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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter twenty-three or, “Um-ber-ella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay”

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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.

“What for?”

“Saving me. Again.”

“It is you who has saved me.”

Wait, whut?

“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
  • Inheritance
  • 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.

Fuck.

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.

 

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98 Comments

  1. Mina
    Mina

    1. I’m a pianist and the descriptions of Alessia’s so-called miraculous playing infuriate me. I also have a 12yo student playing the Raindrop.

    Miraculous.

    2. I forgot she had synesthesia, which would have been a cool and immersive detail to layer in during the attack from the Albanian traffickers, but just as I forgot Alessia had synesthesia, so did EEL.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
  2. Maria
    Maria

    didn’t christian also give ana an apartment tour where he showed her the library and it was also like beauty and the beast? i feel like she’s just going to keep writing the same book over and over, with very minor adjustments

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      It has gotten to a point where if the author makes the female character a lover of books, I roll my fucking eyes. They don’t do it cause it’s integral to the plot or character motivation, it’s to show off “they’re not like other girls.” That’s right, other girls don’t read.

      And I hate that I feel this way. Reading should always be encouraged, but in shite books like this, it’s always so goddamn pretentious that I wanna create a book club just so I can ban them from attending.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Ani —

        I feel the same about book-loving characters. And I’m a book-lover. I’m the real live version of what these characters are supposed to be and I am nothing like that at all. I don’t think most people like that are like these characters.

        For starters, I freaking HATE Jane Austen and find most classics (with some exceptions) unreadable. But these characters only ever love the classics, of course. And compare their lives to the books incessantly.

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
        • I on purpose wrote a FMC that is a lit academic (as am I, ftr), does not like Jane Austen or the English “classics,” and studies — and actually reads and incorporates into the plot/her character — manga, Hawthorne, Stowe, and romance. And I def. include a scene where she expresses exasperation with girls who read Dickenson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you!” as some sad-girl lament about not fitting in and see Emily as their patron saint of lonely mopiness.

          Because god dammit, I am so, so sick of literature — especially women’s lit — being used as tokenism BY WOMEN ACTUALLY WRITING BOOKS.

          June 11, 2019
          |Reply
          • *Dickinson. I knew better than that.

            June 11, 2019
          • Anon
            Anon

            I heard an interview on NPR a little while ago about Dickinson and how wrong scholars have been about her. Apparently, after she died, her SIL changed a bunch of her poems because they were about her being in love with another woman and the SIL didn’t like that Dickinson was a lesbian. So the poems everyone has been reading all this time weren’t even her poems, really. She wasn’t lonely or a hermit or any of those things. She has a loving, happy relationship with a lesbian lover and wrote poems to her.

            Which makes all those mopey lit student characters that much worse.

            June 11, 2019
  3. many bells down
    many bells down

    The wife of an Earl is a Countess. England doesn’t do “Count” for whatever reason, but they kept Countess. Or, I think, they just used Countess because there was never a feminine form of Earl.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      That weird moment when I don’t know where Count Von Count is from, before he arrived on Sesame Street…

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Tez — Probably Romania?

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
  4. Kat
    Kat

    I think it’s worth mentioning that this book is already being sold off in bargain bookshops in the UK.

    It’s really not hard to see why….

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Michael
      Michael

      Yeah, it was obviously always gonna be tough to follow up 50S, but seriously, The Mister’s only been out less than a couple of months and it’s not even on Amazon’s top 500 anymore.

      I guess once you take away the one selling point of 50S–bondage erotica that appeals to people who never ever have read any other bondage erotica–then all you’ve got left is sub-par-to-mediocre prose and characterization.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
  5. Larissa
    Larissa

    Umbrella? Methinks EL is probably writing Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction in her spare time.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • This made me actually chortle aloud, thank you XD

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
    • NewFan
      NewFan

      Hey! Leave Ladybug & Chat-Noir out of this. What did they ever do to you?

      (Also – that short form story telling is too much of a style change.)

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • Larissa
        Larissa

        I know, I know. I felt dirty just thinking it. But based on how childish her notion of romance/love is – it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

        June 10, 2019
        |Reply
    • shel
      shel

      I had the same though in the beginning when she was swooning over the umbrella…. at least Moss didn’t put gum in her seat first.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Ilex
    Ilex

    What is it with umbrellas as plot drivers?

    It’s not that long since the famous yellow umbrella made its way through How I Met Your Mother, and Howards End uses an umbrella to connect characters, as well — and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Granted that the umbrellas are used differently in those two stories than in this wretched mess, but something about “I fell in love with you because you gave me an umbrella” feels trite. (Also sad, like house elves and socks …)

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Maria
      Maria

      see, when i think of romance sparked by the lending of umbrellas, i think of anime and manga, where it’s a fairly common trope. so common, in fact, i think it’s become an opening sequence trope as well

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      Umbrellas was used as murder weapons quite frequently in England. People would use the tip of the umbrella to stab their victims in the eyes, run away, and then the victim would end up dying from infection days later.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • Now I want a story involving someone murdering a person with an umbrella, then handing it off to someone else, who mistakes it for a romantic gesture.
        Then there’s a big, confusing search where everybody’s trying to find everybody else, but for different reasons.
        And the plot follows where the umbrella goes.

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
        • Erin
          Erin

          If you’re a writer, I think you just found your next story. At least, I hope you are because I would read the hell out of that novel.

          June 11, 2019
          |Reply
          • Maria
            Maria

            you can call it “the umbrella we saw that day”
            (i’ll see myself out)

            June 11, 2019
        • Ilex
          Ilex

          Write it, George! I’d love to read that.

          June 11, 2019
          |Reply
      • Vely
        Vely

        That reminds me of a french comedy film I once saw when I was a little kid, where an umbrella with a poisoned top is used as a murder tool.

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
  7. Sadie Coffey
    Sadie Coffey

    I don’t know a whole lot about pianos, but I seem to think that the thing about them that is so marvelous is how they sound when you pay them. Not how ornate the fucking woodwork is.

