All right. Let’s do this thing. Let’s just get it over with.
We open the chapter with Moss apparently jizzing himself over Demelssia’s declaration of love.
Joy bursts like a million fireworks from within me from head to foot. Its intensity leaves me breathless.
Do you need to sit down a minute?
He asks her when she fell in love with him. I’m going to give you a minute to guess.
She pauses and lifts a shoulder in a coy shrug. “Since you gave me the umbrella.”
So, E.L. James went to all the work of setting up the connection of them both being musicians, of Demelssia playing his composition and bringing him to tears, her synesthesia, etc….
And then they fell in love over a god damn umbrella.
Not over the colors she sees him in as she plays his music. Not over the way her playing touches his heart.
Over the umbrella.
I beam at her. “I felt so good about that. Your wet footprints were all over my hall. […]”
“I fell in love with you over this baseline consideration you showed me.” “Thanks, it made me feel like a good person.” THAT’S AMORE!
He asks her if she’ll stay with him, and she says she will.
I brush her bottom lip with my thumb and lean down to kiss her. I place my lips on hers, gently, but she ignites around me, her fervor taking me by surprise.
What takes me by surprise is the part where the phrase, “she ignites around me” doesn’t refer to a P-in-V orgasm.
She wants more. So much more. I groan as my body comes alive, and I deepen the kiss, taking everything she has to offer. There’s a desperate quality to her demanding mouth. She’s needy. And I want to be the one to fulfill her need.
This is another one of those times where I’m torn between “this could be a normal human response,” and “This is some bullshit.” A lot of people experience heightened libido after some kind of traumatic event that raises their adrenaline. And Moss does note that further down the page. But this is also an author whose heroines are always ready to go no matter the situation.
I want her.
I need her.
I love her.
But…she’s been through hell. She winces when I run my hand down her side. And her reaction brings me to my senses.
She got the shit kicked out of her but again, this is a place where I’m like, was the fact that she’s still probably got so much adrenaline built up in her system making her not feel the pain as badly? Is this a conscious choice by the author or is it too subtle? Am I just overly critical because there’s a healthy interaction in this scene and I thought James was incapable of pulling that off on purpose?
When Moss reminds Demelssia that she’s had a really bad day so far and they should slow down, she’s reluctant. Moss thinks:
She’s extremly emotional, and her ardor may be a direct reaction to being roughted up by those arseholes.
The thought is sobering.
Or maybe it’s because she loves me.
I like that idea better.
See, I feel like this goes and destroys the moment of healthy interaction. Moss realizes there could be a deeper underlying issue and acts sensitively toward that but then immediately finds a version of the truth that suits him better because it centers him. In reality, it’s both. She’s had a traumatizing day and she loves and feels safe with him, hence her response.
Instead of boning hardcore on the stairs, Moss explains how he became an earl and shows Demelssia the portraits all around them. He admits he didn’t tell her about being an earl because he’s still so overwhelmed by it himself. Then Danny interrupts them and we bop into Demelssia’s POV. A doctor has come to tend Demelssia’s injuries, and James gives us a positively baffling description of one of them:
“He kicked me,” she whispers. “Danny wanted the doctor to see this.” She lifts the side of her Arsenal shirt to reveal a vivid red mark that’s the size of a woman’s fist.
What a fucking weird comparison that is! It’s so jarring to read about a man kicking her with his foot and the bruise being the size of a woman’s fist. Is this opposite day? I’m sorry, but I am bewildered at that choice of words. This is the kind of thing Douglas Adams would have written on purpose to illustrate something ridiculous.
Moss makes a comment about how he should have killed Ylli and Dante. Then they go to the blue room so Demelssia can be examed by a cartoon doctor:
The doctor has wild white hair, a wispy mustache, and a beard to match. His keen blue eyes are the same color as his crooked bowtie.
This reads like what would happen if you genetically combined Dr. Mario and Colonel Sanders.
Moss knows the doctor and asks if he’s come out of retirement. No, the elderly doctor is just taking over today for another doctor. Why do we need this information? I have absolutely no god damn clue.
We also don’t need the brief chat about how Moss’s family is doing and Moss and the Mayor of Townsville having a little chuckle over the fact that Moss’s mom is a bitch:
“How’s your mother?”
“The same.” Maxim’s lips quirk up.
Dr. Conway’s laugh is deep and gravelly.
Ha ha, isn’t your mother who very, very recently lost her oldest child in a tragic accident an insufferable asshole?
Finally, Mr. Pringles’s father acknowledges Demelssia’s presence. But he calls her “Miss Campbell,” which confuses her. I assume this has to do with her being there illegally, but it’s never explained or commented on again in the chapter.
