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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter twenty-nine or “To The Rescue, Eventually!”

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Quick update on stuff on my end! Mr.Jen’s injury that I’ve mentioned before is healing through the miracle of physical therapy several times a week. And I’m getting un-depressed. After a wild week, I decided to get out and go. I attended a cast party, a film audition, did some grown-up things that needed doing and now I’m back and ready to roll.

For like a week before I go away to my family’s cabin. I know. I know. But I promise I’m trying to bust through the end of this recap as fast as I can, so we can all get back to our regularly scheduled programing here and I can start writing The Business Centaur’s Virgin Temp for your…I don’t know. I feel like “enjoyment” might be tossing the word around loosely. I don’t want you all coming in with heightened expectations.

Anyway, according to Publisher’s Weekly, as of three weeks ago, The Mister had sold a whopping 220,300 copies.

Fifty Shades of Grey has sold over 100,000,000.

That’s a bit of a drop. And yes, the books are almost ten years apart but call me a pessimist…I just don’t think the same hype is there this time, guys.

Content Warning: There are explicit depictions of abuse in this chapter (again) and basically from here on out there’s going to be nonstop rape threats.

We start in Demelssia’s POV, where she notes they’re driving on an autobahn and that struck me as immediately weird because why wouldn’t you just call it a highway? That’s what autobahn means, doesn’t it? It’s just the system of highways? Why would she think of the German word?

It’s a cold, wet, winter day, and the landscape is flat and bleak, reflecting Alessia’s mood.

So, I see this kind of phrasing a lot in books and I don’t know why. I may have even used something similar in the past. But it always stops me to read “this natural thing that occurs with or without my presence is a reflection of my mood.” Like, we should really be saying that our mood is a reflection of the big natural force, right? Why do we do that?

Whatever. New headcanon: Demelssia controls the weather.

No. She feels more than bleak–she’s desolate.

Jesus, one-up the landscape, why don’t ya?

Sleep is what she wants.

I don’t generally ding people for passive voice because I feel like sometimes you can’t avoid it without sounding really stiff and awkward. But sometimes, passive voice is itself really stiff and awkward. This is that time. Just say, “She wants sleep.”

For this part of the ride, though, she just kind of stares at Anatoli and we learn that he’s blond because he has “Northern Italian roots.” The first time she met him, he impressed her and she actually was all into the idea of getting married but she saw some red flags about his temper and treatment of women.

It was at a local dignitary’s wedding, where Alessia was playing the piano, that Anatoli finally revealed his dark side. Two young men, whom she had known at school, lingered when she finished playing. They flirted with her until Anatoli managed to usher her into a side room, away from them and the festivities. Alessia, secretly thrilled, had thought he wanted to steal a kiss, since it was the first time they’d been alone together. But no–Anatoli was furious. He slapped her hard across her face, twice. It was a shock, even though living with her father had prepared her for physical anger.

The story of Anatoli’s abuse continues in an info dump. She remembers the time a male student had asked her a question and Anatoli had tried to break her fingers. She blamed herself and planned to somehow fix things but her mother was like, nah, you’re not going to live the way I did.

Hey.

Maybe her mom should have been the character who snuck in books and taught her English. For like…this very motivation. It would have made way, way more sense.

So, someone mentioned in a comment that Anatoli and Demelssia have more chemistry than Moss and Demelssia. Uh…

Yeah. They go to a service plaza (where her PTSD in these places is suddenly no longer an issue) and he buys them food. But because this is an E.L. James novel, eating stands in for control when the heroine has none, and Demelssia refuses.

“Oh, do your worst, Anatoli. I’m not eating. You bought it, you eat it,” she snaps, ignoring her growling stomach. His eyes flare in surprise, but he presses his full lips together, and Alessia suspects he’s trying not to smile. He sighs, reaches over, picks up her baguette, and takes a theatrically large bite out of it. With his mouth full, he looks both absurd and ridiculously pleased with himself, so much so that an involuntary snicker escapes from Alessia.

Anatoli smiles–a proper smile that travels all the way to his eyes. They regard her warmly, and he no longer tries to hide his amusement. “Here,” he says, and he hands her the remaining part of the baguette. Her stomach chooses this moment to rumble, and when he hears it, his smile broadens. She eyes the baguette and him and sighs.

If I gave you this excerpt right here and you had no idea what was happening in the story, you’d assume this was a romantic comedy and these were the hero and heroine.

The service station, with its large parking lot and smell of diesel fumes, is hauntingly familiar and reminiscent of the journey she made with Maxim–but the difference is, she wanted to be with Maxim.

Call me someone who has read this book all the way so far but last I knew, those places were hauntingly familiar because you were trafficked and you’re suffering untreated PTSD. So, you know. Note that her love for Maxim takes precedence over her personal trauma. Losing him is worse than human trafficking.

In the business-class lounge at Gatwick, Moss and Tom are drinking champagne while they wait for their flight. I know this is supposed to be wealth porn but how obliviously upper class do you have to be to go, “Here is my heroine, tied up in a trunk. Here comes the dashing hero to rescue her…by waiting for a commercial flight instead of just hopping in one of the many cars we’ve heard about him owning. Their struggles and sacrifices for love are of equal measure.”

Maybe she went with him willingly.

Maybe she’s changed her mind about us.

I don’t want to believe that, but doubt is creeping into my mind.

It’s insidious.

If that’s what happened, at least I’ll get to confront her about her change of heart.

Yes. This is a great plan and proves you really care about her. You know her father is abusive. You know the fiance is jealous and abusive. And you’re going to stroll in and reveal the relationship she had with you. There will be zero consequences for her and you definitely shouldn’t have thought of that. You’re so good at being a hero, Moss.

To distract myself from my unsettling thoughts, I snap and upload a few photos to my Instagram.

“How do I make him sound young and hip? I know! I’ll have him Instagram his girlfriend’s kidnapping!”

Once that’s done, I think back over the morning’s events.

Which he goes on to list, so we don’t miss out on anything. He had a business meeting with Oliver. You know. Because THE ESTATE is so pressing that he has to real quick check in on it in the middle of his daring rescue. What was this super pressing matter? Signing paperwork to be included on the “Roll of the Peerage.”

Yes. The man who hates being an earl put being an earl ahead of the women he’s supposed to desperately wish to rescue. The woman he could be driving after at this point but is not. Moss also suddenly remembered that he has a lawyer and that lawyers are needed to do immigration things. So, that ball is rolling now.

Afterward, on a whim, I’d visited my bank in Belgavia, where the Trevethick Collection is secured. If I find Alessia and all is not lost, I will ask her to marry me. Over the centuries my ancestors have amassed quite a haul of fine jewelry crafted by the most prominent artisans of their day. When the collection is not on loan to museums around the world, it is safely stored in the bowels of Belgravia.

I needed a ring, on that would do justice to Alessia’s beauty and talent. There were two in the collection that might have been suitable, but I chose the 1930s Cartier platinum-and-diamond ring that my grandfather, Hugh Trevelyan, bestowed on my grandmother, Allegra, in 1935. It’s an exquisite, simple, and elegant ring: 2.79 carats and currently valued at forty-five thousand pounds.

SEVERAL THINGS.

Your hero should not be doing anything “on a whim” during a time when he should be completely on edge and impatient over a dire situation. He most certainly should not pause in his agonized fretting over his girlfriend’s kidnapping to visit the family trove.

When trying to make something sound fancy you need to not describe it using the word “bowels.”

We don’t really need to know this much about the ring. At least, not at this point in the story, when someone is being actively kidnapped.

Last, and perhaps most importantly:

EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DID IN THIS SEQUENCE WAS SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE EITHER ON THE ROAD OR WHEN YOU GOT BACK. YOU COULD HAVE DRIVEN AFTER THEM. THEY ARE IN GERMANY AND YOU ARE IN THE SAME GOD DAMN PLACE YOU WERE BEFORE YOU WASTED ALL THOSE HOURS DOING PAPERWORK AND RIFLING THROUGH MUMMY’S JEWELRY BOX.

There is no tension, no build-up, no sense of any real urgency at all. We’re seeing Demelssia go through all this shit and Moss is carrying on with his regular life but being really, really sad about it. This is like if the Sherrif of Nottingham kidnapped Marian and Robin Hood is like, “Okay, I’m going to go after her! I’m totally going to save the day! First, I just need to restring my bow and polish my sword and finding a new feather for my jaunty little cap because I really want to impress her when I get there! Hope he hasn’t already married or executed her or both!

I pat my pocket yet again, checking that the ring is safe, and scowl at Tom, who’s stuffing his face with nuts.

How dare Tom eat something at a time like this! It’s almost like he’s following the lackadaisical tone Moss set by the several hours of errands he ran earlier in the day.

Tom loves an adventure. It’s why, back in the day, he joined the army. He’s up on his metaphorical white charger, ready for the fray.

But Tom has PTSD from the war. How did he suddenly become bumbling sidekick adventure man, jamming nuts in his face faster than Andrew Zimmern at a Rocky Mountain oyster eating competition?

Yadda yadda yadda, they’re gonna rescue the girl.

Over in Demelssia’s POV, they’re still in the car. So fuck it, I guess we’re going to experience this book in real-time now. Get a sleeping bag.

Anatoli asks Demelssia why she wanted to leave Albania, but she can’t say much without knowing what he thinks the situation is. We learn that Magda’s message wasn’t a horrible betrayal after all:

“What did my mother’s friend say?”

“Your father intercepted the e-mail. He saw your name and asked me to read it for him.”

“What did it say?”

“That you were alive and well and were going away to work for a man.”

So, this is something that needed to be cleared up the moment Anatoli got there. There should have never been any doubt to any of us or any character in the story that Magda wasn’t simply looking out for her friend. It was distracting and confusing for Magda’s motives to go suddenly ambiguous. This conversation should have been part of their first encounter or at least taken place before they left Moss’s house so there was never that, “Huh?” moment when Magda’s actions were brought into question. I would have gone so far as to add something about Magda knowing how Demelssia’s mother worried, etc., to make it explicitly clear that Magda had no intention of leading Anatoli back to London to look for Demelssia.

Anatoli has no idea what happened with the traffickers but he also didn’t bother to ask Demelssia’s mother about any of this because she’s just a woman. Demelssia calls him “prehistoric” for not considering that her mother might have wanted to know that he was going to drag Demelssia back to Albania.

“You are a man from another century. From another time. You and all the men like you. In other countries your Neanderthal attitude to women would be unacceptable.”

He shakes his head. “You have been in the West too long, carissima.

“I like the West. My grandmother was from England.”

This grandma thing, Lord Jesus. We’re back with dear old Nana. And here, she’s being tied directly to Demelssia’s love of the West as a strong, independent woman’s playground. I still cannot reconcile her grandmother’s feminist influence with selling her own daughter into marriage. Especially when it would have been far more powerful for her mom to just be Albanian and a feminist of her own accord despite her situation in her marriage.

Demelssia tells Anatoli that she doesn’t want to marry him and he’s kind of like, eh, what you want doesn’t really matter.

Alessia huffs feeling aggrieved but brave, too. After all, what can he do while he’s driving?

Beat you one-handed and accidentally cause a fatal crash in his fury?

“You would dishonor your father?”

Alessia flushes. Of course her attitude–her defiance, her willfulness–brings great shame to her family.

If you wanted to write a historical romance, Erika, you should have just written a historical romance. But even if you swapped the centuries, this line of conflict doesn’t work. How is Demelssia the one bringing shame to her family if it’s her father’s possible debt to the local mafia that put her in this position in the first place?

Demelssia then ends the section by staring off out the window and wondering if she’ll ever see Moss again and it feels like it’s the nineteen thousandth time that has happened.

