Friday, August 31, 2012

Good Romance Novel Review: No True Gentleman by Liz Carlyle

So, I have more Fifty Shades to throw shade at (see what I did there?), but all of this negativity is getting me down. So is abuse, victim blaming and slut shaming. So, I wanted to review a book that's really good. And I've read a few that are really good lately. But...why go for a new book when you can go to an old, loved, wonderful book? A book that makes you feel good and warm and sexy, like that old pair of jeans that you'll never get rid of.

That book for me is No True Gentleman by Liz Carlyle, and it features one of my favorite literary couples since Emma and Mr. Knightly.

Max and Catherine are to Ana and Christian what hawks are to handsaws. Catherine is intelligent, funny, interesting, lively, self assured, confident, sexy, and not willing to take crap from anyone. Especially not from Max. She has a huge, closely-knit family, lots of friends, and wonder of wonders, she's a widow who not only is not a virgin, but she's no stranger to orgasms, either. In the literary world, this is a huge anomaly. Heroines are almost always virginal, even if they've been married, and the hero is the first one to teach them how to orgasm. You get the impression that Catherine figured it out on her own.

Max is also not a typical romance novel hero. He's got a lot of demons, but they make him complicated rather than just making him a man-whore. He's actually not a man-whore, which is completely unheard of in romance novels. He also has a network of friends (though he's reluctantly good friends with them...more on that later) and he has a good family connection with his family that is still alive. Yeah, he's sort of a woobie, but he's just enough of one. Just like how Catherine manages to not be too independent and aloof, Max manages to not be too broken over the deaths of his parents and the loss of his family home, name and title.

At the beginning of the book, Catherine and Max spy each other in Hyde Park, where Catherine runs her horse early in the morning. Max is looking into some sort of police investigator looking into corruption. There will be a murder to solve, but let's not look at that. Catherine actually has a conversation with her aunt--her late husband's aunt, mind--and Auntie suggests Catherine find herself a lover. Catherine's like, "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing." After reading so many romances where heroines are practically raped because they are so reluctant about sex (but then really enthusiastic about it, but only with the hero), this was a hugely wonderful change of pace. I don't know why so many romance novelists are prudes who think that sex should only happen between a woman and one man (and him and every other woman in the world), but it so often works like that. Carlyle's like, "Yeah, my couple likes sex. Deal with it."

So, one of Max's "friends" Cecilia Delacourt who featured in her own book (as a virgin widow, boo, Carlyle) makes him take on the investigation of her sister-in-law's murder. Her brother is the main suspect, but no one really thinks he could have done it. Catherine likes Cecilia, although most people do (she's sort of that Elle Woods/Cher Horrowitz airhead blonde who's smarter than she looks and acts), so she starts getting involved too. Max thinks this is a bad idea, mostly because he's actually a good cop and doesn't want civilians involved. But it's a romance novel, so of course Catherine gets involved.

I've mentioned that the murder plot really doesn't matter, and it doesn't. It's all the interraction between the people that really matter. In fact, we first met Max in A Woman of Virtue by the same author, and we all fell in love with not only Cecilia but also Lord Delacourt, the guy who just wanted to wear his ravensblood waistcoat although his valet wouldn't let him, so the continuation of characters is really what I was looking for. And I totally wasn't disappointed that we got to know more about Max and his reluctant ways of entering friendship.

The last person I want to hit on is George Jacob Kemble (his name is my name too), who played Lord Delacourt's valet in A Woman of Virtue (and said that Delacourt was too pale to wear that red waistcoat, though it looked great on Max), who is gay, but not in that really annoying way that writers seem to be doing nowadays where he's just flapping and lisping in such a way that even Carson Kressley would say was too much. Instead, he's also a really interesting character who knows his way around a fist fight, but is too fastidious to allow blood to stain his cuffs. As with her other characters, Carlyle manages a balance between this and that to make him an excellent character and completely not overdone.

I can't say enough about this book. It's good, and the sex is hot, unlike a certian Fifty Shades I can think of. In fact, I wish there was more sex, but ah well. What we get is great.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chapter by Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades Darker: Chapters 2-3

Okay, Ana and Christian are back together again and it only took a chapter and a really stupid prologue to get us here.


Before I continue, though, I want to congratulate Emma Watson for saying that she wasn't interested in playing Ana, nor had she been sent a script. Good girl. Now don't have any tawdry affairs with any middle-aged men and you'll be better off than ninety percent of Hollywood.

Okay, onto the book.

Chapter Two

Christian takes Ana to a restaurant that she thinks is nice, but he thinks is just sort of middling. My cousin is dating a guy who was taking her to restaurants and then complaining that they weren't good enough and she confronted him about it. He apologized for bringing down what to her was a nice date, and he's been working on being positive since.

