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Jealous Haters Book Club: Crave chapter 3 “Vampire Queens Aren’t the Only Ones with a Nasty Bite”

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Um.

Hmm.

Uh.

Okay.

Where last we left our heroine, she’s just met the guy who’s definitely going to be her love interest. And that’s…

That’s all that happens in this chapter.

I don’t know what happened.

This author is a good writer. This book has been interesting so far.

And then chapter three happened and my worldview has been shattered.

I’m going to start this off with a disclaimer: I’m going to talk about the publisher, editor, and another series published by this publishing house. I would very much appreciate that none of these parties contact me. Especially not on my home phone. Again.

So, Grace had picked up a chess piece that looks like a vampire and the love interest says it has a nasty bite.

Who’s got a nasty bite?”

He reaches past me and picks up the piece I dropped, holds the queen for me to see. “She’s really not very nice.”

I stare at him. “She’s a chess piece.”

His obsidian eyes gleam back. “Your point?”

“My point is, she’s a chess piece. She’s made of marble. She can’t bite anyone.”

That is going to be an unfortunate eye description choice by the end of this recap. But we can’t let this passage go because it’s the first in a veritable avalanche of hints that this is a school for vampires that ends up making Grace an official Too Stupid To Live heroine.

Alphole Smartass Jr., which is what I’m calling him now (middle-aged writers, you get it), misquotes Hamlet to Grace, saying “there are more things in heaven and hell,” rather than “there are more things in heaven and earth” and he mocks her.

“I think I like my version better.”

“Even though it’s wrong?”

“Especially because it’s wrong.”

So, we’ve got dark hair, amazing cheekbones, and enough arrogance to power a Ferris Wheel if we could somehow convert needlessly inflated male self-esteem to electricity. Bad news! It’s a renewable energy source!

Grace thinks about how much she wants to get away from Alphole Smartass Jr., the number one quality one wants in a meet-cute.

Because the longer I stand here, the more I realize this guy is as terrifying as he is intriguing.

I’m not sure which is worse. And I’m growing less sure by the second that I want to find out.

“Terrifying” is always how one should describe a love interest. Especially in a book touted as “feminist.”

“I need to go.” I force the words past a jaw I didn’t even know I’d been clenching.

“Yeah, you do.” He takes a small step back, nods toward the common room Macy and I just walked through. “The door’s that way.”

It’s not the response I’m expecting, and it throws me off guard. “So what, I shouldn’t let it hit me on the way out?”

He shrugs. “As long as you leave this school, it doesn’t matter to me if it hits you or not. I warned your uncle you wouldn’t be safe here, but he obviously doesn’t like you much.”

He clearly knows why Grace is there…so he tells her that one of her two last surviving family members doesn’t care about her enough to keep her safe?

Now, I know we’re treading across very, very familiar ground here when I point out that “safety” is a red flag. What does it matter? He doesn’t know her. He clearly doesn’t care about her feelings. But he feels possessive enough after some aggressive banter to verbally abuse her to keep her “safe”.

From a foreshadowing perspective:

  • Scary gothic school in the middle of nowhere
  • Brooding, intense, black-eyed guy
  • Warning about a vampire chess piece biting
  • Warning about not being safe in the school

It took Bella Swann like one inciting incident to go, “Maybe I should google vampires.”

“Who exactly are you supposed to be anyway? Katmere’s very own unwelcome wagon?”

“Unwelcome wagon?” His tone is as obnoxious as his face. “Believe me, this is the nicest greeting you’re going to get here.”

“This is it, huh?” I raise my brows, spread my arms out wide. “The big welcome to Alaska?”

“More like, welcome to hell. Now get the fuck out.”

Everything we’ve seen so far has indicated that Tracy Wolff is a much better writer than this. Let me propose a theory that I have. Again, just a theory, I’m not saying this is exactly what happened. This is not an accusation. This is pure speculation. But I have suspicions that Wolff either didn’t write this or it was heavily tinkered with by the editor, Liz Pelletier.

Entangled’s other big hit series, Roswell Lux featured a tall, dark, obnoxious hero who insulted the heroine and acted like a dickhead to her for what he decided was her own good. Now, Crave is much, much, much better written than that series. However, this is also incredibly similar to the meeting between the hero and heroine of that series. I should know; before the author was revealed to be a succubus, I stanned those books so hard (though in hindsight, having just compared these scenes to make sure I wasn’t misremembering, I couldn’t stand the hero anymore). I felt like I was having flashbacks.

Now, am I accusing Tracy Wolff of ripping off the rip-off queen? Absolutely not. But here are three things I know for sure:

  1. Liz Pelletier edited both books; she actually came up with Lux and asked the succubus to write it.
  2. Liz Pelletier has been trying her ass off to get an Entangled book made into a movie.
  3. The movie deal for Lux fell through.

