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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter thirty-one or “That scene in Pulp Fiction where everyone has a gun pulled on everyone.”

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Huzzah and here we are! The penultimate installment of this round of Jealous Haters Book Club. The Mister is thirty-three chapters in total, but the last two are so pitifully short that I’m going to combine them rather than prolong our misery. I’ll post a more comprehensive update on blog things later this week but since a few people have asked, yes, we will be returning to Beautiful Disaster.

More importantly, however, we’ll be returning to our recaps…with a theme song, courtesy of Bunny. Since Bunny is a big MST3K fan, the song is meant to be sung to its theme tune. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here you go:

 

In the not-too-distant future,
Somewhere in Michigan,
There was a gal named Jenny
Who fell in love with Ed Sheeran.
She read some tripe that made her say
“These authors suck, they cannot stay!”
She grabbed a red pen with a curse
And in her scathing wit she hits
The very awfulest and worst!

“I’ll dissect cheesy novels,
Whatever you can find. (la la la)
I’ll sit right here and read them all
To save you peace of mind.” (la la la)
Now keep in mind, Jen can’t control
How bad these crap books get. (la la la)
So try not to get so annoyed
You do something you’ll regret!

Jealous Hater Roll Call:

Wisecracks! (A-plenty!)
Anger! (You’ll catch it!)
Blayde Trasket! (Hot stuff!)
Weeeed! (*sharp inhale*)

If you’re startin’ to feel the urge to rage
At certain talentless hacks, (la la la)
Then repeat to yourself “That’s what Twitter’s for
Right now I should just relax …
For Jealous Hater Book Club, Trout Nation!”

Since we left the last chapter with Demelssia seeing Moss, it’s only fair that we jump into his POV for his reaction in the next chapter. His heart beats hard while she stares at him and he stares back at her.

She looks stunning. Slender. Sweet. Her hair wild. But her skin is pale. Paler than I’ve ever seen her before, and she has a graze on one cheek and a bruise on the other. There are dark circles beneath her eyes that are shining with unshed tears.

A lump forms in my throat.

What have you been through, sweetheart?

“Hello,” I whisper. “You left without saying goodbye.”

And then we dive right back into Demelssia’s POV because this book is nothing if not a whiplash tour of our protagonists’ every god damn thought. It’s so annoying to have a teeny slice of Moss’s POV just so he could throw out a pithy line. He gives like, a single thought to the fact that she looks so beat up and then immediately it’s the rom-com one-liner. That could have easily been the chapter hook of the last chapter, in Demelssia’s POV, and then we could have opened the next chapter with what comes next in Demelssia’s POV, but god forbid a single breath doesn’t go by in which we get both characters’ reactions to it.

You know what? One time, I had a hard time figuring out which POV I wanted a story to be from. You know what I did? I wrote the same book from both POVs and published them both. I’m not saying that I’m in a place of expertise or skill to advise someone as successful and with such a masterful grasp of prose as E.L. James but like…

Anyway, Demelssia’s reaction:

Maxim is here. For her. Everyone else in the room disappears. She can see only him. His hair is touseled. He looks pale and tired, but relieved.

EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE GETTING MORE IRON. OR SUN.

His startling green eyes drink her in, and his words touch her soul. The same words he used when he came to find her in Brentford.

How does she miss the mark so fucking badly? That line means nothing to the reader at this point. Absolutely nothing. But James set up, “I’ve got you,” to the tune of something like twenty-two times in the manuscript. THAT is the line that needed to get worked in but she was already seeing the blockbuster movie in her head when she wrote this and “you left without saying goodbye” was the line that seemed more cinematic.

But there’s a question on his face, beseeching her. It’s asking why she left.

Who’s asking? The question? His face?

He doesn’t know how she feels about him. But he came anyway.

He’s here.

He’s not with Caroline.

This is a lot of information to infer from a single glance at his face.

She lets out a small, sharp cry and races into his waiting arms. Maxim cradles her against his chest, holding her tightly. She inhales his scent. It’s clean and warm and familiar.

Maxim.

Never let me go.

And this is when Anatoli comes in and sees this embrace and Demelssia’s father stands up all furious. Demelssia tells Moss to trust her and he’s like, “always,” and we go into Moss’s POV.

Alessia turns to her father, who’s looking from us to the arsehole who kidnapped her.

Here’s an interesting point: up until the last chapter, he was still wondering if she’d been kidnapped or if she’d left on her own. Even though he sees she’s bruised up and junk, he never has the explicit thought that oh, clearly I was right, she was kidnapped. There’s no realization that we see on his part. We’re simply meant to fill in on our own.

After Moss talks about how handsome Anatoli is, Demelssia says something in Albanian.

There is a collective gasp of shock that rattles through the room.

What the fuck did she say?

What she said was that she’s pregnant and Moss is the father.

I feel a little dizzy. But wait…She can’t possibly…We only…We used…

She’s lying.

Her father reaches for his shotgun.

Fuck.

Wait, wait. Are you telling me that Demelssia is actually using some of the cleverness and ingenuity we’ve been told she possesses? On the page? Right in front of God and everybody?!

We go back to Demelssia’s POV because why the fuck not. There are six POV switches in the eight pages of this chapter.

“You told me you were bleeding!” Anatoli screams at Alessia, and a vein in his forehead pulses with wrath.

Mama starts crying.

“I lied! I didn’t want you to touch me!” She turns to her father. “Babë, please. Don’t make me marry him. He is an angry, violent man. He will kill me.”

So, like, did anyone else get the feeling throughout the book that her father knew this and just didn’t care? I can’t remember if it was put that way explicitly, but I got the feeling that her father, being an abusive man himself, didn’t give a shit about Anatoli’s violent temper. Maybe I just misread things. Either way, I’m not sure why she thinks this is going to convince her abusive father not to marry her off. She shows them the bruises around her throat as proof of Anatoli’s violence.

“What the fuck!” Maxim bellows, and he lunges at Anatoli, grabbing him by the neck and throwing them both on the floor.

Both Anatoli and his neck? I’m very confused by this phrasing because like, tackling or tumbling or even bringing or falling would make more sense than Moss throwing himself on the ground.

But don’t worry about that, because it’s time for a POV switch:

He’s fucking dead.

Adrenaline coursing through my body, I take the fucker by surprise, knocking the breath out of him as he hits the floor with me on top of him.

Okay, one, Moss can’t possibly know that he knocked the wind out of Anatoli because that’s not something that’s visible. It’s a physical experience. Or, if we’re watching Buffy or Angel, something that frequently happens to vampires.

Second, we’ve now reached a point where the quick-cut POVs are overlapping. Again, if you want us to see the same thing twice from different POVs, there’s a way to do that. In fact, you’ve already done that before, Erika. Remember the two books you wrote from Christian Grey’s POV and you never did the third and fans are fucking furious about it?

So, Moss punches and strangles Anatoli before slamming his head into the tile floor until Alessia starts screaming and Tom has to pull Moss away and Mr. Demachi grabs a shotgun to threaten both Moss and Anatoli.

“You’re like all Englishmen,” the arsehole snarls. “You’re soft and weak, and your women are hard.”

“Soft enough to beat the shit out of you, you piece of crap,” I snap.

Oh, watch out with that potty language, Miss Steele.

As the red mist clears, I can hear Alessia fretting behind me.

Consider this: Demelssia grew up in an abusive household and was betrothed to an abusive man. She’s just watched the man she loves become incredibly violent, to the point that it makes her scream in fear. You’d think that would be something that comes up when we flip back to her POV, right?

Of course, you don’t think that. You know what this book is at this point. Nothing is a red flag if the hero is doing it.

Alessia’s father stands between the two men, looking at each of them in consternation.

“You come into my house bringing violence? In front of my wife and my daughter?” he addresses Maxim and his friend Tom.