I'm just saying that Christian took Ana to IHOP in the last book, maybe the author needs to snob him down just a bit.

Ana starts getting worried about what Christian might say. Why, we're not exactly sure. It's not like she's done something wrong. I guess she's just worried because he's an unstable person in need of deep therapy so she's never sure what he'll say or do.

He orders steak for both of them (Steak and fries...has this author even been to America, or has she never left England?) and Ana snarks that she might want to make her own decisions. He calls her childish and tells her to not start with him.

Okay, I'm pretty sure that if she walked out right now, Jose would make sure she got home safe and she wouldn't have to rely on Christian's kindness. Honestly, what is it with this guy? Does he have crack on his dick?  Why is he attractive?

Oh, but he's not upset about her not wanting to eat steak. He's upset about how she "flirted" with Jose.


Okay, this is the whole of what happened with Jose: He took pictures of Ana and displayed them for sale at a gallery without asking her for permission. Ana forgave him when he apologized, and she honestly wasn't that upset. Then she hugged him and gave him a peck on the cheek. Then she said goodbye and left with Christian.

Christian says this was leading Jose on. Keep in mind that Jose tried to kiss Ana at the beginning of the last book and Christian hasn't been able to forgive him for that. Even if what Ana did was flirting (I have this idea that the author is a Duggar in disguise and would never dream of even touching a boy on the arm without first thinking of marrying him, I mean, this messed up relationship is a product of her rather than anything based in reality), why does Christian care? He thinks what she did was mean to Jose.

"My sister said, 'You shouldn't have kissed him. If you didn't plan on going all the way.'"

How many times do I need to say that I just can't with these two? If I had a nickel for every time I kissed a male friend of mine platonically, I'd have...maybe a buck. But still, people are intelligent! If Ana left with Christian, then I'm pretty sure even Jose has figured out that she's with him.

Finally, Ana accuses him of being grumpy. Understatement of the year. He's all, "And why would that be, hmm?" like she should be upset that it's her fault he's grumpy. He has no reason to be, but if he keeps gaslighting her enough, maybe she'll finally believe him.

Ana snarks that he's setting a great tone for a conversation about their future together. He apologizes, but we're not sure for what. He doesn't seem to understand what he's done wrong. Ever.

"Ana, the last time we spoke, you left me. I'm a little nervous. I've told you I want you back, and you've said...nothing." His gaze is intense and expectant while his candor is totally disarming. What the hell do I say to this?
Okay, let's break it down again. The last time Ana and Christian "spoke" was on the phone, making the plans for the night they're currently enjoying. But let's put that aside. The last time they were together, he beat the crap out of her and she left him. Both because he beat her and because he has a need to beat and subjugate women like her. He is taking something that he did to her and making it into something about himself. He is upset that Ana left him, but he can't see why she left him. He isn't apologetic about that. He is not empathizing with her or even accepting that Ana made a decision based on what was correct and right for her to do at the time. When someone is hurting you, you need to do everything you can to move away from that person, even if you hurt them. If they really care about you, if they are sincere in wanting what is best for you, then they will hide their hurt in order to help you make the best choice for you. Only a sociopath will try and downplay your hurt by displaying their own. That is called blaming the victim. It is also emotionally manipulative.

So, Ana says that she can't be what Christian wants her to be. She's not that kind of girl. He says he likes her just the way she is.

Since they've been back "together," he has berated her for her eating habits, accused her of leading on a good friend by hugging him, called her childish, and ordered food for her. He does not value her as an autonomous human being. The fact that she lets him get away with that crap just goes to show that she doesnt' value herself either.

Christian says that what he did was stupid, but then says that she never used the safe word.

She made him do it.

"You never actually said, "Stop.""
Ana forgot the safe word. I have to quote again. I mean, this is "Domestic Violence 101" up in here.

"I don't know. I was overwhelmed. I was trying to be what you wanted me to be, trying to deal with the pain, and it went out of my mind. You know...I forgot," I whisper, ashamed, and I shrug apologetically.
Perhaps we could have avoided all this heartache.
"You forgot!" He gasps with horror, grabbing the sides of the table and glaring. I wither under his stare.
 Shit! He's furious again. My inner goddess glares at me, too. See, you brought this all on yourself!
"How can I trust you?" His voice is low. "Ever?"

Oh geez. How? This is the 21st century. How can we have this in a book with no victim advocacy groups standing up and yelling, screaming, trying to raise awareness that if a guy ever...ever...oh good gracious, EVER FUCKING BLAMED YOU AFTER HE BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOU THEN YOU NEED TO FUCKING RUN AWAY AS FAST AS POSSIBLE! HOW? HOW IS THIS A WOMAN WRITING THIS? HOW DID ANYONE PUBLISH THIS? THIS BOOK IS SAYING THAT IT WAS ANA'S FAULT THAT CHRISTIAN NEEDED TO BEAT HER SO HE COULD FEEL GOOD ABOUT HIMSELF.