Here is what I, again, merely theorize happened: When Crave slid onto her desk, Liz, seeking to recapture the magic of the early 10s YA scene, saw an opportunity to resurrect the characters that Melinda Metz she dreamed up for Roswell Lux and rekindle the relationship spark that made Roswell Lux so popular.

I think Pelletier either wrote this scene herself or heavily influenced the writing of it, not realizing that YA has moved past the “I hate you/I love you/let me fix you” plotlines that dominated it in the early ’10s.

And while I am so, so fucking furious to have to do this, I have principles, okay. Principles do not bend or alter just because a lying succubus is the author whose work is in need of defending. I feel like this scene skirts way, way too close to Katy and Daemon from the succubus’s books. All we need is one insulting and unwanted pet name for the heroine that the hero keeps using for no apparent reason (how did that not drive me up a frickin’ wall when I first read it?!).

And the banter. THE BANTER. This entire chapter is only this particular conversation. That means it’s extra short. Gotcha! It’s not short at all! It’s eight god damn pages of Grace being sassy yet irresistibly drawn to this guy who she thinks is an asshole but can’t help herself from being attracted to and who wants to keep her far away for her own good.

Eight god damn pages.

Wanna know what everyone loved about Katy and Daemon in Lux?

It was the super clever banter. That in hindsight wasn’t terribly clever but it’s what people loved, okay? Stop judging me, it was a long time ago. Everybody makes mistakes.

But I just can’t believe in my heart of hearts that the believable teen heroine we’ve spent a prologue and two chapters with would suddenly come out with:

“Is it that stick up your ass that makes you such a jerk?” I demand. “Or is this just your regular, charming personality?”

In your mind, imagine literally any character on The Big Bang Theory delivering that insult. Put the laugh track in. You can see it, right? You can see how grindingly dull and unimaginative this eight page conversation is gonna be.

Just so I don’t have to paste the whole damn chapter in here, I’m going to just confirm without direct quote that yes, he absolutely has been smirking and the word smug has for sure been used to describe him. He tells Grace point-blank that someone is going to eat her.

“Seriously? That’s what you decided to go with?” I roll my eyes. “Bite me, dude.”

Get it? Because he’s a vampire? And also because teenagers totally say, “bite me, dude,” all the time these days.

“Nah, I don’t think so.” He looks me up and down. “I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t even make an appetizer.”

But then he’s stepping closer, leaning down until he’s all but whispering in my ear. “Maybe a quick snack, though.” His teeth close with a loud, sharp snap that makes me jump and shiver all at the same time.

Which I hate…so, so much.

Awesome because me, too. I also hate this. I hate that he’s violating her personal space to intimidate and threaten her and I hate that it’s being used to show how apparently sexy this dude is.

But let’s go back to Grace being Too Stupid To Live:

  • Scary gothic school in the middle of nowhere
  • Brooding, intense, black-eyed guy
  • Warning about a vampire chess piece biting
  • Warning about not being safe in the school
  • Warning that someone will eat her
  • Possibly brooding guy, who hasn’t ruled it out

MISS I AM SORRY TO INFORM YOU THAT VAMPIRES.

As this conflict is going on, people walking by are conspicuously ignoring both Grace and Alphole Smartass Jr.

[…] “What is wrong with you?” I mean, seriously. He’s got the manners of a rabid polar bear.

“Got a century or three?” His smirk is back—he’s obviously proud of getting to me—and for a moment, just a moment, I think about how satisfying it would be to punch him right in the center of that annoying mouth of his.

Get it? Centuries? Because he’s a vampire?

Look, Grace. This guy isn’t just a vampire. He is the Hannibal Lecter of vampires, in terms of the shitty obvious puns he keeps dropping for you to pick up on. How are you not getting any of this?

“You know what? You really don’t have to be such a—”

“Don’t tell me what I have to be. Not when you don’t have a clue what you’ve wandered into here.”

Then tell her.

“Oh no!” I do a mock-afraid face. “Is this the part of the story where you tell me about the big, bad monsters out here in the big, bad Alaskan wilderness?”

“No, this is the part of the story where I show you the big, bad monsters right here in this castle.”

GRACE PLEASE PAY ATTENTION:

  • Scary gothic school in the middle of nowhere
  • Brooding, intense, black-eyed guy
  • Warning about a vampire chess piece biting
  • Warning about not being safe in the school
  • Warning that someone will eat her
  • Possibly brooding guy, who hasn’t ruled it out
  • Warning that there are actual monsters in the school

Even though Grace has stepped back to put distance between them, he gets super close to her again because of course, he does. And she gets all fluttery because he’s so close to her because of course, she does.