After a section break, they’re in Austria, about to enter Slovenia. Anatoli tells Demelssia that she’ll have to get back in the trunk to cross into Croatia. But he bought more batteries for the flashlight. He also says he doesn’t like putting her in the trunk because he’s worried she’ll get carbon monoxide poisoning.

He frowns, and if Alessia is not mistaken, she would swear he’s concerned. This afternoon at the restaurant, he had regarded her with warmth.

“What is it?” he asks, snapping her out of her reverie.

“I’m not used to concern from you,” she states. “Only violence.”

Anatoli reiterates that he’s only going to hit her if she isn’t obedient and honestly, at this point, I’m like, wait, this is an E.L. James book. Are we sure Anatoli isn’t the hero?

Then Demelssia stares out the window some more while we go to Moss’s POV. They’ve just landed in Tirana.

Tom and I are traveling with hand baggage only, so we go straight through customs and emerge into a modern, well-lit airport terminal. I don’t know what I’d been expecting, but the place looks like any small airport in Europe, with all the facilities one might need.

You were probably expecting what your author was expecting. Peasants with steamer trunks waiting for their goats to come around on the baggage carousel and street vendors hawking dubious-looking kabobs.

Our rental car, on the other hand, is a revelation.

You thought Demelssia was a revelation, too. Are you going to fuck the car now?

My travel agent had warned me that there were no prestige cars for hire,

Wait. You checked with your travel agent, in the middle of this literal emergency rescue, and you were like, “Are there any prestige cars I can rent?”

so I find myself at the wheel of a car whose make I have never heard of: a Dacia.

Great news! I refuse to believe that Moss has never watched a single episode of Top Gear. I refuse.

For those unfamiliar with Top Gear (because somehow such people exist, much in the way that people who have never seen Star Wars exist), Moss loves cars. Top Gear was the number one auto review program in the world and it was based out of England. It was a worldwide phenomenon. The most illegally downloaded television program on planet Earth, even bigger than Game of Thrones. Moss would have almost certainly have watched it, if not religiously, then casually for sure.

And this compilation video from is why I find it absolutely assinine to write an English hero who is into cars not knowing what a Dacia is:

 

I’m surprised to find myself liking the car; it’s practical and sturdy. Tom christens it “Dacy,” and after some negotiation at the exit to the car park and a small bribe to the parking attendant, we are off.

You…you know you’re trying to rescue your kidnapped girlfriend, right? And details like how much you like the car, how it drives, what your friend nicknames it, all of that is completely unnecessary to your story?

There is also zero explanation of why they had to bribe the parking attendant. I think we’re supposed to take that as a, “Ha, those wacky, thieving, swarthy Albanians.”

They go to their hotel, where they acknowledge that it’s just another three-hour drive to Demelssia’s home. Rather than drive a measly three hours in the hopes of preventing the marriage between the woman he loves and her abuser, Moss is going to catch some sleep. This is certainly a heart-pounding rescue. A “rollercoaster,” if you will.

This arrival at presumably the finest hotel in Tirana is in laughable contrast to what’s going on when we switch into Demelssia’s POV:

In the trunk of the Mercedes, Alessia clutches the flashlight as the car lurches to a stop.

I continue to be amazed by the author’s lack of awareness about her own damn writing. Erika, your heroine is in the trunk of a god damn mobster’s car. Your hero needs to have any sense of urgency at all. Any.

Anatoli and Demelssia get across the border and he lets her out of the trunk. Now, he’s rested enough to assault her.

“Why are you so hostile?” he breathes against her temple. Tightening his hold around her waist, he grasps the back of her head with his hand and grips her hair. In spite of the cold, his breath is hot and heavy between them. As Alessia registers what’s happening, his lips swoop down hard on hers. He tries to force his tongue into her mouth, and she struggles, fear and loathing careening through her body in a potent mix. She pushes ineffectually at his arms and frantically twists, trying to struggle out of his hold. He leans back to look down at her, and before she can stop herself, she slaps him across his face, her palm ringing from the blow, and he retreats. Shocked. She’s breathing gulps of air, adrenaline coursing through her veins, cahsing away her fear and leaving anger in its stead. Anatoli glares at her, rubbing his cheek, and before she can blink, he slaps her hard across her face. Once. Twice. Her head jerks from the right to the left, and she staggers at the force of each blow. With little care he picks her up and drops her back into the trunk so that she hits her shoulder, her backside, and her head. And before she can protest, he slams the lid shut.

“Until you learn to behave and be civil, you can stay in there!” he shouts. Alessia clutches her throbbing head as anger burns in her throat and behind her eyes.

This is her life now.

So, we’ve seen this horrific assault played out for us. I appreciate that she used, “with little care,” to describe Anatoli’s actions, as if there were a loving and caring way to throw someone you’ve just beaten into the trunk of a car. But what happens when we jump over to Moss?

I take a sip of Negroni. Tom and I are in a bar next door to the hotel. It’s contemporary, sleek, and comfortable, and the staff are friendly and attentitve, but not overly so. What’s more, they serve a bloody good Negroni.

Then they talk about how they both had expected wattle-and-daub houses and goats roaming everywhere and honestly, given how Demelssia described the place? I guess that was reasonable.

Now that they’re actually in Albania, as in, bought the tickets, waiting in the airport lounge, took the flight, picked up the rental car, checked into the hotel and decided to go out for drinks, NOW is when Tom asks Moss why he wants to go after Demelssia. They have basically the same conversation Moss had with Caroline. I want to marry her. She is but a lowly peasant. I know but I am in love. That kind of bullshit.

“Just deal with it, Tom. I’m going to marry her.”

He splutters into his drink, spitting red liquid over the table, and I wonder again at the wisdom of bringing him on this journey.

I’m not understanding here. Tom was the brooding, mentally scarred friend. Now, he’s a snobbier version of Beauty and the Beast‘s Le Fou, complete with 2D animation spit-take.

Moss once again brings up the fact that Tom’s girlfriend is “a saint” for staying in a relationship with Tom, presumably a super ableist allusion to the PTSD Tom…IDK, I guess it’s cured like Demelssia’s is now?

Tom is like, hey, maybe you’re falling head-over-heels for this woman because you’re mourning your recently deceased brother and Moss rattles off a list of reasons that sound like a husband who definitely murdered his wife trying to make a convincing statement to the press:

“[…]She’s smart. Funny. Courageous. And you should hear her play the piano. She’s a fucking genius.”

He also makes a point to say she’s not like other girls.

Tom reminds Moss that it’s the job of the Earl of Trevethick to carry on the family name, and Moss is like, yeah, but I want to do that with someone I love. And this makes Tom realize that he’s taking his girlfriend for granted and he should propose to her. So, I’m glad we took time out of RESCUING THE HEROINE FROM A KIDNAPPING to wrap up that side plot that was both unnecessary and which everyone had pretty much forgotten.

In Demelssia’s POV, they arrive at a fancy hotel in Zagreb, where Anatoli casually lets her out of the trunk right in a public parking lot. He has gotten them a suite.

There’s a couch, a desk, and a small table, and through the sliding glass doors Alessia can see one bed.

One.

No!

They slept in the same bed already. Do we really need a retread of “maybe he’ll rape her?”

He tells her to get room service:

The entries are in Croation and English; she scans the selections and immediately chooses the most expensive item on the menu. She has no compunction about having Anatoli spend his money. She frowns, remembering how she resisted Maxim’s attempts to pay….Anatoli has retrieved two small bottles of scotch and is unscrewing the top from each in turn. Yes, Alessia has no compunction at all. She’s a kidnap victim, and he’s meted out enough physical abuse on her body already. He owes her.

And this explains so, so much about Fifty Shades of Grey, doesn’t it? The heroine can be abused, so long as she is compensated with small luxuries. That was the entire premise of those books but here the man doing the abusing is the villain.

No wonder James’s biggest fans didn’t like this book. She made their dream abuser a bad guy.

They order room service and have yet another conversation about whether or not Demelssia is a virgin. I’m summarizing a lot of this chapter because it’s all just repeating what we’ve already seen in the last two. The author has run out of steam before meeting the word count she promised her editors. That’s the only logical explanation.

Anatoli watches the news, then asks:

“So you ran away from me?” he says.

Is he talking about yesterday?

“When you left Albania.” He takes a last swig of scotch.

“You threatened to break my fingers.”

He rubs his chin, thoughtful for a moment. “Alessia…I–” He stops.

“I don’t want excuses, Anatoli. There’s no excuse for treating another human being the way you have treated me. Look at my neck.” She pulls down her sweater, revealing the bruises he left yesterday, and raises her chin, making them conspicuous.

Yeah, that’s only acceptable as punishment for topless sunbathing on your honeymoon. And you have to do it on your yacht.

Seriously, Anatoli reminds me so much of Christian Grey that I’m wondering if the author realizes it and did it on purpose. It’s a good thing her heroine won’t fall for it this time!

Gëzuar, Alessia,” he says, and she looks up. Anatoli has raised his glass in quiet salute to her, his eyes wide, his expression warm. Her scalp tingles. She wasn’t expecting this…honor!

What the fuck.

Because she can only drink wine with sexy appreciation, Demelssia accidentally turns Anatoli on:

“Mmm,” she says, closing her eyes, seduced by the taste of the wine. When she reopens them, Anatoli is watching her, his eyes darkening, and in his gaze she sees a promise of something she doesn’t want.

Her appetite vanishes.

“You won’t run from me again, Alessia. You will be my wife,” he murmurs. “Now, eat.”

She stares down at the steak on her plate.

And that riveting hook about steak is where the chapter ends.

My Impression So Far: It absolutely stuns me at how many parallels E.L. James has drawn between Anatoli and Christian Grey. This almost certainly has to be intentional, right? Nobody is so unaware of their own creation that they could possibly recreate him in the very role their most vocal critics accused them of glorifying, right? There were times in this chapter that I read with my mouth agape. I assumed that this book would come out and be an instant hit. But more and more, it’s reading like the last gasp of a writer who has no skill in storytelling unless the story was already written by someone else.

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136 Comments

  1. Jess C
    Jess C

    It’s probably EL just reverting to English phrasing when she has Demelissa call it the autobahn. Maybe it’s just my part of the Midlands, but if you’re talking about the autobahn, you call it that specifically. They just seem different from other motorways, and they tend to be referred to as autobahn on TV etc.

    Even if Moss didn’t watch Top Gear, Dacias are fairly common now in the UK. They weren’t for a long time, but they’re heavily marketed and I pretty much see one out and about every day. To not be aware of them Moss would have to experience life with his head up his own ass.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I have only heard it called “The Autobahn” in the US, too.

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
    • NavigatorBR
      NavigatorBR

      Same, the grievance with me is more trying to decide if Demelissa would actually know the word…

      She doesn’t know the English words/phrases for “Truck” and “Smart phone” but knows “Autobahn” and what ever that word she used for describing being put into an arranged marriage, which I had to look up… As a native English speaker… Never seen it before, no clue what it meant.

      I haven’t’ watched an episode of Top Gear in a few years, and as soon as I saw the “Great News” clip I was like, “Right, I kind of remember this…” And they don’t even sell that brand in the US… I agree, total BS he doesn’t recognize it.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Dacia has been sponsoring prime time tv for a while, I forget which channel but I think it’s Dave, which Moss would definitely watch.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • Rhiannon
      Rhiannon

      Yeah the Autobahn is kind of considered differently, I suppose because of the no speed limit thing (although parts do have speed limits now).

      August 4, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Stormy
    Stormy

    It could have been darkly comedic if Maxim was pursuing Alessia without knowing she was in distress. Say, she left a note about her mother being ill and he thought “Oh, she shouldn’t be alone at a time like this, but probably didn’t want to put me out–I’ll go to her and see if I can help keep her skeezy fiance away.” THEN, the constant cuts to him yukking it up with his friend, enjoying a nice drink, and admiring Albania would have some tension to them. WILL he get to Alessia in time? WHAT will he do when he finds out the truth of the situation?!