I can handle a book about pseudo-BDSM. I can handle a book about a stupid heroine having sex with idiots. I can almost even sort of deal with the formatting and run-on sentences up there (seriously, a capital letter after a question mark and quotation?), but I cannot excuse victim blaming, nor can I feel sympathetically towards a character who doesn't even feel sympathetic towards herself!

I love how Christian deflects. That is classic abuse behavior. Ana has good reason to be upset with him, but then he deflects by bringing up the safe word. Like that would have made everything better. Like if she had just used it, it would make him a different sort of man and her a different sort of woman. And then he turns the tables by blaming her for what happened and finally says he doesn't know if he can trust her.

This author is a psychologist's wet dream, I swear. What sort of fucked up woman do you have to be to fantasize about being with this guy? To not only fantasize, but to write him into existence?

The inner goddess glaring at Ana is what sets the final pathetic nail into the coffin. She is now blaming herself. She has accepted that she could have prevented all of this. I am embarrassed for this author. I am embarrassed for my sex and any of us who find these books thrilling and erotic. I am embarrassed for the editor who had to read their way through this. But I am not embarrassed for any person, male or female, who has been abused. I'm sure they feel ashamed and guilty, but I will not let this book go on confirming their feelings. I will not let this piece of..."literature"...stand as a beacon of what women want, or what sexuality should be. And I most certainly won't let it stand as a blueprint for relationships. If this is you, then there is help for you. There are people who want to help you get out of your abusive relationship. It is not your fault.

It's not your fault. It's his fault. He was the one who hit you, you did not run into his fist.

Okay, are we all good?

Well, Ana's not. She apologizes and Christian says that yes, they could have avoided all of this with a safe word.

If you need to go and cry now, I don't blame you. I think I might need a moment.

Oh, and if you think Christian might change or go into the "honeymoon" phase of domestic abuse, then you need to know that he threatens to spank Ana if she won't eat her food, right there in the restaurant. This guy is just a gem.

I'm going to stop using the Bingley picture for him because I quite like Bingley, and I no longer want that actor associated with Christian.

Okay, I guess I was wrong thinking that they're back together. Apparently nothing has changed for Ana. But Christian has a proposition. He calls Taylor to pick them up and they get in the car so he can drive them home. I guess taking the chopper would make too much sense.

So, Christian asks if Ana wants only vanilla, or if she's good with some kink. What she's not good with is punishment for crossing lines. She doesn't want rules, and she doesn't want to be something that he punishes to make himself feel good.

He's fine with that. No rules, no punishment. But he likes to spank her, and she likes being spanked, so that's a good thing.

She says that she is the undeserving one in the relationship. I sigh with resignation. People, you can actually have self-esteem. It's something that is really quite easy to get to. You can do it. Start by staring in a mirror and thinking only positive thoughts. The minute you think something negative, walk away. This isn't a failsafe way of never being taken in by an abuser--most abusers know how to worm their way into your life--but it gives you a good foundation.

I also want to point out that Ana looks at how "beautiful" Christian is and thinks that he's not for her because he's so perfect or whatevs. How someone looks is not the same as how they act, how they treat other people, how they treat you. It is no indication about whether or not they are an addict or a spendthrift or if they have herpes. If they regularly drive drunk. There are many things that make attractive people unattractive. Like my mom says, "Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes straight to the bone." I don't care how "perfect" Christian looks. He acts like every cliche about a basement-dwelling pedophile with kiddie porn all over his computer.

Oh look! A panda nomming bamboo! How cute! Let us meditate on this image for a while.

So, Ana falls asleep on Christian's lap in the car and he wakes her up outside her apartment. She wants to go with him to his house. Oh, but Christian isn't taking her there. And he's not going to her apartment, either. He's not going to touch her until she begs for it.

Well, this won't last long. Anyone want to make a bet?

Christian is going to pick Ana up tomorrow night after she goes for drinks with her boss. Then he gives her a gift for her to open inside.

Inside the box is her old laptop, blackberry and a new ipad.

She listens to the music stored on it and they e-mail back and forth about it. Once again we get a spectacular playlist that means absolutely nothing  because we're reading instead of listening. I don't think I could hate EL James more if I tried, but I will try because of this. One last thought before the end of the chapter: the author seems to like Coldplay. Do with that what you will.

Chapter Three

Ana waltzes into her office grinning like a fool and her boss Jack Hyde (the author insists on using his name, so I will too) tells her she looks radiant. Ana thinks this is inappropriate. I am now going to keep a running tally of all the inappropriate things I think Ana will be doing throughout the day.

