Fiction: “A Countess Below Stairs” by Eva Ibbotson

countess below stairsAfter I finished The Lies of Locke Lamora, I went to the library. And folks, I went to the library a lot this year. A LOT A LOT. I realize I finished reading this book in March and I’m writing this post (in a Word document, because of the no power) on Halloween night, so I can’t talk about 2017 as a whole yet, but so far, out of the 22 books I’ve read to date, 12 have been from the library. That’s actually pretty good for me!

So this is a title I picked up on a whim. I thought it would be cute! It claimed to be about Russia! Why I would be curious about the Russian Revolution I’ll never know, said the girl who got All The President’s Men from the library on the same trip, but WHATEVER. The short answer is: I was wrong on many counts.

A Countess Below Stairs tells the story of Anna, a Russian countess who emigrates to England following the Bolshevik revolution. She and her family are forced out of their home (being of the ruling class), and when she comes to England, she decides to be a maid in an English country house to earn money for the family. Her mother and cousin (or brother? I’m not sure) don’t want her to degrade herself, but Anna refuses to relent.

Anna is also the happiest displaced Russian countess I’ve ever come across, and I watched Anastasia maybe a hundred frillion times when I was a kid. I mean, nothing got her down at all. She is excited to learn how to scrub floors! She entrances everyone who she comes in contact with! The gardener names a new type of rose after her! It’s all very twee.

So she’s been working at Mersham (the English manse) when the owner, Rupert, comes home after being in the hospital following the end of World War I. He is engaged to Muriel, and while he (thinks he) is in love with her, Muriel has also offered to help pay for repairs to Mersham, so that’s cool.

Ooo, want to play When Did Alaina Get Really Concerned About Muriel And This Book Overall? The answer is Page 54, where Robert described Muriel to some of his friends or maybe the butler:

“It wasn’t just that I knew she was an heiress – you know how people gossip in a hospital – but she’s also extremely beautiful. And an intellectual! She has this passionate interest in eugenics.” [p. 54]

Eugenics! Oh – that’s great. Just – peachy.

Let me very clear on this point: Muriel is a Nazi!

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You guys, I am serious. This was another book I’d bring to the gym to read on the recumbent bike, and multiple times I had to stop pedaling so I could gape and the outright horror I was reading.

Muriel subscribes to the beliefs of Dr. Lightbody, another “believer in eugenics.” Let’s see what he sounds like!:

Briefly, the doctor believed that it was possible, by diet, exercise, and various kinds of purification about which he was perfectly willing to be specific when asked, to create an Ideal Human Body. But this was not all. When his disciples had made of their bodies a fitting Temple of the Spirit, it was also their obligation to mate with like bodies. [p. 91]

Their obligation to mate with like bodies. Hoooly fuck.

Apparently, most of the followers of Dr. Lightbody were female, as evidenced by this snippet of a speech he gives:

“All of us, ladies and gentlemen,” declaimed the doctor, looking round to see if, among the sea of swelling bosoms, there were, in fact, any gentlemen, “have it in our power to acquire – by Right Diet, Right Living and the avoidance of lechery and vice – a body that is flawless and an unsullied chalice, a hallowed temple for the human spirit. Can we doubt that, having acquired it, it is our duty to pass it on to our unborn children and make of this island race a nation of gods? Valhalla is in our grasp, ladies and gentlemen. Let us march toward it with confidence, unity, and joy!” [p. 92-93]

Seriously. This whole aspect of the novel is so gross. I actually looked up when it was written – y’know, maybe, like with the Ian Fleming novels, I can handwave the racist/Nazi overtones by claiming “it was a product of its time”?

NOPE. According to Goodreads.com, this book was published in 2007. TWO THOUSAND SEVEN.

So instead, this character choice was made to emphasize how awful these people (Muriel and Dr. Lightbody) are. I can only assume Ms. Ibbotson wanted NO ONE to even THINK of sympathizing with the villains in her novel. Which, fine, great, whatever, but you didn’t need to make them Nazis, Eva.

