is almost just screaming the message that you can’t love someone that’s broken. You can only love them and be with them if you fix them first; that’s the only time they’ll be worth your love and ready for it. And you can only fix them with your genitals.
      Because who gives a shit about learning about someone’s triggers and what actually HAPPENED to them when you can just get off to them, right?

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
      • falalala
        falalala

        As another person with PTSD, you are absolutely not overreacting. This shit is infuriating.

        (At least E.L. James is incompetent that my irritation at the terrible way she writes about trauma got interrupted by amusement at the complete idiocy of “carnal espresso.” Was she playing Mad Libs with her sex scenes? Was her entire writing process for that line “Her eyes are (SEXY ADJECTIVE) (SOME KIND OF FOOD OR SOMETHING)”? Is the next sex scene going to involve Maxim declaring that Alessia’s lips are sensual artichokes and her hair is erotic bacon?)

        May 24, 2019
        |Reply
        • falalala
          falalala

          (Oops, that should say “so incompetent.”)

          May 24, 2019
          |Reply
      • Tami
        Tami

        Emily, you and I could be twins. I am not kidding. I was JUST telling my therapist yesterday that I hated being a burden to others and that PTSD was at the core. It doesn’t come with a handbook, either. I know SOME of my triggers but not ALL of them, there might be something new that jumps out from the bushes and I’m back in that Bad Place again. We (you and I, and others like us) live this life…unfortunately.

        You’re also right that James could have done a modicum of freakin’ research into PTSD (or Albania, for that matter). But she never does. That’s why she made Maxim a jack of all trades, because she doesn’t really know what to do with him. Christian Grey never actually did any “work,” either — it was all glossed over because James had no idea what big corporate types do in their gleaming highrises, she just slapped together a bunch of business prattle and called it good. We know from the BDSM crowd that she got that part wrong, too. She doesn’t give a shit. James cried all the way to the Bestseller List and the bank because it was really just the sex that sold it. As Jenny (Trout) pointed out, and I can attest as a ghostwriter who received a ton of requests from clients — every publisher wanted a piece of that action. “Billionaire businessman seduces viriginal woman!” I may be drowning in debt but I still have standards and I am not contributing to a society that believes men have the right to control a woman’s life in any way. That’s one of the reasons I have PTSD, thank you very much.

        And no, you are not reading too much into this book. It’s the same message as FSoG, which conveys the message that Magic Penis Fixes Everything. I hope the reason this book is failing is because women are starting to wake up and realize that’s not the case. With the #metoo movement, you cannot look at shit like this and say it’s okay, because it’s not. Once again, it’s a man thinking he can do whatever he wants and the woman is weak and if he fucks her long and hard enough everything will be better. The End and cut the check. Sorry, EL, but they’re on to you, now.

        May 24, 2019
        |Reply
        • Emily, a newbie
          Emily, a newbie

          While I am most definitely not saying that I’m happy that you know how PTSD feels or anything due to having it yourself, because it’s terrible to endure this mental illness and all the weight it carries, I /am/ happy to finally find someone who does understand and is equally frustrated about the really bad “representation” (it’s less representation, more stereotype) we get in all forms of media >.<. It's just like. PTSD isn't just staring off into space with no expression while grainy, black and white memories play through our heads, then suddenly we blink and it's gone and we're fine. I WISH it was like that. I really wish it was that easy to just shake it off and forget it, that triggers were something you could easily identify and outright control, and you know what, I do wish that it could be made all better just by getting (consensually!) laid with someone you like. I wish it was that simple, but it's just not, and it shouldn't be being portrayed like it is.

          I'm not gonna lie, I misread you saying Maxim is a "jack of all trades" as "jackass of all trades", and I choked on my water and just. Nodded to myself while hacking. Didn't even question it.
          Yeah, E. L. really seems to struggle when it comes to portraying any actual, real life adulting, but especially working. At least in some /very mild/ defense to E. L., a lot of authors do struggle with showing things like that in books. Sometimes they spend wayyyy to much time on the menial stuff and kill the mood, while others, like E. L. just skimp over it far too little, so we kinda have to take a minute every couple chapters and ask, "Wait. What does this guy do again?" Then, after either backtracking in the book itself or just straight up Googling it, you're like, "Oh yeah, this dude's a model-slash-composer-slash-DJ-slash-photographer."
          Which leads to another huge problem in this book, being that E. L. really just…she gave Maxim way too much on his resume. Maxim is, without a single shadow of a doubt, the Gary Stu of this book. Not only is he super cool and super hot and rich and just oh so popular, he's also got all these super cool jobs that's /literally/ just the dream of every popular high schooler mashed into one douchey amalgamation. Isn't he just soooooo amazing and chic?

          Jokes aside, having Maxim have every "ideal" job ever is one of the most glaring problems to his character, even though they really shouldn't be. You can do a lot with a character by including their career, hobbies, and/or job(s). All of Maxim's jobs are A-tier in terms of society interest, fame and fortune, and each one is just /riddled/ with higher-up connections to expand further, but he never actually *does* anything with any of it. We've literally never see him do anything in regards to his other occupations; all we hear about is the Earldom, nothing about the jobs he actually /enjoys/.
          I don't recall Maxim ever going off to do a modelling photoshoot, or even getting a call about one coming up. Hell, I can't even remember if we've /heard/ about or /seen/ him be featured on magazine covers, and that's something I feel like E. L. would have been more than happy to tell us about in very excruciating detail (not show us though, can't have that). That could have actually been a decent way to push the hero up on this "untouchable" pedestal, and thus make Alessia feel all the more self-conscious because this dude is on literal COVERS of MAGAZINES, basically a celebrity, and she's "just his daily". She's not like the other girls on the magazines next to the one with him on it, and then worries that alone makes her lesser and not worthy of his love. But no, we get nothing.
          Maybe he just says "model", when he really means, "I post shirtless pics of myself on Instagram sometimes to my thirsty 3 million followers for the clout."