    JFC I spent two hours researching a good name for an Indian character who is mentioned in one chapter, EEL coudn’t spend five researching pianos?

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dinah Lord
      Dinah Lord

      Yes! Generally the more ornate a piano is, the more terrible the sound quality. They’re not like harpsichords, where the tradition was to paint quite ornate scenes on the inside of the lid and where they were often seen as furniture or works of art at the time they were popular. Whereas pianos started being made fairly late, and the craze for decorating musical instruments had pretty much passed by then.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  8. Stacy
    Stacy

    But… how is the Thames doing dammit!

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      The Thames is dreading the fact that Moss and Dimzy are on their way back to gaze at it and comment on it endlessly as she dusts the piano in big pink undies while he watches like the lech he is.

      Poor Thames. Run! Save yourself!!!!!

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
  9. Gretel
    Gretel

    “At each corner is either a plinth or a cabinet holding treasures from Egypt: canopic jars, statutes of pharoahs, sphinxes, a full-sized sarcophagus!”

    Me, an art historian: God damn stealing British imperialists! Give that back!

    It’s rather telling that for EL the presentation of stolen artefacts during colonial times is something to marvel at and be amazed by instead of thinking “This is iffy.” It feats so fucking neatly into her racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Eurocentrism and White superiority complex.
    She should be awed by the strange and foreign possessions instead of alarmed. But don’t worry! Good guy Kit/Maxim is *thinking* of returning them. Possibly. Some day. So s’all good.

    Also, as someone who was member of two choirs and an ensemble for classical music, let me tell you something: knowing songs by heart is easy and a requirement. Usually, I’d sing a modern song between two to five times until I know it by heart. Classical pieces are a bit more tricky but it’s also easily doable. The hard part is HITTING THE FUCKING NOTES. It’s obvious EL has never played an instrument in her life when she thinks knowing a piece by heart is the difficult part. The technique, the rythm, dexterity and emotion – that’s the tough part. And for singing hitting the gosh darn right note with your own body because we tend to “smooth” uncomfortable intervals.

    “Alessia feels like the noblewoman Donika Kastrioti, the wife of Skëndereu, Albania’s fifteenth century hero.”

    I just finished reading Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. More than 2/3 of the book is dedicated to immersing the reader in Igbo culture.
    EL dedicates a single, uncoherent sentence with no context or explenation in hopes of achieving the same gravitas as Achebe did, as if this teeny-weeny sentence would be enough to transport us into Albanian culture and make us understand the impact of this apparently whidely loved and constantly referenced historical hero.
    I feel offended.

    And lastly: #TeamCaroline

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      100% agreement on everything!

      I loved how Moss didn’t even explain why he was debating the issue (like maybe a museum was interested) instead of going forward with it, since he agreed with Kit and it’s possible his brother simply died before he was able to follow through. Or maybe giving them up would hammer home how he’s really the Earl and Kit is never going to be in that room again. I dunno! But no, they’re thieves and he wants to play finders-keepers; it just sounds more noble if he acknowledges the grave robbery and “thinks” about giving them back.

      Also, I’m so not gonna research that joke about eating them, Jenny. Ewwwwww… it wouldn’t surprise me though. :p

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
  10. Eel continues to let her fanfic roots show with her lack of real development on any level. Since she’s ‘ficcing already-established characters and plots, she already knows their whys and wherefores. This is also why she completely forgets that she has to show the same details to her own readers. You don’t get to just start playing dollies with Edward and Bella or Ross and Demelza or whoever, Mrs. Leonard, if you’re claiming to be writing an original work of fiction.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Casey
      Casey

      I’ve read before that fanfic is developing as its own genre — one that is largely more character- than plot-driven, slower-paced due to periodic updates and the whims of the readers (everyone loves a slow burn after all) . . . there are a whole lot of hallmarks of the genre. Even if James was good at writing fanfiction, it’d be like taking your Western novel and going “this is science fiction now.” Changes need to be made beyond swapping out some names and calling it good. Likewise, if this *was* an exceptionally bad Poldark fanfic, there’s a lot of tightening-up and fleshing out to do if she wants to sell it as a completely different style of work.

      June 12, 2019
      |Reply
  11. Jo
    Jo

    OKAY, BUT HEAR ME OUT: men who have large feet are said to have large penises, so if the Bad Guy’s kick leaves a bruise the size of a woman’s fist, that means that his feet are small enough for that, which means that he has a small dick and that’s why he’s a sex trafficker!

    I know it’s not that deep, I just like to pretend that it is for giggles.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Well, at least Moss can breath easy. No way a dude with feet the size of a woman’s fist is any competition for his massive dick. Oh, wait, I meant to say he is a massive dick.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      I was actually wondering if that was yet more of James’ bigotry showing. The Albanian human trafficker is brutish enough to beat up his victim but his kicks only leave bruises the size of a woman’s fist so he’s not as manly as Maxim.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  12. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    OK, which one of you guys wrote this review on Amazon June 3rd? Freaking brilliant!


    No. No, no, no! Not here! Not now! Please, please, no. No.

    I knew then that I would never make it home in time. My full bladder was threatening me, taunting me. I ran into the nearest building.

    The library. The public library.

    I didn’t belong in this world, this wasn’t my home. I found my way to the restrooms, but I missed the comfort of my cozy ½ bath back home. This was large and bustling and unfamiliar. But when you are desperate….you take what you can get.

    My body relieved, I started to walk back outside. On my way, something caught my eye. It was on the express shelf. It was…a book. I’ve never read a book before. I’ve never even held one. This book was sitting with its pages wide open, daring me to touch it, to read it. I wanted to walk past, but something about it kept grabbing my eye.

    Stop. Stop it….stop, stop. Stop thinking about the book. You know you wouldn’t know what to do with a book.

    But I couldn’t shake the desire to pick it up.