Demelssia asks Moss to stay while Colonel Mustard examines her. He announces that she has no broken ribs and prescribes ibuprofen, tells her she’ll live, and suggests they take a photograph of the bruise for the police. The doctor leaves and Moss tells Demelssia:
“I’ll give you the tour later. Right now, I want to show you something.”
And then proceeds to give her a tour, explaining his family’s coat of arms and where the motto comes from.
She can’t quite believe he’s fallen for her; he’s talented, handsome, kind, wealthy, […]
Is he sensitive, clever/well-mannered, considerate/passionate, charming/as kind as he’s handsome/as wise as he’s rich/is he everything you’ve ever wanted?
Theater kids get a cookie.
They walk past more art and up the staircase and to another room and I don’t understand how this isn’t a tour.
They ascend the great staircase […]
Wait, I have to interrupt to tell you all that any time I, personally, use “great” to mean “large” or “important,” I’m like, “‘In the great room–’ That’s a great room,” and then I laugh to myself because I’m a writer and I’m alone all day and I have to make my own fun.
where they had their conversation earlier and cross to the other side of the landing from the double doors.
“I think you might like this,” Maxim says, and he opens the door with a flourish. Alessia walks into a large chamber with wood-paneled walls and an elaborate plaster ceiling. At one end is a bookcase that covers the entire wall, but at the other, bathed in light from a huge mullioned window,
“I looked up the word to describe that kind of window and, by God, I’m going to use it.”
is a full-size grand piano, the most ornate piano Alessia has ever seen.
via GIPHY Image: Gif of the scene where the Beast gives Belle the library in Beauty and The Beast.
Yeah, okay. It was books, not a piano. But don’t pretend you didn’t get that vibe.
The piano is all fancy and covered with like, carved grape leaves made of ivory and shit and it’s super old and impressive. There’s another long sequence of Demelssia playing the piano that I’m just going to skip over because it’s basically the same thing. She plays the piano, she sees the color of Moss’s eyes in the notes BUT THEY FELL IN LOVE BECAUSE OF A FUCKING UMBRELLA OKAY SURE, we go into Moss’s POV and he describes what she looks like while playing the piano and he calls her captivating and marvels at her talent, etc.
Danny and Jessie are poised on the threshold, listening. I wave them in….
I want to show Alessia off.
This is what my girl can do.
I think something along the lines of, “I want everyone to appreciate her staggering talent,” might be a little better than a statement that boils down to, “She is talented and my possession, ergo I want everyone to know about her so it reflects on me,” but maybe I’m just too picky about my umbrella romances.
And they can see she doesn’t have the sheet music–she’s performing this from memory.
Every time this detail is pointed out as some indication of her staggering talent, my heart grows three sizes and breaks the little Whoville x-ray thing. As a friend who publically hates E.L. James’s books as much as I do and who is a pianist recently mentioned, the pieces Demelssia plays aren’t even all that impressive for someone who is supposed to be a concert-level performer. Here, she’s playing the “Raindrop” prelude by Chopin, a piece considered one of his technically easier pieces.
When she finishes playing, Danny and Jessie disappear and Moss kisses Demelssia.
“Thank you,” Alessia whispers.
“Saving me. Again.”
“It is you who has saved me.”
“Trust me, Alessia, you’ve saved me in ways I can’t even being to fathom, and I don’t know what I would have done if they’d taken you.”
Okay, so…in order for this to make any sense at all, we needed to see inner emotional turmoil resolving. Moss’s inner conflicts were:
- Dead brother
- Bad family
- Slept with sister-in-law
- Fell in love with housekeeper
What about those situations has changed due to Demelssia being in Moss’s life? He’s still grieving his brother, his mother is still cold, he’s still an earl, Caroline is still waiting for a call, and he’s still in love with his housekeeper. She hasn’t saved him from anything. In fact, she’s made some of that shit more complicated.
He hasn’t had many thoughts about his old wastrel ways compared to how he wants to settle down with Demelssia. I can’t remember even one significant rumination on the subject, and if there has been and I just forgot about it, it definitely hasn’t been a running theme strong enough that he can cite it as something he’s been miraculously delivered from.
Moss excuses himself to call Oliver and Tom to update them on what’s going on and again, I’m skimming because it’s long and it didn’t need to be. The important part is that Oliver wants Moss to come back to London, and Moss can’t think of a reason not to, now that the kidnappers have been put away. Then Caroline calls.
Damn. I told her I’d call next week.
Shit–it is next week.
He has no choice but to answer and get an earful.
“There you are,” she snaps. “What the hell are you playing at?”
