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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister chapter twenty-eight or “The Slowest Kidnapping”

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No news (as this book has pretty much dropped off the edge of the planet despite staying on the bestseller lists), but a content warning for more domestic violence than usual for an E.L. James book.

Pardon the slowing of the pace with these posts, by the way. I’m still performing in The Wizard of Oz and trying to meet some other deadlines.

The chapter opens in Moss’s POV, where Caroline is like, wtf is happening.

“I think the woman I want to marry has just been kidnapped.”

“Marry?” Caroline blanches.

I believe what you meant was, “Kidnapped?” because that’s the more interesting part of Moss’s sentence.

Obviously, Caroline takes this poorly but sucks up her hurt feelings with ice queen reserve.

“Well, you’d better go after her, then,” she says.

We bop over to Demelssia’s POV

Alessia stares unseeing out the car window, drowning in tears she cannot stop. They flow freely as grief shrouds her misery.

Maxim and Caroline.

Caroline and Maxim.

Max and Ruby! Ruby and Max! Max and Ruby! Ruby and Max!

Was what she experienced with him all a lie?

No! She can’t bring herself to think that.

Like, even the characters are resisting this plot point because it’s so flimsy and unconvincing.

Anatoli says:

“Here. Dry your eyes. Enough of this nonsense, or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

So, there’s this thing about idioms. “I’ll give you something to cry about,” is a common phrase in English but that doesn’t mean it’s common or would even have the same meaning in another language. Which is really hard, by the way, when you’re a writer trying to write people talking in a foreign language but using English. So, this is just a heads up to watch out for that when you’re writing because it jolted me out of the story when I wondered, “Huh, is that an Albanian saying, too?”

She knows that she will die at his hands.

And there’s nothing she can do.

Maybe she can escape. In Europe. Maybe she can choose how she dies….She closes her eyes and drifts into her own version of hell.

Right there with you. Because we know there are things you can do. Your author just isn’t willing to let you do them. She’ll tell us all about how brave and resourceful you are but when the chips are down, you have to be rescued or else you won’t fulfill the romantic ideals of her or her Chock-Full-O-Internalized-Misogyny readers.

Back in Moss’s POV, his sense of urgency is put on hold to argue with Caroline, who is still like, yeah, go after her, BUT.

“Maxim, this note doesn’t read like she’s been kidnapped. Have you thought that maybe she’s decided to go home?”

“Caro, she did not leave of her own free will. Trust me.”

Like, a further explanation would have probably been a good idea, since “Caro” has no knowledge of the human trafficking or the fact that this is the second kidnapping in as many days.

“Fucking hell!”

“What now?”

“I don’t have a working fucking computer!”

Moss not having a computer is apparently this huge, tense point standing in his way of rescuing Demelssia. But a phone would do basically everything a computer does, unless he’s looking to photoshop a missing person poster or something. The tension here is like overcooked spaghetti.

Anatoli tells Demelssia that he needs her passport and she’s like, yeah, I don’t have one because I was human trafficked.

“Smuggled? Men?” His jaw clenches and a muscle twitches in his cheek. “What is going on?”

She’s too tired and broken to explain.

The author is on too tight a deadline for her character to explain.

So, at least we know that Anatoli isn’t behind the human trafficking. I was half-expecting that to be the case even though it wouldn’t have made any sense with him not knowing that she was leaving Albania in the first place. I ran out of faith that James wouldn’t just toss that in without regard for what she’d already written.

There’s a section break and Anatoli is waking Demelssia up.

“Get out of the car,” he says. Alessia stares at him, and a small blossom of hope flowers in her chest.

He’s going to leave her here. She can walk back. She’s done it once before.

Yes, Demelssia. He came all the way to London to drive you out to the country and drop you off.

Taking her hand, he hauls her out of her seat and leads her to the back of the car, where he opens the trunk. It’s empty but for a small rolling suitcase and her duffel.

“You’ll have to get in here.”

He tells her they have no other choice if they want to get onto the train to go under the Channel. She tells him that she’s afraid of the dark but he shuts her in, anyway.

She starts to kick and scream as the darkness bleeds into her lungs, suffocating her like the black plastic bag from the last time she crossed the Channel.

She can’t breathe. She can’t breathe. She screams.

Not the dark. No. Not the dark. I hate the dark.

Seconds later the lid pops open and a blinding light shines in her face. “Here. Take this.” Anatoli hands her a flashlight. “I don’t know how long the battery will last. But we have no choice. Once we are on the train, I can open the trunk.”

That would be a real dumb idea, considering that someone is gonna definitely see you do that, but okay. He also gives her a blanket.

In her head she begins to play Bach’s Prelude no. 6 in D Minor on repeat–the colors flashing brilliant hues of bright blue and turquoise in her mind–her fingers flexing, tapping out each note on the flashlight.

There’s a second break and Demelssia is waking up again, conveniently having slept through her best option to escape. Mercedes have an emergency release in the trunk. Failing that, she could have screamed and shouted when they went through customs. Customs officers tend to notice shit like someone screaming and pounding on the trunk. But it’s easier to have your character fall asleep and miss this stuff than it would be to write it and give your heroine any agency. After all, how will the author show off her intensive research of Albania if we never go there?

“What took you so long to wake up? I thought you were unconscious!” He sounds relieved.

Relieved?

I mean…she was unconscious. And why wouldn’t he be relieved to find out that she’s not dead? He came back to get her because he wants to marry her, not murder her. Yes, he probably will at some point kill her in a domestic violence incident but other than that he probably wouldn’t be psyched to drive back to Albania with a corpse in his trunk.

Anyway, he’s taken her to a hotel in the middle of nowhere in France.

“Follow me.” He walks toward the entrance. Alessia quietly sets her bag on the ground, turns, and runs.

So, she does finally try to get away but at the most inconvenient and stupid time. She’s been asleep in the trunk of a car for like, a long ass time. The train under the Channel takes like a half hour but when I went it felt like we waited in line to get through the border checks and actually onto the train itself forever, plus they’ve driven even further to get to this totally isolated hotel in the middle of nowhere. Running is not going to be her strong suit. But you know what she could do at literally any point here?

Ask.

Someone.

For.

Help.

Ask someone. If you’re not willing to make noise and raise a ruckus and let law enforcement know you’re being kidnapped, at the very, very least slip a note to someone saying you’ve been trafficked. Because not having a passport and being carted around in the trunk of the car is going to make Anatoli look extremely suspicious and they are probably not going to let him leave with you in tow like a fucking lamp that had to be inspected for heroin.

In Moss’s POV, he’s somehow overcome the hurdle of his computer not working.

Tomorrow I’ll fly to Albania, and Tom Alexander will accompany me. Annoyingly, it’s too-short notice for a private jet, so we’re flying commercial.

Ugh, don’t you hate when you have to forsake luxury on your journey to rescue the woman you love?

Thanks to Magda, we have the address of Alessia’s parents. It’s also thanks to Magda that Alessia’s fiancé found her. I don’t dwell on this information because it makes me incandescent with fury.

No, you don’t dwell on this information because the author knows it doesn’t make sense for Magda to betray her friend’s daughter and she figures if she glosses past it or makes it just not matter to the characters, it’s not really a plot hole.

We’ll pick up a car, drive to Tirana, and overnight there at the Plaza hotel. Tom has arranged for us to meet up with a translator who will come with us to Kukës the following day.

And we’ll stay there for however long it takes. We’ll wait for Alessia and her kidnapper.

Why are you driving to Tirana? The only commercial flights I could find from London into Albania went to Tirana. And why spend the night, if there’s this huge sense of urgency? They’re making this trip way longer than necessary. They’re flying out in the morning, it’s about a three-hour flight, then it would be about another three hours in the car and they’re there. There’s no reason for it to take multiple days to get to Kukës from London if you’re traveling by air.

Not for the first time this evening, I wish I’d bought her that phone. It’s so frustrating not being able to contact her.

Yeah, too bad you didn’t buy that phone. Her abusive “betrothed” would definitely let her take your calls. Oh, and he wouldn’t beat the shit out of her if you called, either. He’s totally cool with men paying attention to her.

I hope she’s okay.

I close my eyes, imagining horrible scenarios.

My sweet girl.

My sweet, sweet Alessia.

I’m coming to get you. I’ve got you.

I love you.

This intensity of like, he’s imagining horrible scenarios, etc. made me realize something really awful. He left her alone for a couple hours twice and both times she got kidnapped. Which means this is going to be used to justify him never leaving her side ever again or pulling a Christian Grey and having her surveilled at all times.

Jumping to Demelssia’s POV, she’s running.

Behind her she hears a shout. It’s him. She hears his footsteps pounding on the frozen ground. Getting closer.

Closer still.

Is he getting closer?

Then silence.

He’s on the grass.

No.

She pushes herself harder, hoping that her feet will carry her away from him. But he grabs her, and she’s falling. Falling.

Is she falling?

Anatoli lies on top of her back, panting heavily. “You stupid bitch. Where the hell do you think you’re going to go at this time?”

That’s what I was saying, Anatoli! Why now? When there’s nobody to notice her plight or help her?

He slaps her and strangles her.

She doesn’t struggle.

She stares at him. Her eyes on his. In their frigid blue, she sees the darkness of his heart. His hate. His anger. His inadequacy. His hand tightens, and he’s choking the life from her. Her head begins to swim. She reaches up and clutches his arm.

This is how I am going to die….

She sees her end. Here. Somehwere in France at the hands of this violent man. She wants it. She welcomes it. She doesn’t want to live a life in fear, like her mother. “Kill me,” she mouths.

Our brave, clever heroine who is so brave and clever passed up her best chance for escape, tries to escape again in the stupidest way possible, then is like, eh, I give up.

But knowing she wants to die makes Anatoli release her and he tells her:

“‘A woman is a sack, made to endure,'” he snarls, with a cruel glint in his eye.

Demelssia knows where the saying comes from:

He is quoting from the ancient Kanun of Lek Dukagjini, the primitive feudal code that governed the mountain tribes in the north and east of her country for centuries. Its legacy lingers.