(This is where some of those “fine folks” chime in and tell me that Muriel and Dr. Lightbody aren’t Nazis because they didn’t belong to the Nazi party as the Nazi party wasn’t fully established until 1918, and also, they just have a fond belief in eugenics, that doesn’t mean Nazis, but actually YES IT FUCKING DOES YOU TWAT NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY LIBRARY)

I mean, Muriel is a horrible person even without her Nazi tendencies. Rupert’s best friend, Tom Byrne, has a younger sister, Olivia. Everyone loves Olivia – she’s a sweet, precocious kid who happens to have a slight limp. Rupert has asked Muriel to make Olivia (“Ollie”) her flower girl in the wedding ceremony, and Muriel agrees. And then, Muriel meets her at the dress fitting:

Muriel seemed not to have heard. Ever since Ollie had appeared in the doorway she had been staring in silent fascination at the child. Now she drew in her breath and as Anna, guided by some instinct, stepped forward and Tom Byrne entered to fetch the bridesmaids, she hissed, in a whisper which carried right across the room:

“Why did no one tell me that the child was crippled!” [p. 155]

Oh, and lest you start to agree with the “fine folks” that you can’t be a Nazi unless you hate Jews, guess what; Muriel does.

Tom Byrne is in love with Susie Rabinovitch. This is Muriel speaking about the Byrnes (probably to Dr. Lightbody):

“And even socially … they entertain Israelites of a kind that would not have been permitted over my father’s doorsteps.” [p. 178]

Susie’s mother, Hannah, sends a wedding present to Muriel, and while we don’t get to read Muriel’s thank-you note in full, we do get to see Hannah’s reaction to it:

Hannah was standing by the window, the letter in her hand. She looked, suddenly, immensely, unutterably weary and as old as one of the mourning, black-clad women in the Cossack-haunted village of her youth. And indeed the hideous thing that had crept out from beneath Muriel’s honeyed, conventional phrases was as old, as inescapable, as time itself. [p. 223]

At the end of the day, Muriel and Dr. Lightbody are just disgusting characters. Here, we see Dr. Lightbody trying to find a costume for the costume ball, and contemplates going as the Egyptian Sun King:

 It was closer, much closer – but there was something a little bit effeminate about the whole ensemble. Not surprising, really – when all was said and done there was a touch of the tarbrush about the Egyptians. [p. 243]

Now, the good news, is that Rupert catches wise to the fact that Muriel is truly awful. He also falls in love with Anna, not knowing she’s a former countess. They have great conversations, and Anna’s optimistic joy infects Rupert.

He also has a bit of a fetish when it comes to Anna’s hair. She wants to cut it in the flapper style, but Rupert doesn’t want her to touch the length of it. One day, he’s in town visiting his solicitor (or whatever) and happens to see Anna go into a hair salon. He immediately runs across the street and confronts Anna:

“I wish to be attractive for your wedding,” she went on pleadingly, lifting her face to his. “Is that a crime?”

“Ah, yes; my wedding.” The word reared up to meet him, banishing the last traces of lunacy. He became aware of René staring at him salaciously, of Elsie, with her mouth open, clutching a towel … “You will be very attractive for my wedding,” he said lightly. “For my funeral also, je vous assure.” He lifted a hand, laid it for a moment on the rich, dark tresses where they mantled her shoulders, then turned it, letting the backs of his fingers run upward against the shining waves. For an instant he felt his touch on her cheek; then he stepped back. “There, that was my ration for all eternity. People have died for less, I dare say.” [p. 263]

I mean, slightly creepy, yet compared to the Nazi of it all, strangely sweet.

In the end, Rupert leaves Muriel – or, rather, forces her out of the relationship by pretending to have mentally deformed cousins, which is also just terrible – and he declares his love for Anna, just as she discovers the family jewelry that was nearly lost in their escape from Russia, so she doesn’t have to be a maid anymore and everyone lives as happily ever after as they can, considering there were Nazis involved.