    ***

    He was exhausted. Every night, a different woman at the library took him home. She grabbed him hard from the bookshelf, ran him into her bedroom, and devoured his pages. Sometimes he’d get read all in one sitting. Sometimes he was picked up two or three or even four times in one night. His words spent, the library patron would shyly toss him into the return bin the next morning. Then he would curl up on the shelf until the next woman picked him up. Some books didn’t have this kind of crazy lifestyle. His brother, for instance. His perfect, perfect brother. Oh, his brother. His brother was another kind of story. He went off to a prestigious book shop right after printing and found his way into the home of a Duchess. He lived there in the same home for years until he got left out in the snow and fell apart. He couldn’t think about his brother right now. He had to stop.

    Stop. Stop..

    As he tried to focus his thoughts on something else, he noticed someone. She wasn’t direct. She didn’t walk right up and grab him like the other ladies. She was hesitant, almost ashamed. My GOD her eyes. They were hidden behind the most gorgeous pair of glasses he had ever seen. Why were those glasses so mesmerizing? She wasn’t his type. Why was he so nervous all of a sudden, hoping she would stop in front of him for a closer look?

    ***
    I knew it was silly. I didn’t even have a library card. But I picked him up. Picked. Him. Up. The book. The book. The book from the express shelf. I hid him under my threadbare, second-hand coat and sprinted out of the library and home. What had I done!?!? I broke the law. I stole a book. It was illegal. But I needed to see where the words on Chapter 1 were going.

    ***

    He couldn’t believe it. The girl with the eyeglasses right out of his fantasies had taken him home. She had laid him gently on her nightstand and then….nothing. She didn’t touch him. Days would go by where she would walk through the room while he stared at her, but she never approached. Was it his imagination, or did she glance at him as she passed by?

    ***

    I think about the book all the time. How do I start to read a book? From the front? From the back? Would the book know? Would he sense that this was all new for me? Could he tell I wanted to read him? His spine, so firm and narrow, haunted my dreams. I imagined how satisfied I would feel after cracking it open. I couldn’t hold out much longer.

    ***

    He started in astonishment. Her hand was hovering right over his cover. He was elated. She picked him up and started to read. This would be different. Was that a good thing? He didn’t want to think about it. Wait, what was that pounding at the door? She set him down and cracked the door. Two men yelled “LIBRARY POLICE! OPEN UP!” She went white, slammed the door shut, picked him up, and bolted down the fire escape.

    No. Why why why. No why. No.

    Their perfect moment had been interrupted. He was confused. He was from the library. He knew they didn’t have a police force. What did this mean? Who were these men?

    ***

    I…I…didn’t know what to do. I took the book to the beach and to the mountains, but the men kept finding us. I held up the book to protect me, and he sliced their fingers open with hundreds of paper cuts. They would never bother us again! I puzzled over the future, and it hit me like a freight train. I needed this book to be mine forever. Protecting me forever. I needed to make it right, make it legal.

    I ran to his first home, the library, and approached the counter. I hoped I knew how to talk to a librarian without a translator. They seemed to be from a different time, a different way of life. I mustered up all my courage, dropped to one knee, and pulled something shiny from my pocket. I dropped my handful of coins onto the counter, and now the deed was done. I paid for the stolen book, and now we could be together legally.

    I sat down, cracked him open, and began to read. OH CRAP, that was a bad choice. The Mister was terrible!

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Meli
      Meli

      Hey, whoever wrote this? You get an internet high five from me.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Oh, yeah, if this author submitted this into the “Write a story like EL James’ contest,” this would be a winning contender. I still have to not drink anything when I read it . . .

        🙂

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
    • Tree Lady
      Tree Lady

      That’s the one I mentioned in comments on the last chapter. Glad someone else found it too! I read it to my 19 ho, and he literally collapsed on the ground because he was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tree Lady
        Tree Lady

        19 yo – not a good mistake…

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
  13. Maile
    Maile

    When the doctor came in I was sure that he’d look at her vagina and tell Moss what a smart and brave girl she is and put her on the pill.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Goddammit.

      “She’s a bright, beautiful, amazing woman, Earl of Plaigery. You should knock her up a month after you meet her, which makes her better than Lady Skanky Caroline, and then marry her and live happily ever after.”

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • Maile
        Maile

        Yup!

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
  14. Michael
    Michael

    “Alessia feels like the noblewoman Donika Kastrioti, the wife of Skëndereu, Albania’s fifteenth century hero.”

    This is clumsier than a drunken elephant. It’s like if you’d write about somebody who was feeling cool with this phrasing:
    “He feels like Elvis Presley, an American from the 20th century who earned a living playing rock ‘n’ roll music.”

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Michael
      Michael

      To clarify: This is from Alessia’s POV, so for her to go into details like that on things that require no explanation just comes off as forced.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      Cinderella. Alessia could’ve just said she felt like Cinderella and it would’ve been fine.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
      • But then Eel wouldn’t get to show off all of that Albania research she did.
        Such as clicking a link on Wikipedia.

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
        • Ani
          Ani

          I don’t even think she did that much. She was probably reading a pamphlet left at the dentist waiting room.

          June 11, 2019
          |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Or she could have said out loud that she felt like Donika Kastrioti and Moss could have asked who that was and Dimelsa could have told him. Still a weird detail to include, but at least in dialogue, it would have been less awkward.