One: Ana immediately starts in with her cutesy e-mails to Christian instead of reading manuscripts for Jack Hyde.

Two: after lunch, Ana starts in again. Only this time, Christian tells her that her e-mails are monitored at SIP where she works with Jack Hyde. I want to point out that Christian initiated the e-mails, so...yeah. Here we go again with him blaming her for what he started.

Three: she seems to believe that her boss, Jack Hyde, is hitting on her for no good reason (he probably is, but there's no basis to think that.)

They're going to a bar called "Fifty's."

I really hate this author.

Ana goes to the bathroom to e-mail Christian on her blackberry and tells him what the bar is called. He then makes me yearn for the days of "Laters baby" by saying "Sooners rather than laters baby."

Ana examines herself in the mirror, and I only bring this up because apparently after a week of being all pale and wan and mopey, she looks happy. Gee, you think that this is why Jack Hyde noticed a change in her?

The eighth dwarf, Mopey.
On her way out, a strange woman approaches Ana. Ana wants to know who she is, but she just says she's nobody. She wants to know what Ana has that she doesn't.

We all want to know that, sweetheart. Apparently she has a high tolerance for being a doormat. I wouldn't call that a positive.

The woman has a bandage around her wrist and it disconcerts Ana. She also looks a lot like Ana with pale skin and dark hair that contrasts starkly against her skin. I mean, I've already figured out that she's a former submissive, but I have a feeling Ana won't parse this out for a few ages.

Oh, wait, her subconscious seems to think that the girl has something to do with Christian. Well, nice to know that one of Ana's personalities is on top of things.

At the bar, Jack Hyde hands Ana a bottle of Budweiser.

Wow, I guess this guy really hates her. That's too bad, Ana. And he's your boss, too.

Someone urinated in this bottle!
Wait, that's how it's supposed to taste.

Hey, English authors of the world, I'm not a huge beer drinker, but I can tell you that we have plenty of good beers here in America, and a lot of bars have their own microbrews. You know. Like European countries do. It's amazing.

I was writing this last night, and now that I come back to it, I want to point out that a hipster capital like Seattel would more than likely NOT have Budweiser on bottles. More like PBR or something equally annoying. You can also find Guinness, Heineken, Jefer (some places), and of course the afforementioned microbrews.

Yes, the lack of research actually really bothers me.

Claire, the receptionist who brings our POC total in this book to a whopping two, the lady that Ana wants to be friends with (or at least wanted to in the previous book) notes that Ana seems happier today. Ana changes the subject without thinking that Claire is hitting on her. Why is that?

Claire starts talking to Ana about her weekend plans, and Ana suddenly realizes that she hasn't spoken to another woman since Kate left for Barbados. And she finally starts thinking about Kate.

I'm thinking about making some stuffed dates. Maybe bleu cheese? I have this idea that I can wrap them in fakon instead of bacon and have them be better for me.

Oh, wait, am I supposed to care about Ana and Kate? Because I'm having a hard time here considering the fact that Kate is about as three-dimensional as a cartoon.

Ana lets us know that Ethan, Kate's brother, will be moving into the apartment, and she muses that Christian won't be happy about that. Like Christian would be anything other than unhappy about any sort of news.

Jack Hyde then comes over and starts engaging Ana in conversation. He asks if she has plans for the weekend, and she thinks he's being creepy. I just want to point out that she asked Claire what her plans for the weekend were, so it's sort of disingenuous of Ana to get tetchy about Jack Hyde asking her in return.

Christian then comes in and pees on Ana so Jack Hyde will know she's his.

Oh, wait. He just puts his arm around her and kisses her hair.

It's just like saying "hello"!

I glance up at Jack who is mentally assessing the fine specimen of manhood in front of him.
So...Jack's gay? Or he's intimidated in the face of Christian? Or...what am I supposed to think of this exactly?

Jack isn't happy and tells Christian that he thought he was an EX boyfriend. They then start strutting and sticking their chests out in a primal display of beastial fury.

Seriously, WTF is wrong with this author?

Ana actually calls him out on his pissing contest and Christian says that Jack Hyde wants inside Ana's panties.

Well, that's good. I thought maybe he wanted inside of Ana herself. I guess she can just throw her drawers at him and we're all good.

Christian wants to know if Jack Hyde is good at his job, and Ana says that he seems competent. But you see, he seems to want what belongs to Christian, and we can't have that, so if he makes a move, Ana needs to tell her man so he can throw Jack Hyde out on his ass.

Ana says he doesn't have that kind of power...or does he...?

Oh, he's bought SIP. Come on people!