Demelssis wonders what Tom is doing there and watches as the translator tells Moss what Mr. Demachi is saying. Moss apologizes, says he loves Demelssia and doesn’t want to see any harm come to her at the hands of a man…so, I guess a woman would be fine? Anyway, Mr. Demachi has words for Anatoli, as well:

“And you. You bring her back to me covered in bruises?”

“You know how spirited she is, Jak. She needs to be broken.”

“Broken? Like this?” Baba points to her neck.

Anatoli shrugs. “She’s a woman.” His tone implies that she’s of no consequence.

Thanks for cluing us in on the tone because otherwise, that whole exchange would have seemed super progressive and respectful of all womankind.

Again, I’m not sure how we’re supposed to reconcile Mr. Demachi’s abhorrence of violence toward his daughter when Demelssia has said more than once that he’d kill her if she dishonored him. Is he fine with her getting beaten by him, so long as nobody else does it? That makes sense, in a way, but the fact that it does make sense makes it seem wrong in the context of a book that makes very little.

So, Moss is about to go ham on Anatoli again but Demelssia stops him. Then her father calls her a whore and she’s like:

“Babë, Anatoli will kill me,” she whispers. “And if you want me dead, I’d rather you shot me with that gun you’re holding, so I might die at the hands of someone who is supposed to love me.”

It’s annoying me to see “Babë” in dialogue and “Baba” the rest of the time. That’s my own personal picky little annoyance, though. I can’t say that as a stylistic choice it’s necessary wrong.

Moss puts himself between Demelssia and her father, just in case Mr. Demachi was gonna take her up on the offer. Anatoli tells Mr. Demachi that the betrothal–and the money he was going to loan him in return for Demelssia–is off the table. So, basically, Mr. Demachi didn’t even sell his daughter. He put her up as collateral for a loan he was going to have to pay back anyway.

“Loan?” Maxim says. He turns his head slightly and speaks so that only Alessia can hear him. “This arsehole paid for you?”

How often are we gonna have to read the word “arsehole” in this chapter? This is turning into that annoying Buick commercial that’s out right now where they say “Buick” so much that it ends up making all the words around “Buick” sound like white noise and nonsense.

But no, Moss, he didn’t pay for her. That’s the fucked up part. I just said that. Aren’t you listening to me?

Maxim faces her father. “I will match any loan,” he says.

“No!” Alessia exclaims.

Her father glares at Maxim, furious.

“You dishonor him,” Alessia whispers.

HOW?! I guess I’m not as versed in Albanian culture as E.L. James is from her two trips and the stew her husband can make, but how on earth do you “dishonor” someone by offering money for their daughter when they’ve already made it abundantly clear that you’re open to that arrangement?

Anatoli says something about how he should have fucked Demelssia.

Maxim lurches at him, bristling with anger once more, but Anatoli is ready this time. From his coat pocket, he whisks out his pistol and takes aim at Maxim’s face.

Whisks?

“No!” Alessia shrieks and she darts quickly in front of Maxim, shielding him.

This is the second time one of them has put themselves between the other person and the barrel of a gun. What’s funny about this one is that we know Moss is taller than Demelssia, so Anatoli could still shoot right over her head.

“I don’t know whether to shoot you or him,” Anatoli snarls at her in his mother tongue, and he looks to her father for permission.

I thought Anatoli was Italian. So…is he speaking Italian? But it’s polite of him to ask permission to murder Mr. Demachi’s daughter. Here’s the fucked up part:

Baba stares back at Anatoli and then at Alessia.

Like, maybe what you say is “don’t shoot anybody.” Baba still has his own gun out. He could take care of this Anatoli problem like, right now. Instead, he’s considering whether or not Anatoli should shoot his daughter.

Alessia leans forward. “What are you going to do, Anatoli?” She jabs her index finger at him. “Shoot him or me?”

Screenshot of a news report that says "Quote from man stabbed" above "'What are you gonna do, stab me?'"

But there’s no real danger, Demelssia points out, because she took all his bullets. When Anatoli aims at Demelssia, Mr. Demachi jams the butt of his shotgun into Anatoli, who falls on the floor and attempts to shoot Mr. Demachi. But of course, the gun is empty, just like Demelssia said.

“Go!” Baba bellows. “Go now, Anatoli, before I shoot you myself. You want to start a blood feud?”

“Over your whore?”

“She is my daughter, and these people are guests in my house. Go. Now. You are no longer welcome here.”

Anatoli gazes at her father, his fury and impotence written in every tense muscle on his face. “You’ve not heard the last of this,” he snarks at Baba and Maxim.

“And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!”

Anatoli takes off, and Mr. Demachi lays into Demelssia for dishonoring the family. He moves to strike her, but Moss protects her and loses his entire shit:

“Don’t you dare touch a hair on her head,” I snarl, towering over him. “This woman has been through hell. And all because of you and your shit choice of a husband for her. She’s been kidnapped by sex traffickers. She’s escaped. She’s gone without food. She’s walked for days with nothing. And after all that, she was resilient enough to get herself a job and hold body and soul together with barely any help. How can you treat her this way? What kind of father are you? Where is your honor?”

This doesn’t go over great with Mr. Demachi, who listens to rest of Moss’s tirade before cocking his shotgun and telling Moss he’s going to have to marry Demelssia.

Shotgun wedding. Get it?

My Impression So Far: This book just needs to figure out how to end itself. This just needs to be over.

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90 Comments

  1. Nanani
    Nanani

    “Whisk” + “gun” = Dalek.
    He is a dalek.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Nancy
      Nancy

      Could it be like that time Eel used floor the pedal to the metal! misunderstood the Americanism and meant he whipped out his gun?

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        I have come across whisked for a quick movement (like whisking someone away) a lot. Maybe it’s British?

        August 20, 2019
        |Reply
        • Nancy
          Nancy

          It could be British, but when I think of whisking not in the context of incorporating air into eggs or cream, it usually makes me think of sweeping something away quickly, buy British people’s mileage may vary.

          August 20, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jules
            Jules

            Yeah, I have heard of someone being whisked away like on a vacation or something. I always associate whisked, when not food related, as being sent away so, did he throw the gun across the room or something?

            August 20, 2019
  2. bewalsh7
    bewalsh7

    “You’re like all Englishmen,” the arsehole snarls. “You’re soft and weak, and your women are hard.”

    “Soft enough to beat the shit out of you, you piece of crap,” I snap.
    =====================================
    OK, I’m guessing the “arsehole” is Anatoli, but does he really consider Demelssia an Englishwoman?? Because he seems to lump her in with them.

    Also, what does he “comeback” really mean? How is being soft enough any indicator of beating the shit out of someone? Just, such a bad insult that it’s insulting.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Moss is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s soft, soft enough to beat the shit out of someone….so, like, he’s a stool softener? Like, ex-lax or something? I buy it.

      That was the hokiest “climax” I’ve ever seen.
      “I’m going to shoot you, no wait, maybe I’ll shoot you”

      “Not if I decide who I am going to shoot first”

      “well, I’m just going to beat you all up because I’m such a manly Enlgishman”

      “I took all your bullets haha”

      “Guy I sold my daughter to, get out, she’s going to marry the really rich guy now!”

      And they all lived happily ever after.

      The moral of the story being, it’s not abuse when a hot rich guy is doing it!

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        I tried to fix Enlgishman to it’s proper form, Englishman, but got told off for trying to post too quickly. I am now deeply shamed.

        August 19, 2019
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I’m also weirded out that he uses the term Englishmen. I’d expect to hear the word “Brit” as it’s shorter, simpler, and encompassing in a way that might be inaccurate for this situation but common enough (plus he’s using a stereotype I mean it’s not like we need accuracy for that.) Unless pronouncing it is harder for Albanians but I doubt that?