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      Why on earth would she feel like an Albanian noblewoman in an English house, rather than say, Elizabeth Bennet or an English princess or whatever? It doesn’t make any sense.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  15. Tami
    Tami

    I’m hopping on the #TeamCaroline trolley, as well. Caroline and Maxim were sweethearts once upon a time, but she wound up with his brother — maybe because Maxim has always been a horndog and she wanted some stability; maybe because she wanted to see “Zapped” but Maxim wanted to make out with Molly Ringwald at The Clam so Caroline wound up going to the dance with Kitmire (“Giggity!”). At any rate, Maxim is clearly messing with her because she’s just lost her husband in a tragic accident and she’s vulnerable, and she has always harbored feelings for him (being her first love) so of course, she’s going to be weak and needs comforting, etc. Meanwhile, Maxim has a trash bin at the bedside filled with condoms because he’s still shagging other women. Caroline even thinks for a moment she’s pregnant — which, given her situation, is shocking and traumatic for someone who’s just lost her husband — and add to all this the stress of knowing she’s going to be cut off because everything goes to the next heir in line, aka Maxim. He’s been all up in her business (and other orifices) and then stone-cold drops her, stops replying to her sad-face emoji texts, doesn’t return her calls…in short, she’s been ghosted by the one person who has been any kind of support (even if it’s just helping her to release tension through sex), who has been her friend and — while married to Kit — family for so many years. The more I think about how Maxim used Caroline, only to turn around and get a boner for his cleaning lady (and a few days later he’s thinking of marrying her), the more I’ve decided he’s a piece of shit. Especially with the way he makes everything All About Him.

    And once more, this is an example of ELJ’s misogyny. She wants you to focus on her heroine but she also punishes the girl for being desired by her male protagonist. She makes every other woman look like either a cold bitch (mothers) or a jealous ex (women hero has fucked). That “woman’s fist” thing really threw me. I am a woman and I have huge hands and long fingers — not manly, just really big. I’ve met women with thin, tiny hands that I am almost afraid to shake for fear of crushing their delicate bones. Point being: women’s hands come in all sizes, so how can we even begin to know what a wound “the size of a woman’s fist” would look like? Especially on someone who is supposed to be small enough to fit into a 14-year-old boy’s clothing. But it’s that use of “woman’s” that is so jarring because the attack was by MEN. For fuck’s sake, EL — why do you hate women so much when you ARE one? How is your core readership of women supposed to sympathize with your female characters when you make the heroine so weak and inspid and dependent upon men for everything including their very identity? And all your other female characters are there to promote hatred. Women hating women over stupid shit like being jealous that a man picked someone else over them is immature, and it’s also an outmoded toxicity which holds back the progress of feminism. Even Jane Austen’s main characters were strong women who refused to follow with the male-dominated traditions, and they won the hearts of the men everyone else wanted because of their independence and forward-thinking. They were not shrinking violets and they got in trouble for speaking their minds. That’s why those books were so popular — and they were written by a woman.

    In this day and age, it would be nice to see some positive representation of our gender. I want to see Alessia get tired of being chased and scared and turn into fucking Ripley or Sarah Connor, and say “Fuck this shit!” Because those two women both got Michael Bean, if I remember correctly…and in both stories, he started out wanting to be their protector but wound up fighting beside them, having great respect for them because they stood up for themselves. I think that’s also why I had such a problem with MCU’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and how Black Widow went from being a kick-ass bitch in all the other movies to being a lovesick schoolgirl with boobs for Bruce Banner’s face-planting (and then she goes and makes a huge sacrifice and doesn’t even get a fucking memorial). Strong women are capable of being romantic leads, of running businesses and not having a man to come in and show her how everything can be fixed with his penis (apologies for all the “Family Guy” references). Instead, how about we have a woman who meets a guy who needs HER help, and they work TOGETHER, and along the line they form a FRIENDSHIP that develops into ROMANCE when they realize how much each of them fills in those little empty places in their lives? Or does that make me an uppity feminist who should just shut up and go make Daddy a sandwich?

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      . Caroline and Maxim were sweethearts once upon a time, but she wound up with his brother — maybe because Maxim has always been a horndog and she wanted some stability; maybe because she wanted to see “Zapped” but Maxim wanted to make out with Molly Ringwald at The Clam so Caroline wound up going to the dance with Kitmire (“Giggity!”). At any rate, Maxim is clearly messing with her because she’s just lost her husband in a tragic accident and she’s vulnerable, and she has always harbored feelings for him (being her first love) so of course, she’s going to be weak and needs comforting, etc.

      You may be giving this way more thought than EEL ever did. Remember EEL never does any real research and just writes what’s on her mind and has demonstrated she has no clue on how to write a complex character. So what you’re seeing on the page is EEL’s story, not the ones of her characters.

      So, yeah, I’d say we not over-think this too much as we have way more creative thought than EEL ever did.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Hell, just making Caroline and Alessia friends would’ve been nice, while Maxim was sweating bullets about having fucked both of them and worrying about the embarrassing secrets his new girlfriend might find out. Anything really…

      And yeah, Black Widow was kind of all over the place, which was frustrating. They made her the weary leader absent Stark, which I liked, but then sacrificed her in the end… And the relationship with Bruce barely went anywhere. I mean, I’m glad they remembered it when bringing him back but she kind of got forgotten thanks to Tony Stark’s sacrifice at the end. Eh.

      I’m mildly optimistic about her prequel movie. Mostly because she’ll be an actual spy…

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  16. Jules
    Jules

    I would happily read a book about Caroline if it was written by anyone other than EEL. Hell, I would read a romance between Caroline and Moss if Moss were written as less of an asshole and someone else were writing the book.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      I’m sure the Poldark section of AO3 has you covered.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        True! The downside is most of us have never read/watched Poldark and thus we’d be a bit out of the loop on certain things. (Other than me remembering that Poldark has a character named Caroline who isn’t this character.)

        But surely there are novels with a similar premise to Caroline/Maxim! The hard part would be hunting them down… maybe. XD

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
  17. Larissa
    Larissa

    I know, I know. I felt dirty just thinking it. But based on how childish her notion of romance/love is – it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
  18. Coco
    Coco

    If only his opulent mansion and inherited wealth disgusted her and she went back to Albania to try to reestablish a communist state.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      She could even be justifiably bitter about how he treats her and use it as a sideways vengeance…

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  19. Jenn H
    Jenn H

    “Alessia feels like the noblewoman Donika Kastrioti, the wife of Skëndereu, Albania’s fifteenth century hero.”