I still can’t believe that this is marketed as a Young Adult novel. Well, okay, maybe I can. But I can’t believe there wasn’t a single editor along the way who thought to point out that maybe, making the villains Nazis was just on the side of “too much”.

Aaanyway. At least it’s over.

Grade for A Countess Below Stairs: no stars

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Fiction: “Wicked Intentions” by Elizabeth Hoyt

wicked-intentionsI would rather get a three-hour Pap smear with an Ebola-infected cotton swab and a rusty speculum than listen to the address to the Joint Session of Congress, so in keeping with the theme, let’s talk about a book with mild sado-masochistic tendencies!

Wicked Intentions is the first book in the Maiden Lane series of romance novels, centered around a section of London known as Maiden Lane. I originally got turned to this series because I read a synopsis of one of the books a few years ago where it sounded like the main character became the Batman of Maiden Lane, and if there’s one thing I like, it’s Batmans in different fictional interpretations. Unfortunately, Georgian!Batman is about six books away, and y’all know how I am with series: I have to start at the beginning, regardless of continuity. It’s a Thing.

So the main character of this book is Temperance Dews, a meek widower who helps her brother, Winter, run a foundling home. Her other siblings are named Verity, Silence, Concord, and Asa. Yeah … the Dews family is kind of puritan-y. And in case you don’t get that from the family names, all the orphans in the foundling home are named Mary or Joseph, with different last names to tell them apart (see, Joseph Tinbox; Mary Whitsun; Joseph Candlestick; Mary Hope).

The foundling home is appropriately, almost Dickensian-ly poor, and in danger of shutting down without a rich sponsor. With Winter spending his time teaching school, that leaves Temperance at the home raising the children and running the home – which she does, admirably. But it makes it difficult for funds to come in.

Enter, stage left: the most ridiculously-named hero in the history of silly little romance novels I’ve ever read. Yes, even worse than the ones that add extra “Y”s instead of “I”s. I give you: Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire. Yes, his name is actually “Lazarus.” Yes, people do call him “Caire.” No, I do not understand how the whole naming thing works. Also, I do not give a shit. You might say I don’t … Caire.

I’ll see myself out.

Now, I don’t normally concern myself with how the dudes and ladies look in romance novels: they’re all Barbie and Ken dolls, after all. But this guy – y’all have to see about this guy.

There, sprawled in her chair like a conjured demon, sat Lord Caire. His silver hair spilled over the shoulders of his black cape, a cocked hat lay on one knee, and his right hand caressed the end of his long ebony walking stick. [p. 15]

OH GEE, WHO COULD THAT BE

lucius-cs

YEAH, THIS MOTHERFUCKER

So, good news, Harry Potter Aficionados That Grew Up Having a Thing for Lucius Malfoy! This is the book for you!

Why is Lazarus Huntington, Lord Malfoy waiting for Temperance to sit down? Well, he saw her helping a baby in the Maiden Lane one night and decided he needs her help in tracking down the murderer of his mistress. Yeah, I’m really not making that up. See, his mistress was brutally murdered, and that made Caire mad, so now he needs to find the murderer to exact revenge. But because he’s a member of the hoit, he doesn’t know where to go to find lowlife scum, so … needs the help of a meek widower?

But Temperance is a lot smarter than she appears. In exchange for her help, she gets Caire to agree to help her find a sponsor for the foundling home. This involves Caire dressing her up and taking her to fancy dress parties, where she (naturally) awes the crowd with her beauty while being completely self-deprecating and awkward.

When Temperance’s acquaintances and family learn of her working relationship with Caire, they all warn her away, because he apparently has what’s known as “unhealthy appetites.” Essentially, rumors of his deviant behavior have run rampant throughout Maiden Lane, and back in the early 1700s, “deviance” is equivalent to “enjoying a bit o’ rough sex.” And it’s not even rough – he just likes being tied up.