Christian needs Ana safe, and no woman has ever been safe working at a company that her boyfriend doesn't own.

I just...what sort of world does this author live in? Why? And what sort of communications mogul wants to buy a publishing company? I mean...this is making me laugh so hard. And it's ridiculous and stupid all at the same time, too.

Christian's like, "Are you mad at me?"

Ana calls him an ass and then gets scared because she may have gone too far. People, when you're afraid your partner is going to haul off and smack you, the fear makes sense. For everyone else, it's like, "Wha..? of course she's angry..."

Ana of course won't stay angry for long.

Pretty soon, they're inside and Christian is telling Ana that she still has to beg. Yeah, after everything he's been up to, she has to beg for him. See what I mean? it's all about him and what he wants. Anything to do with her is incedental.

Ana goes to touch Christian, and he tells her no, he still doesn't like to be touched. Ana suggests that they use a marker and make a map of places she's safe to touch. He thinks that might be an idea with merit.

Christian then decides they need to eat because Ana hasn't been taking the pill, and that makes so much sense. Ana, true to form, begins begging for sex. I'm telling you; he has a dick made out of crack and laced with heroine.
So, they need to go grocery shopping because Ana doesn't have any food. Naturally, Christian has never set foot in a grocery store.

Christian asks why Ana doesn't have any food, and she says he knows why. He's like, "You left me, bitch." Of course, the reason she left him can't factor into this. The fact that she left him is the only part of this that affected Christian. That everything that happened before caused Ana to leave is immaterial. The part that made Christian upset was her leaving him, therefore, it is the only part that matters in this conversation.

"I lost a bullet! Has anyone seen my bullet! OMG, you better not have gotten melted crayon all over my bullet!"

Ana finally thinks something relevant: that if she hadn't left, Christian might never have offered any sort of alternative for their relationship. She's got a good point. Of course, this is assuming that she really wants to have a relationship with Christian. I mean, she does, but a normal woman wouldn't.

So, Christian tries to find good wine in a grocery store. The author's snobbery rears its ugly head again, as there are many wonderful vineyards in California that produce excellent, award winning wines (but only in blind tests because the French would never willingly vote on a Californian wine), and most of them are available in grocery stores across America. Also, Seattle is painfully cosmopolitan. I'm sure you could get Cristal in a grocery store if you looked hard enough. I know you can here in OC, so why not Seattle?

While Christian leaves the store in search of drinkable wine (Barefoot Vineyards, just saying!), Ana concocts a plan to get him in bed. There is no way this can end badly.

So, at home, Ana starts thinking about how little she knows about Christian.

Finally, the author is agreeing with me! I feel like this is a long time coming. My god!

I love being right.
So, instead of talking, they decide to have sex.

Well, let me back that up. Ana starts chopping and prepping her mise en place, and in doing so, she starts bumping and grinding on Christian, so he finally gets hot and bothered enough to beg her for sex.

So, true to his threat, he won't do anything to her unless she asks for it, so she starts telling him what to do.

Fun new game time! I'm so excited, I hope you are too.

Every time Christian and Ana have sex instead of talking about stuff like normal couples do (I'm not going to do this when they have sex at normal times like normal couples do, in other words...which is never, so we'll see) I'm going to bring up an idea for a fun activity that they can do together in order to foster a better understanding of each other. What's funny is that preparing and eating a meal together is number 8 on the list, so we see how badly these things can go. But! We're starting with #1, which is something I would do if I were as rich as God, and that is to buy and put together the Lego Millennium Falcon.
Right? I know!
You can't tell me this toy was created for a kid. This is pure adult fantasy in action, and at five hundred bucks, only an adult could afford one.

Look at tiny little Chewy! And the buns on Princess Leia's head! And the wee little light saber in Vader's mighty fist! So adorbs!

Did I mention it OPENS UP?  Because it opens up.

I mean, think about this. You're making dinner and putting together a great little model with your boyfriend, and then the next thing you know, you're both talking about your childhood and how you would beg your mom to take you to McDonalds so you could get the Lego Happy Meal and use it to build more, bigger, better stuff than was on the little card. My brother and I had a castle that took us forever to build, and my parents got in on the action, too. It was great. This of course brings up other toys and childhood memories, and anything else in your past. THEN you can have sex. And you'll know each other better for it.

And that's the end of the chapter.

I think we've done enough for now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chapter by Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades Darker Chapters Prologue-One

When last we left our intrepid couple, Ana had just left Christian because he beat the crap out of her for rolling her eyes at him. It should be noted both that Christian has rolled his eyes at Ana numerous times, and that Ana indeed asked him to do it to her. This makes Christian both a hypocrite and a very stupid and sociopathic human being. In other words, the exact right person to walk out on.