    Alessia’s internal monologue reads like a year 9 book report. Also she just has to remind the reader once again that she is Albanian.

    Alessia probably wouldn’t be comfortable being treated by a male doctor, given her history. But the narrative just glosses over that. Also I’m pretty sure taking photos would be a job for a doctor who is working with the police, but since the cops are no longer needed for the plot we can forget they exist again.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
  20. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    Wait. How long ago did Kit die? Less than a month ago, right? I feel like it’s been more like two weeks. Kit and Caroline lived in the big huge Earl house. Isn’t it still full of Caroline’s stuff? Wouldn’t it be likely that she might still be living in the big huge house until she’s been able to finish up all her countess business and move out of it? Or at least stopping by frequently to pack and get the mail and stuff? Shouldn’t Moss be constantly reminded of Caroline by being in the house that she lived in for years? Her stuff should be in the bathroom—her body wash, her shampoo, not Moss’s. We haven’t seen him move anything into the big house yet. This is the first time he’s been there since becoming Earl but apparently the bathrooms are stocked with his stuff and his computer is at the house? Caroline would’ve hired some of the servants, she would’ve redecorated and planted new gardens. All these things are things that Moss should be noticing. He shouldn’t feel super right at home in this house, yet. The house still has Kit’s drum set in it.

    It would’ve been so interesting if they had focused more on how awkward it is to switch over a big house like this. How he’s the Earl so it’s technically his but he never thought it would be, and Caroline assumed she’d be living there for decades, raising her kids and grandkids, hosting so many big Christmases and cutting the ribbon on decades worth of village bazaars because she’s the Countess. All the dogs in the kennels and the horses in the stables are her pets. She’s probably got a million projects going on simultaneously relating to the upkeep of the house, gardens, village, the cottages, and all the business ventures that the manor is involved in, not to mention different committees and charities she’s on because she’s the countess. She would’ve invested a lot of time and money and work into making this house and the job of Countess her own. Now she’s essentially kicked out without any warning when her husband dies unexpectedly. How long should Moss give her to pack up and leave? When should he start moving his stuff into the house? Will there be a period of time where they’re both living there or where she’s at least still stopping by to get things while he’s starting to move things in? Caroline could show up at the house while Alessia and Moss are there. She could be forced to stay the night when a huge storm comes in off the coast. It could cause great tension and create a love triangle type situation with Moss trying to hide the fact that he’s with Alessia from Caroline and trying to hide the fact that he JUST slept with Caroline from Alessia. Alessia could see Caroline and how she fits in so well in this house (because it’s hers) and how she obviously has chemistry and history with Moss. It could make Alessia feel so self conscious and small and stupid, and could serve as a catalyst for her to leave or return to her fiancée. Or she could be so grossed out by the aristocratic inbreeding-type situation if Moss sleeping with his brother’s wife that she’s just so disgusted and wants to leave. EEL really should’ve dropped the whole sex trafficking plot and instead focused more on the Caroline/Moss/Alessia triangle and all the stress that comes with Caroline having to transition out of Countess mode and Moss/Alessia having to transition into that role all while the last Countess is still around. Throw in the fact that Moss and Caroline have romantic and sexual history and that Alessia is an immigrant and a cleaner, and you have a ton of potential for conflict.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      God, I didn’t even think of that! You’re right, that would’ve been amazing conflict and way more natural… It also makes me wonder where the fuck is Caroline living currently? It would’ve been so much better if he originally didn’t go to the big house because Caroline still lives there…

      If EEL didn’t hate women so much and wasn’t so beholden to her source materials (Poldark/50Shades), it should’ve been obvious. Then again, I think she’s outright avoiding more complex drama because she knows she sucks at it and it’s easier to get to the sex if every conflict is bare bones, surface level only, and resolved as fast as possible. Plus she has a hard time empathizing with every character. At the same time, she realizes that there’s a lot of potential in this concept; she just doesn’t know how to extract it properly so she isn’t willing to experiment or push herself. (To be honest, i have a hard time imagining that she’s written any other fanfic besides these two… and revising them into these novels.)

      Also, it’s interesting that he only has female servants…

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
      • Because if he had male servants, OBVIOUSLY they’d all want Alessia, and that’s unacceptable! (It’s totes fine that he’s banging his “daily” which suggested that he doesn’t have appropriate boundaries with his servants, but yay, they’re lesbos, so everyone’s safe, right, Eel?!)

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
      • Amy Too
        Amy Too

        I think she’s currently staying in her London house. I don’t know if it’s also technically the Earl’s ancestral London home and as such would belong to Moss now, or if it’s just a London house that Kit and Caroline bought in their own. I guess even if it was something Kit bought on his own, and Moss is his sole heir, then it’s still Moss’s. Is he going to keep his London apartment with Thames view? Is he going to let Caroline stay on in the London house she’s staying in now? Is that what he meant when he said he was going to help her and take care of her so she wasn’t destitute? I wish we knew.

        June 11, 2019
        |Reply
    • Riea
      Riea

      I get the feeling that the big house wasn’t Caroline and Kits main residence. So it’s possible that everytime they needed to visit it servants would prepare it for their visit. So 8tneouodnt have like a fuckton of their belongings. However, I assume there would still be some stuff there, like the drum kit, or perhaps kit had a drum kit at all the houses he stayed. What I’m saying his there might not be a lot of stuff to turn over etc… However, Caroline def eould have decorated it.

      June 18, 2019
      |Reply
      • Riea
        Riea

        * there wouldn’t, *would

        June 18, 2019
        |Reply
  21. Meli
    Meli

    Hey, whoever wrote this? You get an internet high five from me.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Meli
      Meli

      Lol, this comment was a response to the person who posted the Amazon review. I somehow pissed off the site and it also posted as a standalone comment.