Meanwhile, Temperance has her own shit to deal with – namely, she likes having sex, which is just as stigmatized then as it is now. Her husband would make her feel terrible for enjoying sex, because sex should only be enjoyed by the male, and only because he knows he’s making babies for women to carry. (I swear, I only followed the damn speech on Twitter, I have no idea if New Gilead is even happening yet.) As penance, she’s shoved her desires down, deep down, into herself so she can focus on caring for the orphans and showing her purity or whatever.

But as they work together, Caire and Temperance come to realize they have feelings for each other. These feelings are complicated by the fact that Caire also hates to be touched – he claims he feels actual pain when people touch him, but it’s been so long since I read the book that I am not going to bother looking for a quote to prove it.

There are also a lot – a. lot. – of subplots in this book that are apparently jumping-off points for future books in the series. There’s Temperance’s sister, Silence, and the misunderstanding between Silence and her husband. There’s Caire’s best friend, who’s dealing with his wife’s decline due to a mysterious illness. Sometimes the subplots are very distracting.

Overall, it took me entirely too long to finish this book – which has felt like a theme of 2016, to be honest. If my paltry review has made you curious about it, I highly recommend you check out the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books review of Wicked Intentions – and I would like to point out that if you do, I came to the Lucius Malfoy conclusion on my own, but was very gratified when I realized I wasn’t the only one who got there. Having said that, I never had a thing for Lucius Malfoy, so imagining him for the hero did absolutely nothing for me while reading the book.

And even though I did not like the book overall, and will most likely never read it again, I really want to find out if Georgian!Batman is a thing, so – you’ll see this series again. Not soon, but … later.

Grade for Wicked Intentions: No stars

Fiction: “Gypsy Lord” by Kat Martin

So ..gypsy lord. this was another one of those books I picked up on one of my late-night Wal-Mart runs, and when I took it out of my bookcase, I knew immediately why I had purchased it: the male character’s name is, according to the back cover, “Dominic Edgemont, Lord Nightwyck.” Honestly, I’m a little disappointed the character wasn’t named “Dominyc Edgemont, Lord Nyghtwyck,” but what are ya gonna do.

In addition to the classic rule of “not using an ‘i’ when a ‘y’ will do,” Dominic is … well, again referring to the back of the book, “of tainted blood, a half-gypsy bastard.” And how does he meet the love interest, Catherine Barrington, Countess of Arondale (but not Arendale)? Well … Catherine was kidnapped out of her bed on orders from her jealous cousin and sold to a band of gypsies.

I’m going to repeat that. The female lead character was kidnapped and sold to a band of gypsies.

And Dominic meets her when he and his band of gypsies comes across the band of gypsies to which Catherine was sold, and her owner or whatever is in the process of starting to whip her. And Dominic was horrified, so he buys her to save her. And then when he tries to integrate Catherine into his band of gypsies, he pretty much tells her up front that he’s gonna sex her up, and she’s gonna like it, and there’s nothing she can do about either of those facts.

So … look. You know why I read historical romance novels? Because they’re ridiculous. Female spies falling in love with their handlers, Pride & Prejudice-ey banter where neither of the characters like each other until they get to know each other, fairy tale retellings, innocent girls who decide to hide their innocence in order to make money for their family back home in the country, women searching for revenge on their kidnapper … look, whatever ludicrous premise, the thing that I never compromised on was the fact that the power was equal between the man and the woman. They may have come from different social circles, but what the girl didn’t have in money she definitely made up for in wit and intelligence. There may have been a villain who kidnapped the heroine, but the hero was not that kidnapper — or, if he was, it was revealed he was forced to kidnap the heroine in order to save someone else he loved, like his mother or his farm, and he never hurt a single hair on her head.

And if Dominic had acted generously towards Catherine once he had rescued-slash-purchased her, maybe I wouldn’t have been so disgusted with the first half of the book. But guess what? He was a big asshole, and had some rapey overtones to boot.