          Even regarding his music, something he's told us he's passionate about, I can't recall Maxim even /thinking/ about heading to "his own private studio" to work on an EP, or even just a new single (DJs release singles like, every couple of weeks, or even just create new songs to debut at big festivals like Tomorrowland, and that's not even counting all the ghostwritten songs they pump out almost constantly (best boy Martin Garrix is a prime example)).
          He talks a lot about piano and composing, but the only time we've seen him even refer to a composition of his own was when he thought about the song he was working on in memory of Kit (that may have also been inspired by Alessia too? I don't remember; whatever song it was that lead to their first weird grief-bang). If composing was not only his job, but also a hobby of his that he's good at, then he would be doing it sooo much more often. Even just mention it in passing. A small thought that springs up every now and then, even if it's just as an urge. Give us something, Erika. ANYTHING.
          And, even if one gives the lame excuse that "Oh maybe his composition passion died with his brother" or whatever, there's still so much wrong here. If Maxim's such a big name in the music world (like we can safely assume he is, cause he's perfect at everything), whether it be through his DJ gigs or his composition skills, he would be getting calls from music companies and/or agents left and right, saying stuff like, "Oh, so-and-so needs a couple new songs for their upcoming album, do you think you could lend a hand?", or, "This singer wants to do a collab with you, what do you think?", or even just "Hey, we'll pay you this much to remix this person's song for a special tour performance."

          Maybe it's because my significant other is an actual musician, juggling both EDM/electronic music as a solo project as well as having his own band that he quite literally composes every song for and records all the instruments himself (guitars, drums, bass, synth, samples, clean vox, everything), and maybe it's not really fair to compare the two because my significant other has Asperger's and his primary hyperfixation is anything and everything involving music. But I still feel like Maxim would actually work on just. ANY of these things. Or even just mention it in passing in some way.
          The passion that I see every day in my S.O. when he talks music is the passion that is desperately needed here. Showing us Maxim's talent and love for composing and for music in general would do a /lot/ to make him an actual character, rather than the ever-expanding dick with a whole lotta clout here in front of us.
          Give him other character traits, show us his hobbies and maybe give him some depth to make us not hate him. Can you imagine how much more romantic this would be if Maxim used his conflicting emotions about Alessia and his own internal struggles to compose a song for her on the piano? I know, I know, that was a thing kinda in Twilight, but here me out here. They both love piano, they're both super talented pianists in their own right, and he becomes inspired but all that she is and her story. He takes her synesthesia into account (does he know about that? And does she still even have synesthesia? Or did we drop that idea back ten chapters ago?), and he makes sure to hit all the sweet and striking notes just to make her see all the colors.

          We need something like this:
          "Alessia finally finds the source of the piano playing, innocent curiosity replaced by a sense of awe as she comes to a halt at the open doorway, her dark eyes staring at Maxim's lean figure seated at the grand piano in the large den. He's playing a song that she doesn't recognize, yet she knows by his movements and expression, there's a reason for that. This piano piece is of his own creation; there's just something about the notes, the over all sound and emotion behind it that just screams, "Maxim" to her.
          A small smile plays at her lips as she listens. However, once the colors become more pronounced within the air, each shade carried by every keystroke Maxim makes, Alessia's smile falls as she gasps, her heart growing warm, yet almost aching with the realization. Not only can she see the beauty within the sound, but she can read the emotion hidden within every tint of color that graces her eyes.
          It's the soft hues of blue that start it out, only for vibrant, deep reds to slowly rise over the blue's surface. They mesh at the center, painting space with different tones of purple at the center, with hints of blue and red still fanning outward, almost acting as the outline. The blues are for the hardships they've both endured. She knows only some of his pain, only what stems from the loss of his brother, but she feels that there's more being conveyed. Not only that, but he's also painting with her woes and fears in the different shades of the sea. Alessia's own shades of sadness and anguish are dancing before her in colorful ribbons wrapping together, a sad display, but also a reminder of just what she's endured. They portray her strength and survival, and just how much she's been through to be here now.
          The reds are trickier, thicker with many messages tucked deep within. It takes her only a moment to catch on, but she does. The reds taste strongly of the newfound passion that now link her to Maxim, thick crimson threads tie and bind every note together, a reflection to the bond of attraction and lust that now intertwine her heart to his. Different tinges of red brightly mark the different levels of desire how deeply they crave each other's constant touch.
          Blinking rapidly Alessia finds herself worldessly stepping towards Maxim as he continues to play, eventually coming to a stop next to him. She stays silent, staring at his fingers dance across the keys for a moment before her eyes close, focusing on the colors beneath her lids. Soon, silent tears start to stream down her cheeks, and she has to hold in her sob.
          The tears aren't like the others she's shed just days prior. These ones come from something different; they come from the beauty playing out before her, both through her ears and before her eyes. It's beautiful, it's perfect, and so very /them/ in every way; in tone, in color, in melody. This isn't only "their song", but it's their colors, too."