    But no. He just looks like an oblivious clod who refuses to give up the finer things in life even at the expense of his “true love’s” life and happiness. Holy cow, this thing has gone into full-on self-parody at this point.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      That is such an easy fix. It would have made perfect sense. He thinks she ran to tend to a sick mother. He takes a moment to attend to some business, then goes and gets the ring because what would be nicer than proposing with her beloved mom right there?

      But wait! We find out she didn’t leave on her own. She was kidnapped. She is in danger. We are yelling at the pages “Moss, you have to rescue her! She’s in danger!” We are on the edge of our seats, like you say, will he make it?

      As it is written I’m kind of hoping he doesn’t make it and he sure seems like he doesn’t much care if he makes it or not. I just can’t understand what EEL is going for here. “I love her so much I’m going to marry her but can’t be bothered driving after her and am perfectly willing to let her get raped and beaten repeatedly while I sip champagne and take some selfies.”

      Also, holy shit, Anatoli really is Christian Grey. Is EEL aware of this? It just is blowing my mind that the same person wrote both these books. I mean, the crappy writing gives it away, but the same character is a hero in one book and the villain in another. It’s bizarre.

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Like, the selfies thing, okay? I mean, this whole chapter is complete WTFery, but the selfies thing is particularly baffling. He just seems completely up his own ass about everything WHEN HIS BELOVED IS IN THE TRUNK OF A CAR. Okay, so, EEL wants her Alpha Hero to take some selfies, but… why not have Moss doing that to make it looks like he’s partying in Mayfair, so he has an alibi while he dashes off to surprise-rescue his beloved kidnap victim? GIVE IT SOME FUCKING MEANING.

        I can’t get over what a horrible writer she is. I wrote better shit than this when I was 14.

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
        • Amy Too
          Amy Too

          I was wondering if the social media photos are going to come back up somehow. Like does Alessia see them and realize he’s on his way to rescue her so she feels like she doesn’t need to give in to Anatoli and her own despair? Do the original kidnappers (who ended up being released because the woman they allegedly beat up never actually showed herself and her injuries to the police, gave a statement, and who instead suspiciously skipped town after Moss promised she’d speak to them) see them and decide to chase him down and he ends up leading them straight to Alessia again? Does Caroline see them and it makes her realize how much Moss really cares about Alessia, so she has her dad work on the immigration issue and everything is fixed up by the time Moss and Alessia return? And his relationship with Caroline is repaired?

          Like what is the point if these photos don’t lead to something later? It’s just ANOTHER example of Moss being able to continue living his normal life (taking meetings, registering as a peer), enjoying his usual luxuries (champagne! fussing about luxury cars), going through his regular routine (I need my beauty rest and pub time with my buddy where we talk about how he should propose to his gf), and showing his general narcissism—and all of those things just prove how easily he can forget about Alessia’s plight and turn off his worrying about her.

          August 2, 2019
          |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Also, holy shit, Anatoli really is Christian Grey. Is EEL aware of this? It just is blowing my mind that the same person wrote both these books. I mean, the crappy writing gives it away, but the same character is a hero in one book and the villain in another. It’s bizarre.

        My hypothesis is as follows… EEL wrote a modern AU Poldark fanfic first and Anatoli (whatever his name was back then) was always in it. She loved her villain because he was the only one she was able to give any personality to and maybe he was her original character. He also got a good response from whatever fanfic community she originally shared it in, including some people speculating that Anatoli was hot and if only he could find a woman to fix him, then he’d be marriage material. So, after she read Twilight and decided to do a modern AU of that, she got it into her head that they could be really similar if Edward had a bad day as an ickle child… and however the logic train commenced, she thought it’d be great if he was into BDSM for horrible reasons and here we are.

        It doesn’t shock me that he could be used two different ways; it’s that there’s no difference when Chedward is the hero. He needed some drastic changes; tacking on some bad childhood to excuse being a shithead wasn’t enough, he had to react differently after revealing stuff or… whatever. I’m not going to hunt down the reviews to see if he carried on carrying on well after telling Ana about that. Ignoring the horrors of “my lover will fix me”, it’s important that we see a genuine change in his interactions and outlook instead of accepting his gaslighting attempts. 😛

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          So basically Anatoli is Chedward without money. Nothing else about them is different. Both are controlling abusive dicks but one has private jets and the other has a car and OMG I just cracked this whole thing wide open!

          So, EEL’s next book is going to be sci-fi. In it brilliant scientist Dimzy is going to merge Moss and Anatoli, the two men fighting for her affections (by affections I mean body because while Anatoli might have a bit of a soft spot for her, Moss clearly only wants to fuck her) into her perfect man, rich, handsome, controlling dick Mossatoli!!!! Of course he can’t go through life as Mossatoli so they change his name to Chedward and move to Seattle. Dimzy, having no papers since Moss was too busy sipping champagne and bitching about budget cars to get her paperwork taken care of, is deported back to Eelbania while Mossatoli now Chedward, meets Ana the only person on earth with less personality than his beloved Dimzy. The rest, as they say, is history.

          August 3, 2019
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Except in the next book, we find out Ana was a trans-man, which means she’s actually a man because trans people don’t really exist ew how does that work lol IDK IDC, and that’s how we get our hot M/M pairing which totally isn’t Draco in Leather Pants and Happy Harry Rutter but magic is just science because that’s a phrase right? And no one can sue, donut steel my stuff, you wascally Clare, you. What is this Rowling you speak of? I only know of these, how you say, Supernatural boys? Ohohoho. Let’s make romance great again!

            *physically pained from typing all of that*

            August 3, 2019
          • Dove
            Dove

            Also, after typing that, I realized that my attempt at humor could be misconstrued. Of course, if Ana was a woman->man then he is a man (or whatever terms he/they prefer) but I was trying to imply that EEL would ignore continuity entirely and not even reference any of that… or if she did then she’d fuck it up. And now, I must seek penance.

            August 3, 2019
    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      I like to imagine all the authors from these jealous haters book club books reading the comments where we quickly and effectively make their books 1,000x better with simple fixes off the top of our heads, tearing their hair out, screaming, “Damn it! Why didn’t I think of that!?”

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mana
        Mana

        Sometimes. Other times I want Jenny to do this to MY books.

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
      • Black Knight
        Black Knight

        First they’d have to accept that there’s even a problem.

        We know from Lani Sarem’s visit to this blog that she, at least, did not see any issues!

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ani
        Ani

        Nah, remember Lani? All she focused on was how “wrong” Jenny was about the theatre and how often Carrot Top is seen on the streets. Literally nothing else about the grammar, story structure or anything else.

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I forgot to add, and then Caroline could also cast more doubt but Maxim could point out how Dimzy didn’t ask him for help and in fact risked her job or effectively got herself fired to care for her mom and she’ll have a harder time getting back into England since she never got his help with a passport.

      Then Caroline could be like “You didn’t even help her with a work visa? And you hired her? Okay, look, maybe you’re right, but also, we need to sort this out if you really want to bring her back. I’ll help you.”

      Your idea adds so many layers of solution it’s kind of disconcerting. In EEL’s attempts to rush and add all the tension, she effectively killed it in every situation.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  3. Anon
    Anon

    This book is reminding me more and more of the J. Peterman Catalog.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • NewFan
      NewFan

      .gif

      .gif

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • NewFan
        NewFan

        sorry….

        was trying to make my words FANCY…. and I made them invisible.

        kisses.gif
        loud laughter.gif

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          LOL

          Seriously, though! All the drama and intrigue and then some mundane BS about a car or a glass of champagne. Eel must have watched some Seinfeld and not understood the jokes.

          August 5, 2019
          |Reply
  4. Gretel
    Gretel

    Alessia: being beaten, threatened, assaulted, almost raped, confined, insulted.

    Maxim: takes care of papers not relating to Alessia, goes and steals a ring from the family vault, lounges in the business class room, sips some alcohol, takes a flight (where he’s probably served some more alcohol and lunch/dinner), goes to the hotel (after he made sure he got a nice rental car), checks in, sleeps, goes have a nice drink with his friend.

    By sheer accident EL should’ve written a scene where Maxim ISN’T enjoying wealth porn while the love of his life is being abused, yet, here we are. She’s such a god awful writer, so incredibly toxic and abusive, so egotistical and rotten that she HAD to show Maxim enjoy luxury while being unable to see how not only disconnected it is, but flat out mocking.
    The tone is so jarring and insane, it reads like a fucking parody. Like, this is something you would write to MOCK fanfictions or books like those by EL. I’m flabbergasted.

    This honestly reminds me of the Tr*mp Administration: lavishing yourself with luxury and lack of accountability for your crimes while sneering triumphantly at the poor, dying and abused. Remember Pence’s visit to the concentration camps? Yeah, that. I get the same feel because you fucking know that after the visit Pence turned around and had a nice, expensive dinner with his team and slept in an awesome hotel room with shower and luxurious bed.

    I’ve said it already but it bears repeating: this is White, middle-class, Christian/Evangelical, anti-feminist, racist worldview expressed via the romance genre. You can find everything, from colonial/imperial apologist to capitalist wealth porn.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Gretel
      Gretel

      Also the baguette scene?

      The best scene so far and I’m shocked at the level of fun and intimacy she portrays. Too bad it’s the wrong fucking couple!

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        Seriously! That was the most romantic scene in this whole book. Now I get why people were saying there was more chemistry between the kidnapper and his victim than the hero and heroine. Because it is true.

        What is sad about it is, EEL just showed she IS capable of writing romance, she’s just not capable of doing it with a healthy, loving couple.

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
        • Well, as she and her fans keep insisting, healthy, loving relationships are sooooo wimpy and boring.

          August 2, 2019
          |Reply
          • Moomin
            Moomin

            But does she still have fans? It doesn’t seem so, from the sales and reviews.
            There are less than 3000 reviews on goodreads and from what I can tell, most are negative.
            Outside of like, paid praise in press, no one is really talking about it? No one cares about this book.

            August 8, 2019
  5. Lauren Garcia
    Lauren Garcia

    Every chapter is more horrifying than the last, yet I’m still surprised each time. Thank you, Jen, for recapping this monstrosity for our amusement. [salutes]

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
  6. Mel
    Mel

    I understand EL having disdain for her fans and assuming they’ll read whatever she shits out on first draft but the publishers should be ashamed for not making her put more work into this. How did their editors not tell her to rewrite this entire ending because it is so bad. Juxtaposing opulence with abuse is just gross and how are we supposed to buy that Moss is desperate to get to her when he’s pissing away time sleeping and sipping fine alcohols? This is trash.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      It only works if this is one of those “Gone Girl” type novels with a huge twist and the twist is that this whole time Moss was the villain! Moss was the trafficker. For some reason Dimzy is very important property so he personally oversaw her after she escaped. He has been playing a long con all along. Anatoli works for him so he knows damned well that Dimzy isn’t in any REAl harm. Sure, Anatoli might rough her up a bit, but that is all. Now Moss is in no hurry to get to his “girl” because he knows she is being watched carefully and Anatoli won’t let her slip through his fingers again. Mwahhahahhaaa

      If Moss is still supposed to be the hero then it makes no damned sense at all.

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Right?!

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Like, if his hands are tied, it makes some sense. He has to sleep eventually but going to bed right away and without any evident worries? Meh. If he drunk himself into such a stupor because that’s the only way he could fall asleep, that’d work too. There are so many ways she could’ve fixed this…

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  7. seaserpent
    seaserpent

    I can’t drive and I hate Top Gear and even I’ve heard of Dacia.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Siobhannabon
      Siobhannabon

      There are adverts on British TV. Dacia Duster is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard, so it sticks in my head.

      I guess Dacia is the new Audi? Maybe Eel realised a lot of Audi drivers are pricks?