And I’m still sitting here wondering how Demelssia’s mom got caught up in all of that. This code thing is absolutely real and there are a shit-ton of deaths attributed to blood feuds and whatnot after the fall of communism caused a resurgence of these beliefs. But again, her grandmother came to Albania from the West, as a missionary during communism. Okay, so she’s Christian, and yes, Christian missionaries do often influence the locals in shitty ways like going, “Hey, you know how your country used to have these horrible fucking rules back in the middle ages? You should do those again and kill all the disobedient sluts and the gays!” Sure, Nana is probably pretty traditional. But she snuck in English books, including the Harry Potter ones, which is like an absolute no-no for hardcore Christians. She just doesn’t seem like a woman who would have been like, “You know what would be great? If we went back to feudal codes of honor and my daughter just rolled with it and raised my granddaughter that way despite the values I tried to instill in both of them.” Sure, there are reasons this could have happened, but they haven’t been provided and they don’t jibe with what we have seen on the page, anyway. Why is that?

Because James is only interested in showing Albanian people in a negative light. We hear about how wonderful English Grandmama was, but her Albanian-born daughter is apparently forced into a marriage with a monster of an Albanian guy who beats his wife and kids and sells them in marriage. The only people from Albania whom we have heard are not some kind of terrible person are the one who wasn’t born there and the one who wants to run away from there because it’s horrible. We hear a lot about beautiful mountains but the people themselves are portrayed as backward peasants and violent criminals, and the most in-depth research that seems to have been done is all on the most negative aspects of the culture.

But it’s cool. Erika’s husband knows how to make Albanian soup.

Anatoli takes her inside and they get a suite. He tells her to go get cleaned up and then casually threatens to rape her.

Her eyes meet his, and he smirks. “Ah, carissima, I should make you mine after the stunt you pulled outside.” He reaches for her chin and she flinches as his fingers graze her skin.

Don’t touch me.

“You are so beautiful,” he murmurs, as if he’s speaking only to himself. “But I don’t have the energy to fight you. And I think it would be a fight. Yes?”

Then, he tells her she’ll eventually love him and she thinks no, she’ll only ever love Maxim. Anatoli tries to get her to take her clothes off, figuring she won’t run if she’s naked. Honestly, she won’t run at all. She has to wait for the hero to arrive and rescue her.

I’m going to skip a lot of the dialogue between the two of them because it’s all Anatoli threatening her and then being like, eh, I’m too tired to carry out my threats. They get into bed with Demelssia fully dressed and he puts his arm around her, warning that he’ll know if she tries to get up.

Alessia stares into the darkness she fears and wishes it would swallow her up. Her tears refuse to fall. She’s all cried out.

What is Maxim doing?

Is he missing me?

Is he with Caroline?

She sees Caroline in Maxim’s arms as he holds her close, and Alessia wants to scream.

So, she’s laying there, not thinking about escaping because her heart is just so broken by seeing Moss hugging someone. She just wants to die.

So brave. So strong. So clever.

After a section break, she wakes up and hears Anatoli talking on the phone to her father. He’s upset because he doesn’t know what happened with Moss or why she left Albania in the first place.

“Yes. I will bring her back to you. I will make sure she’s unharmed.”

Demelssia thinks about how that’s a lie, but honestly, would a man who beats the shit out of his daughter not just consider routine DV injuries “unharmed” anyway?

Anatoli tells Demelssia that they’re going to leave and at first, she defies him until he mentions her mother.

Hey.

If Magda was the one who told her parents where she was…wouldn’t her father and Anatoli already have figured out that her mom knew where she was? Since Magda is her mom’s very bestest friend? Why didn’t the thought of her mother’s safety come up earlier?

Demelssia goes to take a shower and finally, her fucking brain starts working again.

She has her money. Maybe she should return to Ablania. She can get a new passport–and a visa–and return to England.

Maybe I should stay alive.

Ya think?

She will get back to Maxim. And see for herself. See if everything they shared was a lie.

Oh good. Her primary motivation is not to escape a violent man and gain her freedom. That would have made her seem. You know. Strong and brave and all the shit we’ve been outright told she is. Glad that can be avoided.

My Impression So Far: I wouldn’t be so pissed off about the number of times she’s had a chance to escape if we hadn’t heard over and over about how courageous and resourceful Alessia is. Is her freezing-up reaction realistic for a victim of trauma? Sure. But this is fiction and this is a character we’ve seen react bravely before. She ran back to the apartment thinking she would protect Maxim when the traffickers came to his house. She managed to survive on her own to escape them. Yes, she can be traumatized but let’s note that the only reason she stopped fighting for herself was that Maxim took over protecting her. That’s the point in the story where she becomes weak and cowering. That’s the point where she can no longer take care of herself. And that’s what makes her characterization so maddeningly inconsistent.

The fiancé plotline is bizarre, as well. There’s absolutely no reason for it to be there beyond creating a reason for Maxim to be able to rescue her again. It’s unnecessary in the extreme and it only makes the backstory with the grandma and the uber-traditional family seem even more inconsistent. Let’s look at the plot point-by-point on her side:

  • Alessia is going to be married to an abusive man.
  • She was sold to him by her abusive father.
  • Her mother sent her away to escape the abuse.
  • During Alessia’s escape, she is trafficked.
  • She escapes the traffickers and goes to live with Magda, who is aware of the fiancé situation.
  • The traffickers follow Alessia
  • Maxim protects her and she eventually fesses up about the traffickers.
  • The traffickers try to kidnap her and are apprehended.
  • But Magda rats her out for no motive that’s been presented so far.
  • The fiancé shows up and kidnaps her.

But consider how this could have been written, which would have avoided all the inconsistencies and unexplained motives that are driving me up a fucking wall:

  • Alessia is a student at the university (because she was written that way in the book already).
  • She answers an ad for au pairs or whatever.
  • It’s a trafficking scam.
  • She escapes the traffickers and finds Magda, who is unaware of the trafficking situation.
  • Alessia is afraid her family is in danger because the traffickers have her address on her passport.
  • The traffickers follow Alessia.
  • Maxim protects her and she eventually fesses up about the traffickers.
  • The traffickers try to kidnap her and are apprehended.
  • Alessia wants to stay with Maxim but realizes that she has to go to Albania to protect her family, so she leaves him.
  • He goes after her and they manage to take down the whole big trafficking ring.

The book still has the trafficking plot. It can still unroll exactly as it already has. It just doesn’t have the tacked on fiancé or the strange disconnect between the grandma and the medieval blood-feud code thing. It doesn’t have Alessia’s only ally turning on her for reasons that aren’t explained and which we’re directly told won’t be examined in the text because it just makes the hero so ding-dang angry.

But you know why the book couldn’t go that way?

Because it would have given Alessia agency. And that’s not the audience that’s being written for here.

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138 Comments

  1. Ceiros
    Ceiros

    I’m taking odds on Caroline being behind the human trafficking. Oooh, wait, wait, wait! She’ll be taking over the human trafficking ring that was originally run by Kit!

    Gotta make sure that Caroline is thoroughly unlikeable and tarnish Kit’s reputation so that Moss can get over his inferiority complex. Because that’s what most important in any ELJ book, right? That the man gets the happy ending.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Becca
      Becca

      HEADCANNON

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Book 2 will be about her scheming to have Alyssieananabella re-kidnapped and sex-trafficked again out of spite and jealousy for stealing Maxim from her. Muah ha ha.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Ross Gibson
      Ross Gibson

      Also, I forgot and it needs pointing out, two guys from mystery Science theater, who read ready player one, who read Andromeda, who read eye of argon, and a book about tax records that had essentially no plot, those guys found The Mister far more enjoyable to read than Sean Penn’s stupid book “Bob Honey who just do stuff.”

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Maria
      Maria

      Could you tell me where to find the link to the podcast recaps? Google couldn’t help me and I’d love to have something more to hate about (upon? I am not a native speaker)?

      July 18, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Bunny
    Bunny

    This book is like one giant example of why SHOWING and not TELLING is crucial to building realistic, consistent, and relatable characters. EL James just has Alessia TELL us over and over how sad she is and oh gosh she’s so sad and ugh this is horrible and man oh man how awful and this is super tragic and omg Maxim hugged another girl. She never SHOWS us how Alessia responds to these situations! Like, look at this dramatic (and inconsistent) moment:

    “She sees her end. Here. Somehwere in France at the hands of this violent man. She wants it. She welcomes it. She doesn’t want to live a life in fear, like her mother. “Kill me,” she mouths.”

    Stop telling us! Does she go limp? Does she drop her hand? There are ways to convey this without whipping us across the face with “she feels X! She thinks Y!” Like, what if she relaxes into the cold grass, letting herself be pressed down by his fingers? What if, behind his head, she sees birds in the sky and that can become a metaphor for the freedom she wishes she had? I think that would’ve strengthened what little this scene had. But no, nothing can ever be shown, because that’s haaaaaard and this is EL James. It’s gotta be “Thing is happening. Thing is happening, but scarier this time. She is running and feels horror. She is terrified by thing. She doesn’t want thing to happen again. Oh no, thing is happening again.” BLAND.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Exactly. There is zero tension in this scene as Eel has written it. When “She screams” reads like “Meh,” you know you suck as a writer.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah. So much of this would actually work if she did more showing, even if the plot remained the dumpster fire that it is and the characters were the same stupid people. A lot of it just needs more details, context, and proper reactions to feel sensible. Instead, we get info-dumps that are about useless things and dry action scenes that develop nothing.

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
  3. NewFan
    NewFan

    All I want to do is insert a little Max & Ruby! Ruby & Max dancing .gif here.

    Because that was legit one of my favorite shows to watch with my baby kiddo way back in the day. That and Maisy.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Erin
      Erin

      I also spit my drink all over my keyboard at the Max & Ruby thing. Did you hear the theme song in your head too?

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
  4. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    And don’t forget, the emergency release in the trunk of the Mercedes glows in the dark in case, you know, one is trapped in the trunk without a flashlight

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      EEL has the best research and the most logic. 9_9

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Caitlyn Lynch
      Caitlyn Lynch

      Also, isn’t every woman alive taught to kick out the taillight and stick your arm out to wave for attention if you ever get locked in the trunk of a car?

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

        Not the ones from Albania, as they don’t know what a taillight is. (or car . . .)

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Liza
          Liza

          Silly backwards Albanians. Of course they don’t know. They’re still riding horses and buggies. Or has the wheel even been invented in Albania yet?