          That's literally just off the top of my head, but (and not to toot my own horn here) it's already something that feels far more emotional than anything else that's happened between them. A scene like that, where you use their mutual love for the piano and utilize Alessia's forgotten-about synesthesia, would do so much to actually evoke emotion, show how they feel about each other, and just give their relationship SOME substance other than, "I'm hot, she hot, we both super hot. Let's bone."
          [Sorry for the long ramble, I had…a ton to say XD.]

          May 25, 2019
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            *applauds* Yes. Just yes to all of this. There’s so much that could’ve been done, especially to explain so many conflicting jobs (or well, I suspect photography was just a hobby for him but the others sound as if they were.)

            The way EEL writes it, I get the feeling Moss just dabbled in all of these things but the moment he becomes an Earl, he drops everything else. All of it. Which is just… so dumb and empty.

            You’re right, there’s so much potential for characterization in his careers and hobbies, plus how Kit’s death affects all of it. Fuck, where was Moss taking pictures of her on the beach just so he could be reminded of how happy she was then? And him showing them to her and how she feels about it? Does she get self-conscious then too?

            And even if she didn’t have synesthesia, it’d be so great seeing her respond to a new composition and them discussing music and inspirations, or how they approach it differently. (Maybe for him it was less passionate but he appreciates their common ground and she perhaps helped him enjoy piano more than he ever did before.) Maybe, I don’t know, even playing together? Like side by side on the same bench. And what about her prospects? Did she prefer the piano but felt she’d be better off getting a job teaching English?

            This is another reason I don’t think EEL was really that passionate about this story or even piano. She likes the idea but not enough to really dig into it. I get maybe she feels it’s too late to start learning it now but I think she views it as interesting to look at and nothing more. It’s all window dressing. Everything has been which is why it’s so long, boring, and frustrating. And the worst part is, she could’ve had a perfectly good story without the sex trafficking angle at all but she doesn’t think the romance and getting to know each other has enough conflict, even though it absolutely could’ve.

            That’s the problem with Mary Sue/Marty Stu, it’s just a character that only skims the surface because the author doesn’t know how to go deeper in a genuine manner. It’s just a matter of execution.

            And yeah, I really do agree that EEL doesn’t know or doesn’t care to try imagining how someone else can be. She takes the most “easy” and direct approach with men too. They only think about sex because that keeps her from making them actual people. (Yeah, lots of guys are horny, but they do have other concerns and she still can’t even do that empathetically or sensibly with Maxim because she refuses to give him a different personality beyond the obvious changes that she made based on past criticisms.)

            She can’t even write “not abusive” without having some touchstone of abuse to compare him to so that there’s a contrast (lol even though there isn’t any contrast really.)

            May 25, 2019
          • Tami
            Tami

            That was perfect, Emily.

            I think we’re all in agreement that EL James does not know how to craft three-dimensional characters. She is so wrapped up in herself and her own needs that she doesn’t look around at the different types of people that share this planet with her. Despite my social anxiety, I love to sit back and observe humanity. I would find a spot in one of those seating areas of the mall and just watch the shoppers walking past me. I went to Disneyland with a friend (the only way I can go into crowds is if I’m with someone I know and trust) and we would take breaks from the long lines, grab a churro and a shady place where we could rest…and again, I’d go into observation mode. I do it when I’m driving, running errands — I see the homeless people on the corners asking for handouts, I see a guy with dreadlocks and torn jeans shuffling along, I see a woman with her kids trailing behind her like ducklings…and I wonder what their lives might be like, where they go, what they do. I make mental notes and file them away so that the next time I sit down to write, I can pull up some of those “everyday people” and drop them into a story.

            Not everyone has to be rich and famous to be the focus of fantasy. Some folks may read about characters with fabulous lives because their own are boring, but they can never CONNECT with them because they have nothing in common. James spends too much time focusing on the insanely rich guys who are basically gods in human form and ignores the characters who are like the rest of us. She misses the opportunity to have the simple house frau whisked up into a whirlwind of intrigue, allowing us to live vicariously through that person. It’s a theme that’s been around forever, in some of the best literature ever to make print: Cinderella is the poor, abused girl who doesn’t believe she’ll ever amount to anything, but because she’s a good person she has something magical happen that allows her to meet a prince; it’s love at first sight, and while she doesn’t feel she belongs in his world, he still wants her with him and searches until he finds her and takes her away to their HEA.

            Similarly, you have the young man — “Call me ‘Ishmael'” — who climbs aboard a boat to make a little money and soon finds he’s in the presence of a madman so obsessed with hunting down a white whale that he endangers the lives of everyone around him. By luck or fate, our hero manages to escape with his life.

            And then there are the modern-day underdogs, comic book characters who come from unimpressive backgrounds only to undergo some unexpected change that turns them into superheroes, and many of them are forced to hide their dual identities from the world and lie to their loved ones, and this brings internal conflict and he has to find a way to make it work.

            Okay, so getting a bite from a radioactive spider and getting special powers is unrealistic…but then, so are all the things James sets up for her heroes. As you pointed out, Maxim is all these incredible things and we only got one brief scene where he shows Alessia his dark room and takes a few photos of her. It would be so wonderful if the common thread that connects them — music — could be featured as something they can do together, but in James’ mind, the only thing men and women can do together is fuck. As an artist, I always love whenever I’m with my creative friends, sketching or painting or sculpting. We’re bonding through our love of art and the ability to make something beautiful. I have had the privilege to be among musicians during casual jam sessions, where they just picked up guitars or a plate of dried beans and got that rhythm going…and it was like watching something being born. Beautiful. Wondrous. I remember once hearing a story about an American who went to Russia and they found the only way they could communicate was through a mutual love of The Beatles. It would be so much more soul-gratifying to see Maxim and Alessia sit down TOGETHER to play the piano since music means so much to both of them.