When I first read this book, I was sure that half of it would be resolving the relationship issues between Ana and Christian, which should tell you how naive I am still with this author. If you've only read my synopses so far, then you probably have already figured it out. If not, then join the crowd because the horrible story telling has only been scratched at so far.


This prologue is both stupid and makes no sense. I know that the same can be said about the entire book, but I want to pay special attention to the prologue because it's not only told from Christian's perspective while the rest of the book is told through Ana's exclusively, but it's also told through Christian's perspective as a very young child. It basically tells a story about how one day, a man came and beat up Christian's mom, which frankly makes his need to beat up women even worse owing to how horrified Woobie Christian is in his memory. After his mom is beat, the man turns on Christian. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be his dad, or if it's just his mom's pimp/pusher. As a story telling device, it doesn't do anything to further the story, and if it's supposed to make me feel sorry for Christian, then it's not doing his job. He's a grown man now. If he can't take control of his own life, then he needs to use the tools that are currently available to him to do so. Controlling everybody else's life (or, more specifically, Ana's life) won't make him better able to handle himself. In fact, I think worse of him because it shows how disturbed he is, how horrible he knows domestic abuse is, and yet how unwilling he is to face his demons.

Sort of like Gary Oldman's hairstyle in The Fifth Element, you're sure it has some deep meaning, but it's too ridiculous to look very closely at.
Chapter One

OMG, y'all, it's been three whole days since Ana's seen Christian. How is she surviving?

Not too well. She only has a brand-new job to keep her distracted, and we all know that's just not enough. Her new boss, Jack Hyde, the good looking guy with red hair and blue eyes tells her she's been doing a good job, but we're supposed to think he's sinister.

But Ana can't think too hard on that. She has a hole in her chest (could we not get farther away from Twilight here?) where Christian and her old VW Beetle used to be. Her apartment is as empty as her life is currently, and Ana finally misses Kate. Her best friend. That she hasn't texted or e-mailed or spoken to in weeks. Remember her? She featured a little heavily at the start of the first book.

Well, don't worry, we might not need to have her in this book either because there's a delivery at the door from Christian, flowers and a card congratulating her on her first day of work and thanking her for the gift she left him as she was walking out the door, a little glider replica. In order to keep herself from feeling too badly, she decides it's from Christian's secretary, not himself.

So, the days go on. She sleeps and cries and goes to work then goes home and cries and doesn't listen to music at all. She's decided she's become an island state (you know, like "Bloody Ibiza"? Nick Hornby hates you, EL James.) and that she doesn't need anyone.

John Bon Jovi once said, "No man is an island."
Simon and Garfunkel said, "I am a rock, I am an island."

So, Jack is all over her at work, asking personal questions and stuff. I'm sure he's like, "Do you want some coffee? I'm heading to Starbuck's." or, "Hey, we're all heading to the corner restaurant for lunch, wanna come?" and it's just excruciating for Ana. How dare he be all up in her grill? Who does he think he is, anyway? Her boss who will have to work closely with her and wants to make sure he's okay with her personality before he passes her through her probationary review? What a jerk.

Oh, but the bright light at the end of this tunnel...Christian e-mails Ana at her work and asks if she wants him to take her to Jose's show. While working out how Christian got her e-mail addy, she realizes that she'd forwarded her calls from her regular phone to the Blackberry Chrsitian had given her, and that's why no one has called her at all.

So, does she want Christian to take her to the show? Hells yeah she does! Oh my, golly gee willikers, my goodness! She's all twitterpated

Okay, so Christian's anguished face when she left haunts her. What about her anguished backside? Have we forgotten so quickly? I think Ana needs to reach out to one of those domestic abuse hotlines so she can find healing for the pain he's inflicted on her. Then she needs to go somewhere that he can't find her.

At work, Jack asks Ana to a drink Friday night to celebrate her first week. This makes her uneasy, and it should. It sounds like a date.

Bing Crosby thought I was hitting on him at first, too. He had talent.

I just want to point out for the umpteenth time that it really sucks how there can't just be a normal man around Ana. Jack, of course, has to be horrible because otherwise we might wonder why she doesn't get with him instead of Christian.

Ana leaves work and finds Jack at the door. He walks her out and "he's looking toward the Audi SUV in dismay." Um...okay. Yeah. I mean, one of those Porsche Cayenne's would show a guy who's totally posh and rich maybe, but an Audi SUV. Wow. Yeah, a guy like Jack Hyde would never have a chance against an Audi SUV.

Never gonna get it never gonna get it/never gonna get it never gonna get it...

Oh, is he looking at Christian inside of the SUV? Is a guy finally figuring out that Christian is just drop-dead gorgeous, does he recognize Christian? I spent the first book discussing the deplorable characters, I feel like the second book can be devoted to the deplorable writing.