      You guys, I’m not high fiving the Eel.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
  22. Maile
    Maile

    Is umbrella a British euphemism for penis? It would make more sense if she fell in love with him when he gave her that umbrella.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
  23. Emily, a newbie
    Emily, a newbie

    “I’ve loved you since you gave me that umbrella.”
    “Oh, well. I mean, you were just so obviously /poor/, that I had to. You were making my floor all wet.”
    That’s literally how Moss’s reaction felt to me. I cringed. Very hard.
    That, and “She ignites around me.”
    I found myself just softly murmur, “Female Human Torch in the Fantastic 4 reboot confirmed.”

    And who the fuck gets /so/ specific as to say “the size of a woman’s fist”? Anyone else, absolutely ANYONE else, would have just said “the size of a fist.”
    I know E. L. James has some pent up sexism, but /that/…THAT right there is ridiculous. This is getting to the point where even the most blatant, vocal sexists would sit back and say, “Alright, lady. We get it. Calm down.”

    I just. I wish there was one scene. ONE SCENE that I could enjoy in this book. Whether it’s enjoyment found from giggling over how dumb/bad it is, or the shock and awe over one scene being at least a little interesting or a character being well-written tucked away within the mess. Literally EVERY single book I’ve ever read, no matter how bad, has at least always had that ONE thing for me to like. Zenith had Valen Cortas and his constant, villainous delcaration for vengeance, Forever: Primul had the odd but ‘different’ lore with the rose granting almighty power, Handbook For Mortals had both Sofia as a character the very ill-placed but decently written flashback with the parents, Save The Pearls had the author’s very blatant (but I think also not-fully-realized?) love/lust for furries in the context, The Dragonoid Chronicles has Syler and his scenes, 50 Shades had like, the /one/ good line of “50 shades of fucked up”…Hell, even This Is Why I Hate You had the really funny/great scene of the MC trying to be a little shit by playing technicality, but being utterly humiliated instead and having to simper off with broken pride. No matter how bad a book is, there’s always at least that ONE scene or character that makes it at least…less of a chore to chug through.
    This, though. This book just has…nothing. There hasn’t been a single scene that’s stood out on its own that’s been interesting, not one character is likable (because they’re either an offensive stereotype, or just badly written), and there’s just no substance here. No ambiguity, no intrigue, no suspense, no thrills or twists. The Mister just has. Nothing to it. Absolutely nothing.
    Just…abhorrent sexism, racism, xenophobia, and the most forced romance I’ve ever seen.

    This makes absolutely every single BTS and/or EXO fanfic I’ve ever read in my heyday look like a literary classic.
    And that says A LOT.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Maria
      Maria

      i have debated saying this, but i have read kpop fanfics that are somehow head and shoulders above this published book and i am not even joking

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
    • Riea
      Riea

      Hey, there are some decent BTS fanfics, E.L could learn a thing or two from some of those writers.

      June 18, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      I was reading along, agreeing with everything, and then I get to the line that Save the Pearls’s author apparently loves furries, and I was like, wait what

      XD

      June 18, 2019
      |Reply
  24. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    So if it hadn’t rained, they wouldn’t have fallen in love?

    That’s some Deus Ex Machina bollocks right there. Has there even been a drought in England? (Please excuse my Australian lack of English meteorology and climatology knowledge.)

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenn H
      Jenn H

      When I was there it rained about half the time. A drought is when they go more than two weeks without rain.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Technically we have a fairly dry climate, but that’s more to do with the amount per rainfall than its frequency. We do occasionally have summers where we go several weeks without rain and all the grass dies and people talk constantly about how it won’t last and you’re not allowed to use your garden hose.

      This week in London it’s absolutely pissing it down.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
    • Sushi
      Sushi

      Last summer we had about two solid months of sunshine. Pretty much every blade of grass in the country died. Saddleworth Moor caught fire.

      So far, this summer’s doing its best to catch up on all the rain we should’ve had.

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  25. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    When people are “detonating,” “exploding,” and “igniting” multiple times per book and sometimes multiple times per chapter, the words really lose all their meaning. Every sex scene, even every kissing scene, is the same. It’s overly wordy, stupid metaphors, all the time. “She ignites all around me.” What does that even mean? How are people constantly doing something “all around” the other person? Is their sexy time aura completely engulfing the other person so that they can feel them detonating behind them even when they’re face to face? People are forever “falling apart” or “coming undone” or “shattering.” Bodies are constantly “coming alive” while someone groans. I don’t find “groaning” to be sexy. And when it’s, “I groan as my body comes alive,” it just sounds like he’s an old machine that makes gross noises when someone starts it up for the first time in years.

    Her “sexy” scenes are so repetitive, so copy-pasted through all the chapters in this book, but also through all of the books she’s ever written. They’re always the same. It’s like she’s working her way down a check list of cliches and bad metaphors: groan and come alive, ignites, detonates, shatters all around me. The constant word rep makes me roll my eyes and takes me out of the scene, and when every sexual action is replaced with a metaphor, the sex scene is no longer sexy. You can’t visualize it when it’s just a bunch of detonating and shattering. And there are people who specifically praise her sex scenes as being super hot and erotic.

    June 10, 2019
    |Reply
    • Yeah, but those people usually admittedly have never read an “erotic” *cough* book before.

      June 10, 2019
      |Reply
  26. Catherine
    Catherine

    “s 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?”

    AGONY!

    June 11, 2019
    |Reply
  27. shadowmaster13
    shadowmaster13

    You know considering Kit is a known nickname for Christopher, I find the explanation for the nickname bonkers.

    June 11, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Even if Kit wasn’t a nickname for Christopher the explanation for the nickname is beyond stupid. Also, being the age I am, every time he mentions Kit I imagine Kitt, the talking car from Knight Rider. Then I imagine Moss playing second fiddle in his parents affections to a talking car and it makes the story slightly more tolerable.

      Then I imagine Dimzy the spy is trying to steal the tech that created Kit(t). She, mistakenly, thinks that Moss was the one who invented the car when in reality it was Caroline, who has been desperate to get back into her former house to get the blueprints she has hidden in one of the books in the bookcase.