            But James can’t do that. She can’t, because she doesn’t pay attention to the world around her. She doesn’t see all the different people, and what they can bring to the story that is life. She bandies about words but she doesn’t put them to good use; they just lie there and do nothing. She has to force things to happen rather than let them find natural courses and go with the flow to wherever those streams may lead. Most of it is due to her inability to let the characters show us what they can do by telling us how they feel and thus telling US how to feel. Again, I believe it’s all because she is insecure about herself and wants so desperately to be in control, demanding that everything fit into this perfect little box she has constructed. That’s why all her characters are all the same, because if they were different then they wouldn’t fit. She refuses to look beyond the walls she has built around her little worlds. It has made her a narrowminded elitist, the kind who thinks her shit smells of roses and Chanel No. 5. I wonder if she’s ever known what it’s like to go hungry. I wonder if she’s ever worried about whether she’d be able to keep a roof over her head. Or has she always been a spoiled, sheltered thing quick to accuse others of being jealous because that’s what SHE has always been — the Veruca Salt who couldn’t stand the thought of someone having more than she had, rather than the Charlie Bucket who was grateful for anything she got. All her claims that she went to Albania mean nothing if she locked herself away in a hotel the whole time. I could say I know all about Minnesota because I once had an hour layover at the airport there, don’t cha know. You have to get out and look at the people — even if you don’t talk to them, just sit and listen to them. Observe. Open your mind and soak up humanity because it’s rich with character, good and bad and everything in between, which is far more interesting than the crap James keeps churning out.

            And now I’m done preaching to the choir. 😉

            May 25, 2019
    • Amy
      Amy

      There’s a great youtube series called, “A Lukewarm Defence of Fifty Shades of Grey” where it talks about the original format of the fanfic. Cause the fanfic was originally published by maybe, 500 words a chapter, and then strung into a book, and then into the movie, it explains why there’s so much disconnect between everything. It’s also fun to watch the guy slowly lose his goddamn mind with every book.

      watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzk9N7dJBec

      This is technically James’ first, actual book. She’s not relying on fic structure anymore. Maybe she doesn’t know what to do when it’s not fanfic.

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I’m a hundred percent certain she doesn’t know what to do outside of fanfic but I also strongly speculate that she got a lot of ideas from her readers and her original proof-readers/editors. Even if you’re mostly an introvert, if you’re big into fandom and discussing it with any other fans, then you’re likely to talk about sudden inspiration or random scenes or unexpected details. Basically, I think she had a lot of brainstorming sessions. Admittedly, you’d think they’d point out problematic stuff but she clearly ignored or avoided those people and settled in with everyone else who agreed with her.

        Of course, now she shuns constructive criticism and I don’t think she was very passionate about this book in the first place (or if she was, then she tried, but it was harder than she expected and she ran into a lot of hiccups. Then she gave up but instead of setting it aside, she published it anyway.) Very much like H4M except I think Sarem cared… she just didn’t care enough to rewrite more than she already had. Maybe some of it was getting tired of her own book after the first draft (I don’t blame her, it was a tiresome book) and the rest was her self-imposed deadline.

        (Also, loved those videos. Jenny gets a mention too.)

        May 24, 2019
        |Reply
      • To quote the linked vid: “…and if her books are any indication, creativity is not [Erika’s] strong suit.”

        That’s it in a nutshell. She has no creative vision. She can’t imagine anyone thinking ___ beyond what she thinks. She can’t imagine any different approaches to her books, characters, or subject matter in adaptations. She can’t do anything without source material to frame and build her own very limited stories of “virginal beauty + hot rich asshole + rescue fantasy + *pump-pump-pump-AHH!* = SOULMATES!” She really is just dressing up her Barbie dolls and acting out the same things over and over.

        May 25, 2019
        |Reply
      • Maria
        Maria

        i love dan olson’s fifty shades videos (and all his other ones) and the mister really backs up a lot of the things he says about fifty shades/master of the universe 1 and 2. she just doesn’t have a lot of originality.

        May 25, 2019
        |Reply
  9. Kim Possible
    Kim Possible

    Okay, coot and coal chute is the funniest thing ever! My gay friend at work calls lady parts “chutes and ladders” and even he acknowledges that coot and coal chute is a winner. I’m at work, giggling stupidly, and I don’t care.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  10. Gretel
    Gretel

    Maxim: I don’t know anything about Alessia! I should ask her questions.
    Alessia: I was engaged against my will.
    Maxim: This hurts my feefees and also I don’t care enough to ask more about this situation or your ordeal to travelling to England. My deep, complex man-feelings are hurting. Also, my rage is murderous.
    Alessia: I’m scared of your murderous rage.
    Maxim: How dare you assume I’ll hit you when I’m behaving like a killer and clenching my fists! My man-feelings are hurt!
    Alessia: It’s okay, you did nothing wrong.
    Maxim: Cool. Now let me be jealous of a man you obviously dislike.
    Alessia: I wanna cook for you so hard.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      lol You perfectly captured how terribly ridiculous this chapter was.

      (Not knocking the constructive criticism above because EEL seriously fucked up and it’s disgusting how little consideration and research went into this book but there’s also humor in how stupid these characters sound when they’re being thrust at each other like Barbie dolls.)