I hate that he’s bested me, and I hate that being this close to him makes me feel a bunch of things I shouldn’t for a guy who has been a total jerk to me. I hate even more that the look in his eyes says he knows exactly how I’m feeling.

Maybe I’m just seeing things that aren’t there but I’m pretty sure other people who’ve read the Lux series (may God have mercy on your souls) have to see how similar-but-not-identical this is to the first few interactions with Katy Daemon.

There’s more of Alphole Smartass Jr. being a disgusting, predatory creep:

The fact that I’m reacting so strongly to him when all he seems to feel for me is contempt is humiliating, so I take one trembling step back. Then I take another. And another.

But he follows suit, moving one step forward for every step I take backward, until I’m caught between him and the chess table pressing into the back of my thighs. And even though there’s nowhere to go, even though I’m stuck right here in front of him, he leans closer still, gets closer still, until I can feel his warm breath on my cheek and the brush of his silky black hair against my skin.

This exact interaction happened with Katy and Daemon, except he backed her into a tree while he acted tough and scary.

It’s okay, though! Alphole Smartass Jr. was just reaching for a chess piece.

This one is fierce, eyes narrowed, talons raised, mouth open to show off sharp, jagged teeth. But it’s still just a chess piece. “I’m not afraid of a three-inch dragon.”

“Yeah, well, you should be.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not.”

It’s just going on and on with the back and forth to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised to turn the page and see “Nuh-uh!” “Nuh-huh!” This just doesn’t track with what we’ve read so far; it was so much better up until this point. The story went places. Things were interesting. Now, it’s just a creepy dude getting too touchy with a grieving orphan who apparently found her new and very specific kink.

There’s a big chunk of breathless explanation about just how thrilling and sexy-but-infuriating his closeness is, to the point that she ends up actually leaning back over the table to get away from him because he’s got her basically trapped. Then, because it’s not a threatening question to ask someone when you’ve been blocking their escape and staring silently into their eyes for, quote, “twenty-five seconds,” he wants to know what she’s afraid of.

Images of my parents’ mangled car flash through my brain, followed by pictures of their battered bodies. I was the only family they had in San Diego—or anywhere, really, except for Finn and Macy—so I’m the one who had to go to the morgue. I’m the one who had to identify their bodies. Who had to see them all bruised and bloody and broken before the funeral home had a chance to put them back together again.

Because this is such a good, evocative, actually insightful look into Grace’s characterization and backstory, I hate to nitpick this. But I’m going to because I care a lot about death and all the death industries, and as a result, I’ve reached out to people with experience in these areas, as well as casual death fans, to find out how likely this scenario is.

Not very.

Now, why am I not going, “Okay, creative license,” in this case? Because it’s actually based on super harmful misconceptions around post-death investigations. While procedures vary from state to state, here’s what my research has yielded:

  • In many places, a minor child cannot legally identify a body.
  • In most cases, identification of a body is done with photographs, not at the morgue drawer as we see in movies.
  • In cases of extreme disfiguration, families are asked to identify intact parts and spared the sight of the deceased’s gruesome injuries.
  • In cases where they can’t get around the family seeing the injury or disfigurement, morgue staff does everything they can to make sure the body is as clean and presentable as possible or does the photo thing mentioned above.

We tend to see morgues in movies as dark, cold, sometimes dirty, definitely unfeeling places where everyone is callous and gruff and doesn’t give a shit about the grief that families experience or the trauma these types of viewings can create. That’s why I’m mentioning it. It would have been more logical and honestly, would probably pack more of a punch if she’d been in the car with them, survived, but remembered the gruesome details that way.

Now, back to Alphole Smartass Jr. and his question about what she’s afraid of.

“Not much,” I tell him as flippantly as I can manage. “There’s not much to be afraid of when you’ve already lost everything that matters.”

Bam. You’re not going to scare her because the worst-case scenario has already happened. Which, by the way, is a journey I love for Grace.

Until this happens in the next paragraph:

He freezes at my words, his whole body tensing up so much that it feels like he might shatter. Even his eyes change, the wildness disappearing between one blink and the next until only stillness remains.

Stillness and an agony so deep I can barely see it behind the layers and layers of defenses he’s erected.

But I can see it. More, I can feel it calling to my own pain.

This is where Grace starts to rationalize why it’s okay for this kid to behave this way. It’s his pain. She understands him. They’re connected.

Instead, we stand there, frozen. Devasted. Connected in a way I can feel but can’t comprehend by our very separate horrors.

I don’t know how long we stay like that, staring into each other’s eyes. Acknowledging each other’s pain because we can’t acknowledge our own.

Long enough for the animosity to drain right out of me.