          July 18, 2019
          |Reply
      • Chris
        Chris

        No, but thank you for this actually 🙂

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
  5. Vivacia K. Ahwen
    Vivacia K. Ahwen

    Cuppla things:

    Is “incandescent” really the adjective Maxim is looking for?

    Has Caroline been called “Caro” right along and I skimmed over that part? I think it’s new.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ross Gibson
      Ross Gibson

      Caro shows up in the beginning, and a few other places just as a dumb Nick name

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        I have a relative called Caroline and I tried to call her Caro just to see how it would sound. It just sounds weird, and it only works on paper as a nickname because Caroline isn’t pronounced Caro-line, it’s pronounced Ca-ruh-line. Carrie would make more sense, but that’s clearly not cool and original enough.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          Depends on where you’re from. I pronounce Caroline far closer to caro-line than ca-ruh-line, and I’ve known a woman who used Caro as a nickname.

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
        • K R
          K R

          Not sure about English speakers using “Caro” and as a short version of “Caroline”, bur I’ve heard the name “Carolina” be shortened to “Caro” by Spanish speakers. To me “Caro” doesn’t sound odd, but I do speak Spanish and I pronuounce “Caroline” closer to “Caro-line” than “Ca-ruh-line”.

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
        • Vivacia K. Ahwen
          Vivacia K. Ahwen

          Yeah, “Caroline” is definitely “Care-uh-line” in Maine.

          Also, Neil Diamond sings it “Care-uh-line” and he’s kind of the expert on That Name.

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
        • Tammi
          Tammi

          My daughter’s name is Caroline (which is pronounced with a hard I; perhaps you’re thinking of “Carolyn”), and we call her Caro all the time out loud and in writing. It’s also a term of endearment in Spanish. 🙂

          July 20, 2019
          |Reply
      • Vivacia K. Ahwen
        Vivacia K. Ahwen

        It’s almost harder to say “Caro” than it is to say “Caroline.” Plus, corn syrup.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Lani B Goode
          Lani B Goode

          interestingly, i don’t pronounce Caro the same way as Karo. Cair-oh-line/cair-oh vs kay-roh

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
        • bewalsh7
          bewalsh7

          Karo corn syrup was the first thing I thought of when I read the name Caro. And I pronounce them both the same way.

          July 18, 2019
          |Reply
        • Liza
          Liza

          This. Every time I see him call her Caro, all I can think of is corn syrup. It’s just weird.

          July 18, 2019
          |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I commented on “incandescent” below. It means what she’s trying to convey, but it’s such an odd word choice. Word-A-Day Calendar strikes again!

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I genuinely forgot Caro was her nickname. It seemed new to me too. Also, I just think of Caro Emerald, which is the best result she could get IMHO but it makes Caroline much more relatable and Maxim shittier.

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Sadie Coffey
    Sadie Coffey

    This is the most considerate and inconsistent fucking domestic-abuse kidnapper ever. First he takes her home to get her things, (seriously stupid move) then he gives her a blanket and a flashlight because she’s afraid of the dark. Then when she tries to escape he nearly chokes her out? For no reason? But he doesn’t rape her, because THAT would be too much work?

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah… what scares me is that some of the reviewers said Dimzy had more chemistry with Anatoli… I don’t know if EEL realized something horrible when she started writing a villain so similar to Chedward or if she’s doing this to set-up another shitty misunderstanding when Moss catches up and finds Dimzy cooperating with Anatoli… Eh, who am I kidding? It’s gotta be the latter.

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ani
        Ani

        It’s not so much Dimzy has more chemistry, it’s because Dimzy has more of a personality.

        July 16, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I guess so. I was just using the term I’d seen in writing…

          July 21, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ani
            Ani

            oh naw, i wasn’t trying to undermine you. it is an interesting thing to think about. it’s like Thor and Loki in the MCU. even tho Thor is the main character, Loki easily became a fan favorite. not to the fault of chris hemsworth or to the superiority acting skills of Hiddleston, it’s because Thor was written as a whiny man child in the first movie and Loki as the intelligent, calm, but still traumatized young man. even after he threatens Jane with rape and calls black widow a cunt, he was liked cause he was interesting and had more personality than Thor.

            if EEl wanted us to like the other characters more, then they should be interesting and engaging. but they’re not, so as defult, the trafficking rapist gets our attention

            July 21, 2019
          • Dove
            Dove

            I see. And yeah, very good point about Loki. I agree too. Moss could actually be a great and flawed character (we know the arc she was going for), and so could Dimzy, Caroline, and even Anatoli, but because EEL is terrible at writing personality and doesn’t know how to make them truly interesting, especially not when she’s doing a rush job, then all we can do is gnash our teeth over how annoying these people are. ;p

            July 21, 2019
    • Jules
      Jules

      The real reason he doesn’t rape her is that she can’t be sullied by someone who isn’t Moss. Then she’d be used goods and not good enough for our “Hero”. I hate EEL soooooooo fucking much.

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Yeah, him giving her the flashlight and blanket actually made sense to me because he didn’t want her screaming and drawing attention to herself. But it was painfully, painfully obvious that rape was only off the table because then Maxim wouldn’t want her any more because she’d be a filthy slutty slut.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ross Gibson
        Ross Gibson

        I hate her too… But you know what, I’m just glad I don’t have to read about a rape scene. At this point in time, from all the books I’ve read, from Alan Moore and Frank Miller, to Jaqueline Carey, I’m just glad to have one less rape scene. Shitty reason why it’s not there, but would be shittier to have it in.

        July 19, 2019
        |Reply
    • Expecting rain
      Expecting rain

      I love how the horrible villain is like, “Oh you’re cold and scared, here’s a blanket and a flashlight” and meanwhile our worthy hero is like, “My beloved has been kidnapped, doesn’t it just suck that I have to fly commercial to go rescue her”.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
  7. Maile
    Maile

    Ok I have a weird Head cannon. Moss is imagining that his attractive maid is in trouble and falling in love with him. In reality, everything is fine with Dimsy. She and her fiancé decided to move to England to pursue her dreams of being a concert pianist. She goes ahead and stays with a family friend, taking a job cleaning. Her fiancé is finishing up his degree in Albania and will join her later. She plays the piano at Moss’s place and she’s so special, that he must have her! He imagines some of her friends are traffickers. He kidnaps her to Cornwall and fights off the friends when they come looking for her.
    His rich, aristocratic word is taken over a couple of immigrant thugs. Magda is worried when they don’t return so Anatoli rushes to England to help look for Dimzy. He finds her in the Tesco and they flee. But alas, the Earle is pursuing them through Europe. Anyway it would be more exciting than this. The idea that a woman has to be rescued from a man by an abusive controlling Earle Chedward type drives me nuts. Like a woman’s choice of man is invalid if another man wants her.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      That would also be better than what we got and I’d certainly buy that Moss was an unreliable narrator.

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
    • Brandi
      Brandi

      That sounds far more interesting and would make so much more sense than what we’ve got.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
  8. Jules
    Jules

    I’m pretty sure my illiterate dog could write better than this shit. Every time I think it couldn’t possibly get worse it gets worse.

    Moss’s idea of rushing to save his beloved is checking out trivago to find an airline ticket? He has seemingly unlimited resources, I can’t believe that there were NO charter planes available in the greater London area. He just has no real sense of urgency because he knows EEL won’t let Dimzy get raped because that would sully her, and he doesn’t really give a shit if she gets beaten, so long as it’s not in any of the holes he wants to stick his dick, so why rush. This book disgusts me. EELs ideas on “romance” disgust me.

    I am only still here because I love Jenny’s writing and I feel like I’ve come too far to stop now. With total disregard for my mental well being, I want to see how much worse this can get.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ross Gibson
      Ross Gibson

      But it’s still better writing than Sean Penn can muster, and less hateful.

      July 16, 2019
      |Reply
  9. Black Knight
    Black Knight

    The one thing I can sort of fanwank is Magda. Instead of betrayal, couldn’t she just be a gossip? Yeah, she should know better, but most people aren’t great at keeping their mouths shut to begin with, and for a gossip, it’s basically impossible. There’s a reason for the whole “two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead” saying!

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, her unwillingness to even examine what Magda did proves that EEL didn’t care about her as a character and she just wanted an easy way to explain how it happened without having to put any thought into the matter. I’d buy Magda making that mistake though… like she’s kinda happy that Dimzy snagged a rich one and she thought mom would be excited for Dimzy without considering that Anatoli might come all the way across fucking Europe to get some girl that he got as a form of payment… maybe she assumed he’d write off the loss, kill the dad, and never find the mom because she was smart enough to disappear when Dimzy did.

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Er Magda assumed mom would disappear after helping the daughter run away. Because seriously, she could get beaten to death by dad and/or the mob boss… and no one else would save her.

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
  10. Michael
    Michael

    Is it really still on the bestseller lists, though? I didn’t see it in the NY Times for the past weeks, and it’s not even an Amazon top #1000 bestseller anymore.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
  11. Jo
    Jo

    It infuriates me how casually Eel tosses people wanting to die in this book.

    Kit might have commited suicide: we’re never gonna address that, because then we would have to address Caroline being more than just an evil blonde.

    Alessia loses her will to live for like, two minutes because she is being dragged back to an abusive relationship: nope, wait, she wants to live to confront Maxim.

    And again, the whole abusive fiancé just reeks of pettiness, like “YOU CRITICIZED MY PLAGIARIZED HERO FOR BEING ABUSIVE, I’LL SHOW A REAL ABUSER!” but the problem is… Anatolia is so over the top evil and incredibly inept at the same time. Like, he could be like “Listen, I have some minions at your parents’ home right now and I will call them and tell them to kill them unless you comply” and then we would have a reason for Alessia being so passive. At the same time, he’s like “Yeah, I’m gonna rape you… eventually. Not right now. But yeah, I’ll come around that any day now”. Like, I get the reason Eel doesn’t want to go there is because further traumatizing Alessia would be bad for Max’s dick, which is the only thing that really matters, but couldn’t she find a reason that could be less of a stretch? Also, why couldn’t Alessia be a survivor of abuse reclaiming her sexual agency in the first place?