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
  8. Gwen
    Gwen

    “That’s what autobahn means, doesn’t it? It’s just the system of highways? Why would she think of the German word?”
    Demelssia is a big fan of Kraftwerk.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
  9. “Anatoli reiterates that he’s only going to hit her if she isn’t obedient and honestly, at this point, I’m like, wait, this is an E.L. James book. Are we sure Anatoli isn’t the hero?”

    I read this whole recap with my mouth hanging open, and this shit is exactly why. This is, like, six steps beyond EEL’s usual tell-don’t-show bullshit. Like others have said, it’s so obviously ridiculous that it SHOULD be a parody; it reveals that everything we’ve been told about the MCs is complete rubbish. He doesn’t care or love her. She’s not brave and strong. Their love is not all-powerful. The villain is actually more considerate of her than her supposed beloved.

    When you add to it the many ways that EEL unintentionally repeats her Greed Is Good/Abuse Is Love ideology from FS but tries to convince us it’s now something different makes her whole little dogshit fantasy of garbage come tumbling down. THIS ASSHOLE HAS NO IDEA WHAT LOVE IS OR WHAT PASSION IS LIKE OR HOW TO WRITE ANYTHING RESEMBLING ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS IN ANY WAY.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yep. And I think it was an uncomfortable wake-up call for several of her fans, even if they didn’t fully understand why.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  10. Satoria
    Satoria

    Isn’t this thing dead yet? Because it should be dead. Like 6 month road kill. I can barely read the recaps without wanting to throw up. I mean, who actually enjoys this crap?

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
  11. Coco
    Coco

    It’s not like she’s being taken to some remote island only serviced by one airline. If he couldn’t get a direct flight to Tirana immediately, why didn’t he get a flight to any of a dozen other European cities that would still have flights the day of the kidnapping? Then there could be tension do to weather forcing the plane to be diverted. Or there could have been a bomb threat grounding planes. I was once on a French train and all trains headed to my destination had to be stopped because of an abandoned piece of luggage at the station had to be examined by the bomb squad, so something like that could happen. At customs a drug sniffing dog could smell traces of cocaine on Tom. He could even get to Tirana the first day and then his car could break down and he could be treated with suspicion by the Albanian authorities. It would not be difficult to create organic delays instead of delays that have to do with Maxim’s snobbery and arrogance. It would not be difficult to make the HERO OF THE BOOK seem like he cares more about the love of his life than he does about having 24 hour access to top shelf liquor.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Can’t he call up his cousin Christian Trevelyan Grey and borrow the private jet?!

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      Right? Why not fly into one of the many cities that one has to go through when they drive from London to Albania?

      I still cannot get over the fact that she was kidnapped right in front of him, they are both leaving from the exact same location at what could have been the exact same time, but instead, he delays going after her for hours. He could’ve driven directly after her in one of his many cars. He could’ve driven his fast sports car and been at the border to alert the customs people that she was being kidnapped and would be coming through their check point very shortly. He could’ve caught up with them on the road and caused an accident that forced them to stop. He could’ve followed them to a gas station and screwed up their car.

      If EEL wanted to do it this way so that we would see Alessia with Anatoli and feel the “fear” (which is so scary that the heroine sleeps through most of her time with the villain), then Alessia should’ve been kidnapped from a different location, or should’ve been kidnapped many hours before Moss noticed she was gone.

      But instead, EEL is making up all sorts of ridiculous stalling tactics that kill all the tension and/or paint her “hero” in a horrible light. He doesn’t have a computer! Zero tension. The flight directly into Albania isn’t until tomorrow! So drive. Or fly into a different city. He suddenly has to register himself as a peer! Assholeish, completely unimportant in the scheme of things, not something that needs immediate attention, and zero tension. He needs to spend time rolling around in the family jewels and dithering about which ring “suits” Alessia best! Again, assholeish, unimportant in the scheme of things, not something that needs immediate attention, and zero tension. They need time to take selfies, post to Instagram, and drink champagne! Asshole. We have to spend time assessing, nicknaming, and bitching about how this rental car isn’t a prestige model! Asshole. We’re held up by a scheming parking lot attendant we have to bribe! Racist, xenophobic, zero tension. We have to spend the night at a fancy hotel! Why? Totally unnecessary, zero tension. We have to sight-see, drink negronis at the pub, and rib each other about our girlfriends! Assholeish, no you don’t, this conversation did not have to take place right now, zero tension.

      Like literally everything he’s doing is meant to undercut the sense of urgency that is being built up in Alesia’s point of view AND it makes him look like a completely out of touch asshole. I cannot think of a reason a writer would do this on purpose unless she was setting up a twist where the complete lack of tension Moss feels is a hint that he’s a sociopath who doesn’t care at all about the heroine, or where he’s a bad guy who is in on the whole kidnapping and is just performing the role of “rescuer boyfriend.” Or maybe if the author was writing a comedic sitcom and we were all meant to get a laugh out of how much fun the hero is having while he purposefully stalls at every opportunity on his way to “rescue” his girlfriend from something that’s unenjoyable, yet in no way dangerous. Like if she wanted to be rescued from a not-fun camping trip with her annoyingly quirky, yet still lovable mother. That would make all the cut-scenes make sense too. We would see the heroine suffering through her mother’s lecture about how to cleanse one’s aura, and then we’d see her texting her boyfriend under the table, “hurry please! I can’t stand it anymore!” Cut to the boyfriend who’s stopped at a nearby bar, just miles away from the campsite, yukking it up with the locals, dispensing relationship advice about being a good partner to your girlfriend and meeting her needs. But it doesn’t f*cking work when the heroine is being thrown into trunks, kidnapped internationally, and is in very real danger of being beaten, killed, or raped!

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • The only way it would make sense is if Earl Poldarkus paid Antoneliolio to kidnap Analyssiabella for the sole purpose of Earl then swooping in to rescue her in front of everyone and solidify her indebtedness to him. THAT is the man EEL is painting her “hero” to be with all of this “Champagne? Cartier? Prestige car?” bullshit.

        August 2, 2019
        |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        The itinerary *sort of* makes sense to me. Moss knows they’ll be driving all the way to Albania (because she has no passport) which will take days, so he decides to fly, which will take mere hours, therefore overtaking and possibly intercepting them. He doesnt know what driving route they will take, so the logical way is to go all the way to Albania. So he doesn’t have to rush too much because what would be the point of arriving that long before them if he doesn’t know exactly where Alessia’s family live?

        The main problem I have is Moss’s complete lack of concern about the whole situation. If he were engaging in other tasks while waiting for his flight in an attempt to distract himself from his fear and sadness for Alessia, it would make a whole lot more sense. As it is, it’s not only unrealistic and nonsensical but it also makes Maxim look like a horrible person.

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Right. Actually expressing his anxiety properly would help. The problem with the flight is that he should’ve run to his car and chased after them immediately, even if he quickly lost them, to show the logic of taking the flight after that. But also, if he’d alerted authorities, maybe they would’ve been stopped at the border. He just isn’t taking enough steps, to show he’s doing everything he can and then failing admirably in spite of the effort he’s putting in. EEL also isn’t good at showing us that he is doing the fastest thing possible because yeah she keeps killing the tension with all this padding, dragging it out and making it feel like it’s taking forever. (Or just cutting back and forth is doing that… but then she wouldn’t know how to skip time for Alessia lol.)

          For that matter, I highly doubt that he needed to take a commercial flight, the speed would be roughly the same and he’ll still get there first even if he charters a private jet, so the “pathos” relating to that decision is even more annoying. But anyway, getting there sooner gives him time to hunt down the info he needs to locate her parents. Or barring that, I don’t know, visiting Magda before he leaves? She has someone’s address if she’s a pen pal… It’s too much luxury and not enough set-up. So yeah, like the rest of you, I’m on the “he’s horrible” train. 🙁

          August 3, 2019
          |Reply
          • This is about the only time a “Don’t you know who I am?!” temper tantrum would be acceptable. We’ve seen EEL’s dickhead Alpha Male “heroes” freak out and throw shit fits over sub-par wine, being asked routine questions by family members, or, especially, any other male creature looking at their women. They’ve thrown around their names, power, and money to get people fired, locked up in asylums, have illegal tracking systems and reports accessed, and skirt the law in any number of situations. WHY IS POLDARKUS NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT FRUSTRATED AND ANGRY THAT HE CAN’T GET TO ALBANIA IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE THE WOMAN HE LOVES HAS BEEN ABDUCTED BY HER ABUSIVE FIANCE?!

            August 3, 2019
  12. Amalthea
    Amalthea

    So when the back cover promised a roller coaster ride, I was expecting: speed, thrills, excitement, twist and turns. This is more like having to walk back and forth, zigzagging through all the line dividers to get to the roller coaster, only to find there’s hardly anyone there and being stuck next to the super loud obnoxious group who are probably too drunk to ride anyway. Then once you get halfway up the first hill the whole thing chugs to a stop and a bored carnival employee has to lead you awkwardly back down the hill.

    Whee! When’s the move!?

    Also, the baguette scene? Super cute!! I want to detour into that book, where Anatolie is her childhood crush and they’re on the run from Moss who will stop at nothing using his wealth and power to control Alessia.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “So when the back cover promised a roller coaster ride, I was expecting: speed, thrills, excitement, twist and turns.”

      What I think they must have meant was, like a roller coaster, it may make you want to vomit. It should not be read by anyone with high blood pressure or heart problems. Pregnant women should not read this book as it make cause the baby to lose faith in humanity and refuse to come out.

      “Also, the baguette scene? Super cute!! I want to detour into that book, where Anatolie is her childhood crush and they’re on the run from Moss who will stop at nothing using his wealth and power to control Alessia.”

      I’d read that story. That story, unlike this one, sounds good, and dramatic, and exciting and like it has an actual plot.

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yes! Where Moss is delusional and Alessia, of course, has no idea at first and wants nothing to do with him aside from getting her pittance of a paycheck. And Anatoli was going to join her, they had dreams of their future in England but then he has to risk everything to get them out of the country instead and Dimzy is truly brave and strong and only traumatized by Moss’s disconnect with reality; no mention of rape because we don’t need to go there. I want that book.

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
  13. Tree Lady
    Tree Lady

    I’m not sure if Alessia and Anatoli have more chemistry than Moss and her or whether it’s just that Anatoli has a personality.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah. Moss is a white-washed version of Anatoli. She can’t seem to write about any other male character. I think her impression that they’re just dicks with legs ruins any potential for personality. The only reason Chedward and Anatoli are different is that being abusive makes her expand on that idea in a way that builds some actual character. It’s still empty, but it’s less empty than the blandness of a Nice Guy who isn’t self-aware and who never truly suffers in life. He never has to work for anything, including saving his girlfriend so he won’t put in the effort?

      It’s really weird though… I have internalized misogyny and always had trouble making my heroines into fully-fledged characters because I found it easier to give my heroes an internal drive and allowed them to make mistakes, so all of my heroines felt bland and inorganic. EEL has that problem with both genders but she’s able to write abusers really well… except for the “recovery” part.

      Meh. Give me the reboot of She-Ra any day.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  14. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    1) she wants to sleep!? She literally spent like 20 of the last 24 hours sleeping! She slept through her time in the car, she slept through her time in the trunk, she slept in the hotel!

    2) they’re drinking champagne! I get it, champagne sounds ritzy and it’s the special business class lounge. But they serve more “broody” drinks. He could be having scotch on the rocks or something. It could be expensive, old scotch to prove his wealth.
    2-b) he’s mad at his friend for eating nuts because “how can you eat at a time like this!?!?!???!!!11” while he’s drinking CHAMPAGNE! The most celebratory of drinks.