And just like, she’s no longer got a problem with a guy who has invaded her personal space, snarled at her to get the fuck out, told her that her only remaining family doesn’t care about her, and threatened to bite her. Because she can see the pain that totally justifies his behavior.

Red blank flag with flagpole waving in the wind against white background

That picture is honestly the best stock photo purchase I’ve ever made. I get so much use out of it.

Now that we know it’s okay for this guy to be super confrontational, aggressive, and threatening to women, it’s time to know how dreamy this whole interaction is:

Long enough for me to see the silver flecks in the midnight of his eyes—distant stars shining through the darkness he makes no attempt to hide.

She sees past his hardened outer surface to the cosmic wonder of his soul or whatever?

Five minutes ago, this guy was being a total douche to me. And now…now I don’t know anything. Except that I need space. And to sleep. And a chance to just breathe for a few minutes.

Grace tries to push him away and even asks him, “Please,” but he waits a little bit, toying with her hair before he takes a step back.

THE FEMINIST TWILIGHT Y’ALL

Just in case we didn’t already get that it’s totally okay for him to treat our heroine this way, we gotta throw in physical tragedy. He has a scar that runs from his eyebrow to the corner of his mouth. She didn’t notice it at first because his hair was in the way and also he’s so, so pale.

  • Scary gothic school in the middle of nowhere
  • Brooding, intense, black-eyed guy
  • Warning about a vampire chess piece biting
  • Warning about not being safe in the school
  • Warning that someone will eat her
  • Possibly brooding guy, who hasn’t ruled it out
  • Warning that there are actual monsters in the school
  • WOW THIS GUY IS SUPER PALE WEIRD HUH

It should make him less attractive, should do something—anything—to negate the incredible power of his looks. But somehow the scar only emphasizes the danger, turning him from just another pretty boy with angelic looks into someone a million times more compelling. A fallen angel with a bad-boy vibe for miles…and a million stories to back that vibe up.

Yeah, I feel like this is exactly what Liz Pelletier ordered. To make sure, I’m going to read another of Tracy Wolff’s books because she’s a good writer and I just don’t want to believe that someone who could deliver those first two chapters was solely responsible for whatever the shit this is. I have purchased Royal Treatment for two reasons: I like royal romances and this wasn’t published by Entangled. While browsing her titles, I was reminded that she’s done a lot of books for Entangled. I want to read something Entangled didn’t put their hands on so I can judge fairly. Because at this point, based on the titles I’ve read from Entangled Teen, bully heroes seem to be house style.

I’ll report back.

A scar like this only comes from an unimaginable injury. Hundreds of stitches, multiple operations, months—maybe even years—of recovery. I hate that he suffered like that, wouldn’t wish it on anyone, let alone this boy who frustrates and terrifies and excites me all at the same time.

Leaving aside the part where she’s just met this dude and all he’s done is bully her but she’s got all these deep feelings for him within something like five minutes of lukewarm banter that feels grossly out of character, it did make me laugh when I read, “A scar like this only comes from an unimaginable injury,” because I was like…well, duh. You don’t get it as a prize for winning the spelling bee. Unless the spelling bee in your town is super competitive.

Of course, now that she’s noticed the scar, he hides it with his shaggy hair.

I hate that, hate that he thinks he has to hide something that he should wear as a badge of honor. It takes a lot of strength to get through something like this, a lot of strength to come out the other side of it, and he should be proud of that strength. Not ashamed of the mark it’s left.

What if he got it because he was breaking into somebody’s house to steal their prescription medication but the owners were home and he had to kill one of them and glass from the window cut his face as he escaped? Should he be proud of that?

That isn’t a nitpick or criticism, by the way. I just went on a mind journey and took you all along with me.

He just stands there and lets me stroke my thumb back and forth across his cheek—across his scar—for several long moments.

This is another bandera roja, my pals. This is incredibly intimate, and though at this point she’s doing the invading of space, he initiated the inappropriate intimacy by backing her over the table.

He doesn’t answer. Instead, he closes his eyes, sinks into my palm, takes one long, shuddering breath.

Then he’s pulling back, stepping away, putting real distance between us for the first time since he snuck up behind me, which suddenly feels like a lifetime ago.

Advance, retreat. Advance, retreat. The battle strategy of an abuser.

He tells her that he doesn’t understand her, and she repeats his misquoted Shakespeare at him. He once again tries to tell her to leave, and she points out that she can’t do that because her parents died. Alphole Smart Jr. admits to already knowing, confirming that he made the crack about her family not caring with the full knowledge that she’s just gone through this trauma.

Since he hasn’t driven her away from the school by all but ripping his shirt off and sparkling at her to get his point across, he leaves her with an ominous warning.