    Oh, right, because then she would be damaged goods and a harlot and Max wouldn’t want her

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Yeah, the whole “Maxim is with someone else, I guess I should just die now” followed a few minutes later by “I must fight to live so I can go back to Maxim”…what now? Which is it? He doesn’t want you so you can die now because you serve no other purpose on Earth than to be Moss’s sex toy or you actually want to live…oh, so you can try to go back to being Moss’s sex toy. Yeah, great heroine. I must live so my Mister can fuck me some more!

      Did she once think “I must live so I can protect my mother who tried to save me” or “I must live so I can play piano just one more time”? Nope, it’s ALL ABOUT MOSS! God this woman (EEEL) sucks. I really hope she doesn’t have children because I’m terrified by what she would tell them about relationships.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Did she once think “I must live so I can protect my mother who tried to save me” or “I must live so I can play piano just one more time”?

        That needs to go into the fanfics, where applicable. Especially protecting her mother since she doesn’t even need to be near death to think about that one!

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
  12. WuBomei
    WuBomei

    I was thinking, gawd, I don’t think Eel has any actual friends. Maybe just a frenemy who’s constantly threatening to steal her husband. And then I remembered a joke from the show Miranda, about how when you go to an elite school for the wealthy (like Moss and Caroline), you have to stay ‘friends’ with your classmates, even if they’re loathsome. It certainly would explain how Caroline is Moss’s BFF even though he seems to hate her and treats her like shit. I’d be surprised if Eel knows anyone she actually likes.

    I’m glad to hear you’re very busy, Jenny, I was concerned this book was hurting you.

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Awe, Miranda! I love that show. I only discovered it a couple months ago and devoured the whole thing.

      I’m pretty sure the only person EEL actually likes is herself and her abusive heroes. She doesn’t even seem to like her heroines much since she treats them like garbage.

      Moss and Caroline’s BFFness is the strangest thing in this book. It makes no bloody sense. He keeps saying she’s his BFF but every action between them tells a completely different story.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Miranda has got to be the best sitcom to ever exist. I stop breathing laughing at that show, no matter how many times I watch!

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
  13. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    Who falls asleep when they’re being kidnapped?! And sleeps so deeply that when her violent kidnapper opens the trunk, flooding it with light, and starts touching her and taking to her she doesn’t wake up right away? Why is Alessia so damn tired? She sleeps in the car, she sleeps in the trunk, she sleeps in the hotel. She’s been on a ten day long vacation in a luxury house where all she did is have sex, take naps, fall asleep, and sleep in. It’s not like she hasn’t slept in weeks so that her body’s need to rest overrides her brain’s fear of being kidnapped and forces her to shut down and sleep. She’s also in the trunk, a dark and scary place that causes her to have a PTSD panic attack. Those aren’t just soothed immediately by being given a flashlight. He even tells her the battery might die soon. Shouldn’t that worry her and make her anxious? Shouldn’t the shock of being kidnapped by an abusive fiancée who she knows wants to marry her (with marrying=owning, especially sexually) cause her to freak out and be full of adrenaline? Wouldn’t this all bring back the memories of the trafficking and wouldn’t that also cause more adrenaline? Is she actually fainting and not sleeping? Is she running out of air in the trunk, and that, combined with the hyperventilating has made her pass out? (But that doesn’t explain why she slept in the car before being put in the trunk.) Has she completely resigned herself to whatever is happening because she’s just super suicidal and depressed about max and Caro, and she’s just sleeping because she really cares that little about what’s happening to her? If any of these things are the case, couldn’t they have been made a little clearer? I think EEL is trying to rely on the trope of the heroine who faints dead away whenever anything remotely scary starts happening. But she’s also trying to hide the fact that she’s using such a lazy trope by making her heroine sleep, rather than faint.

    This is all just so damn stupid and none of it makes any sense! Like what was the big deal about not having a computer? Why does he need a computer anyways? To email someone? To buy plane tickets? He has a land line telephone. He has a “clever phone” if he needs the internet. He’s in a massive apartment building where he knows at least some of his neighbors and I bet there’s an office with a computer in it. Why is this even being written as a big obstacle?

    And again, as always, why doesn’t he call the police? A woman has been kidnapped. She doesn’t have a passport and she’s being dragged across international borders. Sometimes in a trunk! Police could at least get her away from her fiancé and make sure she’s safe. They might not deliver her with a little bow tied around her vagina back to Moss in England because doesn’t have any legal status there, but at least she would be safe! Before, it made the tiniest bit of sense not to involve the police because he didn’t want her sent back home. That was what was at stake: being sent home to her abusive fiancé. Now her life is at stake. She may be beaten and raped or murdered, and she is WITH the abusive fiancé. So what is the reason for not involving the police now? She’s already out of the country, she doesn’t need to be protected from being deported if the police find her. That ship has sailed. Does Moss think if he saves her, he can smuggle her back into England and then just go back to whatever his original plan was to help her attain legal status? How is that more important to him than relieving her of the immediate physical danger and trauma she’s in right now? Nothing makes any sense!!!

    July 16, 2019
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      I’m thinking maybe he doesn’t have a clever phone – I might be misremembering, but didn’t he throw it at the wall in a temper and smash it? Not that it matters. He has staff. They have phones. It’s an emergency. He can borrow one.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Amy Too
        Amy Too

        Oh yeah. I think that’s how the last chapter ended. He threw his phone at the wall. That’s a great characteristic in a hero—someone who gets violent and breaks valuables when he’s upset. Not creepy at all.

        But I still don’t get why he didn’t just phone the police and let them know she had been kidnapped. She was literally JUST taken. He knows the name of the man who took her. He knows where he’s taking her. He knows that Dimzy doesn’t have a passport, so she’s probably going to be driven. The fiancé is Albanian, kidnapping an albanian woman, speaking Albanian to her, and driving a car with a damn Albanian flag on it. They could’ve found her nearly immediately by stopping his car either on the way to the tunnel or at the border where he has to talk to law enforcement anyways before driving through the tunnel or taking the ferry or whatever he was doing to get to France.

        Instead, he’s taking the slowest, most leisurely little trip to Albania, leaving Dimzy alone and terrified with her abusive, violent, rapey kidnapper for days. This is SO STUPID! And I hate everything about this book. Nothing makes any sense.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Amy Too
          Amy Too

          And “Caro” is right there with him. Why doesn’t she call the police? Why doesn’t she let him use her cell phone to do whatever he had to do with internet? Why doesn’t she try to talk some sense into him and tell him that this plan of just hanging out in Albania and waiting for the kidnapper and victim to show up is kind of stupid? Why doesn’t she call her dad, who is apparently high up in the British government, and ask for his help? This whole plan make sure me irrationally angry because it doesn’t make any sense and EEL doesn’t even try to explain why it has to be done this way. I think she might be trying to go for Twilight, book 2, where Bella has to go rescue Edward in Italy… but it makes total sense in that book why she can’t involve the police and why she, specifically, has to go there to rescue him. It also makes more sense to first just get to Italy as fast as she can, and then try to rescue Edward, because Edward is already in Italy. In this book, Dimzy and Moss are literally leaving from the same apartment, minutes after one another, so it would make much more sense to try to stop her and fiancé en route ASAP; rather than just resigning himself to the fact that Dimzy is going to Albania and he’s just going to have to rescue her there.

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      It was the most boring kidnapping ever, even the victim fell asleep during it. Anatoli needs to up his kidnapping game. There is no harsher criticism than putting someone to sleep. lol

      I used to be terrified of lightening (like how Dimzy is supposedly terrified of the dark, and, presumably, being kidnapped and raped and married to a man she loathes, but maybe she doesn’t mind as much as we think) and when it was thundering and lighteninging at night, I couldn’t sleep because, you know, terror. But Dimzy is in the trunk of a car, riding off to a lifelong doom and she takes a nap? WTF?!??!?!

      Maybe she has narcalepsy that EEL forgot to mention/come up with, until now?

      And yeah, I do not get why not having a computer mattered in the slightest. What does that even have to do with anything? Did he mean “oh shit, I don’t have a computer full of porn, so I need to get my live action blow up doll back?”

      Has EEL been replaced with an untrained monkey hell bend on destroying the world by causing our minds to explode with confusion?

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jo
        Jo

        It would’ve made more sense that he pushed her into the trunk, she started having a panic attack and Anatoli hit her and knocked her out to shut her up. It would make Anatoli seem a little scarier than just handing her a flashlight and making threats he won’t carey out AND explain why Alessia didn’t try to escape or scream for help earlier. She was just knocked out.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Right! That or the narcolepsy would actually be a great reason if she really has to be unconscious instead of him using social cues to force compliance. If anything, the narcolepsy would be good for a comedic version, where Anatoli has to drag her around and other people help him carry her.

          July 21, 2019
          |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      mofo is rich too. So even if Alessia gets sent back to Albania, so what? Moss can BUY a house there and live with her. He’s probably rich enough to bypass all the necessary things for citizenship. There is NO reason why Moss shouldn’t call the police.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        That’s a good point too. Especially since he must be able to handle his estates from a distance or him, Kit, and Caroline couldn’t live in London at all. EEL really makes everything harder on herself by trying to force the pace and hold him back. There’s no slow burn here, she’s terrible at doing that, so why not have Moss resolve the issue quickly, as he did before with the other kidnappers? Tidying up would still take a few chapters and really we don’t need more than 30 anyway. If she paced things differently, the middle could’ve led more gracefully up to this point anyhow. Gah, I just don’t know anymore…

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
  14. Xebi
    Xebi

    “”Once we are on the train, I can open the trunk.”

    That would be a real dumb idea, considering that someone is gonna definitely see you do that, but okay”

    That would also be a real dumb idea because…train?! What, does Eel think you can…like…just drive a car into St Pancras Station and onto the Eurostar? Because no, you can’t and how the hell does a BRITISH author think you can take a car on a train out of this country? You can very easily get a car ferry to France or the Netherlands, and it would be so much easier to hide that someone was there unwillingly on a massive boat (my poor fiance, she’s so seasick) than on a busy train. There are so many ridiculous plot holes here that could have been easily filled with about two minutes’ thought.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      Also in this day and age when everyone is trying to stop refugees and migrants from getting into the country illegally? Someone is bound to check.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Lucy
        Lucy

        Also, doesn’t crossing borders potentially involve customs agents asking you to open the car trunk? It might not necessarily happen but it’s still a possibility that puts Anatoli at high risk.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Victoria
      Victoria

      You can drive a car onto a train in Dover using Eurotunnel – we’ve done it a few times, so at least EEL got that right. But the space is really narrow and cramped
      and passengers stay in their cars, so she would A) be spotted RIGHT AWAY by the people in the car behind them and B) probably get squished when the cars unloaded.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Oh damn, looks like I’m the stupid one! How have I never heard of this?