So, Christian looks just gorgeous as always, and of course immediately begins berating Ana for not eating like he wants her to. It can't possibly be that she's had an intense emotional issue this last week and is sort of off her feed because of it. And of course, it's the first thing he says.

Okay, maybe I can complain about this relationship some more.

Ana gets persnickety with Christian, and instead of him being like, "Yeah, you're right, it's none of my business," he's all, "I don't wanna hear your lip, woman. Answer the damn question already." Ana rolls her eyes, which we all know is strictly verboten and then they both start laughing and then Ana starts crying and then Christian pulls her into his lap and they snuggle because this crazy fucked up relationship is clearly what they both want, so let them have it already.

They get in an elevator, and like always, they're ready to jump on each other. Christian tells Ana not to bite her lip because he can't quite remember why she walked out on him.

They strap into Charlie Tango, the helicopter, and they head out. This happens:

"We've chased the dawn, Anastasia, now the dusk," his voice comes through on the headphones. I turn and gape at him in surprise.
She's sure he meant to say "Twilight" instead of "Dusk."

They really ought to call the books "Boring women and the sexually ambiguous guys who stalk them."

Oh, wait, no. She thinks it's romantic, what he just said. Yeah. I romantical.

They talk a bit about the skyline. Christian tries to make a date, but Ana reminds him that they broke up. He gets a little upset at this. She snarks at him and he complains about her tone. Her response is pretty much, "Suck it up, big baby." He decides that he's missed her smart mouth.

You know. The one he liked to physically punish her over.

Finally, they arrive in Portland, and Ana realizes that she's only really been dating Christian for three weeks. For me, this is a wake-up call to everyone. You can't know someone that well in that short amount of time. Look at Marianne and Willoughby.

No, really. Look at them. Until Ana and Christian came along, they were my two least favorite people in literature. Now I think they're awesome. Thanks a lot, EL James. I never thought it was possible for someone to make a more vapid and shallow heroine than Marianne Dashwood, or a more self-serving jerkwad of a hero than Willoughby.
Marianne and Willoughby's love burned too brightly and too quickly. Like a piece of newsprint, it was bound to go up in smoke. Compared to people like Emma and Mr. Knightly, who had a twenty-two year romance, it was bound to fail. But I'm supposed to invest in this three-week long relationship.

Christian refers to Jose as "the boy" which is both vaguely racist and blatantly dismissive. Then he tries to get Ana to eat, which makes her mad. But we all know Ana has no fortitude for anger. She will never stick with it.

They go to Jose's show, and a lady of course drools all over Christian. Then she sees Ana and gets sort of familiar with her saying that she'll want Ana's take on the show. Both Christian and Ana are surprised at this, and Christian wants to know if Ana knows this lady. She doesn't.

Jose finds them and he's wearing a suit. I'm disappointed. I was hoping he'd be in a striped shirt and red beret or something.

My soul taps in time to the rhythm of your heart
I just ain't no good for you, baby

Ana hugs Jose like he's her liferaft. He's her only friend while Kat is away. She hasn't seen him for three weeks. She's such a great friend.

Jose wants to talk to Ana quite a bit, but there's a reporter who wants to talk to him. Christian comes back and finds Ana, remarking that Jose is a very good photographer. Sure, put some black and white film in anyone's hands, and they become Ansel Adams.

A reporter wants a picture of Christian, and he pulls Ana into the shot. Ana brings up how there are no photos of him with dates on the internet. Christian reminds Ana that he doesn't "do" dates with anyone but her.

Okay, they find pictures of Ana on one of the walls. Christian is pissed off, because that's his right. Oh, wait, no. It's Ana's right.

Really, Jose had no legal right to take pictures of Ana without her permission, particularly not for profit or personal gain. There is an expectation of privacy that people can have, and Jose has violated that expectation.

Christian buys all of the photos because he doesn't want a stranger "ogling" her.

Um...I'm imagining that Ana is fully clothed and not naked or sprawled anywhere. "Ogling" sounds too strong a word. It's also Christian's horrifying controlling coming out. What gives him the right? Hey, Ana, remember how you broke it off with this moron? Can you do that again.

No, of course she can't. She thinks this is all very cute.

And she thinks Christian is just gorgeous.

But then they have a short argument. She thinks that he can't tell her that he likes her "smart mouth" and then want to punish her when she crosses his lines. He wants her to actually communicate. Then he wants her to go and eat with him because she's clearly going to starve to death. He calls Jose "the boy" again, and Ana stands up for her friend.

Oh, but the last time Christian saw Jose, he was trying to kiss Ana. Well, he's never hit her, has he? Ana says. Christian calls that a low blow.