“Keep your head down. Don’t look too closely at anyone or anything.” He leans forward, his voice dropping to a low rumble as he finishes. “And always, always watch your back.”

Grace. The only way it could be more obvious that this is a vampire school would be if he ended that sentence by pulling a cord to release a bunch of confetti and Halloween balloons and a huge banner that said “Hi, we’re vampires!”

I’m honestly stunned at the turn this chapter took. It just doesn’t feel like it belongs at all.

And I want to make it clear: I like bad boy characters. They can be a lot of fun. But there’s a line between “bad boy” and “bully” and I just really felt like this crossed it. I’m a total sucker for the scary monster hero who’s down to attack the heroine until he realizes that fishes are friends, not food. But this just totally missed the mark for me.

What. Just. Happened?

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36 Comments

  1. Maggie
    Maggie

    So wait, she got to school and spent what feels like 30 minutes just talking to a random guy in a random room with a chess board? Where is her cousin? Where are other people? God, I need to check out the previous recaps because I have no idea what’s going on

    Also, I’ve been rereading Twilight recently and I kinda liked early Edward & Bella interactions. When you ignore Ed’s mood swings and all the mixed signals he gives to Bella he can be quite charming. It’s… interesting that all Twilight-inspired stories seemed to really increase his abusive, creepy side and made him into a complete asshole (I’m thinking 50sog and After, I’m not really familiar with anything else so I might be way off), instead of going the other way around.

    September 9, 2020
    |Reply
    • Isotta
      Isotta

      “So wait, she got to school and spent what feels like 30 minutes just talking to a random guy in a random room with a chess board? Where is her cousin? Where are other people?”

      My same thoughts exactly. She just got there and is spending time with an unpleasant stranger. Where is everybody else? And why would she linger there with him?
      But the strangest part is the immediate intimacy, which doesn’t sound believable to me.
      All this part should’ve probably been cut down to a couple of meaningful lines of dialogue. The longer the interaction, the more it gets watered down and the less intriguing it becomes.

      September 11, 2020
      |Reply
      • quizzabella
        quizzabella

        It just seems so false. She goes from being close to her cousin who is protective of her to just fawning over this creepy guy for no real reason. I mean I lost my dad when I was a teenager, there is no way I would have turned into a puddle of goo because a sort of attractive guy paid attention to me. Bigger things to work through.

        September 12, 2020
        |Reply
  2. Sara
    Sara

    I’m not familiar with the Luxe books but your theory makes a LOT of sense, considering how drastically different the tone of this chapter is with the rest of the book so far. Great recap, as always!

    September 9, 2020
    |Reply
  3. Lissa Jeri
    Lissa Jeri

    Lol…..this post makes me think of the line….” but tell me what you really think.”
    Jealous of this blog. I tend to just talk directly to the books I read as I’m reading them…to the character, to the author, to the (lack of an) editor, to the publisher who actively commits consumer fraud on the purchaser. I emphasize this in reviews I write. It’s reader abuse.

    September 10, 2020
    |Reply
  4. kristy
    kristy

    I am a big believer in beta readers because of how you describe Alphole Smartass Jr. (p.s. LOL!) I beta read for an author friend, and more than once I’ve said, “do you mean for this guy to be coming off as a total dick with no redeeming qualities?” I mean, bad boy is one thing, but smarmy prick is another. Hard to come back from smarmy prick.

    September 10, 2020
    |Reply
  5. E.
    E.

    A have a friend who has the coolest scar on half his face. He got it by tripping in a DISH and falling face first into another. So… that scar? Could be by a door for all we know.

    September 11, 2020
    |Reply
  6. Gretel
    Gretel

    While I don’t doubt that the author could’ve had a good grasp on how to write a good and interesting teenage girl and then mess up the love interest, I feel like your conclusion is more probable. Especially when looking at the greater context and history of Pelletier’s literary work.

    When I read scenes like these, I know what they’re technically trying to achieve – flirtatious friction – but they end up with a dude that is a psychotic bully who physically threatens the heroine and also verbally abuses her. But, you see, it’s actually all good because he sighs when she touches his face, meaning that it’s instinctual behaviour from his part because the universe is telling him that She’s The One!
    The problem is that flirtatious friction, one where people banter but also have a mutual attraction, needs to have the right balance, set boundaries and a foundation of respect and trust.
    Like, a good “I wanna slap you but also fuck you seven ways to Sunday”-ship can be super hot but you need to know what kind of friction can be overcome and what friction is just pure antagonism and bullying.
    This is harassment masquerading as protectiveness due to True Love (TM). It would make more sense if he behaved like an asshole and she thought to herself “Wow, what an asshole. He may be hot but that doesn’t mask his rudeness. Bye, Felicia!”
    and then he’d have to prove that his attitude was a mistake and that he’s capable of behaving like a caring, non-threatening person.
    Because if you leave out the fantastical magic of “true love makes him an abuser”, his behaviour’s just pure and simple bullying and harassment.