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
      • MamaLich
        MamaLich

        Yup, we did this three times (and even during the trip, passengers were allowed to get out and walk around (sometimes going to the bathroom). They will *literally* see not only Delmessia (if Anatoly opened the trunk like a dumbass) they would probably even hear her if she tried to scream for help. During the three times I used the Eurotunnel, all of the cars were directed to park at least 5 feet from one another. Anatoly literally kidnapped someone who was conscious, and then took her into what’s essentially a moving carpark.

        July 19, 2019
        |Reply
    • Kat
      Kat

      I thought that was the English Channel train – you drive the car onto the train in the tunnel if you travel by car.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
  15. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    Hang on, how the fuck a) does Anatoly. Get a suit without Alessia showing an ID b) CAN’T SHE JUST ASK THE HOTEL GUY FOR HELP.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Do European hotels require everyone to show ID? In the US, only the person actually signing for the room shows ID.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        In my experience yeah, both hotels and hostels (especially hostels). Some hotels might have some “you can bring guests but you have to kick them out by ten!” rule but I have seen that sign like, once in my life. Also Albania is not in the Schengen area, so depending on the country Demelza would/could be expected to show her passport, not her ID.

        Unless Anatoly shoved the concierge a lot of money and went “just a sex worker, I swear!”?

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Lucy
      Lucy

      Honestly, this smart brave heroine not asking for help when she has multiple occasions to do so is infuriating. How is this the same person who snuck out traffickers ‘ noses at a rest stop a few weeks before? Does having found true love eliminate any instinct of survival? And once again, how is this character appealing to female readers?

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        I’m starting to think, maybe this is some kind of weird EELbanian foreplay. Dimzy plays the Dismsel in distress and Anatoli the Big Bad who kidnaps her and takes her to some remote place to “have his way with her” and the pretend screams and pretend kicks until she “succumbs” to his monsterous advances. Only tonight he was too tired to play his role while poor Dimzy went and got all rested up in the boot of the car. They are totally the EELbanian version of Grey and Steele.

        Dimzy ended up meeting a hot guy with way more money than Anatoli and is now wondering if she can get Moss into her twisted little sex games. Then she can ditch AnatoliCanoli once and for all.

        It is the only way I can properly explain why she fell asleep while being abducted and hasn’t done much to get away until she can be sure he will chase her, like the girl who runs from the guy but keeps looking over her shoulder and slowing down so he can catch her, then they laugh and fall onto the ground and it’s all so 8th grade love affairish.

        July 18, 2019
        |Reply
  16. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    Also, I have checked because it sounded weird to me, but “carissima” according to Google is not used in Albanian, so Anatoly is using a sarcastic Italian word because he can?

    El James depiction of Albania is just the worst.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Person
      Person

      Anatoli could be an Italian name, and the term of endearment could be an indication that he’s Italian and not from Albania originally…which I think would make the only non-swarthy Albanian we’ve seen described besides Alessia not a *real* Albanian, but would not remove him from the bad Albanian men list because he’s clearly fluent in Albanian – Alessia doesn’t even think about him having an accent when speaking – and quotes that old Albanian feudal code thing at her, making it clear that his cultural background is chiefly Albanian. Something about the only blond and blue-eyed Albanian, the whitest white person of the Albanians, though he is a mustache-twirling villain, showing signs that he’s originally from WESTERN Europe and not EASTERN is…something. This hangs together so poorly that it can’t have all been on purpose, so holy FUCKBALLS is it saying a lot about the Eel’s prejudice against Eastern Europeans.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        A lot of Albanians know and speak Italian so I guess it could also be that, but it’s just sounds really weird to me as a choice – especially because it’s not really used as an endearment in Italian.

        Unless EL James went to Albania, stayed in a place staffed by Italians and now here we are.

        I feel like it might have been on purpose. Like, she clearly did her research to find some proof that Eastern Europe is all backwards, ignoring even common sense.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Ldot
          Ldot

          In my area of Italy, “carissima” is very much used as a term of endearment. I agree that it sounds odd in a romantic couple, though — it’s more like a friend thing. Also, “Anatoli” is not an Italian name — at most it would be “Anatolio”, but it would read as fairly unusual.

          August 11, 2019
          |Reply
      • Lucy
        Lucy

        Italy and Albania have close historical ties, an Albanian person being of Italian descent/speaking Italian is not impossible.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      It could be another victim of last minute changes?
      If Alessia was originally Polish and half-assedly changed, maybe teh EVIL Betrothed was half-assedly changed from Italian?

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        Oh, I hadn’t thought of that! …if she was trying to imply that Demelzia was given to Evil Betrothed because of his Evil and Criminal connection, I can see why she would change that.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Person
          Person

          Would this mean he was originally a mafioso stereotype? Oh, Eel…

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
  17. Maggie
    Maggie

    I don’t know about that idiom advice. I mean, what are the alternatives? Two characters in a book written in English are foreigners who don’t talk in English with each other. You could either transcribe entire conversation in their language and add a gloss but for more/longer conversations it’s not really necessary. So instead Eel writes in English because that’s her language and in narration mentions that yup, they’re speaking Albanian. She’s using English idioms because they make dialogue flow better. And maybe Albanians don’t have this particular idiom but that doesn’t really matter here. What matters is a sentiment of Anatoli’s message, not what words is he using exactly.
    For example when I read Polish translation of an English book I don’t go “Gee, do all those English characters seriously use Polish idioms?”, I go “wow, this dialogue flows really well” or, since I’m umm.. ‘linguistically woke’, “wow, the translator did a great job with making this dialogue sound natural in another language”.
    Oh, and I say that idioms make convos flow better because that’s their function, not because Eel writes well. This book is still pile of trash and I can’t express the level of appreciation I have for you for even bothering with it 🙂

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
  18. Gretel
    Gretel

    I’m so hung up on Magda’s betrayal because no matter why she wrote Alessia’s mother – simple gossip and stupidity or actual betrayal – it’s just so inconsistent and doesn’t fit her characterisation. But she HAS to snitch, otherwise the useless fiancé wouldn’t know where she is to kidnap her.
    Magda even knows about the traffickers and she’s like “I have to tell my friend her daughter is fucking a very rich, handsome dude!” and not “OMG you’re daughter was trafficked but she is safe now.”
    Mind you, both would reveal her location but the latter would at least be about how Alessia’s doing and her ordeal and not about the super hot sexy dude she’s banging.

    Now, about Alessia’s mother. I agree, the story doesn’t deliver enough background information on why the daughter of a “rebellious” person would become so conservative. And the infuriating thing is, the pieces to build a coherent backstory are there. EEL doesn’t have to spell it out but Christians, even the “liberal” ones, tend to have internalised abuse, misogyny and racism deeply into their psyche and world view, especially missionaries who definitely believe in their work and their god enough to go around the world and force their beliefs unto others.
    I mean usually people tend to be in abusive relationships because that’s what they saw at home so her grandfather should be an abusive man, as well, for the story to make sense.
    I have an acquintance, former friend, whom I went to school with. Another friend of mine is still friends with her. Let’s call my friend A and said acquintance B. A told me how B went to an exchange year to the US. While in the US, she got a boyfriend but apparently he was abusive. She found solance in the arms of conservative Evangelicals who took her in and…well, basically brainwashed her. B was never religious, incredibly critical, indipendent and self-sufficient. But they caught her during a vulnerable time and she changed her tune brutally. She came back a hardcore Christian with “traditional” values (women in the kitchen, gays are evil, etc.) ingrained into her and A told me how they’d regularly fight over women’s “proper” place and other things. I saw her during A’s wedding and I can’t stress enough how different B was. A had told me how even B’s family was worried at how changed she was.
    This said, I think there IS a possibility for Alessia’s mother to have dialed up “Christian values” and gone an even more conservative route than the grandmother but EEL would’ve had to give the backstory.
    Was it her grandfather? But if it was him, why did her grandmother marry him? Not impossible but it would need an explenation. If her grandfather was a cool dude, what happened to her mother for her to become this way? School? Bad relationship? Religious indoctrination by others?
    It’s still believable that Alessia’s grandmother is not as “liberal” and free-willed as she was painted to be because a Christian missionary will have very conservative values (even when she’s bringing Harry Potter…my mother let me read it, too, but she never stopped bitching about it, demonising it, and letting me read it certainly never changed her hardcore Christian views) but this would also have to be implemented…

    That EEL never bothers explaining is a reflection of her racism: the English part of Alessia’s family history = good, free, liberal, nice; the Albanian part = bad, conservative, evil, abusive. EEL write her mother as if she were 100% Albanian. I also think that Alessia’s grandmother is English because EEL couldn’t imagine that Albania, that backwards, rural nightmare, would know anything about Harry Potter and Alessia needs to know HP or the jokes between her and Maxim make no sense! EEL basically attributes any “modern” charasteristics in Alessia as the legacy of her grandmother because she can’t possibly imagine how Albania – a communist sh*thole – would have had Harry Potter or English classes or cars or money.

    It’s the Empire myth reborn: English bringing civilisation, culture and modernity to backwards countries.

    “But how does Alessia know English? She’s a foreigner!” ponders the middle-aged, White, suburban, Christian EEL reader. “They’re primitive and they couldn’t possibly know English!” they screech, thinking of brutish thugs and old, toothless babas.
    “Well, you see, her grandmother was English and she taught her the language, despite not knowing simple vocabulary,” EEL responds wisely, conveniently forgetting schools and universities because of her racism.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lily
      Lily

      Are Albanians not white?

      July 18, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ross Gibson
        Ross Gibson

        In the eyes of my racist father, all eastern Europeans are barely white, and if they were from a communist country, they are all evil and backward, without any redeeming qualities. He has tiers of bigotry, and eastern Europeans have to be hot and speak English with little to no accent to be granted full white privilege.