    3) Why is all this paperwork suddenly so necessary? He put everything off while he was in Cornwall because keeping Alessia safe and f*cking her several times a day was more important….but now that he needs to rescue her from a known violent and abusive kidnapper, it’s suddenly super important that he have all sorts of things that stall him. This is such a stupid book with stupid characters and the author is ridiculously inept at everything!

    4) there are NO prestige cars in Alabama except for the car that Anatoli is driving that was describes as being all sleek and shiny and new, so that we all immediately assumed it was a diplomat’s vehicle.

    5) why is it “surprising” that anatoli’s breath remains hot despite the weather? Like a consistent internal body temperature is some kind of weird, bad-guy magic trick?

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “Why is all this paperwork suddenly so necessary? He put everything off while he was in Cornwall because keeping Alessia safe and f*cking her several times a day was more important….but now that he needs to rescue her from a known violent and abusive kidnapper, it’s suddenly super important that he have all sorts of things that stall him. ”

      I think the key fact here is, he cared when she was there to fuck. Now that she is not there to fuck he is less concerned with her and can spend the time he would have spent fucking her doing actual work instead.

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      You need to have a word with your autocorrect about Alabama 😀

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Amy Too
        Amy Too

        I know! I noticed it did it the first time, so I went back and retyped Albania, and then I just kept writing my comment, but autocorrect must’ve changed it again to Alabama. Sometimes, I really wish there was an edit comment feature.

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          LOL… and I thought it was intentional… honestly, the more horrible stereotypes about Alabama and EEL’s Albania are about the same?

          August 3, 2019
          |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      1) My sentiment exactly.

      2) Ugh, I sort of noticed that. You’re right, an absolute mistake on EEL’s part. Especially since as you noted, a good old scotch or hell even any other very aged wine would do. Maybe a vodka to show he’s actually slumming it… just anything but champagne.

      3) Jules is right, ick, but also, I think EEL knew she had to stretch out the main conflict as long as possible… but she’s terrible at doing that and all she could think of was busywork. It’d make more sense if he threw himself at some paperwork to try and take his mind off what he couldn’t change and the wait was actually killing him inside but since we don’t get any sense of true misery from his self-reflection, it all rings false. Sterling Archer would be more sincere about it.

      4) lol Anatoli clearly stole that one from Italy on the way to England. Maybe it’s a rental?

      5) Agreed. I guess it’s just to make it sound ickier but meh.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  15. Siobhannabon
    Siobhannabon

    You don’t have to apologise for the delay in posting, Jenny. I had actually figured you were on the same trajectory as you were when you read the trilogy. Like, you started off hilarious and frequent and mocking but as the series went on it got harder and harder to keep the pace and the humour up. Like, look at your first posts, you liked the beginning well enough (all things considered) and now it’s a burning heap of shit. You’re tough for sticking it out x

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
  16. Lysander
    Lysander

    These excerpts were so bad I found myself attempting to rewrite it as a Jeeves and Wooster adventure as a way to escape it. Then I imagined Bertie Wooster having sex. I watched Jeeves and Wooster as a youngster so it never really occurred to me that Wooster boned down on the regular. I mean nowadays I will run across smutty fanfic of Jeeves and Wooster, but despite that it’s still difficult to consider. But if I need to write smutty fic of Wooster banging, while Jeeves expertly fixes things and somehow pushes the love triangle into an ot3 as an escape from this horrible book, then by golly that’s what I am going to do.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Lysander
      Lysander

      Though if I must be honest, it would probably work better as a Psmith story.

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
  17. Ani
    Ani

    I can’t get over the fact he *updates* his Instagram while Alessia is threatened with rape, violence, and murder

    “Girlfriend got kidnapped! YEET! #gottagofast #Albania”

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Seraphina Bellemonte
      Seraphina Bellemonte

      Alessia stares at Maxim’s Instagram in disbelief. Her mind reels back to Maxim, tightly embracing Caroline. The truth strikes her at once, like church bells ringing. Caroline must have been abducted by one of Anatoli’s associates, and Maxim is on his way to rescue her!

      ( I mean, if the Instagram posts are coming up, it has to be for contrived angst, right?)

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        OMG and please let Caroline photo bomb one of his selfies!

        Dimzy, between kidnapping naps checks out her instagram, sees a photo of Moss at the airport. “Oh, my hero! He is coming to rescue….wait a minute!” sees Caroline’s head in the background. “That bastard has gotten married and is off on his honeymoon!” (why not, these idiots are prone to jumping to the least logical conclusions). Then she thinks fondly of that time Anatoli gave her that sandwich, and the flashlight and blanket so she wouldn’t be scared when he stuffed her in the trunk and she agrees to stop fighting it and be his wife. you know, really BE his wife. boom chicka bow wow.

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
  18. Angélique
    Angélique

    “For those unfamiliar with Top Gear (because somehow such people exist, much in the way that people who have never seen Star Wars exist)”

    Ah yes, I would be both…

    If this book ever makes it onto the screen, I really want a scene of Alessia having to defend herself from being raped by her abuser cut to Maxim sipping Negroni at a hotel bar. Like that’s so tone-deaf it’s kind of amazing.

    August 2, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      Alessia is getting slapped on screen. It cuts to Maxim on his phone updating his social media.

      Alessia is violently thrown into a trunk. Cuts to Maxim drinking wine.

      Alessia purposely starves herself to defy her abuser. Cuts to Maxim looking at rings.

      Alessia regales how her abuser threatened to break her hand. Cuts to Maxim enjoying his car rental.

      like, this is not even an exaggeration on my part or my trying to insult ELL, this actually is what happens in the book!!!

      August 2, 2019
      |Reply
      • Angélique
        Angélique

        Hahaha, YES. Idk what it says about me that I find this so funny. I’m a terrible person, clearly.

        The worst part is that EL James doesn’t have a iota of self-awareness, so you know she wrote that scene completely straight, like yes of course you should take Maxim’s anguish seriously as he waxes lyrical about his rental car while the supposed love of his life has been kidnapped. Isn’t that what people whose girlfriend has been kidnapped do ?

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • And cue all of her fans bleating “It’s fantasy! It’s romantic! I’d love it if a rich, handsome guy rescued ME and brought me a Cartier diamond ring! WHY ARE YOU FRIGID?!”

          August 3, 2019
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Nah. I think they’re mostly bleating in shocked horror over this book. At least a third to a half of them aren’t pleased. They’d still love that idea but EEL showed her cards by accident with this one and now they don’t feel so good about betting on her next one.

            August 3, 2019
  19. Maura
    Maura

    Hi, I’m de-lurking to admit that I keep picturing David Nykl as Anatoli. Well, him as Zelenka, but it’s because he went on to play an Anatoly. This is not helping in viewing him as the bad guy. The two leads, in contrast, are just stick figures in my mind. Also not helping in liking them.

    Since this is my first comment, I want to say thank you for all the great posts, Jenny!

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
  20. Sam Beringer
    Sam Beringer

    So after reading this recap I came to a revelation. There’s one major thing that ruins everything EEL writes, with the exception of the first 50 shades (which is still bad, but not as bad as her later works). In the last two books of the trilogy and this one, she threw in several plots that wouldn’t be out of place in a thriller: Layla the unstable stalker in Darker, Jack Hyde the unusually cutthroat and predatory ex-editor in Freed, and now two kidnapping plots here. It’s like that’s the only thing she could think of to add complications to the plot. When it isn’t.

    Romance stories don’t need stuff like that to be compelling. “Always Be My Maybe” is about childhood friends still trying to cope with issues from long ago while navigating a rekindled relationship. “Blue Valentine” is about a married couple trying to mend their dysfunctional relationship. Neither needed a high-stakes plot because their premises were enough to sustain the stories. EEL could’ve focused on the drama between the characters. She could’ve delved into their psychological issues. She could’ve written two people figuring out how to make a relationship work. She did that in the first 50 shades, but by the second book it pretty much gets dropped and pokes its head up occasionally.

    But you know, I wouldn’t even be saying any of this if the thriller plot was done well. Instead, we get two half-assed plots that don’t combine to make a whole. ELJ just sticks conflict in so she can check it off her list and return to focusing on anything else. And anything else doesn’t include the main romance. She just doesn’t care.

    And if the author doesn’t care, why should the reader?

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      It’s not that EEL doesn’t care. She really doesn’t know how to create real conflict. And it shows. Ugh, does it show. Thankfully her fans are beginning to realize it. Sadly, it’s too late as she’s laughing all the way to the bank, but at least the dawn is breaking on a lot of her die-hard fans who won’t be for much longer.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        That’s true but I also sense that she doesn’t care much for Moss/Dimzy or we would’ve seen more genuine moments. They would’ve been hamfisted, sure, but it seems like she’s just going through the motions. I could be wrong and it could just be her terrible writing overall… but like, for all the shit that she fucks up with Dimzy, I will say that she’s much more fully realized than Moss is. I think if the book had more revisions and more love of women (and didn’t shit all over Albania), then Dimzy would be a really good character as is. But there’s not much to save Moss other than a complete retooling of him… We get his POV directly but he’s the emptiest character in spite of all the self-reflection over Kit, Caroline, and his present situation. He’s practically just a narrator… And I think that’s because she never found him attractive and never truly understood him. She wrote him as the hero because he has money and she liked Ross Poldark but she didn’t know why? Or, crazy to say, maybe she liked Demelsia but never really found Ross sexy, but that’s the official pairing so she didn’t know how to deviate from that. And her lack of nuance killed him and ruined EEL’s interest, which she only got back when she stumbled onto the idea of human trafficking for Dimzy. Even though she fucks it up, she’s clearly living for the thriller scenes (and maybe Caroline/Maxim? Ehh… maybe she liked their chemistry but she thinks you should never break up an official pairing?)

        I also think her inability to dip into Dimzy earlier on was because of rushing and because she didn’t know how to make Moss sound like a hero. Actually exploring Dimzy’s reactions would ruin it or dip into the troubling power imbalance which she was trying to avoid because I think she knew to reflect on that would kill reader interest. But then she veered too far in the other direction and basically ignored Dimzy too much and it’s all just a huge mess still because Dimzy is always at her best when she’s far, far away from Moss.

        Note: I agree she can’t write real conflict; I’m just disagreeing that she cared. I think she lost interest in her main romance and it shows in how that was developed. I don’t think Moss/Caroline’s and Anatoli/Dimzy’s chemistry is a complete accident, no matter how horrifying the latter implication is. I’m not sure if she was unaware either… but who knows?

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Let’s just say that, even if she cared or not, the result is the same: WE don’t care, and, in fact have the same reaction that Sec Unit does in Martha Wells’ third “Murderbot” story Rogue Protocol when it finds out Miki the sickeningly-sweet human-companion robot wants to help SecUnit fight the combat bots:

          “Oh for fuck’s sake!”

          August 3, 2019
          |Reply
    • Bookjunk
      Bookjunk

      You’re right that romance doesn’t necessarily need a “thriller”-subplot, but it can definitely work. Kdramas do this all the time and it usually works quite well. Both plots just needs to be well-written and they need to mesh. Clearly, E.L. James is not capably of writing well (clearly!) and she cannot handle tonal shifts in the story either.

      Maybe this is considered the roller coaster ride portion of the book? Not because it’s fast and exciting and surprising, but because the story lurches from physical abuse to a pleasant drive in a rental Dacia, from getting locked in the trunk of a car to sipping drinks in the hotel bar, from rape threat to ‘well, I’m off to bed now, we’ll save Alessia tomorrow!’