    I was bullied and lived in an abusive home. I can tell you, when a person behaves like Alphole does, it does not make me want to kiss and tenderly caress their face. They could be the hottest, most beautiful being in the entire universe, I’d hate their guts and find them ugly.

    It’s saddens me how abuse continues to be portrayed as a desirable trait, which is why I’m always very careful with my romance picks.

    September 11, 2020
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Absolutely well said and 100% agreement from me on all accounts! 🙂

      Although I suppose, there is some insidious possibility that this “style” of writing is trying to target the abuse victims who’ve never come to terms with what happened and still cope by sympathizing with/fawning towards their abuser. And that… is just depressing, honestly. I’m sure a lot of it is also just people recognizing what the writer is trying to do (the flirtatious friction you mentioned, for example) and improving the writing in their mind. We sometimes misremember certain things fondly even though we really fell for the premise more than the execution and thus the book/movie/etc that we like is actually the workaround we’ve crafted from it. Unfortunately, this seems to happen so often, I’m more inclined to believe various forms of media are cashing in on abuse survivors (or people who’ve been brainwashed by certain “values” within certain “cultures” ala some groups of conservatives/traditionalists where their religion is strongly patriarchal.) Which is a very depressing thought if it’s true… 🙁

      September 14, 2020
      |Reply
    • cheerfuloptimistic
      cheerfuloptimistic

      What you’re saying is true, but I want to point out using “psychotic” in that context is ableist.

      September 14, 2020
      |Reply
  7. Michael
    Michael

    These kinds of scenes seem to be a sign of the typical beginner writer’s mistake: Forgetting that the reader doesn’t know everything the writer does. I think we’re meant to feel that he’d never *really* hurt her, but the author forgot to make that as clear to us as it should have been.

    Or I’m way off.

    September 11, 2020
    |Reply
  8. Izzy
    Izzy

    Predictions for the movie if it gets made. Grace will have been in the car accident with her parents. The movie will open with this or it will be a dream sequence she jolts awake from, possibly more than once. The movie title will appear over an aerial shot of Alaska. The Love Interest will be played by a 30 year old man. If it’s made in the next few years Grace will be played by the girl from those kissing booth movies. If it’s a cinematic release there will be no sequel. If it’s a netflix original there will be a sequel within 6 months.

    It feels like the whole face touching/his pain is the same as mine scene was meant to take place later in the book. And even before that, when Grace is fixated on someone she can’t possibly see in a distant window. It would be one thing if she felt someone’s eyes on her and sees a shape in the window, but she’s giving a fairly detailed description of someone she cannot possibly see. And in books/movies like this there’s meant to be a few instances of eyes locking across the room and then a cryptic, tension filled, *brief* conversation. Banter comes later. But I’m guessing this is where the feminist aspect comes in. Grace isn’t taking any shit, she’s no damsel in distress. It actually reminded me of that part in HFM when Zsa Zsa tells Clark Kent he reminds her of Joffrey then wonders if he even knows of that well known character from that well known show. Which is a shame because the first two chapters are promising, written by someone who understands character development and pacing. But the trope of “heroine won’t stop banging on about how hot her love interest is in situations where that should not be the focus” is something I find insufferable.

    September 12, 2020
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  9. ‘Grace. The only way it could be more obvious that this is a vampire school would be if he ended that sentence by pulling a cord to release a bunch of confetti and Halloween balloons and a huge banner that said “Hi, we’re vampires!”’

    Nope, sorry… going to defend Grace on this one. We know it’s obviously a vampire school, because we know that this is all happening in a YA novel that’s being heavily compared to another YA novel that happens to be about vampires. In real life, however, meeting a shitty entitled pale guy who says things like ‘Bite me’ is amenable enough to natural expectations that it’s pretty damn normal not to leap to the conclusion ‘Vampires are real and he is one’.

    I mean, I hate this chapter. I hate the way that ‘feminist’ apparently means ‘heroine manages an entire, oh, minute and a half of snarky responses before swooning and forgiving him everything because Manpain’. I just don’t agree with the idea that Grace should go through this exchange – yes, even in a weird school miles from anywhere – and immediately be ‘Welp, guess vampires are real’. Even Bella Swan didn’t get to that conclusion anything like that quickly, and, when she did, it was because a) she’d seen Edward display supernatural speed and strength, not just supernatural assholery, and b) Jacob actually told her there was an old story about the Cullens being vampires.

    ‘A scar like this only comes from an unimaginable injury. Hundreds of stitches, multiple operations, months—maybe even years—of recovery.’