        July 19, 2019
        |Reply
      • MamaLich
        MamaLich

        I think what’s part of the ‘issue’ was that the Albanians were once part of the Ottoman Empire (okay, I know this is old history but bear with me here)–so they had ‘Th0Se TuRkS!!’ in their border and mixing into their gene pool (which was the view a lot of Brits had with Hungarians, Greeks, Bulgarians, and pretty much any ‘caucasian’ nation that was once part of the Empire).

        It’s essentially like how quite a few people in Spain (where my mom’s from) views people from colony cities like Ceuta or Melilla. A lot of people assume that because you lived in a ten-mile radius as a ‘non white’ person (or at least someone without a high pedigree of northern-european genetics), you’re automatically ‘mixed’. I’ve spoken to people who looked completely similar to me (dark-haired, dark-eyed and tanned) and the second I mention my mom’s birthplace they’re like, “OH, you’re a Moro then.” even though that same birthplace had a segregationist system and STRONG anti-moroccan sentiments there (Seriously, I tried explaining to them that I definitely wasn’t (my mom’s family only moved in to that place during the 30’s, and didn’t (and wouldn’t) mix) it was just surprising meeting people that would shut me down repeatedly and tell me that my mother wasn’t really Spanish).

        July 19, 2019
        |Reply
        • Lily
          Lily

          I was thinking that it’s xenophobia–disliking/hating those who are different than you and your “group.” The term “racism” doesn’t and can’t cover every situation wherein one person (say, EL James, maybe) despises another group of people (say, Albanians) who are not very visually different. The Eel despises all other people because they aren’t as wonderful as she is, but that’s another story.

          July 19, 2019
          |Reply
          • Mr. Fell
            Mr. Fell

            I’m not sure about Albania in particular but once upon a time (depends on the phenomena but in some cases until 1945) (it really varies and it’s hard to pin down) people from different European countries were considered to be of a “different race” even if they were white.

            It was not considered as bad as being POC, but the lines overlapped for a while and even now it can get… weird, to say the least.

            July 22, 2019
  19. Gretel
    Gretel

    Also, I just realised something: Alessia is the one telling us how conservative her mom is, especially compared to her grandmother. But Alessia never wonders why. It’s just “Oh, she’s just more Albanian” as if being a certain nationality is the same as being a certain type of person. EEL’s racism is showing here again.

    But this could be fixed so easily with Alessia maybe wondering why her mother is so different. This could lead to several possible solutions:

    – her grandmother wasn’t as liberal as she first thought
    – her grandfother was abusive thus influencing her mother’s own views
    – other people influenced her mother
    – something happaned that permanently shifted her perspective

    Alessia never ponders this question. Never analyses her mother’s and grandmother’s past which would be super interesting. Generational trauma is hugely influential, especially as an immigrant. Because all of this would inform how Alessia thinks and lives, even her relationship to Maxim. Questioning her family’s past would lead to conclusions and relevations that could help her change for the better and create a healthy relationship with Maxim.
    I mean, apparetnly it was her mother that helped her escape…and Alessia never stops to think about this? Wonder how a person she sees as super conservative and the arm of patriarchy is able to help her escape an arranged marriage with an abusive person? Is she not curious as to what her mother must think in doing this? Because it would indicate at least a certain amount of discontent with the dynamics she supposedly finds okay.

    A better writer could’ve used this to write about women’s role in patriarchy, how trauma is handed down over generations and how women react and rebell agains the system.
    Instead it becomes another tool for racist ideas.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lily
      Lily

      As Albanians are white, I think the belief you are looking for is xenophobia.

      July 18, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        White is a social construct anyway (for example, the Irish and Italian immigrants in the US weren’t deemed “white” initially and the Irish have also been treated like crap by the English), but xenophobia is certainly accurate.

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      ‘Alessia never ponders this question. Never analyses her mother’s and grandmother’s past which would be super interesting. ‘

      Absolutely–especially if Alessia wondered why she had to BE abused, if her own mother had better opportunities than she herself did.

      My aunt was the ‘wild child’ of the family–she became a hard-core hippie when she was just 13, and at *14* ran off to get married to a guy ten years older (and everyone knew she had only done it, just so her parents couldn’t turn her into a housemaid as soon as her older sister moved out). My grandparents disowned her then, and she spent two years ‘exiled’. Which would’ve been fine if her adult husband helped her stand on her own two feet–but he turned out to be an abusive man who probably only married a 14 year old because no adult woman would tolerate him.

      So yeah…the interesting thing about the abuse was that it turned my aunt into a selfish, self-seeking person who was only out for herself. My parents tell me that it was like a character trope from a survival/disaster movie–the one person who decides, “Screw this, screw everyone. I now only look out for myself and will do and take whatever the hell I want.” Except my aunt had two very small children when she broke out of that marriage–and she extended that exact same feeling on her children. When her kids wound up in abusive marriages/relationships–she made no effort to help them (or even console them). She simply told my mom that they were ‘basically adults’ and that ‘I went through it when I was 14 and I came out a stronger person.’ To her, being in an abusive relationship was just a taste of the ‘real world’–and because she never had a good man, she decided that it was just ‘all men are like that’ and she had to abuse her own kids because ‘if I don’t, their future husbands will.”

      So yeah, I can see Alessia’s mother like this. She probably didn’t become a DV victim that was beaten down and brainwashed. She could’ve simply figured out how to manipulate her husband and successfully make her daughter the new target (like my aunt did with her oldest for a while. My aunt was able to get her ex-husband to turn his rage on his chubby, not-so-pretty four year old whenever she ‘misbehaved’–while my aunt used sex and masquerading herself as the ‘housewife ideal’ to improve her relationship with him). Of course, this would make Alessia more prone to resenting her mom (like all my cousins)–and maybe Alessia’s mom would help her escape because (unlike my aunt) after feeling a strong sense of guilt with setting her kid up into becoming a lifelong victim.

      July 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        That would’ve been a lot more interesting… it could also explain why Alessia might have been conflicted about mom’s situation and not returned the favor right after getting to the UK. She might’ve been grateful for the assist but still bitter about the scapegoating as a kid (and of course she would’ve been pissed off about how careless her mom was to send her off with traffickers but then maybe their shared abuse is why neither one pegged them on-sight as traffickers.) There’s so much backstory that could really make this work and it’s a shame EEL didn’t bother to explore her family in-depth.

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
  20. J.
    J.

    The true villain of this story is the broken computer! With Moss having to fly coach with the peasants instead of in a cushy jet as a close second. Change my mind!

    I am more convince than ever that James was not in fact sitting on this story for years but banged it out on her keyboard a week before her deadline. It’s soooo rushed nothing makes sense! A few good runs through an editor could have saved this story!

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      The only way I’d buy she’d been sitting on it for years is if it meant she wrote it when she was eight, because that’s about the level of skill being shown here. I would believe, this was some kind of Baby’s First Fanfic that she had sitting in a drawer at Nan’s house. When EEL became rich and famous (god help us all) Nan dusted it off and said “oh, love, you should publish this, I always knew you were a genius” and EEL was stupid enough to believe her and this is what we get.

      I’d say she’s trolling us all but she’s not that clever.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I’d believe she wrote it as her first fanfic, set it aside when Masters took off, then when the publishers came knocking on her door again she tried to rewrite and pad it out as Lani did, decided it was done, took a shitty vacation, and at the last minute decided to expand it with her brand new amazing Albanian sex trafficking add-on and rushed the changes without any time or interest in smoothing out the seams so that it was even worse off than before! Why only have some incompetence when you can have all of it? XD

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
  21. Anon
    Anon

    A filthy rich earl only has one computer? Forget the phone (which, as you said, is as or even more useful since it’s portable), I can’t believe he doesn’t have access to a working computer just because one got smashed. We have four computers in our house and we’re not filthy rich members of the British aristocracy. Plus two phones (and a few that can at least still get WiFi if not make a call). He’d probably also have a tablet or three.

    And he could absolutely make a missing person poster on his phone AND print it.

    “… suffocating her like the black plastic bag from the last time she crossed the Channel.”

    Wait. The traffickers put actual plastic bags over their heads? They would be dead. Does it only take a few seconds to cross the Channel?

    “… incandescent with fury.”

    Behold and bow down to Eel’s ability to use a thesaurus! How smart she is!

    “We’ll pick up a car, drive to Tirana, and overnight there at the Plaza hotel. Tom has arranged for us to meet up with a translator who will come with us to Kukës the following day.”

    Back to writing the travel blog.

    Harry Potter isn’t a no-no for Catholics. I’m sure there are some who are against it, but most I know (and I know a lot of them) are fine with it. It’s the fundagelicals who don’t like it.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      1) I’m preetty sure I’ve read about how many aristocrats view having lots of tech around as tacky, “new money” behaviour and will often not have a lot of devices around, unless there’s an Acceptable Reason, like an aristo who works in film or TV will have the latest home theatre equipment.

      No clue if that has any bearing on EELs thoughts though

      2) I’ve definitely known many anti-HP Catholics, including groups who tried to have it banned from the local Catholic school. This probably varies by diocese and possibly generation?

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        I don’t know. My grandmother had no issues with it and she was born in 1915 and a die-hard Catholic all her life. It may depend on what part of the US you’re in, but in general, Catholics tend to be more liberal than a lot of Protestant denominations (especially the evangelicals). I’m not saying no Catholics would be against it, but not as en masse as other hardcore Christians. I grew up in the Northeast and probably 80% of the people in the places I lived were Catholic, including most of my maternal relatives. I wasn’t raised in a religion, but my grandmother was pretty seriously religious.

        But then, even my Mormon friend and her family were fine with HP, so I think it had a lot more to do with the overall place we lived than specific religions, so who knows? Anyway, it doesn’t strike me as particularly rebellious for a Catholic woman my grandmother’s age (or so — the timeline is a bit screwy) to be OK with HP.

        I don’t know about the aristocrat thing. But Moss basically rejected all that, took it on reluctantly and makes his living with tech. Modern photographers almost can’t function without a computer, not to mention his DJing, writing music, etc. That’s all high-tech now. And he’s young.

        When they were in Cornwall, Eel went out of her way to point out the tech he had there.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Nanani
          Nanani

          Well I’m not in the US so that’s not relevant to my experiences.