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • Coco
      Coco

      Calm down with the word ‘revelation,’ my friend. It’s not like you saw an unusual car.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  21. Maria
    Maria

    the juxtaposition between maxim and alessia’s povs is so inept it’s comical. i’m amazed that erika, after defending her shitty self insert christian grey from critics calling him an abuser, would write a character *who’s meant to be an abuser* that’s nearly identical to him. like, i thought she’d make him even more ridiculously over the top as a way of saying, “see??? this is what an actual abusive guy is!!!1!” maybe she thought she was doing that, but the result is a lot closer to chedward.
    also, yeah, that baguette scene kind of made alessia and anatoli seem like people instead of cardboard cutouts. this fucking book…

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • I’ve said before multiple times, she wrote a hero and a villain that were EXACTLY THE SAME in FSOG with the exception of one was a good looking billionaire, and was oblivious to it. Jack’s plan to kidnap Ana — remove her to an unfamiliar location, tranquilize her, tie her up, beat her and rape her — is actually the same exact thing Christian plans for their first date. But because Jack has a dirty van, not a private helicopter, and a couple pills instead of luxurious expensive wine, it’s all icky and gross. But Christian is soooooo romantic and passionate, right?!

      Neither Mrs. Leonard nor her fans are particularly aware of these obvious parallels. If he’s rich and hot, he’s a hero! If he’s ethnic and/or not rich, he’s obviously a baddie.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
      • Maria
        Maria

        to quote dan olson, “christian is the evil version of christian”

        August 3, 2019
        |Reply
  22. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    I hate the ongoing eating-theme so much. It normalises eating disorders and the extremely not-okay behaviour of forcing someone to eat “out of love or concern (but really just control)” or whatever bullshit E.L. James is spinning this time.

    And it doesn’t even make sense here! Come on, Alessia. You know the baguette hasn’t been tampered with and you need to keep up your strength if you want to either escape or fight your kidnapper. Show some intelligence, please!

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I think she was just irked but you’re right. She should’ve sucked up her pride unless the whole thing left her feeling nauseous, which is a better excuse for refusing to eat, although sometimes you can be nauseous because you haven’t eaten recently enough and that could be a reason for him to insist. Point being, pride or venting her frustration wasn’t the best choice from a common-sense POV. Even if she was just being stubborn, she could’ve then noted her stomach was upset and then proceed with negotiations. Him taking a bite of it because it could’ve been tampered with (or she told him to eat it instead) is indeed the last reason anyone should go with and even if it was for a “cutesy” moment, which is out of place with his role here and didn’t leave her to reflect on what could’ve been if he wasn’t an abusive asshole, then it’d still be stronger had it gone down a slightly different path.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
    • 9ofspades
      9ofspades

      Alessia is a cannibal and refuses to eat anything that doesn’t taste clean and male.

      August 7, 2019
      |Reply
  23. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    “I arrived in Albania to rescue my beloved. Upon landing I naturally studied the airport. Imagine my surprise when it wasn’t a ramshackle backwoods shed stuffed with garbage and rampant with violent criminals!”

    In just two sentences James manages to convey that our hero experiences literally no anxiety over his kidnapper girlfriend, negative sense of urgency to save her and, oh yeah, Albania isn’t a complete dumb. Who knew? Certainly not you, E.L. James. Fucking hell.

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
  24. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    This just says a lot about Moss’ character – he doesn’t care. He says he cares and he’s making a superficial showing of caring, but obvious that being rich is more important than saving his girl. Him flying coach because no first class tickets were available would have been much more interesting, kind fo the opposite of when someone poor gets first class tickets because it’s what’s available and they can’t afford it, but they’ve got to save someone.

    Now I want Moss to find her and when he gets there, she’s saved herself and is all, “fuck off and die asshole, I already fixed it. Thanks for nothing looser. And I (magically) got a visa and I’m going back to England without you.”

    I’ve gotten sucked into Good Omens and in that, every detail is so revealing about each character. And one of the things I find so interesting is that the character’s actions frequently tell a different story than their words and the actions are much more likely to tell the truth. The subtext is amazing.

    But after the brilliance of that, it really making me appreciate what’s wrong with this book. I’m so sorry you’re still stuck with this dumpster fire.

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Him flying coach because no first class tickets were available would have been much more interesting, kind fo the opposite of when someone poor gets first class tickets because it’s what’s available and they can’t afford it, but they’ve got to save someone.

      Yeah, the latter involves sacrifice but the former is just being kinda classist. I still say he should’ve chartered a private jet and then anxiously had to kill time while they got everything in order, which still could’ve taken several hours or all night since they have to find a pilot who’s fresh and capable and they need to get their flight plans cleared and the plane fueled. All that good stuff that could take longer if it’s not his personal plane. Maybe he had to rush around and get some business he was procrastinating on in order before he left, at the insistence of Oliver, who had no idea how long he’d be gone. Maybe he had trouble finding Tom and HIS OTHER FRIEND WHO WISELY RAN OFF WITH THE THAMES. Perhaps only Tom got back to him in time and was sober enough or had enough vacation time to run off on holiday with his bro. Maybe Moss couldn’t sleep and so he began drinking and shuffling through the vaults or some shit. Maybe he ran off to see Magda, to glean any info he could and to EXONERATE HER of any wrong-doing because Dimzy knows but Moss doesn’t. And Tom reminds Moss they’ll get there way before she does and Moss keeps worrying that Dimzy will never actually arrive… alive anyway.

      I’ve gotten sucked into Good Omens and in that, every detail is so revealing about each character. And one of the things I find so interesting is that the character’s actions frequently tell a different story than their words and the actions are much more likely to tell the truth. The subtext is amazing.

      I still need to read that book. I’ll get around to it someday, hopefully. XD

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  25. Moss is like Sterling Archer at his most Arch.

    “The so-called love of your life has been kidnapped to Eastern Europe and is probably handcuffed to a radiator in the basement of some social hot spot for human traffickers, and you’re stopping. For. A. Negroni.”

    (Moss holds up one finger in the “wait” gesture)

    “How can you even think of drinking at a time like this?”

    “Ahhh. How can you not? Oh, shit.”

    “What?!”

    “Does Albania have cars?”

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      LOL oh god, yes. Except Moss has less personality.

      August 3, 2019
      |Reply
  26. Dove
    Dove

    Just say, “She wants to sleep.”

    HOLY FUCKING HELL BUT WHY? ISN’T SHE RESTED YET? If Dimzy is depressed and just wants to turn the world off, sure, absolutely. If it’s made her lose all her energy and she just can’t deal with this shit, sure. IF SHE WAS ACTUALLY KNOCKED OUT EVERY TIME, YES, because that isn’t restful sleep but most of the time she’s just dozed off. Hasn’t this woman had enough sleep by now? Good lord…

    Also, complete tangent, but every time I type Dimzy, my autocorrect suggests Dizzy, so I immediately think of Guilty Gear and welp… I just imagine Dizzy sitting there blankly confused, squishing Anatoli into the driver’s door as the car speeds along because her wings are huge and her tail keeps getting in the way. And the second he threatens her with a bitch-slap, the wing on that side kills him and the car engine. Best crossover. 10/10 *claps*

    If I gave you this excerpt right here and you had no idea what was happening in the story, you’d assume this was a romantic comedy and these were the hero and heroine.

    … Disconcertingly true. I’m not a fan of the “you will eat” obsession that EEL has, maybe it’s a genuine kink with her husband (that turns her on, I mean), but why the fuck didn’t Dimzy have any cute moments like this with Moss? DID she? I can’t remember anything.

    Call me someone who has read this book all the way so far but last I knew, those places were hauntingly familiar because you were trafficked and you’re suffering untreated PTSD. So, you know. Note that her love for Maxim takes precedence over her personal trauma. Losing him is worse than human trafficking.

    Yeah, it may be EEL dropping the ball as usual when it comes to her callous disregard for other women (or her presumption that Twu Wuv involves forgetting everything except that person, in which case lol yeah Moss gives no shits or it’s just that evangelical Christianity leaking in again), but now I’m positive that she added in the human trafficking sub-plot later, then didn’t get a chance or forgot (or didn’t bother) to smooth out all the wrinkles this caused.

    In the business-class lounge at Gatwick, Moss and Tom are drinking champagne while they wait for their flight.

    What I don’t understand is why he needed commercial at all? Yeah, it was supposedly too late to set that ball in motion then (which sounds a bit incredulous… I don’t think it was late at night or anything but I could be wrong), but couldn’t he have gotten the wheel spinning first thing in the morning or as soon as whenever it was possible? Yes, they have to get the private jet all set up and ready for flight, plus share the flight plans with who-ever, but wouldn’t it take about the same amount of time? If he has to wait anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to do that because then he could customize his flight plan to go back to Kukes or as close as possible? Also, he doesn’t know for certain that’s where she’s going so… ugh.

    Flight legit only makes sense when Moss doesn’t know the truth and is just going to visit her mom’s to surprise her, as Jules suggested. God, this is so mixed up… they drove to Cornwall when they should’ve flown and they’re flying to Albania when they should’ve driven! o_o;

    Especially when it would have been far more powerful for her mom to just be Albanian and a feminist of her own accord despite her situation in her marriage.

    Aye. This is where EEL’s prejudice shines through so hard and where some much-needed nuance could’ve been established, time and again. Just because her mom became more acceptable to the community, maybe to fit in better or because of subliminal misogyny, and married an abusive prick that doesn’t mean her mom couldn’t have been a radical feminist too. If anything, it would’ve made the connection stronger for Dimzy, especially since we have NO idea where grandma was living. Presumably not in the same house so it’d be great if mom had helped those English HP books turn up in her daughter’s room. Maybe Dimzy hung out at grandma’s frequently, to get away from the oppressive fear at home, and mom was with them because why wouldn’t she be? Albania surely doesn’t have any laws keeping women from traveling without men since it’s a secular nation. Whatever is enforced via religion most likely isn’t a law unless some very conservative people managed to sneak something in. I just… ugh. I’m so tired and I’m only reading the excerpts here.

    Anatoli tells Demelssia that she’ll have to get back in the trunk to cross into Croatia.

    *scowls* Don’t bring Croatia into this, you dumb shit of an author. Drive around it; go through Hungary. It’s not like he’s in a hurry or anything; he can take a detour if that’d keep her out of the trunk. Or take a fucking boat, which would probably be faster. He could hire someone to get his car the rest of the way and find some fishing boat to smuggle her in, right? She’d have a much harder time escaping if she can’t swim and unless the coast guard is ferocious, I think it’d be easier too. Besides, if I’m not mistaken, there are a LOT of mountains along the northern border of Slovenia (including the Alps.) If you go through Italy and then take a boat across the Adriatic then you avoid some of that. Shit, if he has money, the bastard could charter a yacht and probably hand-wave questions… oh wait, wrong bastard. I guess that’s what Moss would do.

    Anatoli reiterates that he’s only going to hit her if she isn’t obedient and honestly, at this point, I’m like, wait, this is an E.L. James book. Are we sure Anatoli isn’t the hero?

    Well, it wouldn’t be EEL without fucking up domestic violence at least a little bit. I mean, Dimzy should bitterly remember how he fooled her the first time before he began beating her, and how she won’t be fooled again or something, but sometimes she has her doubts. That’s my opinion anyway. Yeah, Dimzy is being sarcastic here, I think, but it’d help if EEL spelled it out.

    You thought Demelssia was a revelation, too. Are you going to fuck the car now?

    OMG, that’d be a better book. One man; one car… until it gets grand theft auto up in here. Let’s be honest, she might as well be a car with how he’s treating this situation… and it’d make Caroline’s disbelief all the better. “You want to MARRY your car?” XD

    In Demelssia’s POV, they arrive at a fancy hotel in Zagreb, where Anatoli casually lets her out of the trunk right in a public parking lot. He has gotten them a suite.

    Please tell me why the fuck she needed to be in the trunk other than to emphasize that Anatoli is indeed the villain? Also, why in gods name did he decide to get randy right after letting her out? Does crossing the border while doing illegal stuff turn him on? I just… it was an effective scene, I mean if you ignore Moss’s POV entirely, but it feels so out of place. I guess to give her a reason to be upset about the bed but… ugh. Why do we have to do this gross dance? Why? Moss doesn’t give a fuck. He isn’t suffering… so it just feels like Dimzy is going through punishment porn, even when it’s properly repulsive it’s like EEL gets off on her heroines suffering.