      Also, it’s not even good if you consider that Moss is basically saying “I have enough empathy to maim someone.”

      He’d be better off saying, “Kindness isn’t a weakness, you stupid shit.”

      EEL fawns over the idea of a rugged, protective man without understanding the broader appeal. Women want a man they can trust, so having actual tenderness is a must.

      Also, I’m suddenly reminded of the “hard brain” joke from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It worked there because they acknowledged that it doesn’t make any sense but it feels right at that moment. It’s also a similar situation… lol

      August 21, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        “EEL fawns over the idea of a rugged, protective man without understanding the broader appeal. Women want a man they can trust, so having actual tenderness is a must.”

        This! The reason Grey didn’t work, and the reason Moss doesn’t really work is that they are abusive. Their controlling behavior is not tempered by a softness or concern for their SO. It was especially bad in 50 because there wasn’t just a lack of trust, there was actual mistrust. Ana was legit afraid of what Christian might do to her.

        In this book there just was no build up of trust. I have no idea why Dimzy the oft abused kidnapped as a sex slave heroine thinks she can trust Moss. He has shown no sign that he is trustworthy. He has shown only the minimum concern for her, and that is mostly framed by sex making it seem like his real concern is if she will be available for sex, not if she is truly hurt or has been deeply damaged by what she has been through.

        A strong, commanding man is only sexy when he also shows a sensitivity or kindness, and not just to women he wants to fuck but to other people in general. Hell, if Moss had shown any actual friendship towards his alleged BFF Caroline, it would go a long way towards making him more swoon worthy. Instead he tosses her aside like a used condom when something needier and purer comes along. How is this a man any woman should love? he is a selfish, narcissistic, abusive asshole.

        August 21, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Right! EEL managed to disguise the abuse with BDSM but the problem with that is even if people “live” that lifestyle, they still understand and accept that it’s a fantasy or they should anyway. If they don’t, then they’re doing exactly what EEL does, hiding their abuse behind a fetish. And people got so angry because she’s not just tapping into the overall demographic; she’s touching on all these poor people who’ve been abused and seeking what they want in a safe way. It could be okay, maybe they understand the ramifications, but since she glosses over the truth it could turn out badly if they see the success of her books as proof that what they want is acceptable. It’s already bad enough certain conservative groups use religion (note: any religion) to make this permissible.

          This time around EEL didn’t hide behind BDSM and she “tried” to make Moss more relatable but she failed because his POV proves how callous he actually is. He feigns being concerned but Dimzy is more genuinely protective and devoted than he is, which only enhances the problem and causes dissonance. And given how empty his interactions with everyone actually are, how self-absorbed he is (let’s go back to Tom and his girlfriend for a minute… nothing that he said at the airport was sympathetic towards either of them nor was it helpful!) There’s also no true personality because the extent to which we see him even doing photography is breaking the rules (likely in place to preserve the shit he’s using a flash on) and being selfish. There’s nothing truly human driving him along except the plot and what he needs to do to get x,y,z to happen. Even getting into Dimzy’s pants has less motivation than doing what the plot commands, really. He describes her nicely enough but it’s always surface-level interest. Even thinking with his dick doesn’t feel actualized or passionate but Jenny correct me if that’s wrong. He doesn’t want to fuck Dimzy any more than he wants to drink champagne or get married.

          Sorry, I think I lost my train of thought. He’s not even written as an engaging narcissist I might add and I say that having done research at one point, with the full understanding that narcissists are only interesting the less you know them in person. Like, compare Moss to Jenny’s essay series about Squirrel-Bush-Bikini-Bottom Cathy and her horrible exploits. She must’ve been exhausting to know IRL but the stories about her are interesting. Moss isn’t even that. If we were to describe his assinine behavior second-hand, as if we’d really known him, it’d stir up some outrage but no one would really want to hear more because there aren’t any highlights. We’re only angry because of what could’ve been. Moss is a generic nice guy and that’s it. He could be some rando instead of an Earl and nothing would change. 😛

          But yeah, if Moss was truly kind, a good friend, and the first to stand up against injustice when he sees one, we’d be swooning a lot more. There truly is no difference between him and Anatoli other than Anatoli being a rapist (but who’s to say Moss isn’t? He did take advantage of Caroline and that drunk girl…) and Anatoli having more determination until Moss needs to win. Moss literally does nothing to gain his happy ending except show up and frankly the way Baba is written, I have a feeling Dimzy could’ve told her dad about the strangling and the pregnancy to another guy and just saved herself, no Moss needed until Baba needed to drag her back to England for that shotgun wedding. He could’ve stayed home the entire time and gotten the same results. The ultimate irony is that we didn’t even need MOSS for that showdown! How much worse could he get?

          Seriously, tell me that Dimzy needed him around. She had no reason to expect him to turn up at her parent’s house other than… well, that’s what her note said but she didn’t tell him to come and get her. Maybe she wanted him to but it would kinda be stupid of Anatoli to actually take her there so… ya know? As long as she hears Interpol is searching for her while she’s traveling, that they know she’s kidnapped, she can assume Moss is trying to help her.

          Just… how is this ending actually worse than the ending of Handbook for Mortals? Dimzy is a much better protagonist but then she also wasn’t in a coma… oh wait, she kinda was. Scratch that. Ugh. But at least she came out of it long enough to save herself!

          August 21, 2019
          |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I forgot to add but I think EEL probably has a lot of rage bottled-up. I do as well (I’m trying to get better about that and I’ve made serious progress but that coping mechanism isn’t entirely gone.) I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the kind of person who breaks her own stuff when she loses her shit because I used to do that until I associated breaking things less with catharsis and more with my immediate regret for destroying my own belongings. And I still throw things around a bit and slam doors when I’m really upset but I don’t actively break things anymore. I say this based on how Moss destroyed his phone… it’s a throw-away bit that serves the plot mostly but that she considered it an easy, off-hand solution might be a hint. I could be presumptuous though… it’s just that outside of comedy skits I don’t think I’ve seen people destroying stuff while angry that often?

          Anyway, I’m a little concerned… it’s probably the same case where Sarem most likely doesn’t attack the people she dislikes but… it doesn’t paint a very good picture, especially when EEL seems to write Christian and Moss like this because she relates to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if she and her husband are abusive to each other and are held together by their common misery and fundamentalism. Although she could be writing about abusive figures because her family was abusive and she’s internalizing it without having found an abusive partner? But given her denial (and as has been noted, the common problem of abuse victims searching for a partner who resembles an abusive parent), that only leads me to think both situations aren’t good even if they aren’t the worst. She may be a control freak about her work because she feels like it’s the only thing she can maintain as her own. It gives me some sympathy except she needs to wake up and stop enabling other people’s abuse by excusing the shit she writes about. It would explain why she excuses it though… she can’t be in denial about herself and her own life (regardless of whether she’s the victim or the abuser) if she doesn’t excuse it. Some people are adamant about drinking the cool-aid. She probably needs therapy and I sincerely hope she gets some.