What does he call it when he hits her?

So Ana says goodbye to Jose like a good little Stepford Wife, and Jose gives her hugs and apologizes about the photos of her. Ana, true to her doormat nature, says it's okay and gives him a kiss. This of course enrages Christian and he pulls Ana outside so he can kiss her himself.

She's his. She's all his. She knows this, right?

So, not even one chapter in, and they're back together. Of course. I should have known.

Ana apologizes for having Jose as a friend and hugging him like she would a friend. She and Christian go off to eat together.

Sorry, guys. I know your day just got a lot worse. I know mine did. Why am I doing this? To myself? To you?  I honestly thought there'd be some down time between them while they both worked on their separate issues, and I even further thought that the book would be from Christian's perspective because of the prologue.

Anyway, here we are, right back where we left off. Christian is still ordering Ana around, and she's still taking it.

Be back with more soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I got a new job...

What this means for you: A delay in my Fifty Shades Darker commentary. But I have begun it! And it's really awful. OMG is it awful.

What this means for me: I will be in a different department here at the law enforcement agency I work for, and I will be working the graveyard shift. This will be great for my college career as I will have more daylight time to devote to classes. I'll probably be able to write more for this blog, too, since I won't have to sneak in writing at work or wait until after work/weekends to write stuff up.

I'm really happy because I was at a place where I either needed to quit this job, or work something out regarding hours. A promotional opportunity came up (so more money!) that fit the hours I need, so it's great. I'll also be able to really throw myself into volunteering when I'm not working or at school. A lot of people tend to volunteer on weekends, so places that depend on volunteers tend to really suffer during the week. I'm glad that I'll be able to find someplace to help with that.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Your Fifty Shades of Grey coverage will commence...

Next week.

I haven't been covering Fifty Shades Darker yet, but I swear, I haven't been reading anything else, either. And not for lack of trying. I downloaded about five books two weeks ago, including two zombie books, and just haven't gotten to them yet because we've been passing this virus around since we got back from North Carolina. Apparently pneumonia is going around California, too (which I assume means that three people have it because everything in California is A Thing That Must Be Reported On when it happens to more than one person), so we're just trying to take it easy. I mean, really easy. My house is a total mess. You'd think I had zombies invading the house, but no, it's just two adults who should Know Better but who have no energy to care about cleaning right now. Or reading.

So, this weekend in addition to unearthing the kitchen counters, where everything in the house is going to die (we have a bow and arrow set on the table for some reason...I think Queen Eleanore is pulling her hair out somewhere because of that), I will be taking notes for at least the first ten chapters of Fifty Shades Darker.

Also, this time, I'm going to do something a little different. Since I keep complaining that Ana and Christian have no actual "relationship" to speak of, I'm making a list of Things Ana and Christian Could Be Doing Instead Of Having Sex Now and will post one everytime they have sex in the book. The point of the list is that if they were to do those things, it would open a line of communication about themselves and help them to get to know each other better.

When I was younger, my mom always used to tell me that you need to wait to have sex with someone, not because sex was Such A Big Thing OMG (thought I'm sure she thought so), but because once you start having it, your relationship sort of start revolving around it. The longer you wait, the more you know the other person, and the more you can balance out the sex and the talking and bonding. Now, this was good advice for a young girl because until you have relationships, you don't understand how to balance them, and the only way you get to know those things is by having relationships. At my age now, and my experience, I'm pretty sure I could have sex with a guy BEFORE the first date and be able to handle and balance it all, but when I was younger? I had no way to handle that stuff. I would be the Jerk who left her girlfriends behind to hang out with a guy. My girlfriends would do the same to me. It just happens, and the only way to keep it from happening is to have more relationships.

The problem with Christian and Ana is that neither of them has had a relationship before. Ana was a physical virgin, and Christian is an emotional one. You  can see their immaturity (and by extension, the author's immaturity? Maybe?) in the way they no longer interact with anyone else. I read a book that I should review here someday, a book I really enjoyed called Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie that deals with everyone getting into relationships, but yet still having their girls/guys nights out once a week and basically keeping in touch with each other. The main character is also overweight and never goes through a Weight Loss Transformation That Will Suddenly Make Her Desirable, which I really appreciated. Anyway, people still had relationships, people still interacted with each other, and no one just stopped being a friend or disappeared on their friends because they were in a relationship now. I think that it more accurately represents how most people are once they get involved, and how it really can happen that way, and more importantly, how very, very important it is to keep your same sex friends with you. For Kate and Ana being "best friends," they hardly talk. And when they do, Kate is insufferable.

Anyway, I'll save it for the book...I know I keep ranting about the same stuff over and over, but that's because the author keeps doing the same stuff over and over.