Actual Quote, from the morning after he bought Catherine:

He would have to go easy with her, let her get used to the idea of sharing his bed. He would give her some time, not much because he had so little remaining. Just enough to ease her fears and let her warm to him.

Dominic had no doubt he could bed her — quite willingly.

After all, Gadjo or Gypsy, she was only a woman. [p. 32]

Wow. Wow. If not for my promise that I would never not finish a book, I would have tossed this away right then, because holy shit. I don’t think I have ever read a novel from this genre with the phrase “she was only a woman” in it. And that attitude from Dominic continued until Catherine finally made it home to England. In addition, that horrible attitude was continuously blamed on his gypsy heritage, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I’m not going to open, because I don’t have time for that. But seriously, blaming that attitude on his “tainted” blood is a horrible excuse.

I get that this was a legitimate subgenre for historical romances for years – the Stockholm Syndrome fantasy, if you will. (I’m not going to say “rape” fantasy because I really really just choose to ignore the fact that there are indeed books out there that legitimize that concept. And if that gets you off, fine, go with God, but I literally do not understand how that can be a thing.)  I think I was surprised because most, if not all, of the historical romances I’ve read so far have been published recently, and the “Stockholm Syndrome fantasy” has been called out for its undertones of rape, and writers are steering clear of those undertones – which I applaud wholeheartedly. But while I picked up this book a couple of years ago, maybe, it was originally published in 1992, which I believe was smack-dab in the middle of the Stockholm Syndrome’s golden years? (SIDENOTE: “Stockholm Syndrome” would be an excellent name for this year’s pub trivia team.)

ANYWAY. Catherine tries to fit in with the band of gypsies Dominic belongs to, because they’re not as violent as the other guy, and really, she’s just hoping they stop paying attention to her for about five seconds so she can run away back to England. It’s like when Maeby realized that Michael actually was taking her to work and she tried to jump out of a moving staircar twice. (Arrested Development fans will immediately get that reference. “Who knew you were such a good little climber?”) Because Catherine tries to escape multiple times, and each time, Dominic brings her back to the camp.

(Oh shit, I brought up that episode on Netflix and now I’m getting distracted.)

(Oh shit, I’m getting caught into a sinkhole. I MUST CARRY ON. But really, was there anything better than Season One Arrested Development?)

So as typically happens – and I am stymied as to how it happened in this instance – Catherine starts to fall for Dominic. I mean, he’s nice to her mostly, and she likes his mother, and she is interested in the gypsy culture, and if it weren’t for the near-constant innuendo about him sleeping with her, he could be a nice guy. But every time he thinks about sleeping with her, goddammit, he sounds rapey:

He smiled to himself. In light of this new information, the idea he’d been considering seemed even more appealing. He would bed her, make her see that her feelings for her betrothed had long since faded away, return with her to England, and make her his mistress.

The next time the opportunity presented itself, nothing Catherine could do or say was going to make him stop. Once she discovered the delights he could show her in bed the rest would be easy. [p. 116-117]

And the first time they actually do have sex, it’s after Dominic gets angry at Catherine for trying to tell fortunes to make money for the camp, because he believes she’s only trying to get the money so she can escape again, and he almost turns into rape. She manages to stop him, but only to tell him that she’s a virgin and maybe he should be a little more careful. In the end of the scene, everything is willing and consensual, but that first part turned my stomach.

Once they get back to England, they go their separate ways. Dominic returns to his country estate where his father is dying (Catherine has no idea he’s a marquess or whatever), and Catherine returns to her estate (and Dominic had no idea that she was a countess or whatever). Catherine tells her uncle that she had a lapse in judgment and compromised her virtue when she was in the gypsy camp. When her uncle sees her and Dominic talking, he puts two and two together and …. instead of going to Dominic and talking to him man-to-man, decides to trap Dominic and Catherine in flagrante delicto and therefore, into marriage against their will. Because see, Dominic never wanted to marry because he didn’t want his father’s bloodline to continue. It’s all really stupid and awful, and now they’ve gotten married in spite of each other.