“Hello, Caroline, it’s nice to talk to you, too. Yes, thanks, I’ve had a great weekend.”
Okay, now, hold on. You had sex with your brother’s widow just days after he died, then you did it again right after the funeral, then you were like, by the way, I have all your money now, and then you stopped talking to her. She has the right to be pissed about that.
Moss tells Caroline that he’ll explain everything when he gets back to London.
“Why all this subterfuge, Maxim?” she whispers. “What’s going on?” Her voice drops lower. “I’ve missed you.” Her grief echoes through each syllable of her response. And I feel like shit.
“I’ll tell you when I see you. Please.”
She sniffs, and I know she’s crying.
This is one of those situations where I know I’m supposed to hate “the other woman” because she’s competition for the hero’s love, but I’m not going to do that here. See, Caroline has been set up as being a manipulative person, but she’s suffered a recent, tragic loss. This behavior would be needy from someone who’s just a casual friend, but Moss had sex with the woman who is apparently his very first love and who married another for…IDK, for whatever reason Francis and Elizabeth got married on Poldark probably. She’s already emotionally shattered from her husband’s death, then this whole ill-conceived love affair thing…it just makes Moss out to be kind of a dick for not being honest with her right away and choosing instead to avoid her.
He promises Caroline he’ll visit her as soon as they return to London.
I have no idea how she’ll react to what’s been happening here.
Yes, I do. It’s going to get ugly.
I’m putting down money right now that Caroline is going to flip out about Demelssia being the new whatever the wife of an earl is.
I sigh once more. My life has been complicated beyond recognition by Alessia Demachi, but even as the thought pops into my head, I smile.
Your life has been complicated beyond recognition by the fact you fucked your sister-in-law. Don’t hang that on your girlfriend.
Moss instructs Danny to serve lunch in the library, then he goes back to listen to Demelssia play piano again, but at least this time it’s not pages and agonizing pages long.
And she plays it exquisitely. She should be filling concert halls.
Hey, Moss? Is Demelssia a good piano player? I can’t remember because it’s hardly ever mentioned.
Ugh. All this piano stuff is pointless now that we know they would have fallen in love anyway over a fucking umbrella.
There are other instruments in the room, including a drum kit.
“Kit is short for Christopher. He was a demon on the drums.” I stop by the crash cymbal and run my fingers over the polished bronze. “Kit. Drum kit. Get it?”
This is like the payoff of the Dick Turpin joke in Good Omens except the Dick Turpin joke was intended to be awful.
There’s a POV switch and they continue more of the tour-that’s-not-a-tour that’s been going on for over ten pages now. He takes her to the library:
He opens the door, standing aside for Alessia to enter. She pauses a few steps into the room. It’s like she’s entered another world–a treasure trove of literature and antiquities. On every available wall, there are floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stuffed with books.
Well, it would be weird if they were stuffed with ham, wouldn’t it, Demelssia?
Now that I think of it, a lot of descriptions of libraries include the detail about books being on the bookshelves. Why do we do that? Isn’t it heavily implied by the words “library” and “bookshelves?”
At each corner is either a plinth or a cabinet holding treasures from Egypt: canopic jars, statutes of pharoahs, sphinxes, a full-sized sarcophagus!
Bullshit. Moss’s ancestors would have ate all that shit to treat their chronic boner failure in the nineteenth century.
Look it up.
The servants have set up a romantic dinner in front of the fireplace.
Alessia feels like the noblewoman Donika Kastrioti, the wife of Skëndereu, Albania’s fifteenth century hero.
“I learned two things about Albania,” the author thinks, typing madly. “And I’m going to get my brain cells’ money’s worth!”
Moss explains that the Egyptian treasures were stolen by his family in the 1920s and that Kit considered returning them to Egypt, something Moss is now considering, as well. Danny comes to serve dinner with a young woman who isn’t described but whom Moss doesn’t seem to know. That’s not explored at all or commented on further, and the chapter hook is Moss instructing Demelssia on how to navigate the multiple-utensil place setting. No joke, this is the last sentence of the chapter:
“Always start from the outside and work inward with each course.”
Bam, chapter over.
My Impression So Far: I think at this point, the author was as bored writing this book as I am reading it. More stuff happens in the plot later, but right now, we’re killing time again until it shows up. It feels like the book ended with the apprehending of the criminals and someone just forgot to stop writing. Like the episode of Rick and Morty where they see the commercial on intergalactic cable and the guy does the sales pitch and the cameras follow him all the way home and film him going about his life before he breaks into the sales pitch again. If you’ve never seen it, I highly suggest watching the clip; it’s 100% the same experience of reading this book, but it involves fake doors.