      Caroline, who knows Dimzy is a spy but doesn’t realize Dimzy is the reason Moss is ignoring her, sent a pair of actors disguised as Albanian thugs to hunt the spy down.

      Oh is Moss going to be embarrassed when he realizes that Caroline was the heroine all along and was only trying to save him from the evil clutches of Dimzelda von Trappedinaterriblebook.

      Fortunately Caroline gets her blueprints, is able to build a new Kit(t). She also meets a real Albanian, who was also tracking Dimzy for Interpol. He is a lovely man who likes dogs and old movies and they fall in love and live happily ever after.

      Moss discovers that his family money was actually from Caroline’s invention and he spends the rest of his days in his crumbling mansion where he stares at the piano while clutching a pair of granny panties. Dimzy is in prison. He went to see her a couple of times, but she only spat at him and called him an abusive wanker (because she did study English and knows more than she ever let on).

      The end

      June 11, 2019
      |Reply
  28. Manda
    Manda

    I could see so much potential for a good story if she’d stop bringing so stereotypical.

    Picture this: Same start up, but Maxim’s parents had him to be the literal spare because their golden boy, Kit, needed a kidney/liver/bone marrow whatever. Max grew up feeling ignored and used, seeking any kind of validation to be seen as a person. Everyone swoons at how amazing Kit is as a person, and treats Max like he should be grateful to have such a good brother despite Kit being an entitled dick around his brother.

    Kit died anyway through an accident. Mom’s guilt comes across as anger and despite Max constantly cleaning up after his brother (and was glad he could get the Earl thing, Max thought he could live in peace) he now has to replace Kit once again. Charity events he goes to, he still gets called his brother’s name because no one remembers his face, just the title.

    The thing that brings our two main characters together is that both feel finally seen. They are people instead of a title (Earl/immigrant cleaner)

    You could even keep the Kit’s Widow subplot! He finally feels he got something of kit’s But guilt,etc etc.

    June 11, 2019
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Oh! All of that would’ve been so great! He’d also be so incredibly hurt when Caroline chose Kit over him and later on, perhaps we could explain his asshole actions of fucking and then ignoring her as conflicted feelings, guilt, and continued bitterness. He has trouble believing she really cares for him even though he understands her pain. At the same time, he felt ignored by her too and so it feels a bit like getting back at her now but he also hates himself for reacting like this and he’s too afraid to confront her now that he’s with Alessia. What if Caroline really loves him too? Or what if she never loved him? Is either better?

      June 11, 2019
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      • Manda
        Manda

        Maybe the piano was his one attempt to out-shine Kit and was the only thing he was better at. Having our female lead be good too would unite them. I personally loved that scene in Corpse Bride with the piano duet. She should have had that in mind.

        June 12, 2019
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  29. Anon
    Anon

    TIL that all women have the same-sized hands.

    I think “Into the Woods” is probably apt.

    You know what would have been a good and interesting plot point? Having Dimelsa be secretly trying to get on with something like the London Philharmonic in order to start a new life and she needed Moss’ piano for practice and she maybe didn’t want him to know WHY she was using his piano, so lied while on her own she was trying to get this great job — or an audition for it, at least. It’s a bit cliche (even The Golden Girls ran a similar story), but at least it would have given her some agency and made her an interesting and more complex character. And maybe Moss even offers to help and she turns him down and it causes some friction between them that they have to overcome. And she could have literally abandoned the sex trafficking and EVIL FIANCE IN ALBANIA storyline. Maybe the fiance wasn’t evil, but was keeping her from her dram because he was old-fashioned and she had to run away to pursue her piano career.

    Maybe she fled to England because her parents were influential in Albania and Dimelsa wanted to make it on her own merit.

    Or something. ANYTHING but what this is.

    And Caroline’s “plight.” Come ON! She was rich before she married a GD earl. Her parents are wealthy. She has the best possible education available and probably a host of wealthy, influential friends and acquaintances. Losing her husband was terrible and of course her emotional pain is real. But this whole manufactured “she’s being thrown out on the street penniless!” is absurd.

    I have unfortunately seen a lot of “bookshelves” with nary a book in sight. But if it’s being called a “library” and has “bookshelves,” likely there are books on them.

    “At each corner is either a plinth or a cabinet holding treasures from Egypt: canopic jars, statutes of pharoahs, sphinxes, a full-sized sarcophagus!”

    And now she’s stealing plots of Father Brown episodes.

    Eel has an annoying habit of thinking she has to write every little detail of every little thing her characters do. I’m surprised we don’t get a play-by-play of their toilet time.

    June 11, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Or what if Dimzelda is already in the Philharmonic but it doesn’t pay nearly as well as she’d hoped and she cleans on the side? She could’ve been in England for a while, instead of very recently.

      June 11, 2019
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    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      I like your idea of Dimzelda just using Moss for his piano while she practices for a concert profession. It would also make every time Moss says, “she should be playing concert halls,” a form of foreshadowing. Because he certainly mentions how amazingly advanced and professional level she is. The fact that EEL keeps having him say that, made me think that Moss was going to use his connections to set her up with an audition or something. That would be so selfless and romantic of him, but of course he only thinks about her talent as it relates to him. The fact that she’s sacrificing her potential future of packing concert halls and going on international tours just means that she loves him SOOOO MUCH and he’s SOOOOO SPECIAL.

      June 11, 2019
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  30. Juliana Coons
    Juliana Coons

    One of the classic romance novel messages I most despise is that all it takes to redeem a terrible, bit marginally redeemable, man of high status and low morals is the love of a woman of inferior status and high morals, with hidden talents, a beauty that could ignite a war among nations, and a tortured past. I know some elements of that were present in Austen’s work, but hers is about 200 years older, women’s experiences were very limited, AND – rather importantly – she could actually write and devise a decent plot around something so basic. The idea that a “good girl” need but love a “bad man” is so toxic and harmful to women, and has caused so much real-world misery, on top of there being more than plenty much better books already dealing with the idea, it is disgusting and irresponsible for garbage like James’s books to be given the light of day. I stand by my opinion of many years: she should not be allowed to write. She has money. She should go tend a bee garden or do something else productive and useful, and stop contaminating the world with her tripe.