    Alternatively, she only had Moss’s POV, the editors were like “Ummm WTF?” Then she went overboard for Dimzy’s scenes and now it’s jarring.

    Nobody is so unaware of their own creation that they could possibly recreate him in the very role their most vocal critics accused them of glorifying, right?

    I think EEL did write this first and Anatoli was well-received by her Poldark fandom fans. Then she turned him into Chedward and women lapped it up so much that she went and grabbed a book deal out of it. Unfortunately, if you read them in the opposite order, Chedward first and then Anatoli, it becomes yet another horrible revelation about how she glorifies abuse. The only reason it worked in fandoms was a) there wasn’t much fandom overlap or b) they encouraged her to write a “good” version of Anatoli so the only ones who were aware also presumed she’d actually made him a better man… or that Ana would anyway. Something like that.

    I think perhaps she didn’t realize how obvious it would become or maybe she was banking on Poldark er Moss stealing hearts while she could get vengeance on the people who said she was glorifying it… by showing that she can write actual abuse and it’d prove how great her bland-ass Nice Guy hero is! That’s my guess. But yeah, she can’t write anything without fanfiction. At least, not without a LOT more edits than this POS got. And I’m betting she always liked Anatoli better; that’s why those scenes are shit but they’re not nearly as bad as everything with Moss and why it’s so hard for her to keep Chedward from seeping into Moss even though Anatoli is his predecessor. But this is all pure speculation on my end of course.

    Incidentally, I wanted to reply to the “ten things I like about me” post but I’m still working on coming up with ten things… lol. Enjoy your much-deserved cabin time, enjoy the centaur shenanigans, and I’m sure it’ll be decent at least! Remember, personality is still key. I also personally don’t care exactly how his organs work (other than you need to decide what diet restrictions he has, if any, and give a passing explanation for why even if it’s just that he’s a standard vegetarian/vegan or he’s an omnivore and it doesn’t matter, because that could vaguely impact any scenes involving eating) but I do look forward to your answers regarding centaur clothing, centaur furniture, and centaur housing, which he could’ve made his fortune off of! Also, I’d love to know if there are other supernaturals around; like how common that sort of thing is. (Oh, gosh, if you’ve never seen What We Do in the Shadows, please watch that first! I could swear you have but if you haven’t please do. It’s only vampires and werewolves, but I think you’d love it and it could be inspiring too lol. I also just found out it’s based on a book, which I didn’t know before.) And if Zeus is involved in any way, shape, or form… Greek/Roman gods/goddesses could be cool cameos but aren’t necessary. I’d love to see a Minotaur somewhere… one that might not be murderous. And a blonde office Gorgon that our virgin is friends with. Ok, I’ll be quiet now! XD

    August 3, 2019
    |Reply
    • Person
      Person

      “*scowls* Don’t bring Croatia into this, you dumb shit of an author. Drive around it; go through Hungary.”

      What do you have against Hungary??

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I wanted to make a funny joke but I have nothing to offer you. I’m so sorry! *gross sobs*

        August 5, 2019
        |Reply
  27. Mar
    Mar

    I’m not sure if this has been said before, but after reading your Grey recaps, isn’t Trevelyan also Christian Grey’s mother’s maiden name? Does this all happen in the same universe?

    August 4, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      That’s been mentioned and yeah… I don’t think it’s confirmed (though I could be wrong) but it’s basically the same universe.

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
  28. Lily
    Lily

    Hey, Jenny, the EEL not only steals words, I think she stole the 12th Earl of Shaftsbury’s life! He’s a youngish, handsome man who inherited the title after the murder of his father and the death of his elder brother. He was a DJ and club promoter in NYC before he inherited (which he wasn’t expecting) and then returned.

    HOWEVER, this Earl likes to be called Nick, he’s married and has four young children, he credits his wife as being the strong one, he is not rich, and he’s trying to raise the money to restore the historical estate. Now that’s an interesting story. But, you know, no rich people indolence, no easily-dominated virginal female, no extraneous villains…

    August 4, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Someone else mentioned him in previous comments and yeah, he’s a lot more interesting! A shame a better author didn’t use him for inspiration.

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
  29. Jenn H
    Jenn H

    “Tom and I are traveling with hand baggage only, so we go straight through customs and emerge into a modern, well-lit airport terminal. I don’t know what I’d been expecting, but the place looks like any small airport in Europe, with all the facilities one might need.”

    As opposed to what? A runway made of dirt covered in chickens and an airport terminal constructed from wood and the fuselages of wreaked planes.

    Another site has suggested that James wrote the next section either during or after her trip to Albania. So be prepared for a lot of this kind of revelation as Moss/James realises that Albania is a real country full of real people and not some horrible stereotype.

    August 4, 2019
    |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      That would be amazing but also… Alessia doesn’t know her own fucking country, then?

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yeah, one more check on the list of “she’s an international spy with a fake backstory”!

        I think it’s stupid that EEL didn’t go back and fix her previous mistakes. Even if Alessia was exaggerating because she was frustrated and impoverished (which… is a little at odds with going to college but whatever, she got a scholarship) it doesn’t make a lot of sense. She never once thought fondly of anything there… no brand loyalty or anything.

        I’d also guess EEL doesn’t kiss enough ass with these revelations to make diplomats happy. It’s too little, too late anyway. People who were jolted out of the book by the bad stereotypes probably never got this far.

        August 5, 2019
        |Reply
        • Ani
          Ani

          hey, if I knew I was going to make money on my first draft, I wouldn’t bother as well.

          (I’m lying. I have pride in my works)

          August 5, 2019
          |Reply
        • Jenn H
          Jenn H

          I’m not sure “hey your country isn’t as awful as I thought after all” will ever go down well.

          Now would be a great time for that plot twist. They arrive in Germany an Alessia thinks “ok, we’re taking the long way around,” then they cross the boarder into Poland “so the very long way around.” Finally she realises something is very wrong when they’re stopped at the boarder to the Kaliningrad region, and Anatoli flashes his ID at the guards and they are let through with no further questions…

          Meanwhile Maxim is chilling in Tirana, waiting for the perfect moment to swoop in and rescue her. He is amazed that everyone there has cleaver phones and he can still pay for things with his card.

          August 5, 2019
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Now would be a great time for that plot twist. They arrive in Germany an Alessia thinks “ok, we’re taking the long way around,” then they cross the boarder into Poland “so the very long way around.” Finally she realises something is very wrong when they’re stopped at the boarder to the Kaliningrad region, and Anatoli flashes his ID at the guards and they are let through with no further questions…

            Meanwhile Maxim is chilling in Tirana, waiting for the perfect moment to swoop in and rescue her. He is amazed that everyone there has cleaver phones and he can still pay for things with his card.

            I would so read that book, especially if there were outright hints that something is wrong, including in Alessia’s POV, which she realizes but keeps pushing aside until this very moment. And then she has to save herself and she yells at Maxim. And he’s a douche nozzle but he sort of has an excuse for being in the wrong place… because he’s an idiot. Like, he questioned her responses a bit, but ultimately bought them. From her POV, we see that she still has frequent doubts… maybe some conflations in her mind that lead to confusion. And at the end of the day, she dumps Maxy Pad for a life of thrills, chills, adventure, and further espionage. XD

            August 5, 2019
  30. BloodyRose
    BloodyRose

    Nitpick: “Sleep is what she wants” is not passive voice. It IS, however, very weird and klutzy topic-fronting.

    Maybe the “Oh, a three-hour drive is a grueling journey; we must have a Long Rest before setting out upon such a great and terrible trek!” is a British thing? I have heard that they, like tiny-state people, do not see a three-hour drive as a quick jaunt. I dunno, I’m out here in the west and out here if we got three hours out and realized we’d left our hat at the hotel, we’d probably turn around and drive back for it. I really don’t get other people’s sense of distance.

    August 5, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      that is an incredibly good point. james keeps making this journey look like its taking weeks to get through when in reality it should’ve taken minutes or a few hours. Europe is not that big and Maxim traveled by PLANE.

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Maxim was definitely in the air for only 3 hours and the drive from Tirana to Kukës is 2 hours. Even with a late start, unless Anatoli was burning rubber and driving like a maniac on the autobahn, then Maxim would’ve arrived first… perhaps even after he spends the night in Tirana. I don’t think Anatoli is gonna kill himself staying awake to drive 27/28 hours straight (plus we know they’ve spent at least two nights in a hotel… that means they’ll get there in roughly three days.)

        But yeah it definitely feels like weeks with how fucking often Dimzy fell asleep and with how tedious EEL makes it feel by cutting from Moss to Dimzy… as if it’s in real-time? Even if it isn’t… Ugh. She should’ve cut from one POV to another when changing chapters instead. It’d give a better sense of time? Maybe?

        August 5, 2019
        |Reply
        • Ani
          Ani

          It’s sorta like how Ana and Grey went from meeting, to dating, to fucking, to marrying within… what was it? Three months?

          August 7, 2019
          |Reply
    • Person
      Person

      Same, when I read that they were only a THREE HOUR drive away from her… Granted, I have zero understanding of how folks from smaller countries or what a friend of mine calls the tic tac states feel about a drive of this length, but…surely it can’t seem like that long of a journey? Just three measly hours on the road? That’s just a couple of counties, ffs. But then, in parts of Europe, maybe it’s a couple of *countries*. That trips my brain out way too much.

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        I live in the Tri-State area (aka, NYC commuter zone). It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to work each day so a three hour drive just seems like a nice little road trip. I don’t get how this is some harrowing journey.

        EEL has a very strange concept of how the world works. Are we absolutely sure she’s from this planet or has ever visited this planet? Could the EEL we see in interviews and such be some kind of hologram projected from her how planet full of alpha-males where everything is 10 minutes away and no one has ever heard of driving 3 hours in one day!

        August 5, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          Maybe her only reference is Gilligan’s Island (oh, those poor people) and so a three hour tour could turn into years trapped on a tropical island. I supposed Moss could hobnob with the Howells, they might have champagne for him to sip while he waits another few days before going to save Dimzy from the horrible Albanian’s and their blankets and sandwiches!

          August 5, 2019
          |Reply
      • Chris
        Chris

        I live in the Netherlands. The longest distance between two of the bigger cities (not taking into account small villages in the outer edges) is a 3,5 hours drive. But most likely, if you’re driving for three hours, you’ll end up in another country. You could even cross two borders (Belgium AND France), if you start from the south of Holland and hurry a bit.

        It’s indeed true that “we” would consider a car ride of more than 1,5 hours long. People who drive around a lot for work might be more flexible, but if I want to visit friends or family and it’s a two-hour drive, I for sure am not going to turn around for something I left there if my life depended on it. Even worse; I’ve got friends who are moving away to a place about 2 hrs drive, and I know the friendship is going to suffer heavily. Two hours distance is a lot, here.

        That changes, though, when you’re traveling to a whole other country. Theoretically, you could reach (for example) Spain in a day’s travel. Almost no one does that (because we’re not used to traveling long distances), but you could. So then it changes from “fuck it’s TWO WHOLE HOURS to get to my friends” to “Paris is only six hours by car!”.

        The UK is a lot bigger than Holland. Six times bigger, to be precise. German and British people (as far as I know) generally have a different view on distances, simply because they’re used to bigger distances.

        For someone like EL, three hours shouldn’t be much of a big deal. But she’s probably one of those people who fly, like, anywhere; even if the time spend on travel to the airport – waiting at the airport – flying – travel from the airport exceeds the time of just taking a fucking car (or train, for that matter). That’s the only reason I can come up with for why she would write that 3 hours is a long drive.