          August 21, 2019
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Sorry for all of the speculation; it’s a bad habit of mine. ^_^;

            August 21, 2019
          • Amy Too
            Amy Too

            I think that EEL is more likely to be the abusive or angry one in any relationship. She SO EASILY writes people being mean, manipulative, violent to people and things, closed minded, egocentric, self-centered, unable to read or guess other people’s emotions or feelings, short-tempered, narcissistic to the point of sociopathy, forgetful of things that aren’t about themselves (like how Moss keeps forgetting why Dimzy has PTSD at gas stations), dismissive of other cultures, classes, nationalities, races, beliefs, customs, boundaries, and even basic rules (like not photographing priceless museum artifacts.) She’s racist, classist, xenophobic, and misogynistic. I think she heavily identifies with all her abusive male characters because she “wears the pants” in her marriage and probably treats her husband much like the men in her books treat women. Maybe she’s not physically abusive, but I think she’s everything else. I think she hates women and enjoys doing the patriarchy’s work for them which is why every woman character is either a naive, pure, long-suffering virgin who has to “fix her man” with her magical vagina and healing love, or they’re a slutty slut slut out to steal the good girls’ men. And all the men are either these hyper-successful, wealthy, emotionally distant, manly men who are very attractive to women and have very active sex lives with women they feel fine about discarding (because a woman who would have sex so easily must be a slit and not worthy of love), or they’re weak, pathetically average, unsuccessful (or only moderately successful) guys who are either undesirable to women or not “in control” of their relationships with women because they’re “too nice” and emotionally available and actually develop feelings for the women they sleep with. I think EEL sees her husband as the latter type of man, and thus she resents him for not being manly enough in the toxic masculinity type of way. So she fulfills that role herself. She’s the “alpha” in their relationship.

            We’ve heard about her being abusive, narcissistic, and nasty to work with on the sets of her movies to the point of people refusing to work with her again. She doesn’t take criticism of her work well and it’s obvious that she refused any kind of editing on this story or the Grey movies. I don’t get the sense that she writes these horrible men characters because they are the type of man she is attracted to because they remind her of her abusive parents or abusive husband. I think she writes them because they are her and she relates to them. But she also knows that in popular romance books, you can’t make the woman the wealthy and emotionally distant “manly man.” That doesn’t jive with the patriarchy and the creepy religious beliefs that lots of her female readers have internalized.

            You nailed it when you said that Moss does not have a real personality. He hardly has motivations. He doesn’t have a true emotional connection with anyone, even the heroine. He’s just walking through the plot of this novel. Literally “strolling” in some places that are meant to be high tension. I think that’s because EEL, being a narcissist (maybe even a little sociopathic) herself, can’t feel real emotions or form true connections with other people that are based on love and trust and a mutual fulfilling of needs. She uses people and only ever sees things on a surface level. That’s why all her characters are so flat. If she were a “normal” person who was in, or raised in, abusive relationships and was just writing what she’s lived through, the characters would probably still be cruel and abusive and violent, but they wouldn’t be so flat. They would have real emotions and their human personality characteristics would be noted (as opposed to just their physical characteristics and their stuff being mentioned). A perfect example of this is when Moss saw Dimzy come into the house after he had been supposedly so worried about her being kidnapped and supposedly missing her so much, and all he could focus on was her superficial appearance. He didn’t note her facial expression or what sort of emotional state she was in. He didn’t express what kind of emotional state he was in either. He notes that she’s still slender and sweet and what her hair looks like. He sees tears in her eyes but doesn’t attribute an emotional reason to why they’re there. He gives a pithy one liner that is performative and not sincere. Because he doesn’t feel things. Because EEL doesn’t feel things.

            August 21, 2019
  3. kmo
    kmo

    So glad to hear we’ll be returning to Beautiful Disaster!! I was really enjoying that one.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      We’re all masochists here.

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
  4. Jo
    Jo

    ,.. did the interpreter just translated that entire tirade from Moss at the end? I wanna read the scene from that guy’s point of view, because then it’ll read like a dark comedy instead of this cheap melodrama

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • *sporfle*

      Did you see the episode of the West Wing, where Marlee Matlin’s Deaf character has an interpreter, and he has to yell “I’m not sleeping with ____!” at the Bradley Whitford character?

      The delayed reactions, or the time for Aleesianabella’s mother to react in stereotypical wails when she hears what Big Baba says while Tom translates, could prove quite hilarious indeed should this masterpiece make it to film/tv.

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Cat
      Cat

      I wondered the same thing! I actually forgot that the interpreter was there until he was mentioned as Demzi wondered why Tom was there (because Moss needed a drinking buddy and museum companion, natch).

      1) At this point, why is the interpreter doing anything when Demzi could easily translate for Moss?

      2) At what point does the interpreter turn to Moss, his present employer, and ask “erm, so which bits do you actually want me to translate for Mr. Demzi?”

      3) How uncomfortable must this have been for the interpreter? I just imagine him slowly and quietly trying to inch his way out of that house. He’d better have earned some nice hazard pay for this one.

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Jenn H
      Jenn H

      I feel like the translator is the audience stand in. He is watching this unfold and is thinking “ok, what is wrong with these people?” and “oh hey, guns, this isn’t escalating out of control” and “is that a bottle of raki on the counter? Because I need a drink now.”

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
    • SaintSithney
      SaintSithney

      I was thinking of that scene in “The IT Crowd” where Jen curses out the Japanese business man who stomped on her mangled feet in giant boots, followed by the translator very helpfully explaining everything she said. Especially since our “hero” is called Moss.

      Honestly, I’ve been picturing Richard Ayoade as our intrepid young earl this entire time, which makes everything vastly more amusing. Now we just need Moss to chase after Anatoli yelling “I’ve got a flipping gun!”

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
  5. Bunny
    Bunny

    Wow, I cannot articulate how exciting it is to see the theme song up on this recap! Thank you so much, Jenny, I’m so glad you liked! JHBC+MST3k 10,000%!

    Anatoli’s dialogue in this chapter is much better if you imagine the Wicked Witch of the West saying it.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  6. “You dishonor him,” Alessia whispers.

    Dishonor HIM? HONEY, HE DISHONORED YOU. I don’t know how to explain to EEL & her sexistfans that a man buying a woman — whether it is with a sex contract, expensive gifts, as part of a scheme, to keep her “safe,” whatever — IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. No, not even if he’s rich. ESPECIALLY not if he’s rich and she’s not. It is not cute nor romantic nor him protecting her nor anything but another gross example of EVEN THE SO-CALLED “HERO” THINKING OF HER AS PROPERTY.

    This is why we need feminism, FFS.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      This story is basically Pretty Woman if the story didn’t at least attempt to treat the female lead like an actual person.

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
  7. Tami Alexander
    Tami Alexander

    You can’t see me but I’m giving a standing ovation.

    Push the button, Mr. Jen.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Anon
    Anon

    I hadn’t watched MST3K in years and last week my husband randomly put on one of the new Netflix episodes and it was HILARIOUS and that song is great! Apparently, the universe is trying to tell me to watch more!

    “EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE GETTING MORE IRON. OR SUN.”

    They probably originally were all vampires.

    “Consider this: Demelssia grew up in an abusive household and was betrothed to an abusive man. She’s just watched the man she loves become incredibly violent, to the point that it makes her scream in fear. You’d think that would be something that comes up when we flip back to her POV, right?”

    I’ve been watching “Queen Sugar” and exactly this scenario happened over the last few episodes. Vi was married to an abuser and finally managed to chuck him. Years later, she hooks up with Hollywood, who’s literally the most amazing man on the planet, but the ex showed back up and threatened her. Hollywood beat him up and she had a terrible reaction to it because it made her feel like (even though she knew better) Hollywood would eventually turn that rage on her. So now they’re dealing with that emotional upheaval.

    “Anatoli tells Mr. Demachi that the betrothal–and the money he was going to loan him in return for Demelssia–is off the table. ”

    He went all the way to England to drag her back and then just gives up?

    “Whisks?”

    Whether you need to kill your enemies or whip up some eggs for breakfast, EEL has you covered!

    This lead-up to the end feels really forced and awfully convenient. And not even a little bit tense or roller-coaster ridelike.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      He went all the way to England to drag her back and then just gives up?

      27/28 hours of driving both ways… with the stress of smuggling someone else in on the way back. He treated her like shit, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make him tense; his own ass was on the line. I’m not sure what kind of sentencing you can get for that but I suspect Interpol would get involved either way and if he’s involved in international organized crime, then he’d be a great catch for them.