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
    • Tami
      Tami

      I laughed so hard I snorted. Repeatedly. It was the “feefees.” Bless you. Thank you.

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
  11. Mat Winser
    Mat Winser

    Carnal espresso, carnal fucking espresso??

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • RIGHT?!

      This is up there with her subconscious doing a triple axel off the parallel bars or whatever. It just makes NO sense, but you can tell she thinks she’s a literary genius.

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
  12. “Ah,” she calls out. Her passion explodes like a leaky oil pan, dripping a solitary smudge on the driveway. It was exactly as the poets say…love is an oatmeal cookie–fine in a pinch. What would she do without this grand romance? Clean the bathroom, perhaps, or read a book. Not this book, of course. Maybe a dictionary.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami
      Tami

      Between you and Gretel I think I may need to be resuscitated. I can feel my immune system getting stronger by the moment, my heart is stronger and my brain is firing endorphins like a cowboy in a Wild West show. Pa-ching! Pa-ching! *blows across barrels, twirls guns and drops them back into holsters before tipping hat* Thank ya kindly, ma’am.

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
    • Bookjunk
      Bookjunk

      “Clean the bathroom, perhaps, or read a book. Not this book, of course. Maybe a dictionary.”

      I… I think I love you.

      May 25, 2019
      |Reply
  13. Claire
    Claire

    Sorry, not verbatim but read how the ‘author ‘ researched. We know she went to Albania once? She also said for the other books (not naming em) she did google street view cos she had never been to where he went to work everyday. So she could track it. If you don’t know a place don’t fecking write about it!!! I know fuck all about badgers but I bet I could google more than she could….
    By the way Jen thumbs up xx glad you’re feeling better xx

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  14. Alice
    Alice

    I don’t know why I still expect some sort of explanation but come on… You can’t just leave it at “I didn’t want to get married” that’s so no enough! I’m so fed up with this conversations with a character making some kind of revelation and then… it stays at the tipof the iceberg? the other character asks no more questions?
    If at least we saw that Moss didn’t press her because he saw she was not ok?
    But no, all he cares about if “but you don’t love him right??? really really? I mean you changed country to avoid the guy but let me ask AGAIN if you like me best”. No “how is your family forcing you?” or “how can I help?”.
    A few chapters ago he was all “oh this is 2019” in full confusion about her fear of her father’s reaction, but her being “betrothed” against her will doesn’t warrant a “it’s 2019 not 1819”?
    No, better to make the plot disappear so they can cook and have sex as if nothing was wrong.

    Oh, and the confirmation that all Albanian men are bad! seriously… And Alessia thinking it’s not her place to question a man?
    It’s frustrating to feel she’s not revolting not to have a complex character who understands she was abuse but still internalized stuff but so she can remain soft and pure and innocent. I’m not sure I make sense but I’m too pissed to be more clear sorry ^^’

    “she thinks about how her mom never told her that sex felt good”
    Cause there’s no shows on HBO or netflix showing sex can feel good.

    Alessia thinking Moss was not angry when we were told he was AND showed all physical signs of being so?

    Oh and moss focusing on “your birthday” and completely forgetting the whole forced marriage part… He is not only a terrible person, he is also not super bright.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      Thinking about it, aren’t a lot of HBO shows pretty racy? How did her father allow them in his house?
      Also, she’s supposed to be a reader, there are plenty of books, not necessarily in the romance genre either, depicting women enjoying sex.

      May 27, 2019
      |Reply
      • Alice
        Alice

        Yes that’s part of the image of their shows. Obvious example being sex and the city. But even Game of Thrones or Westworld etc. They clearly don’t mind showing sex.
        So yeah, even if you take away the money issue and the access issue, her having HBO at home with her conservative parents makes absolutely no sense.

        May 28, 2019
        |Reply
  15. Perfidiousness
    Perfidiousness

    “Pwease down’t sware Daddy Twevethwick!”

    Blergh, I need a shower.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  16. Kelley
    Kelley

    I just finished reading a couple of Sci-Fi/Action novels written by a man that do a better job at handling romance and intimacy for a woman who has been sexually harassed and assaulted. (While she isn’t initially explicit about the nature of her trauma, the man picks it up from context clues and is a friend and comrade first. He lets her set the pace. When she finally decides to sleep with him (just sleep because she isn’t ready for sex yet), he’s mostly worried about making her feel safe. He listens to her.) Not perfect books by any means (the handling of depression and grief are not the best), but I was struck by how much better it was than this hot garbage.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  17. Jenn H
    Jenn H

    Alessia: I can not go home because of SHOCKING PLOT TWIST!
    Maxim: OH NO, this shocking plot twist that I’m sure nobody saw coming IS MAKING ME EMOTION!
    Alessia: Do not worry, I will manage your manly emotions, as your distress is clearly more important than my own.
    *They proceed to have lots of sex*

    Yeah, I feel like E.L. James is trying to hard to make this a plot twist, rather than something not that unexpected (especially given how regressive Albania is in her book). There are sooo many other things that could have happened, including Albanian gangsters kicking down the door and kidnapping them both (seriously, do those guys ever show up again?)

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Like that plot where Grey’s helicopter crashed… and then five minutes later he shows up, and nobody talks about it ever again. It just feels like James threw in the husband bit for ~teh drama~

      May 24, 2019
      |Reply
      • To be fair, the helicopter crash came back randomly in the following book as a BTW: “Oh, and, yeah, Jack totally sabotaged my helicopter, too.” So we can expect that this Big Revelation about her “betrothed” will be forgotten for several chapters until we find out he’s, like, behind the arranging to have her (as Eel put it via Ana before) “white slaved” in revenge for not wanting to marry him or something.