    Er, no. What she’s described comes from a superficial laceration. No extensive areas of skin damage that might indicate that past skin grafts were needed. No sign of damage to bone structure. No sign of damage to the eye or mouth themselves.

    Yeah, it sounds like a heck of a laceration as lacerations go, and it’s definitely one you’d want to call the plastic surgeon for rather than letting whoever’s around in A&E stitch it up, and someone with that kind of wound is going to be lying there for a lengthy tedious session while it does get stitched up, but… that’s about it. One further session a few days later to take the stitches out, and you’re done. You wouldn’t even need a general anaesthetic or a night in hospital for that wound.

    (All right, fair enough; I suppose ‘teenager is so ignorant of the details of medical procedures that she’s not even aware of her own ignorance’ is the kind of thing for which I should forgive a book, but, dammit, it annoyed me, and this chapter did not leave me in a very forgiving mood.)

    September 12, 2020
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    • *natural _explanations_, not expectations.

      September 12, 2020
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, there is the fact we as readers have some knowledge that the protagonist doesn’t, that she’s in a YA novel so anything supernatural is possible, but I think on some level she should at least briefly ponder along the lines of “This jerk is so weird. What’s his obsession with biting and why is he freaking out that I’m here?” or whatever. I agree that we should be more forgiving because she should think she’s in our modern world and unless she’s a believer/conspiracy type then it’s less likely she’d consider that an option. Still, it’d be nice if the writer made the idea crop up before Grace told herself that’s ridiculous. It’d feel more natural. She could even get tongue in cheek and reference the YA lit she’s read in the past.

      As for the scarring, yeah, I absolutely had no idea about any of that but like Jenny and some of the commenters here have said, she has NO idea where that scar came from and she’s being very presumptuous. But I find it more grating that Grace hasn’t had a SINGLE discussion with Mr. Biteme about his pain, that’s what really frustrates me here. I understand that’s not something most people, especially men with Toxic Masculinity ingrained into them, would normally bring up when first meeting someone. I agree that her coming to understand him should come later or else he could just, you know, say he’s in a bad mood and he’s sorry or something… anything that might help a little bit towards bridging the immediate rift he’s actively trying to create here.

      Instead, we see “both” of them do a supposed 180° turn without actually talking about it. The least they could do, absolute lowest bar, is have him getting awkward suddenly and giving her some details she can infer from the conversation itself rather than strictly her imagination. His suffering shouldn’t invalidate his treatment of her but they also need to connect over the things he’s said, not the things she’s guessing. She’s basically making friends with an imaginary person because she CAN’T READ MINDS. Right now the only thing she has to go on is that he let her touch his face which is definitely intimate but doesn’t make him any less of an asshole… it just makes him more human and that isn’t mutually exclusive with being a jerk. I get that he needs to be more sympathetic but he needs to meet her halfway, ya know? An apology for being so forward and snippy would be nice, which doesn’t fully absolve him until he changes his attitude overall. Instead, this removes the need for him to TRY because she’s willing to do all the work for him and I hate it.

      September 14, 2020
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Forgot to add, I’m down with her being more forgiving and sympathetic overall. I can get behind her having to infer some things. People don’t just info dump about their lives in most cases so I’m not asking for that but it’d feel more genuine and triumphant if she managed to pierce through his facade with her bravery and some targeted questions that seem innocuous enough but give her more information than he was expecting. Then he kind of breaks down and drops the bravado and intimidation tactics because he didn’t expect this reaction or he recognized that he slipped up or SOMETHING and he’s suddenly kinda vulnerable and prattles on a bit, trying to find his footing but revealing more by accident. Maybe his “alpha” demeanor goes back and forth or he just drops it but remains a bit distant and posturing as one does when meeting someone for the first time. She coaxes him into sympathy when she asks where he expected her to go if she did leave and he admits that she has no other options/limited options. (I forget; I think the actual novel did this line but it could do it BETTER.) Maybe she “jokes” that he could make people suicidal and it hits him that he went overboard. ANYTHING is preferable to the bullshit we got.

      The thing is, his interactions would be fine if it was a porno… because porn functions just fine (can still be squicky but regardless DOES IT’S JOB OF AROUSAL) without making much sense. Porn can afford to let the guy be an asshole and use dubious consent/nonconsent without any real ramifications because it’s pure fantasy. We demand some realism and consequences and common sense from a romance because it’s a story first and a masturbatory aid second. (There is softcore that straddles the line, porn versus romance is absolutely a sliding scale, but this shit isn’t that sexual so it has no business going there.) If he was gonna bend her over the chess table and fuck her, it would’ve worked. As it is, it’s trying to have its cake and eat it too but implying such things without actually doing them irks me. 😛

      September 14, 2020
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    • Al
      Al

      Agree 100%.