      I get that he’s out of options, especially if he believes he’ll get shot, but he should’ve tried persuading her dad a little harder and been shocked when daddy gave a shit about the abuse or the idea of treating her as anything but property and called the guy out for his inconsistencies. Like, dad could shrug it off, but I don’t feel like the answers the characters gave were very good and Jenny’s was the best option which EEL should’ve ran with. Meh.

      Maybe Anatoli could’ve tried to get the shotgun away from him? Eh. The whole thing feels empty. Obviously, he should just leave with some threats while he’s alive but you’re right, there’s just no tension because we know Anatoli won’t be able to do anything unless EEL goes against the grain and publishes a sequel (which I highly doubt will happen.)

      Also, the loan shark thing? lol wtf.

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Black Knight
      Black Knight

      The Freeform TV show The Fosters did something similar. Callie had been raped in a previous home by her foster brother. Said rapist showed up to be his psycho self and Callie’s then-boyfriend punched him. Callie broke up with him, telling him that he knew she had a real problem with violence and yet he went ahead with hitting the other guy.

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
  9. Dove
    Dove

    lol I can’t believe I called it, although not exactly, and it’s just as dumb as I thought it’d be. Dad sides with Moss because of… dumb reasons.

    If only Dimzy could’ve gone with my alternative idea and run away while Anatoli was asleep, after taking the bullets, the car keys, his cash, and the hotel key. I still prefer the idea of a showdown in the museum, with Tom being of some use when Anatoli tries to reload his gun. Dimzy gets the guards for them and they call the police, who take Anatoli away. He can’t bribe them because Dimzy has all of his money… When he calls her a thief and a whore, she just hugs Maxim’s arm and swears she’s giving her foreign boyfriend a tour. She shows them the fake passport that he gave her if need be, Moss and Tom show theirs… and Anatoli gets dragged off to a jail cell, at least until his organized crime companions can pay bail and make the charges go away… or they try. It’s hard because Moss took pictures and sold them to the press, who reveals that Moss is a visiting Earl which isn’t amazing but it’s just interesting enough that they keep the interview and the article for the newspaper. I think even in countries with people who don’t give a shit about nobility, it’s still a novelty. Moss helps promote the museum for real, even puts his pictures and links to the newspaper on his Instagram. Since no one was injured (Dimzy’s bruises are overlooked for PR reasons and because it would ruin her cover story against Anatoli) it generates a little more interest from the tourism industry.

    Dimzy forgives Moss, mostly because he didn’t take nearly as long as he did here, and they’re spending some time apart, although he insists on getting her a British visa so she can finish college there or he hooks her up with a low key orchestra so she can get started performing for crowds as a living. Either way, he tells her that she doesn’t owe him anything and he decides to get some help with his ADD and to pursue his love of photography, even if he can’t continue being a DJ. And he gives back the Egyptian artifacts, ala Kit’s ancient suggestion. He keeps Caroline in the loop and becomes a better friend to her and the other guys. Caroline becomes friends with Dimzy because I can.

    But I also like the other optional endings we’ve come up with, they’re all so much better than this pathetic whimper.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  10. Wendy
    Wendy

    I am just picturing Demelssia and Moss rotating around with their hands spread in the silliest fashion ever. Like some stupid dance.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  11. Gretel
    Gretel

    Nani the fuck?!

    We jump into Maxim’s POV so he can ONCE AGAIN dreamily describe how “stunning” and “slender” and beautiful and stunning and pretty and sweet and innocent and slender and gorgeous and thin and pale and soft she is…
    WHILE SHE’S BEEN THROUGH FUCKING HELL LOOKING LIKE A BEATEN CORPSE?!
    She can’t look like shit even when being abused, physically and emotionally. She still has to be pretty and slim and sweet and innocent. Like, a normal person would think: She looks awful – tired and hollow. Her skin ashen, the eyes swollen and her skin purple from several bruises.
    Nooooooo, she still has to be pretty even if abused because God forbid we have an “ugly” character even when the context demands it to actually be so.
    But the pure pretty heroine with childish virgin purity shall not be tainted by things like beatings or trauma.

    Also, it’s so obvious EEL didn’ know how to write herself out the situation. There are more people against Maxim and Alessia than in favour. And those against it have guns. So to make get the HEA she has to just right out cheat by fucking up her own characterisation of Alessia’s father.
    These are the moments I don’t feel as bad about my writing as I usually do.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “Like, a normal person would think: She looks awful – tired and hollow. Her skin ashen, the eyes swollen and her skin purple from several bruises.”

      I get the sneaking suspicion Moss likes her beaten and tired and hollow. That way he can be the big hero and take care of her. He never really seems concerned when she’d been hurt so much as pissed off that someone dented his car. However, had Anatoli raped her Moss would be furious that someone else had played with his toy!

      If I lived in Eelville I’d become a nun because she has yet to write one decent love interest male or female in any of her published writings. And not just any old nun, the kind who get sequestered, away from all humans cause Eel can’t write humans for shit. Has their been a single likable person in any of her books?

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I get the sneaking suspicion Moss likes her beaten and tired and hollow.

        Ew. I think you’re right.

        August 19, 2019
        |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Kate in 50 was likeable. But of course for some reason Eel tried to make us dislike her I guess because she tried to talk Ana into not being a doormat.

        August 19, 2019
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          That’s true. I did like Kate. I would much rather the book been about her. Much like I’d rather this one be about Caroline.

          August 19, 2019
          |Reply
          • Anon
            Anon

            It’s funny how the characters Eel clearly hates the most are the ones we like. lol And the ones she wants us to like are terrible.

            I guess that says a lot about the author herself.

            August 20, 2019
    • Dove
      Dove

      So to make get the HEA she has to just right out cheat by fucking up her own characterisation of Alessia’s father.

      Yeah, her parents never should’ve been involved in the climax in the first place. They’re literally the only reason Moss needs an interpreter (that I’m aware of) and Tom hasn’t done anything except allow Moss to show more “proof” that he’s changed from a playboy to a guy who’s ready to settle down. It’s also pretty clear that EEL had no idea how else Moss would find her so she has Anatoli bring her to her parents… like why the hell would he do that? He already has dad’s consent and that hasn’t changed. All he needs to do is get her to a court, with some witnesses, and get the papers in order so that they’re officially married. Maybe the parents would be angry but Anatoli could make plans for a showy, expensive wedding for the relatives later on. And really… if dad needs a loan from this guy, then Anatoli is the fucker paying for that shit so it’s none of their business if he doesn’t want a big wedding at all. 😛

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Jules
        Jules

        Good point. Why was Anatoli bringing her to her parents house? (you know, other than because that’s where Moss was waiting for them as part of his frantic pursuit to save the woman he loves).

        And I still can’t figure out the convo Mum and Moss had in the last chapter where he was all “yeah, she’s been kidnapped” mum is like “oh! Really?” then minutes later tells him she is expecting Dimzy and her kidnapper any second now.

        There is something really off about Dimzy’s parents. Like they are from another planet and only pretending to be humans and don’t quite get the ways of our people so they make weird missteps like this.

        God, nothing will make this story work. Not at this point. It had such promise back in the glorious Thames days. Remember those? I miss the Thames. I miss the constant mentions of the Thames, and the manly gazing at the Thames. Ah, the good old days when we were young and innocent.

        August 19, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          lol Maybe EEL read Handbook for Mortals and then she told someone to hold her glass of wine.

          August 19, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jules
            Jules

            I have a sudden urge for a Celebrity Death Match with Lani and Eel where they bludgeon each other to death with their crappy books while quoting all their favorite lines in an attempt to get the other to surrender.

            August 20, 2019
        • Dove
          Dove

          Oops, I responded too fast!