        If he shows up, it’ll only be so Maximum Poldarkusness can punch him out and rescue Demelissiana, declaring “She is MINE!”

        May 25, 2019
        |Reply
  18. River
    River

    Holy. Mother. Of. Pearl. Ya know? I didn’t think we could get worse then 50 but EL said “hold my pink wine with diet ginger ale”… and then she wrote this book. How do you get pupils and irises mixed up? And why would you regurgitate the “really move” line? Blech. Also second everything everyone has said about PTSD, the sexual trafficking and his weird possessive reactions to EVERY situation. And as someone who has fought against sexual trafficking for nearly ten years let me just say Albania is a highly trafficked country and not a subject to be diddled with. Something like a tenth of the population has disappeared into the maw of the human traffickers, but EL treats this as a mere foil to allow her hero to wallow in weird rage and self-pity. Which is incredibly gross. On another note this girl’s undercarriage would be wrecked! Probably after just the opening sex scene…. I mean I know that desire can really drive one to hights previously unimagined but… Seriously five in a day on a new woodchipper? You aren’t gonna be able to walk much less keep canoodling. And why doesn’t he make HER some food… lazy, punk-assed schmuck!

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Jo
    Jo

    I lost it at “Your pussy is broken”.

    Also… this might be just me, but I feel like there’s a sort of vindictiveness in this book? Like you pointed out, EEL response of crticism to Chedward dubiously obtaining Annabela’s consent was to have Moss ask Delmessia (and all the other women he’s slept with) over and over if they were DTF.

    Now, the response to the criticism of Chedward being a subtextual abusive dickwad is having the heroine be an actual, textual victim of abuse and showing the hero being “See? I didn’t hit you when I was angry like your abusive dad, therefore I am a good, not-abusive man!” Like, the only reason Delmessia has been through this is to, in a way, vindicate Chedward, because hey, he wasn’t hitting his love interest in anger, it was all “consensual BDSM”.

    “THIS is what REAL abuse is like!” Erika muttered as she wrote about how every single Albanian man hits his wife and sells his daughter into sex slavery on the regular. “I have retroactively voided all criticism of Chedward’s character by showing people I can recognize and write about abuse!”

    Except, you know, the criticism of Chedward is still valid because physical abuse isn’t the only form of abuse that exists. And also, Erika is such an incompetent writer that she still manages to make the hero seem like an abusive asshole in the scene that’s supposed to show the readers and the heroine that he isn’t an abusive asshole.

    Anyway, those are just my two cents. Maybe I’m attributing too much weight to the Eel’s actions. As we know, she has all the subtlety of a sledge hammer.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
    • Maria
      Maria

      i think you hit the nail on the head

      May 25, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dvärghundspossen
      Dvärghundspossen

      Yeah you nailed it.

      But also, Chedward DID outright rape Anabelle and hit her in anger on occasions, although he still LABELLED it BDSM so it was supposed to be fine? Like you can’t just make something ok by slapping a label on it.

      But yeah, I think that’s what’s going on too.

      May 26, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jo
        Jo

        I know that and you know that, but Erika doesn’t know that because everything Chedward did in 50 Shades doesn’t fit her very narrow definition of abuse, therefore it CANNOT be that, it has to be sexy BDSM and we’re horrible people for suggesting otherwise.

        May 26, 2019
        |Reply
  20. Amy
    Amy

    I’ll admit I took in great glee in reading how this book is rapidly losing numbers like a shunned youtuber.

    May 24, 2019
    |Reply
  21. ShifterCat
    ShifterCat

    “In erotic romance, the character development and storyline are furthered by the sexual interactions in the way musicals further their stories with songs.”

    This. Comics writer Kurt Busiek pointed out that there’s a rule that counts for both musical interludes and fight scenes: they must reveal character or develop plot; otherwise, the story has ground to a halt for several minutes to no purpose.

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  22. Dvärghundspossen
    Dvärghundspossen

    After that much fucking, realistically, they’d both be a bit sore. Cocks aren’t made of leather either…

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  23. It just becomes a bigger train wreck with every passing chapter.

    If my historical paranormal doesn’t get picked up when I get to the point of subbing it around….

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  24. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    “Or maybe she has some misplaced loyalty to the fucking arsehole from Buttfuck, Nowhere, who has a spurious claim on my girl.”

    1, How do you know he’s an asshole? All you have on this guy is that he’s engaged to Alessia, something he may not have wanted either.

    2, “Your girl”?

    ” but her mind wanders, and she remembers her grandmother, Virginia. Now, she married for love. They were happy. Even when they were older, her grandparents would exchange looks that she hoped to emulate.”

    I’ll bet when grandma said “ah” during sex it had an exclamation mark.

    “Your pussy is broken”

    And that’s the game.

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  25. Arlene
    Arlene

    This whole “she’s so amazing because she can play the piano without sheet music” is ridiculous. I can play the piano- I was required to take lessons through childhood and adolescence- and frequently memorized music, whether it was because of performance or just because I liked the song. I was never really passionate about playing piano, just a thing I was expected to do. Even though I haven’t had regular access to a piano in years, when I do come across one, I can play songs I memorized over twenty years ago. It takes a second for the muscle memory to kick in, but that’s basically all it is. And I’m not that good. She’s supposed to be really good and passionate about piano so it’s to be expected that she would have a whole repertoire of songs in her memory bank. EL could have learned this by talking to one person who plays piano.