        August 6, 2019
        |Reply
        • Person
          Person

          Thank you for your perspective, Chris! And I bet the Eel is completely that person. I also have…concerns as to her general humanity and feel like these passages may be revealing that she has trouble even imagining feeling genuine anxiety about another person’s well-being. How else could it be possible to fuck up so badly that your hero legit looks like Archer Sterling played straight?!

          August 6, 2019
          |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Ok, so, I live in NC and three hours is a bit long to go back for your hat but it’s certainly day-trip worthy (especially if you’re spending several hours where you’re going and then coming back the same day.) Unless he’s exhausted from the flight, there’s no reason he can’t drive that.

      I think the logic EEL was going with is that they left in the morning and the trip is essentially 7 hours total but it’s only 3 hours in flight, a little under 2 hours driving from Tirana to Kukës, and 2 hours for a transfer which I’m mind-boggled over unless it’s referring to the train plus the car drive? The first two flights seem really direct otherwise.

      https://www.rome2rio.com/s/London/Kuk%C3%ABs

      So, yeah… Moss remains a huge piece of shit.

      Also, it looks like it’s a 24 hour drive if you drive through the Eurotunnel… I’d expect Anatoli isn’t booking it so it might take closer to 2-3 days overall. I think this is the itenrary that EEL found.

      https://www.rome2rio.com/map/London/Kuk%C3%ABs#r/Drive-Eurotunnel

      Incidentally, I’m impressed how much you can get around Europe via bus just based on this initial search.

      August 5, 2019
      |Reply
    • 9ofspades
      9ofspades

      Actually, it is passive voice. So was that previous sentence and this current sentence.

      Passive voice refers to using passive verbs in a sentence. The verb of the sentence “sleep is what she wants” is “is”, which is a passive verb. Thus passive voice.

      August 7, 2019
      |Reply
    • IsobelA
      IsobelA

      Brit here, and nah. Three hours isn’t a quick hop for us but we do quite happily and regularly drive for much more than that. No normal British person would think a six hour drive would require an overnight stop.

      August 8, 2019
      |Reply
  31. Jules
    Jules

    The thing is, even if this is a loooong trip for Princess Moss, he is theoretically going to save the woman he loves. I’m sure, even for people who have never driven 3 hours in their lives, were their loved one in danger, they would make the trek. But Moss’s total lack of urgency is baffling. If he were truly the hero shouldn’t he be yelling “faster! We have to reach her before something terrible happens” rather than, “oh Jeeves, this Cristal is a bit flat.”

    Were this an actual story and not just a bunch of stereotypes shoved up the butt of a stereotypical Albanian thug, this would be the big climactic scene. This would be the moment Moss risks everything to save his beloved. What has he risked so far? Leg room, from having to fly commercial and looking like a peasant, from having to drive a non-luxury car. Ooooh, what a hero…NOT!

    If I were Dimzy, being threatened with physical and sexual abuse while locked in a trunk and I found out my supposed hero was off sipping champagne and taking selfies at the airport I’d dump his ass.

    August 6, 2019
    |Reply
  32. Tami
    Tami

    Moss’ approach to going after Demelissa is the same as Pepe Le Pew bouncing along casually after the frantic female cat trying to elude him. He even pauses along the way to wax poetic over different things, because he feels no urgency.

    August 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Thank you for this visual. Thank you. From the casual misogyny and rapey-ness to the unbelievable amounts of head-up-his-own-ass, this is a perfect analogy of EEL’s heroes.

      August 6, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      LOL Although the only thing stopping Pepe and Penelope from being together is canonically either one stinking… usually when he loses his scent, something happens to make her stinky and it creates a role reversal… although once she got dunked in water, had the stripe washed off, and he was covered in blue paint which somehow masked the smell or maybe it was because her nose got stuffy from an instant cold… I mean either way I remember the blue paint distinctly. (Then he lost his enthusiasm when she locked the door and swallowed the key.) But I think, in the episode where she was named Fabrette, he got his musk removed and she made herself stinky with cheese and it was sort of a badly timed attempt on each other’s part to appeal to one another… she was way more into him in that episode though, one of her rare speaking roles where she definitely had an interest but couldn’t handle the stench so the role reversal was a bit more natural and slightly less rapey. And basically, I’d much rather watch any Pepe le Pew short rather than read this book because there’s more nuance and follow through and Pepe is much more endearing.

      August 6, 2019
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Oh, I forgot to add, I’d also MUCH rather watch “The Dover Boys at Pimento University” or “The Rivals of Roquefort Hall” which is a Chuck Jones short. Dan Backslide makes Anatoli look like cat shit (“A roundabout! I’ll steal it! NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW!”) and Dora could teach Alessia a thing or two about being a damsel in distress. XD

      August 6, 2019
      |Reply
    • BloodyRose
      BloodyRose

      Is “sporfle” still a word? Because I legit sporfled at this image

      August 7, 2019
      |Reply
  33. K R
    K R

    Is it bad that I like Anatoli more than Maxim?
    I mean, sure Anatoli is Albanian Christian, but at least Anatoli has a personality, (a shitty one, but whatevs). Maxim is just so….bleh…He’s bland and boring even as a jerk. Usually the jerky characters are the more interesting or fun ones, but Maxim is quite the opposite.

    August 6, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Nah, I think it’s natural. Maxim has no clear motivation and never has to work for anything that he wants in the narrative; defining traits of a poorly designed character. We’re told this and that about him but he never exerts any real effort and as far as the narrative is concerned, is never at fault either. He doesn’t have any sort of character arc even though it’s supposed to be about how falling in love makes him more considerate and a better person overall. Even if this actually happened, we don’t see him exert any effort to be better so it falls flat. He doesn’t do anything besides boning a woman and that’s what he was doing before. Nothing really changes for him. So, Maxim is a slice of turd pie but there’s no flaky crust, shiny pie tin, or a dollop of cream to distract from this. There’s nothing to enjoy, just the shit it’s made out of.

      On the other hand, Anatoli presumably drove 27/28 hours to get to England to find Alessia and spends another 27/28 confirmed hours driving her back to Albania. That’s nothing to sneeze at; this man has some fierce dedication. Any other complete bastard would just give up and kill her parents to make himself/herself feel better. And in spite of his horrible behavior, we’re also shown tiny snippets of what he’d be like if he wasn’t a complete asshole. He’s weirdly considerate at times and seems to have a mild sense of humor, which is more than Maxim can claim and that’s the bare minimum for fuck’s sake. If Anatoli didn’t threaten or harm her (or kidnap her), then he could be a true rival for her affections.

      Maxim needed some concrete goals/motivations and overall be less passive. Even if there was no obstacle to Alessia’s heart, we need to see him struggle in order for us to root for his success but it just falls into his lap. We don’t really see him deal with anything… when he’s stressed, he drinks champagne and tells his bro to put a ring on it. He’s the Zade of this book… Alessia is also kind of boring but the various kidnappings, stress, and dire circumstances at least give her something to do. Well, when she doesn’t fall unconscious because the author is rushing to the deadline date… Alessia is poorly written but Maxim is a complete mess and can’t be salvaged without some extreme changes.

      August 6, 2019
      |Reply
      • K R
        K R

        Thank you. That is exactly why I felt I likes Anatoli. Yes, again, he’s a jerk, but he has shown snippets that he could have been a decent human being and Alessia did mention she was smitten with him in the beginning. So, a better writer might have even been able to redeem Anatoli, (not saying he should be the hero in this story), but I feel like the bits we’ve seen of Anatoli show he has more redeeming qualities than anything Maxim has ever shown.

        August 7, 2019
        |Reply
  34. Dove
    Dove

    Quick update on stuff on my end! Mr.Jen’s injury that I’ve mentioned before is healing through the miracle of physical therapy several times a week. And I’m getting un-depressed. After a wild week, I decided to get out and go. I attended a cast party, a film audition, did some grown-up things that needed doing and now I’m back and ready to roll.

    Also, sorry for so many comments, but I forgot about this after reading the rest of the post. I’m glad you and Mr. Jen are doing better! Especially getting out and enjoying life. I still have issues with that sometimes. I hope things stay good for as long as possible! 🙂

    August 6, 2019
    |Reply
  35. 9ofspades
    9ofspades

    In the parody version of this where Alessia is a cannibal trying to lure rich noblemen to their doom, Anatoli is just another one of her victims, albeit a poor one. Maxim is legitimately worried for her because he connects the dots, but still wastes time trying to book a first class flight and whining about which car he’s driving. He clumsily tries to explain that he came as soon as he could but was delayed by necessities like waiting for a sufficiently expensive car to become available. Once again, she is so angry with him that she doesn’t even want to eat him – he is only fit to be compost. This is literally how he’s stayed alive so long.

    August 7, 2019
    |Reply
    • 9ofspades
      9ofspades

      Actually, scratch that – Anatoli is an accomplice; Alessia only eats the rich.

      (I kind of assumed Anatoli wasn’t rich because we’re not supposed to find him sexy, and this is an Eel James novel and everyone knows that in eel novels only rich people are sexy and poor people are gross. But correct me if I’m wrong)

      He orders her a meatless meal because she only eats the flesh of humans, not other animals. She picks at her food sullenly because there’s no human flesh in it. Anatoli is used to this, which is why he keeps pressing her to eat.

      August 7, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Pretty sure Anatoli is rich if he’s a blonde, partially Italian mobster who can leave the country of Albania for about a week to go driving all across Europe to pick-up his debt-bride. That takes actual vacation time if nothing else. And EEL hasn’t told us we’re supposed to find him gross or anything. The abuse doesn’t make him less sexy in an EEL book; it makes him a Bad Romance. I guarantee she found Anatoli to be sexy or she wouldn’t have transformed Edward into him for her AU fanfic.

        Also, Alessia is only interesting as a cannibal if she sings “You Should See Me With a Crown” while transforming into a giant, horrifying spider thing… Nothing else will do now that I have that mental image. (I’ve seen a live-action music video but there’s also an animated one…) XD

        But that said, Anatoli as an accomplice and Maxim too stupid to be eaten makes sense to me.

        August 7, 2019
        |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        Poor people are sexy in James’ novels if they’re naive, sheltered virgin women from foreign countries that haven’t caught up with the 21st century.

        August 14, 2019
        |Reply
  36. Moomin
    Moomin

    I’m not sure if someone commented on it before, and I must say, I haven’t read the book in question, but I found this comment under a video review of the mister https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxEizIgLVeA&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1jS3RwSMCBQTC5vJDaer3iVdPJruNV3uu5ucxbxz948E2jMh5CTBxH7lM

    “This Honestly sounds like a shittier version of “The Master” by Kresley Cole. Even down to the Maxim name. Except that one didn’t have English lords but Russian mafia. Plus the main lady was a Hispanic woman. No sex trafficking but it dealt with some of the troubles of illegal immigrants. Lots of smut but great plot.”

    Is this valid? Because I wouldn’t be surprised if James “borrowed” from more than one source.

    August 7, 2019
    |Reply
  37. I can tell you’re running out of steam with doing these recaps, which I don’t blame you. This book is atrocious.

    August 9, 2019
    |Reply
  38. Chesh
    Chesh

    I don’t know if anyone else mentioned this and I suppose it doesn’t matter because we already know it’s unoriginal material, but according to this one person on Twitter, this book started out as fan fiction too. Apparently it was called Safe Haven.

    August 9, 2019
    |Reply
  39. Ashley
    Ashley

    Jenny, you are so right about the weather reflecting someone’s mood. My Grade 12 English teacher said something about that that I’ve never forgotten: it’s called a pathetic fallacy because frankly it’s pathetic to think the weather cares about your mood.

    August 14, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      And I don’t associate dark moods with wet weather. I associate them with unrelenting heat and drought – waiting for relief that doesn’t come anytime soon.

      August 15, 2019
      |Reply

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