          And I still can’t figure out the convo Mum and Moss had in the last chapter where he was all “yeah, she’s been kidnapped” mum is like “oh! Really?” then minutes later tells him she is expecting Dimzy and her kidnapper any second now.

          Yeah, that makes no sense. I think EEL wrote that scene well before she added in the sex-trafficking thing so mom had no reason to be anxious about this situation; maybe she was on-board for the wedding initially. It still remains confusing, like where the fuck did she think her daughter had gone instead? But it’s not as weird as explicitly getting her kiddo out of the country and away from this bastard, then not expressing any concern while mentioning that they’re on their way. Even if she wasn’t about to divulge everything to this rando from out of nowhere, we should’ve seen her react while telling him or something. That scene must’ve been revised but not heavily enough. 😛

          August 19, 2019
          |Reply
    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      Order in which Moss looks at Dimzy based on what is most important to him:

      1) her body, so he can note that she is “slender.”
      2) overall demeanor, “sweet.” AKA, naive and easily manipulated
      3) Her hair, “wild” as I’m sexy.
      4) her overall skin tone, “pale”
      5) her cheekbones: “she has a graze on one cheek and a bruise on the other.”
      6) finally, he looks at her actual eyes: “There are dark circles beneath her eyes that are shining with unshed tears.”

      Seriously! He checks out her body first and notes that it’s still slender. Like why does that even need to be brought up here? It’s hardly a defining characteristic or something that would change in the three day’s since he’s seen here. He doesn’t look at her face until he’s noted 4 other things about her and he doesn’t notice the emotional state she’s in at all, unless we’re counting him noticing her “unshed tears,” but he doesn’t notice if they’re tears of joy or sorrow or pain or relief. She is so obviously just an object to him and to EEL.

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
      • Amy Too
        Amy Too

        As in sexy**

        I mean, I’m also a little sexy sometimes but that’s not what I was trying to tell you all!

        August 20, 2019
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Wouldn’t it be hilarious if she’d gained 50 pounds in that time? Then Moss was like “Ugh, no fatties” and Dimzy took her dad’s gun, shot Moss “to make you proud”, then shot the rest of them, staged the bodies the way daddy taught her so she could run off, and finally be free of all the assholes in her life. (Mom would normally get a pass but she did set her up with sex traffickers…) The new mafia guys in power would kill Dimzy but she faked her own death and started anew through her dad’s old contacts before they found out he was gone. She’s still afraid someone will recognize her so she moves to Australia because no one else in the syndicate is as dedicated as Anatoli was. Now she’s livin’ large, playing the piano, and never been happier, though she does have some remorse for killing those innocent idiots that Moss brought with him.

        August 21, 2019
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Also, imagine Moss’s surprise.

          “Baba, let me kill him for you. I will make you proud!”

          “Ah, clever girl, getting the gun from him so the tables will be t–AUGHRDFFG.”

          “Good, my child… Finally, you–GJDHSJA!”

          *she calmly begins reloading the gun*

          “D–Dimzy! How could you?! Your own father!”

          “He’s no father of mine, mama.”

          “Wh-what are you doing? CaramissAFFFGT!”

          “DIMZY… NOOOOO! GGFFAAHH!”

          *silence… then she reloads it again and the three bystanders stare on in silent confusion*

          “Baba always said… no witnesses.” *knowing glance*

          “Shit, shit, shit, shit, I can’t do this, it’s the POW camp all over again, SSSSHHHITTT!”

          Several screams and shots later, she relaxes in a comfy chair, a grim, blood-streaked smile on her face… but only for a moment. There’s work to do.

          August 21, 2019
          |Reply
          • Myriam
            Myriam

            That would be a thousand times better. Start the book there and let’s watch this badass take over the world all by herself.

            August 22, 2019
        • Amy Too
          Amy Too

          The translator’s girlfriend finally serves a purpose: her body is mistaken for Dimzy’s when the police arrive. Because who would believe that the translator had randomly decided to play “bring your girlfriend to work day” when he was working for someone as rich and influential as a member of the British aristocracy?

          August 21, 2019
          |Reply
  12. Vivacia K. Ahwen
    Vivacia K. Ahwen

    Anatoli apparently has two necks. FINALLY, something happens!

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  13. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    I don’t even know how to respond to the recap. It’s like Dimzy’s Dad read her subconscious mind and, because Dad was abusive, and Anatoli was abusive, then they’d be a perfect match for her subconscious (remember all those stories about how folks go and find the worst people to marry even though they know consciously they’d be a bad match–they marry them anyway? Like child abuse survivors that go and find a partner that will abuse them–that’s our subconscious at work that ‘turns off’ from the guy/gal that would be good for them and latches onto the one that won’t.) But Dimzy is smart! She doesn’t want Anatoli because he’s abusive! So she picks Moss because he’s abusive!!!

    (Baffled)

    Oh, and the JHBC theme song set to MST3K: Awesome!!!! Glad that’s working out for you.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      but…Moss is hot and rich. It’s just BDSM when it’s a hot rich guy. It’s only abuse when the guy is poor or unattractive (which in Eel speak means foreign). If only Anatoli had one the lottery nothing in this story would have happened and she would be living happily ever after in an Albanian castle with her abusive husband…I mean, sexy dom husband who has lots of money to buy her stuff to make up for hurting her.

      AAAAAAARRRRRGGHGHHHH

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        But Anatoli has multiple seaside estates in Croatia so he didn’t need the lottery. I guess he’s ugly for being blond?

        August 19, 2019
        |Reply
  14. Maria
    Maria

    oh good, it’s almost over! also glad to hear we’ll be picking back up with beautiful disaster.
    i’m very confused about alessia’s father. i thought he knew anatoli was an abusive man, too, so the fact that he seems pretty shocked and angry about it is a big disconnect. altogether, this climax(?) is bad, but that goes without saying. if the final two chapters tease a sequel, i’ll be livid.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  15. Jess C
    Jess C

    “Go now, Anatoli, before I shoot you myself. You want to start a blood feud?”

    Two things:

    1. Thanks Demellisa’s dad for being so very specific with your phrasing as you threaten the guy you sold your daughter to. I’m sure the specific phrase ‘blood feud’ just rolls off the tongue all the time.

    2. I watched the episode of New Tricks that had a plot about Albanian feuds too, EL.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • EEL thinks she’s writing The Godfather. She isn’t even writing Godfather III.

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      It would be amazing if she ripped off a New Tricks episode for the sequel.

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
  16. Maura
    Maura

    What. Jenny did a great job, but I think this was somehow both the blandest and most baffling chapter yet. Nobody’s actions made sense. The best part (besides the song) is knowing that it’s almost over.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  17. Lisel
    Lisel

    So this is it for her, right? There’s no way that anyone is going to pay for and publish such dreck again, right? RIGHT??

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  18. Coco
    Coco

    Chapter 32: A newspaper article describing the rare and extremely localized earthquake that killed all residents and visitors to a Kukes house

    Chapter 33: A switch to Caroline’s POV, smiling to herself as she turns off her long distance earthquake machine

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Myriam
    Myriam

    And the interpreter just stands there, not bothering to call the police?

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      And his girlfriend! There are four random extra characters in this scene (Mom, Tom, interpreter, girlfriend) who did not need to be there, who didn’t add to the story in any way, who had no real lines or action, and who were hardly noticed by the other characters or by the author herself. I guess they were all just quietly waiting off stage until it’s their time to deliver their next lines. It makes no sense!

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        They could’ve added to it, maybe, but yeah, they might’ve well just been cut from the scene entirely.

        August 21, 2019
        |Reply
  20. Adam
    Adam

    This is a minor point, but cocking a shotgun when it is loaded is how you unload it. It’s like if you pointed a rifle at someone and then made the magazine fall out to try and scare them.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      I think she meant cocking an external hammer on the gun, so I didn’t ding her.