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
    • Vely
      Vely

      She didn’t even have to ask a musician. She just could have looked at a live concert of any band regardless what genre because you can see that they aren’t playing with sheet music.

      What makes his amazement even more stupid is that he plays the piano too and he even writes music. But maybe something is wrong with his memory and he is just not able to remember such things.

      May 25, 2019
      |Reply
      • Arlene
        Arlene

        Right? She could have asked anyone who has ever played an instrument.

        May 25, 2019
        |Reply
    • Tami
      Tami

      I never took any lessons but as a child I could pick out songs on my granny’s electric Kimball organ, playing by ear. I can’t read sheet music to save my life.

      May 26, 2019
      |Reply
    • K-Ron
      K-Ron

      And if he’s such a great pianist he’d know, when imagining the orchestra, that what he’s describing is a piano concerto. Doubt she’s playing concerto music sans orchestra for many reasons but it seems to me she’s playing solo music and those two things aren’t the same. If he’s classically trained he’d know better than this.

      Agreed on the memorization, which is pretty standard practice. Honestly most of the time I stopped looking at the music because at a certain point it was easier to look at my hands than the book. But it’s cool, EL, you don’t have to put any effort into anything.

      May 27, 2019
      |Reply
    • Emily, a newbie
      Emily, a newbie

      Wonder if E. L. knows that there are people out there who not only don’t need sheet music when playing, but can’t even read it and only play by ear.
      Tbh, that would actually kind of justify Maxim’s amazement at her playing. Like, say she overheard him playing once (we can insert that scene anywhere, we need the development) and is now replaying that song perfectly. Could also say that she picks up the notes and learns songs via her synesthesia, so not just playing by ear but by color.
      But that would require E. L. remember that she gave Alessia synesthesia in the first place and actually doing something with it other than just, “Yup, she’s got it.”

      May 27, 2019
      |Reply
  26. Vernita
    Vernita

    Is it me or is Demelsia just a shittier version of Blertha?

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenn H
      Jenn H

      She would make the book so much better.

      May 25, 2019
      |Reply
  27. Holly
    Holly

    I actually think EL, and her protagonists, would think Small’s heroines were a bunch of dirty whores. Most outlive several husbands, take lovers they dont marry, get trafficked and totally survive, and usually sleep with kings or princes (or Elizabeth I’s dumbass boyfriend) out of morbid curiousity/because its politically stupid not to.

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  28. Maria
    Maria

    this chapter reminds me of a much better fanfic i read set in the new star trek universe in which mccoy and kirk are roommates (*insert oh my god they were roommates*) and after a lot of build up spend a whole day(? it’s been a while, might’ve been longer) having sex. the difference between this and that fic is that the writer spent a lot of time working up to this point, so when it happens, both the audience and the characters are dying for them to get together. and also i don’t think they did it as many times as demelssia and moss do in this chapter, and not with so little time in between. but really it also comes down to the simple problem that there’s no chemistry. the reader isn’t interested in seeing them bang because there’s nothing there. much like 50 shades before it, erika is mashing barbie dolls together to make them kiss without putting in the necessary character development to have it be worthwhile.
    maybe i’m just a fan of writing/reading slow burn stories but the instalove in this book really shoots the whole story in the kneecaps, leaving it to hobble aimlessly toward some kind of conclusion?
    also betting now that moss “””saves””” demelssia by marrying her so she can stay in the country or something.

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  29. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    I assume “It was her birthday?” means it was her birthday when she left Albania, but that doesn’t make much more sense.

    I hope she washes her hands before she cooks :/

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  30. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    It’s so disturbing that Moss has like zero empathy. Every one of Demelssia’s bad experiences is just a thing that sucks for him. E.L. James keeps trying to make it seem like he cares, but she always fucks it up and has him bring it back around to himself.

    “Why does she think I am about to hit her? How dare she? I have to make her see that I am #notlikeotherguys, because this is all about me, me, ME!”

    Guys do not think like this, James! Sure, there are creeps like Moss out there, but they don’t make for good romance heroes!

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Exactly. He accuses her of offending his delicate sensibilities, after looking murderous, and then, of course, she pacifies him so he doesn’t have to understand and/or accept how horrible that is. Why in the hell he felt downright murderous, I’m not sure, but even if you’re angry for someone else’s sake it’s just… He’s not a good hero. He’s absolutely not as nice as EEL is trying to paint him.

      I wonder if it’s a side effect of so many writers trying to make villains sympathetic, especially in multiple and sundry fandoms, where people want them to boink. I think it’s filtered deeply into the collective, to the point it ingrains itself into less heroic male protagonists (possibly in a terrible and inexperienced effort to combat Mary Sue Syndrome.)

      May 27, 2019
      |Reply
  31. Rachel O'Riley
    Rachel O'Riley

    I know calling the “hero” Moss is a Poldark reference, but my fondness for The IT Crowd makes me picture adorable Richard Ayoade’s character Maurice Moss every time you use the name……which gives a whole different dimension of hilarity to your already very funny recap.

    I mean picture this guy
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0gH_omVWIg

    saying lines like this

    “The pain is instant. Visceral. Shocking. I’m in free fall.”
    and the dreck becomes…..nearly almost enjoyable.
    Maurice Moss, is there anything you can’t fix?