          I can only tell you what I’ve seen, which is Catholics trying to keep Harry Potter out of Catholic schools back when they were being published and still growing into the phenomenon it became later.
          Since I wasn’t attending church by then I have no idea how much, if any, came from the church and how much was just certain busybodies having Ideas about Sin and Witchcraft. *shrug*

          Right, I forgot about the Cornwall tech. Probably just inconsistent writing / forgetting that the character’s generation is not EELs and actually uses phones and tablets and such for more than obligatory work emails

          July 17, 2019
          |Reply
      • Amy Too
        Amy Too

        But Moss just became the Earl. Before he was just the younger brother of an Earl and didn’t seem to care much about any of it anyways. He calls his mother and Caroline snobby, and we’re supposed to see him as more liberal and enlightened, the type of guy who doesn’t mind marrying the help. He was trying to live the life of the anti-aristo, too. Photography, modeling, DJing. These could also be considered tacky. Not to mention sleeping around with any random person from the bar. I doubt his aristo upbringing is a good enough reason for him to suddenly shun technology. He was talking about how he needed to FaceTime from the computer instead of his tablet or phone before, so we know he had multiple devices.

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      Harry Potter is as popular in Catholic countries as in everywhere else. The two previous popes I think wrote/said something about Harry Potter and Pokèmon being Satanic or something but aside from really hardcore Catholics no one really cared, especially since back in the day people weren’t clinging to Christianity to justify their racism and homophobia.

      Their crusade against Halloween is going way better, in comparison.

      Anyway yeah, EL James’ reasoning is exactly that self-centered and racist.

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
      • Lucy
        Lucy

        I’m from a Catholic majority country originally, and if there’s a crusade against Halloween it’s going pretty terribly considering there’s more dressed up children every year. Though a lot of people are nominally Catholic or even if they practice aren’t going to care that much what the high ranks are saying:

        July 17, 2019
        |Reply
        • Mr. Fell
          Mr. Fell

          It’s not really succeeding in my country either, and Halloween isn’t even really a thing, but now we have some parents protesting at every Halloween that “It’s not a Christian tradition and why should we follow a foreign tradition anywaaaaay” so some schools are not celebrating it and some priests are organizing some counter-parties. Teenagers and young adults keep dressing up and going to parties, as usual.

          July 18, 2019
          |Reply
          • Mr. Fell
            Mr. Fell

            BUT it’s going better then when they said that Pokèmon was satanic they were completely ignored.

            July 18, 2019
          • Anon
            Anon

            Isn’t the dressing up and knocking on doors for candy thing much bigger than the US than elsewhere? I know my British friends have said it’s only relatively recently become a “thing” over there and talk about it as being a more American tradition. They live here now and enthusiastically participate.

            On this side of the pond, the people worked up about HP and Halloween are the fundamentalists. Catholics ignore a lot of rules — birth control, for example. They kind of pick and choose what they listen to.

            I’m not aware of what the Poe(s) said about HP, but I do know that over here, at least, if they condemned it, no one listened. Or very few did — few enough that despite being surrounded by Catholics all my life, I never met one who didn’t read and love HP.

            I live in the Bible Belt now, and everything is satanic, anyway, apparently. These people make hell sound appealing if only because I don’t want to spend eternity with any of them. I actually miss living in the more Catholic Northeast. Things were a lot more relaxed, though FB has been showing me how many people from home are falling into the fundie trap now, so I’m not sure it matters.

            /babbling

            July 18, 2019
          • Lucy
            Lucy

            I think more people resent it as a sign of “Americanization “ than on religious grounds. My devout Catholic aunt is completely ok handing out candy to children from her apartment complex coming trick or treating.

            July 20, 2019
  22. Nanani
    Nanani

    Moss has hired the wrong help.

    A -translator- is not useful while on the ground in a foreign country. You want an -interpreter-

    Translators (which is what I am) work with text. Hire us when you need a document translated.
    Interpreters work with spoken and signed language. Hire one when you need someone to accompany you in a foreign language environment, whether its a foreign country or an international conference.

    Yes some people do both, but no one is not an umbrella term for the other.

    So unless Tom hired a translator to start making notarized English versions of Alessia’s documents for the immigration process, he hasn’t hired the right help.

    THE BEST RESEARCH, this book has it. (Sighs in translator)

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • bewalsh7
      bewalsh7

      I just have to say that I never knew the difference (or that there was one), but I’m glad I know now. Thanks for explaining it!

      July 18, 2019
      |Reply
  23. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    I love this part:

    “[The trunk] is empty but for a small rolling suitcase and her duffel.” So… it’s not empty at all? It’s actually got two pieces of luggage in it? It’s a sedan. It’s not like it’s the back of a van or the bed of a pick up truck. I would say that if there are already two pieces of luggage in there, it’s hardly “empty.” Good thing Alessia has been described as being so small that the hand me downs from a 14 year old boy are much too large for her.

    Also wondering about the part where she apparently had a plastic bag over her head for part of the journey when she was being trafficked. A plastic bag. They put plastic bags over the heads of the women they intended to sell into sex slavery. They didn’t know how long they would need to keep those bags on their heads. How long would it take to get through customs? Usually a long while, right? They risked suffocating and killing all of their product?

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
    • Eel’s skill with the “it’s ____ except for how it’s not” motif is profound, indeed. Like how Christian was always “Other than his shirt and jeans, he’s completely naked.”

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
    • Lani B Goode
      Lani B Goode

      i’m guessing she was trying to indicate there wasn’t any of the usual trunk detritus lurking in the back, like camping chairs or a forgotten bag from a grocery run, or the weather gear you don’t need like umbrellas or ice scrapers, or motor oil or whatever.

      but she is shit. and could not have said something like “the trunk was bare of any of the usual stuff that accumulates in a trunk over time. it was immaculate; the trunk was so empty of signs of life it could have rolled straight off the factory floor. Her luggage and duffel bag were stuffed into a corner, shabbily sullying the trunk.”

      July 17, 2019
      |Reply
  24. Brandi
    Brandi

    We obviously needed Moss’s itinerary so we could appreciate how much research into Albania went into this book.

    Anyone else notice how Moss keeps getting annoyed because Alessia’s kidnapping is interfering with his plans? This chapter alone, he was annoyed at least twice.

    Dude has a Jag. He saw Delmessia get put in the car. As reckless as he usually is, why didn’t he jump in his car and CHASE them down? Then we could’ve had an accident that traumatizes him because he thinks Delm died on the side of the road just like his brother.

    Or, you know, reporting the license plate he clearly saw to the police would work, too. I’m sure they would have no questions about the gun Anatoli is toting or the undocumented woman who’s bawling in the passenger seat.

    July 17, 2019
    |Reply
  25. Errapel
    Errapel

    I’ve crossed the channel a few times. I’m white and middle class, and they’ll still do a cursory glance over the stuff in my boot. Maybe he missed the random checks somehow, but I doubt it. Because he’s Albanian, he’s got darker skin and an accent. He is getting searched. The chances of him not getting searched is small. And her being hidden in the boot will be very clear even in a cursory glance over things.

    And not that I WANT to see a character raped, but the reasons that’s not happening here are even worse narratively speaking. Cause the ‘I’m too tired to rape you’ is the weirdest excuse. A character like this absolutely would do that. Would rough her up for running, and he wouldn’t think anything wrong with it. He doesn’t because the author doesn’t want Alesia sullied. Doesn’t want another man to touch Maxim’s property. It’s basically “The only virgin in the whorehouse.” all over again. It’s the same reason she escaped sex trafficers without being raped.

    Her staying quiet through the crossing is also super weird for a character we keep being told is brave and strong and clever. And the English side is the best side to try it, because there’s no indication she speaks French. You might try to explain her not escaping by have her worried that if she’s caught they’ll deport her. But honestly? All she needs to do is say “This man is kidnapping me, please let me call my employer.” Maxim has the money to take care of everything. Even if she is deported, he has the money to have her set up somewhere safe until he can get her papers in order and get her back over. And the “OMG he hugged another woman, his saving me from sex traffickers at great personal risk no longer indicates he loves me!” makes no sense other than to give her a reason to not make a scene or run back to him.

    She could do as she’s told until he lets his guard down, then she can get to a phone or slip a note to a maid. There are dozens of ways she could get away from him, and if you simply must have her be rescued, you could have her escape attempts fail. But this? All it says is she becomes a limp, helpless doll as soon as a guy enters her life.

    July 18, 2019
    |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      “The only virgin in the whorehouse.”

      Oh god…I just read that sentence and I just had a flashback of all of my mom’s early 90s bodice-rippers (save the Cassie Edwards novels. Which my mom loved). But yeah, that guy’s car is SO gonna get searched ( I mean, I went via Eurotunnel three times–with family and kids. We wound up not only getting the trunk of our minivan searched–but the UK border patrol even flashed ‘torches’ underneath our cars (and checked our back seats)). And this was five years before the Home Office became strict with immigration.

      July 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      I was struggling with this cause no, I don’t want to see Alessia get raped- in fact had EEl subjected Alessia to that, I would hate this book even more. However, the fact Alessia didn’t get raped is so unbelievable, my suspense of disbelief was thrown out the window and then shot while it flailed on the ground.

      I guess because with the *very* serious subject like human trafficking, it contradicts with the romantic story that’s presented. It’s like trying to wave a set of keys in front of a person while a house burn in front of you. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Had this been a story of Alessia simply *running away* from Albania but then social pressures and her parents force her back would have made this story less gross.

      EEL is only using the threat of rape as a prop, never once taking time to address the real life horrors of trafficking. It doesn’t help that we never find out about the other women Alessia was with, so we’re left wondering if they’re even alive or if they’ve been sold into sex slavery. Having that little nugget float above our heads while Alessia is having epic sex with this handsome earl who fell madly in love with her without little action on her part is bull.

      July 20, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, I think he just shouldn’t have brought it up, leaving it as an unknown worry in the back of her mind, or Anatoli could imply that he’s too noble for rape. He’s still a piece of shit and most assholes with power would probably do that anyway but it’s not impossible that he could, as a random example, think it’s beneath him (he has better ways to control and/or punish her) or he’s asexual (lol but EEL can’t fathom that) or he doesn’t believe in sex before marriage (strong religious beliefs!) Rape isn’t sex but maybe he conflates the two and it works in Alessia’s favor. There are better ways to introduce this idea.