      August 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Adam
        Adam

        Wouldn’t that mean the gun was useless the entire time he was pointing it at the guy with the seemingly loaded pistol?

        August 20, 2019
        |Reply
  21. Maile
    Maile

    Love the theme song! I was wondering if Dimzy’s Daddy has more than one personality? He seems one way then boom total opposite. I like the idea that Dimzy’s parents are aliens. Maybe Daddy is two aliens in one body? Ugh, this is almost over.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • It’s like the “thriller-romance” version of Ford Prefect.

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
  22. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    “You left without saying goodbye.”

    BECAUSE SHE WAS ABDUCTED YOU BAG OF UNWASHED DICKS!!!!!! Holy shit, this guy is conceited. Dizzy is supposed to day to say goodbye while she’s being kidnapped?! What the actual fuck? No seriously – I must be missing something because that makes no sense. And does pregnancy offer some magical protection I don’t know about? Her dad seems like the type who might view it as an honor killing.

    I adore MST3K and watched it obsessively in high school. And I watched the theme song again just now even if I can sing it without the music. And sing Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas. And sing the song about waffels. I’m going to find clips of MST3K songs as a pallet cleanser. A nice action sequence Christmas song should do nicely as I really want to smash Moss’ kneecaps right about now.

    August 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      No seriously – I must be missing something because that makes no sense.

      I think EEL originally wanted it to be ambiguous, to add to the suspense. Dickbrain might think she left willingly, but we weren’t given enough set-up to leave any impact on us or Moss (that I remember.) We didn’t see enough of him hemming and hawing or see anything truly ambiguous enough (the letter was meant to be neutral but she said she hated Anatoli more than once and the letter didn’t really undo that) so it feels like this is coming out of left field. It also comes off like that horrible line from Mac “When you cry, the crown slips” or whatever that shit was.

      And does pregnancy offer some magical protection I don’t know about? Her dad seems like the type who might view it as an honor killing.

      Yeah, I think that would’ve gotten all of them killed and made to look like a hunting accident out in the middle of nowhere. Unless Moss gave someone an exact itinerary and frequent updates on his whereabouts, they could probably pull that off well enough. Tom is useless. The interpreter and his girlfriend might be able to get out alive if they swear themselves to secrecy but organized crime guys might not take chances.

      I think everyone should’ve stayed the hell away from her parent’s house because I can’t think of a graceful way to make this meeting work unless they’re cooperating with the local police force.

      August 20, 2019
      |Reply
      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        It’s possible that Demelzia’s father is of the “Marriage saves everyone’s honour! Quick, marry her to her rapist!” school. I don’t know if it was a thing in Albania however.

        August 20, 2019
        |Reply
    • Ani
      Ani

      Yeah, had Alessia been “whisked” away by a guy in a large black hat and twirly mustache, and had Moss been more Dudley Do-Right, that line would’ve come off as funny and romantic. But Alessia was nearly raped. She was beaten. She considered suicide. As a result the line comes off as tone deaf. It’s like ELL is expecting a laugh track to pop up.

      August 21, 2019
      |Reply
  23. Izzy
    Izzy

    Demz is still stunning and slender and sweet. Priorities, Moss has them and I have all consuming rage.
    I’m just so confused as to what James was trying to achieve with this chapter besides padding out the word count. First there’s so many unnecessary people here. The translator, maybe his girlfriend is still with them, Tom, and even Demz parents are surplus to requirements.
    Second wtf is Daddy Dearest’s deal? Everything the reader has learnt about him so far says that not only would he not care that Anatoli is abusive but wouldn’t see it as abusive in the first place. If anything, he’d see it as discipline.
    Third, that pregnancy bomb got dropped pretty quicky, huh? I assume it’s why her dad is making them marry at gunpoint but he also seemed pretty chilled with Anatoli shooting his daughter so who can work out that guys motivations.
    Fourth, why did it take so long for Moss to react to Demz injuries. He made not of gauze on her cheek but didn’t put it together until he saw her neck bruises? Probably too busy being relieved she hadn’t packed on the pounds in the three days(?) they’ve been separated.
    And the last thing, what now? Anatoli can get to England anytime he wants, he knows where Moss lives, he knows where her parents live, he’s in the frickin’ mob, and oh fuck me, there’s going to be a sequel isn’t there? It’ll either be wrapped up off screen in the epilogue or James is planning to make this a series. Fuuuuuuuck.

    August 20, 2019
    |Reply
  24. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    I’m so disappointed that Anatoli just went “Well, then keep her :(” and left. It’s all so stupid and anti-climatic. Same with her father. Like, in another book there would be conflict about having to marry fucking Moss just to get out of an abusive marriage to Anatoli, but in this book they wanted to get married already for no fucking reason, so.

    Also Anatoli is Albanian but has Northern Italian roots WHICH IS WHY HE’S BLONDE.

    On the bright side, Alessia was actually good here. Quick thinking and all.

    August 20, 2019
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    • Sam Beringer
      Sam Beringer

      I’m actually working on a novel with that premise; the heroine is on the run to escape an abusive marriage, gets involved in some magical stuff, and has to marry a guy (and stay married with him for a year and a day) to avoid a curse. But since they just met both of them aren’t happy about it; the heroine feels like she escaped one bad situation only to end up in another while the guy now has to live with another person after being alone for years (and also dealing with guilt because he feels it’s his fault for getting them into this mess).

      August 20, 2019
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      • Mr. Fell
        Mr. Fell

        Nice! I like that trope when done right.

        August 20, 2019
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  25. So what the hell is the interpreter’s girlfriend doing throughout this thrilling roller coaster ride? Is she just super chill with all the firearms being brandished about?

    August 20, 2019
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    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      I read this as “the interloper’s girlfriend” at first and it still sort of works. The interpreter and his girlfriend seem to be completely unnecessary in this scene. In this entire story, in fact. They’re pretty much just gawking interlopers at this point. The story could have moved much more quickly and lost some of its dead-weight scenes and lengthy backstories and exposition by just having Dimzy’s mom and dad speak English. Dimzy’s mother was raised by an Englishwoman who spoke and read English often enough that her granddaughter was able to pick it up. That Englishwoman is Dimzy’s father’s mother-in-law. At least just use Mom as the interpreter if it’s too much to suggest dad also knows English. Or make Tom speak Albanian. He could’ve been an interpreter in the army who also saw combat or interpreted during tortuous interrogations, and that’s why he has PTSD, if EEL thinks the PTSD is necessary to the story. I don’t think it is. His PTSD has just been used as some kind of “quirky” character trait that hasn’t had any effect on his actions. He’s actually acting in ways that would make me think he ENJOYED his time in the military: he likes the military and guns exhibit at the museum, he has no reaction to having multiple guns pointed in his direction, he has no reaction to people screaming and threatening each other in a foreign language he doesn’t understand (I imagine one would hear a lot of that in the war), and he puts himself in the middle of a fight between Moss and Anatoli. And these examples are just from the last couple chapters. The only reason he has PTSD is so that his girlfriend can be described as a long-suffering, selfless saint who needs to be rewarded with what she wants (in her case, marriage). Oh geez, and isn’t Moss in a serious relationship with someone who has PTSD? Good thing we’ve already explicitly been told how to feel about people who enter into relationships with people who have PTSD. Otherwise I might not know how much to admire the “selfless” and “long suffering” Moss.

      August 21, 2019
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      • Jules
        Jules

        I get the impression Eel thinks that throwing things onto her characters makes them more well rounded. So randomly giving minor character A PTSD means she doesn’t have to give him any actual personality traits.