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  32. Vernita
    Vernita

    Sorry, another SNL reference:

    ““Fuck. Alessia! did you think I was going to hit you?” I exclaim, and step back, horrified at her reaction. Another piece of the puzzle that is Alessia Demachi falls into place. No wonder she always stood out of my reach. And I’m ready to kill the motherfucker. “Did he hit you? Did he?””

    Picturing this said by Bryce makes it so much more tolerable (and hilarious)

    May 25, 2019
    |Reply
  33. This week The Mister and its poor sales got a bit of a mocking on Have I Got News For You (that’s a topical news quiz here in the UK). They also showed the cover, with its picture of the real protagonist, the Thames.

    May 26, 2019
    |Reply
  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Thank you, Jenny, for this recap. In addition to many laughs, it has given me an example which can finally put into words one of my personal annoyances in reading Eel’s work (even in recap form). It pales in comparison to how blithely she treats serious subject matter, but no nit is too small to pick, I hope?

    The way she uses language is worthy of an eye roll at times, such as the very first thing Jenny quoted:

    “My chest constricts as if I’ve been kicked in the solar plexus.”

    But the thing that bugs the hell out of me is the contrast with the next thing Jenny quotes:

    “Betrothed?

    What medieval claptrap is this?”

    Both of these things happen in Moss’ POV. I presume the quotes are very close to each other, if not right next to each other. And even in recap form, reading something like that is so jarring I momentarily lose my sense of the character.

    As an amateur writer of speculative fiction, I have written characters who consistently talk like that first quote. After all, it makes sense if you imagine it being said by Lt. Cmdr. Data from Star Trek for example: “I do not understand his reaction, sir. I had only introduced the subject when his chest constricted as if he’d been kicked in the solar plexus.”

    But that’s not who Moss is. Personal failings aside, at his core, Moss is a modern, college-educated Brit. The second quote is much closer to how he “should” talk, and the first quote’s effect — creating a sense of emotional distance and awkwardness — is the last thing Eel wants us to feel about him.

    If there were a narrator, it might make sense to put in stylistically distinct quotes like that. (Personally, I am quite fond of omniscient narrators that have a wry view of their subjects. I can hear one now for that scene: “Moss was blinded by his own surge of feelings, as he so often was, despite the gravity of her confession.”)

    But Moss’ POV is written in first-person present tense (ugh), so it’s supposed to be “his” voice. I consider this a problem akin to Jenny’s previous comments about dialog tags and paragraph breaks in 50SoG, where you couldn’t tell what was going on. Except in this case, I can’t tell if Moss’ internal monologue indicates he is actually secretly an android who will use Demelissa in a plot to kill all of humanity.

    Also, to everyone commenting about “carnal espresso”: I laughed, but that didn’t bother me as much, because I am resigned. I am convinced that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of an adverb modifying an adjective in the English language.

    As much as I would like to blame EEL for that, I cannot forget that in the second Twilight book, Bella was taken by the Volturi to a “cheerfully opulent” reception area, among other such descriptions. And it is many more authors than just either of them.

    May 27, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Agreed on all points except espresso is also a noun. I assumed EEL was referring to one of those small, white cups full of a single shot of espresso. It’s the only way I can accept that phrase (even if it’s still bizarre and deeming her exotic for the purposes of sexual exploitation.)

      May 28, 2019
      |Reply
  35. NP
    NP

    Oh my god… I know, amidst all the shit here, this is a remotely minor nitpick but… MUCHLY??? From a person, who READS in English? I can’t even with this book… I have relatives, who barely speak the language and even they would never say that, much less someone, who has been in the country for a while and, oh yes, STUDIED TO TEACH THE LANGUAGE! JFC, again what is the purpose of this? That small-minded housewives from English speaking countries wouldn’t find it believable that an immigrant from the Balkans can speak the language fluently? Aren’t the readers supposed to root for the heroine here? Although it remains a mystery why you would, since she’s demonstrated no qualities, aside from playing the piano, cooking, and being astounded by mundane shit, that anyone above the age of 3 should take for granted.
    Also, I don’t think arranged marriages are a thing in Albania? Even if she comes from a deeply conservative, religious and patriarchal family and we assume that the father was somehow responsible for the “betrothal”, I don’t think she can be forced to accept the marriage. Not to say the situation is not shitty either way, but if you want to write a period romance, write a period romance. This simply does not work as a plot point in a modern book.
    Lastly – hereditary titles are NOT A THING in the Balkans. We do not care. The last monarchy to be booted out of the peninsula were the Greeks in the 70s, I think. She would not care in the slightest what his title is. She SHOULD care that he is filthy rich, which she already knows about, and which he has demonstrated by lying in bed and fucking her all damn day instead of going to work. Which makes all this bellyaching entirely pointless.

    May 28, 2019
    |Reply
  36. Vivacia K. Ahwen
    Vivacia K. Ahwen

    Why doesn’t anyone ever know about Them Thar Interwebs in E.L. James’ books? So much more to say about this mucky-muck, but that detail alone makes me wonder if these novels all are supposed to take place in some kind of AU. Or maybe it’s all early 90s nostalgia but with a horrible soundtrack From The Future? Does ELG address that in any interviews? Still trying to get over the fact that 4.0. Jeenyiss Ana Swan from 50soggy didn’t have an “e-mail account” prior to Chedward’s courtship.

    May 28, 2019
    |Reply
  37. merry
    merry

    His name will always remind me Homer Simpson’s alterego Max Power. Just as ridiculous!
    Morevoer, what kind of host let stheir guest constantly cook and serve food?!? And then complains that it’s not good enough!?!

    May 29, 2019
    |Reply

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