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      There are dozens of ways she could get away from him, and if you simply must have her be rescued, you could have her escape attempts fail. But this? All it says is she becomes a limp, helpless doll as soon as a guy enters her life.

      Forgot to add, I agree! She’s basically a sex toy being shoved into the trunk… Which vaguely reminds me of Sex and Violence with Machspeed except I greatly enjoyed watching that and I got sad when [SPOILERS] died. XD

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
  26. E dog
    E dog

    Please, Society, can we make “Don’t go to a second location” a thing? Like engrained in all of our fiction so that it becomes a tired cliche? If a heroine does leave a store with a bad dude or get bundled into his car without screaming, fighting, running, or somehow signaling her distress to the people around her, it ought to shock readers as much as if she were a dumbass weirdo who touches hot stoves and runs with scissors. Everyone, especially more vulnerable people, should know that second location = bad without having to think about it. It makes me so sad/angry that ELJ and probably a lot of her readers don’t have this instinct and haven’t learned this behavior.
    Or we can just reinforce the idea that women should passively wait for a rich white guy to take action when he gets around to it. Agency schmagency.

    July 18, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      It’s realistic to fail to attempt an escape but in this case, it’s purely the execution… EEL explicitly time-skips multiple times to make it easier on herself and then makes Dimzy’s only actual attempt farcical. I’d have an easier time accepting that Dimzy tries but no one responds in the grocery store, not seeing the gun and thinking it’s some “married couple” fight, especially when Anatoli yells at her for being overly dramatic or some shit to discredit her and get her out faster in case someone did call the cops. There are a lot of ways it could’ve been handled but this was the worst.

      I mean, real-life example? People take screaming children out of the toy store I work in all the time. There’s literally no way for me to know if they’re the parent and even if they were, family and friends are the most common kidnappers (someone the child knows.) A grown woman screaming should be a better sign that something is wrong but there’s also the bystander issue where the more people there are, the less likely they are to react, thinking someone else will respond. Not to mention, she could’ve triggered the alarm but he could’ve gotten her out before anyone could arrive. Reacting is no guarantee that it’ll save you.

      But yeah, EEL chose the options with the least agency… and the least realism.

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
      • Lucy
        Lucy

        But it would be good to see her at least *try* rather than passively follow him around. It doesn’t help that indeed, Anatoli is such a useless kidnapper. Couldn’t he be a bit more threatening and scary, knock her around a little bit, or something? It’s not that I want to see Alessia hurt or raped, but it would make the stakes higher and create suspense. Though it’s difficult to get truly invested into such a flat, underdeveloped heroine.

        July 22, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Anatoli would be scary if the writing was better. He did try to choke her to death… If she blacked out because he lost his temper, forgot his goals, and choked her until she fainted into one of those time-skips (we could keep one of them; maybe when he forces her into the trunk; someone else recommended him knocking her out with a punch but the choking scene would’ve worked too) and then have him doing his best to keep his cool, then Alessia could become more compliant but also cautiously rebellious after that. Alessia’s struggle could be mostly inward with a few more skittish failed attempts or her own frustrations because she’s frozen with fear. EEL is just horrible at writing tension or logical steps to get what she wants out of the plot.

          July 22, 2019
          |Reply
  27. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    I know James probably thinks this kidnapping is oh so tense and shit, but this is the part where – if I were stupid enough to buy and read this book instead of having the lovely Jenny do that for me (seriously: thanks) – I would be laughing so, so hard. The love of his life has been kidnapped by a violent criminal and our wonderful hero is like: Commercial flying sucks, amiright? The horror! Also, after we get to wherever, I’m just gonna get a good night’s rest in a decent hotel before trying to rescuing my girlfriend. Sleep is important, you know.

    Oh, how exciting! I’m on the edge of my seat! #sarcasm

    July 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      But, see, he loves her so much he is willing to tolerate a commercial flight! If that is not a sign of true love IDK what is! And, I mean, he’d be useless to her without a good nights sleep. You are so right, sleep is important. Don’t want to rescue your beloved with bags under your eyes! Moss has his priorities. He also knows that she is his property now, he marked his territory so Anatoli wouldn’t dream of tainting her with his far inferior “foreign” dick!

      I just realized, Moss and Dimzy are actually soul mates. They BOTH fell asleep during her horrific, edge of your seat (if your seat is a cliff you are now contemplating falling of to avoid reading any more of this story) kidnapping. See! They are made for each other. Or would that be MAID, you know, since that is the fetish that got this whole shit show started.

      July 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Bookjunk
        Bookjunk

        James constantly puts in these little inconsequential things. Maybe she thinks this is ‘fleshing out her characters’ or maybe it’s just filler, but it makes every single one of her characters worse.

        July 20, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Honestly, some of what she adds could be useful but she doesn’t frame it properly. His beef with commercial could be that he still feels like it’s too slow (and he’s a failure because he reacted too slowly when it came to calling the police, he got caught up in another fight with Caroline instead, and then Anatoli got through customs because he had a downward spiral anxiety attack or something) and being forced to stay at a hotel might be getting there ahead of their arrival but having to twiddle his thumbs and do what he can to build an information network until they find them again…

          If EEL could just show his frustrations and some actual concern for Dimzy then it’d work but she rarely connects the dots that are needed. Everything in this book is beyond leisurely.

          July 21, 2019
          |Reply
          • Bookjunk
            Bookjunk

            Yup. She’s written a book for only one reader: herself. She knows what the characters mean and want etc., so she doesn’t have to put it all down. Whenever she reads this half-assed book, she gets the story that it’s supposed to be. The perfect fantasy it is in her mind. The readers on the other hand get only the outline of a story – because James was too lazy or inept to connect the dots on paper – and have zero idea what the hell the characters want or mean. It’s open to a million interpretations.

            Her die hard fans will be kind and read into this flimsy excuse of a book the romantic and tragic and exciting love story of Daily and her Idiot. The rest of the readers is lost at sea and almost forced to conclude – from the hero making zero haste to rescue the heroine and dissing commercial flights; and the heroine being unable to escape despite being offered about a million opportunities – that the characters are arrogant, stupid and care very little or too much about each other.

            July 22, 2019
  28. Dove
    Dove

    Here’s another variation I thought of recently.

    Instead of a British Grandmother who went to Albania, it’s an Albanian Grandmother who fled during the Communist era and moved to Britain where she married a British man in Cornwall. Being Catholic helped her fit in, to some extent, and her daughter married a man from their local church. Unfortunately, he’s a very traditional man and her daughter was so ashamed she kept his abuse a secret, especially since he’s very well-liked by everyone in their church and he told her and Alessia that no one would ever believe he was such a bastard.

    To get away from him, Alessia decided to study abroad and chose Albania because of grandma’s stories… she was curious what it was like and she wanted to be as far away as possible, she could teach them English (and was fluent in Albanian.) She’d learned piano since she was little but no one really supported that as a future so she thinks nothing of it.

    Things go wrong and frankly, the traffickers picked the worst girl to kidnap. Dante was freaked out when he realized they’d grabbed some shitty little college foreigner, thinking they’d have an uproar, but Alessia in a pissy mood makes the mistake of saying no one will miss her and his eyes light up into dollar signs. She makes certain that she has her passport tucked away though, for when she tries to run, but she’s in such distress that she doesn’t break away until they hit England. She does try to help the other girls but some don’t trust her and think if she’s telling the truth then maybe she’s a trafficker pretending to be merch. They also notice Dante is perfectly happy to rough all of them up so some are just too scared or in denial.

    So, Alessia is free but she doesn’t want to go home. She’s missing her classes or unable to enroll for the upcoming semester. She WANTS to go back to Albania but she doesn’t have that money on her. Magda could still be an old family friend so she goes to her for help. Magda thinks she’s just being stubborn by not asking her parents for help and later on secretly tells them… without knowing that Alessia has an arranged marriage that she feels trapped by (not legally but socially) or knowing about it but not knowing that Alessia hates the guy because mom only gave faint hints and Alessia won’t say it outright either. Either way, Magda thinks she’s helping a stubborn brat, who does, in fact, act rather bratty until she gets real with people.

    In the meantime, she helps Alessia get a shitty cleaning job, hoping that will straighten her out (or otherwise give her an income.) Magda is moving eventually but she’s going to Cornwall, where the fam is, so Alessia can come with or sort out her own life. It’s tough.

    Then Alessia meets Maxim and at first, she can only shake her head, he’s such a dork, but he’s this cool DJ at the club where she goes to relax after her long shifts cleaning these rich people apartments. She ends up talking to him a few times somehow, maybe even a date or two, but later on, inadvertently finds out he’s the UTTER SLOB from her day job. At first, this is awkward but then it lets her talk to him more, although she quits sometime after that. Partly because the pay sucked and she had something else lined up but partly because she talked Magda into letting her stay at the new house in Cornwall instead of languishing in her parent’s house while she sorts out enough money to get her plane ticket and resigns herself to skipping a few semesters of credits or else transferring to another college.

    THEN she finds out the DJ Slob is a fucking Earl and she blows up at him. I dunno if I care about the traffickers resurfacing but I still love the idea of Bobby popping up at a Tesco, either in London or Cornwall, and basically they have to sort stuff out from a social perspective, which the police can’t really help with.

    Note: Where We Land inspired some of this thinking. (I still need to finish reading it btw! Ahhhh…)

    July 21, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I forgot to add, Alessia’s granny was wealthy (could be a reason they ran from Communism lol) and so is the rest of her family. Dad is trying to marry Alessia off to some rich asshole and sell her on it but she’s only half buying it and mom realizes Bobby is worse than Alessia has even realized which is why she supported Alessia leaving and just never voiced her concerns. And Alessia thinks marrying Maxim would be an easy out with her dad but on principle doesn’t wanna bring that up and is kind of unsure how much she loves him anyway and she knows that could make Maxim wonder about her feelings too so it’s complicated. Sounds good?

      July 21, 2019
      |Reply
      • Maile
        Maile

        Interesting for sure. But, oh no, a heroine with a personality? So experimental! Actually, this sounds good, write it and publish it and take money from Eel!

        July 21, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Haha, I would but I’m terrible at finishing anything I start writing. I can’t dedicate myself to NaNoWriMo for a first draft, let alone getting it published.

          July 21, 2019
          |Reply
          • Maile
            Maile

            Still it would be better than EEL

            July 22, 2019

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