    June 11, 2019
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    • Dove
      Dove

      She could also just write for herself and never share it.

      June 11, 2019
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    • Person
      Person

      This really isn’t the Thing in Austen’s work that people think it is. Mr. Darcy actually heard Elizabeth’s FUCK YOU NO speech and went, well shit, I *am* being a dick to people I don’t know well, and then spent months improving himself *for* himself with no hope of ever even seeing Elizabeth again. (When he sees her again because she’s suddenly popped up at his house, the awkwardness just radiates off the page and it’s amazing.) Elizabeth then sees the evidence of him improving himself, no longer thinking “well I’m shy” is good reason to be a grump at people, as well as of how good he’s always been to the people he’s close to, and realizes she finds this new look at Darcy pretty appealing. It’s a book where the heroine does not go for the hero until he actually starts acting like one, and where the hero does not ~change for~ the heroine, but for himself – not due to the love of a good woman, but because a good woman called him out on his shit and he knew she was right. I’ve always loved it for that. It’s pretty depressing how much modern media, even not complete shit like The Mister, does NOT get this right, though. Especially considering that, yeah, Jane Austen’s books are fucking OLD, like “omg my little sister will literally be ruined for life, like literally literally, if people know she had a hookup” old.

      June 13, 2019
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    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      (Is now the message to lift the anonymous veil? Eh, I’ll see if I want to comment more first.)

      Juliana up above actually did a pretty good job of summarizing my comment above about the “fixing broken men” romance tropes. And reading this, I realize I am currently writing an amateur Sci-Fi story which could address this — perhaps subconsciously, as much as I’ve been reading Jenny’s blog.

      The protagonist is an amoral, anti-social, arrogant geneticist in the future, who makes his living doing highly illegal and somewhat stereotypical contract work. You know the tropes: cloned soldiers, designer babies, etc.

      Shortly before the story begins, he solves his “loneliness problem” by creating TVTropes Morality Pets. And I mean literally. Rather than cloning himself a woman — who might, like, want personal autonomy and stuff — he instead creates talking dogs with the emotional maturity of 10-year-olds.

      They are exactly what he needs: emotional comfort incarnate. They offer him distraction (“play with me!”), they constantly stroke his ego (what do pet dogs think of their owners?), and when he talks about moral quandaries he faces, they give him the best advice they have: justifications that are very shallow, but equally seductive.

      They are exactly what he needs to make himself feel better — including about crossing lines he would have been scared to cross before. And, spoiler alert, these newly-exaggerated character flaws lead to his downfall.

      It is a story about the powers and perils of technology as a social force. But the more I read of these recaps, the more disturbing similarities I see between the interactions of Moss and Demelissa and my characters. This chapter especially so, for some reason. Which, I repeat, are a mad scientist and his TALKING DOGS. Ugh.

      I bet all it would take to make my story a subversion of that romance trope (even though there is no romance involved in my story) is to make him grumble about women more explicitly. And I’m now genuinely torn on whether I should do that, or if he’s bad enough.

      Oh, and Jenny:

      “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?”

      I personally do it because the important detail is not the presence of the books, but something about them. Usually I want to clarify one of two things. First is the description or character of the books: dusty tomes, cheap paperbacks, etc. Second is how many there are: are they tightly packed, stacked vertically, loosely leaned, strewn individually on random shelves, etc.

      June 23, 2019
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  31. Dove
    Dove

    I want to think EEL couldn’t decide between the actual library scene in Beauty and the Beast and only sort of recreating it with another piano but she forgot to pick one, even after the editor pointed it out, and they both remained.

    June 11, 2019
    |Reply
  32. “She can’t quite believe he’s fallen for her; he’s talented, handsome, kind, wealthy, […]”

    I’m mentally adding “…or something.” – from your “50 Shades” recaps.

    June 11, 2019
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  33. J.
    J.

    Wow, I nodded off at least 3 times during this chapter. Seems like Eel had no idea how to end this book (*hint* it sould have been after the kidnappers arrest. You know Eel, the only interesting part of your book. No one gives a shit about the earl thing.) so she is dragging it out to meet some sort of word count quota and it’s killing me. Of boredom. Very slowly and painfully.

    Dimmy has seen a half a dozen high end pianos at both of Moss’s homes. How is this grape vine piano any different?

    Geeze, Caroline is continuously vilified when she shouldn’t be. She just lost her husband, was left nothing in the will (even though nothing we’ve read leads us to believe their marriage wasn’t a good one? This dude didn’t think about his wife at all? That’s fucking COLD), and grief banged her brother in law who’s now also left to hang cuz. Again, DAYS AFTER SHE’S LOST A LOVED ONE. No wonder she’s flipping out.

    June 12, 2019
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  34. The White Rabbit (Wilderness)
    The White Rabbit (Wilderness)

    We still stan Caroline. She had a ton of ways to screw Maxim over and a ton of motive to do it, and he’s such a gross person that it would be really satisfying to read. I mean, the guy hooked up with her and then abandoned her right after her husband’s death.

    Know what? I’ll bet you a thousand imaginary Internet dollars that this is a repeat of what happened when they were “first loves” in high school. Unreliable narrator Max tells himself it’s so sad, they just weren’t right for each other, so he can forget how hurt she was when he dropped her back then.

    She probably started dating Kit as revenge.

    Ooh, what if she was the real reason he got booted from the school? She’s got a powerful family, what if someone owed them a favor? I love this. Mostly because I love soap opera villains who think things through. But also because it would improve the story so much if Maxim got his comeuppance and it actually changed him for the better.

    Think about how satisfying the “Here are all the tricks I used to beat you” monologue would be in the last chapter. CAROLINE 4 VILLAIN 2019

    June 12, 2019
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