      September 16, 2020
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    • Cara
      Cara

      I think that reasoning went out the window when the heroine exhibited genre awareness in the previous chapter. Given that she has apparently read YA romance w/ brooding, magnetic, nigh-unattainable heroes, I would expect the vampire thing to be on her mind, even if she initially tried to dismiss it as just fantasy.

      September 17, 2020
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  10. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    These chapter titles are just so…long and clunky and forced.

    September 13, 2020
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  11. Jules
    Jules

    This could have been an interesting chapter if told from his POV and his POV was that he is fighting his vampirey desires and his warning her away is him knowing he will hurt her and he doesn’t want to because he likes her but not knowing how to tell her he’s a vampire because that’s got to be an awkward conversation to have when you’ve first met someone.

    They also could have worked the supernatural attraction angle better from her POV. Because there is some precedent to vampires being “irresistible” not due to some stardust in their eyes or lanky black hair falling over tragic scars but because they literally possess the power to mesmerize.

    So have it be that she is drawn to him because he has that power, and he maybe doesn’t know how to not use it but feels guilty for using it on her. She hates the fact that despite not liking him one bit, she is drawn to him and her “feminist” storyline is fighting against this strong magical power of his and finding love with a nice living boy, maybe the son of the custodian who is the one who helps her see what is really going on in Spooky Vampire Boarding School.

    Instead we get “I’m a strong, independent female lead…until I meet an asshole who corners me against my will but has eyes I could swim in for days.”

    I personally HATE “asshole just needs the love of a good woman” stories. I don’t want a fixer upper. I want a turnkey guy. Fixer uppers are a LOT of work.

    September 14, 2020
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Also, what if you decide to flip yer vamp boyfriend on the market afterward because you always had that intent? Is that illegal? XD

      September 14, 2020
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      • Jules
        Jules

        Vampire Flippers, watch it now on TLC, the True Love Crimes Network

        September 15, 2020
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        • Dove
          Dove

          That’d be more fun to watch than whatever movie this book is hoping to land. 🙂

          September 17, 2020
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        • Karen Skedgell-Ghiban
          Karen Skedgell-Ghiban

          At first I read this as Vampire Flappers and I was all excited until I realized you wrote Flippers. lol

          September 24, 2020
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          • Dove
            Dove

            That would also be amazing! Having a vampire historian would be really interesting too.

            September 28, 2020
  12. Morgan Hawes
    Morgan Hawes

    I love to imagine observing these scenes as an outsider. Just living your life, in the super secluded private school in a castle in rural Alaska and there’s these two ding dongs having a weird stare-off in front of the creepy chessboard. Yeah yeah, you’re having a romance but I’ve got pre-calc and you’re in the way.

    This chapter sounds excruciating. Nothing pulls me out of fiction faster than terrible dialogue and this chapter sure had that! “I’m scared of nothing, because I’ve lost everything!” ma’am please place your order and drive to the next window with payment ready.

    The attempt at foreshadowing is hilarious. Ooooh he’s got a scar. That means he’s been hurt. Thanks for spelling it out in the text for us, I never would’ve figured that out on my own!!

    September 15, 2020
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  13. Al
    Al

    Wait how—
    How was the author a succubus? What does that even mean outside of the supernatural “demon who steals your energy by bottoming” definition?

    September 16, 2020
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    • Raven
      Raven

      I was wondering the same thing.

      September 16, 2020
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      • Dove
        Dove

        IDK. She tricks you into topping her books and then the papercuts make you bleed out? XD

        September 17, 2020
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        • Al
          Al

          Amazing XD

          September 24, 2020
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      • Raven
        Raven

        Yeah, but she describes that other author as being “lovely” in that post. How did she get from that to calling her a succubus?

        September 21, 2020
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        • Cara
          Cara

          I won’t pretend to know what exactly changed Jenny’s personal opinion of that author, but in general, i’ve seen some discussion of suspicious similarities b/w her books and others, including one of Jenny’s covers. Recently, like last year. Aaand to me, describing someone as a “succubus” implies some element of deception. idk though

          September 21, 2020
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          • Al
            Al

            Thanks for the link! I guess that explains it. Good to know!

            I feel bad for all the authors who were negatively impacted…

            September 24, 2020
  14. Jaycie
    Jaycie

    You know, it’s been a while since I was unmarried and not in my 30s, but the number of fucks I can give for a romance between a sassy girl and an intriguingly hot dickhorse is at ZERO. I had my intriguingly hot dickhorse experience when I was 18. It didn’t go well. I don’t want to root for another one. #TeamGoodOnPaperGuy

    September 18, 2020
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