        She also exemplifies tell but not show. She has told us this character has PTSD but if you took out the line where she specifically says “so and so has PTSD” nothing about the way he is written shows this. And this would have been a great scene to show it in. The big showdown, Moss needs his “back up” but Tom suddenly freezes! He has a flashback to his time in the war, the guns waving around remind him of when he came face to face with the enemy and had to shoot this man, in front of his family, he remembers the little daughters screams. The screams that haunt him in his sleep. He can’t do it. In the moment his friend needs him most, he can’t do it. he turns and runs leaving Moss defenseless. Now our “hero” must save himself…and the property…erm, woman he loves!

        But no. He’s just kind of there. Silently not struggling with his PTSD that is only there on his resume next to “likes cheese” and “listens to Neil Sedaka to calm his nerves”. (both of which I made up because that is way too much character development for Eel.)

        August 21, 2019
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        • Dove
          Dove

          Yeah, y’all are correct. This would’ve been a great opportunity to show some genuine character and make Tom useful or intentionally not useful, but EEL drops the ball and just doesn’t do anything with anyone except wrap up the conflict as fast as she can, even if it makes no sense. I get the sense that she doesn’t understand how suspense works at all and feels like it’s this lingering problem hanging over her head.

          I think the only reason she adds it at all (lol so to speak) is that she knows she’s bad at writing characters and their dynamics so she has to enhance things somehow. Then she forgets that she’s also bad at writing conflict but assumes people won’t worry about that as much if they’re reading a romance story. She’s doesn’t know how to use gauze so instead, she slaps a bandaid on it but she doesn’t know how to apply them properly so one side kind of sticks and the other side is stuck to itself, which means it’ll fall off in no time, to no effect. Then she keeps applying more bandages in the same manner until the cut heals.

          August 21, 2019
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        • Amy Too
          Amy Too

          It’s like Dimzy’s synesthesia. It’s just a random quirk that is brought up once or twice, yet has no bearing on the story’s plot or the character’s actions, thoughts, or relationships. I totally agree that when EEL is coming up with her characters, she probably just lists a bunch of random traits, hobbies, or quirks and thinks that counts as characterization. Like the fact that Moss is an amateur DJ, model, and photographer. She also likes to list things that her characters, especially the main male characters (rather hero or villain) own, like it counts as characterization. We know all about how many computers and tablets Moss has. We know about his dark room and all the cameras and equipment he has in them. We know about his different cars. We got a tour of the entire Trevethick (or Trevellyan?) country estate, complete with detailed accounts of what was in each room and where the things had come from, and the country mansion isn’t even the main setting of this novel. This is ether characters are so flat— they’re basically just Barbie and Ken dolls that she dresses up in different outfits (DJ Ken! Model Ken! Photographer Ken!) And moves around different elaborately decorated dollhouses.

          August 21, 2019
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  26. Sea Sun
    Sea Sun

    I can’t stop thinking about that poor interpreter and his girlfriend. Did Moss tell them that the people they would be translating for him could be angry organized crime people? Because that feels like something that should have been disclosed beforehand. If eels version of Albania is as fucking riddled with crime as Demzi says then I would assume that regular folks would be like kinda wary of that. Maybe the interpreter wouldn’t have brought his girlfriend who he clearly cares about into a house full of guns if he had known that was a possibility.

    August 20, 2019
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    • Ani
      Ani

      It reminds me of that scene from Taken where Liam Neeson’s character pays an interpreter big bucks even though the interpreter is clearly uncomfortable and wants to leave. It’s why he’s only in scene for all but two minutes before he’s shoved out the door with cash stuffed into his hand.

      This poor interpreter standing there hoping to pay for lunch that day instead thinks he may see a murder happen in front of him.

      August 21, 2019
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  27. Juliana Coons
    Juliana Coons

    Do not mistake my meaning – I *love* your reviews and commentary so much. But EL James’ writing is so incredibly terrible, it should never have been allowed to see the light of day. It offends me to my core that her “works” exist. They are not only derivative and unoriginal, they are poorly written, derivative, unoriginal, inaccurate, and on and on with the negative adjectives because not enough bad can be said about her stories. Every excerpt you have shared only reinforces this belief on my side. While I am quite entertained by Jenny’s reviews, it infuriates me that these garbage books are published. They should have gone straight into the bin, one sentence in, pick any page in any book, same response. Garbage, end of discussion.

    August 20, 2019
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  28. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    I like how Dad was all “damn you Moss, you dare to bring violence into my house in front of my wife and daughter?!” when Moss is tackling anatoli.

    Then Dad’s all brandishing his shotgun in everyone’s face, including his daughter’s, in front of his wife.

    But then he’s all, “Anatoli! Leave here forever! Moss and Tom are guests in my home and you pointing a gun at them is unforgivable!”

    What even is this? Who is this guy!?

    Other contradictions: he beats his wife in front of his daughter and seems to care zero percent about his daughter’s education (no English in the house) or happiness (must marry an abusive man she hates). But he’s mad at Anatoli for getting violent with Dimzy. He’s willing to sell his daughter to anatoli and doesn’t react horribly when Anatoli mentions the deal in front of everyone. But he’s also horrifically offended when Moss offers the same deal.

    I can’t figure this guy out at all. His characterization and motivations are bizarre and none of his actions make sense. Even the memories Dimzy has of him don’t make sense. She seemed to be describing her home as a hovel with no modern conveniences or comforts, but Moss describes a huge house on a lake. Her father is described as some kind of 17th century angry villager trope who takes his gun out at night to hunt (possibly made up?) wolves that threaten the town. And yet when we see him he’s wearing a formal dark suit and tie.

    August 20, 2019
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    • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
      Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

      The “possibly made up wolves” bit made me laugh so hard. I can totally see this guy running around with a gun a la Elmer Fudd going, “Shush! Be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting wolves.”

      August 20, 2019
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      • Dove
        Dove

        Now just imagine Elmer Fudd glaring menacingly at Moss and Moss being grateful that he’s taller. XD

        August 21, 2019
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  29. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    “Here’s an interesting point: up until the last chapter, he was still wondering if she’d been kidnapped or if she’d left on her own.”

    Up until the last facial expression he made. In this chapter. Like a paragraph ago. He was giving her a facial expression that was interpreted as “why did you leave?” But now, he’s confidently describing anatoli as her kidnapper.

    I’m also flummoxed as to why Moss can only call anatoli an “arsehole” and not an “asshole.” This is the guy who uses “Fuck,” all the time, as a complete sentence, about stupid stuff, yet he has to use a cute euphemism for “asshole” when referring to an abusive, violent, raping, kidnapper?

    August 20, 2019
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  30. Emily, a newbie
    Emily, a newbie

    Y’know, when Shakespeare didn’t know how to end something, he decided to just throw in a random bear.
    If I could ever want E. L. to plagiarize anything, it would be ending this book pursued by bear. Or a horde of bears, one for each character. I’m not picky.

    I also feel it’s worth noting that my friend got an ad for Amazon Audible today, offering a free copy of “The Mister” with membership purchase.
    So, y’know. Glad to see that the sales are doing *so well*, and that they totally aren’t having to resort to desperate measures to get more people to…/experience/ this story.
    At this rate I won’t even be mildly surprised if they go the ResultSource route and everyone randomly ends up with a copy of The Mister in their mailboxes. Gotta back up all those claims about hungry studios fighting over who gets the movie rights, after all.

    August 21, 2019
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    • Better than than the promo-panties and window wipes?

      August 21, 2019
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    • Jules
      Jules

      “I also feel it’s worth noting that my friend got an ad for Amazon Audible today, offering a free copy of “The Mister” with membership purchase.”

      Maybe they should go with “Sign up for Audible and we will never make you read or listen to The Mister ever! Because giving me a free copy makes me NOT want Audible. Like, I don’t even want ownership of that shit even if I don’t have to read/listen to it.

      August 21, 2019
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