But we’re not done! Dominic agrees to marry Catherine, because it’s the right thing to do, but only on the condition that are to never have children. Catherine agrees reluctantly, because there really is no other option, and they wait until after she gets her period to prove that she’s not pregnant. They get married, and then Catherine gets it into her head that she can change his mind, because isn’t that what all women want – to convince men who are dead-set against it that, no, really, a marriage is the answer to all of life’s problems? So she starts seducing him, but he keeps pulling out, because they can’t limit themselves to hand stuff. And just when she thinks she’s got him on the ropes, she learns that she’s pregnant.

And I’ll be honest — my first reaction to that was, “I’m pretty sure you can’t get knocked up from hand stuff, what the fuck?” But then it’s explained that her “monthly time” was just spotting, and I’m sorry, I realize that Victorian England isn’t probably the best at family planning (hell, heaven knows that current America isn’t great at family planning), but … doesn’t a period mean no baby? Or am I just stupid?

I don’t know about me, but this book was exceedingly stupid. On top of the rapey overtones, the abstinence-only sexual education program, and the never-ending descriptions of things that didn’t matter to the plot (which I didn’t discuss, because I don’t really want to waste any more time on this piece of shit, but there are entire paragraphs where the author describes what someone’s wearing, or what the dinner looked like, and none of it matters, get on with it!), it was just … so, so bad. It was like The Parent Trap meets Jane the Virgin meets The Hunchback of Notre Dame meets The Accused.

Dear Readers, if I somehow come across Sweet Vengeance (the next book) on the Wal-Mart shelf and think it’s a great idea? Punch me in the face.

Grade for Gypsy Lord: No stars

FIction: “Some Like to Shock” by Carole Mortimer

Some_Like_to_Shock_copyHoo boy.  Hoo, boy.  Holy shit, you guys — this is gonna be a scene.

So, let’s flash back about a year ago when I was on one of my patented late-night Walmart runs, most likely buying frozen potstickers and Hawaiian Punch (because that sounds like something I’d do), and I would always walk by the book aisle, mainly because I want to see if the idiots who stock the Walmart at night have blocked the books with pallets of toilet paper again.  Well, on one of those nights, I saw this book, and it was, I wanna say another 25% off the sticker price?  And while the title wasn’t that intriguing, the fact that the male love interest was nicknamed Lucifer did make me chuckle.

I may have bought it because I was expecting a shit-ton of “loving the devil” jokes, and if there’s one thing I like, it’s making a bunch of jokes in a row that have a common theme.

So I brought it home, and read it sporadically through the entire year, because holy shit you guys, it is so bad.  And I would have put it down completely, soaked it in gasoline, set it on fire, and walked away from it without looking back, if it weren’t for my friend Brad.

Oh, jeez … that sounds like there’s a connection between romance novels and Brad.  Let me be clear: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION.  This segueway will make sense in about two sentences paragraphs.

See, there was this one time when I rented A Good Day to Die Hard from Ye Olde Redboxe.  And it was so bad, you guys.  It was so bad, it hurt, because dudes — I love Die Hard.  I love it so much, I watch it every Christmas Eve and every time I catch it on TV.  I could be in the middle of something Very Important, and if Die Hard‘s on, fuck it — I gotta see Alan Rickman fall to his death.  Every damn time.

So a few months ago, Brad and I were discussing movies we’d seen recently (at that time), and I got into a bit of a tirade about A Good Day to Die Hard, and when I told him that I stopped halfway through because I just couldn’t take it anymore, he — well, he didn’t yell, and he didn’t get angry, exactly, but he did say my name with force.

And after he not-yelled my name, he said this:

“Kid, no matter how bad something is, or how bad you think something is, you should always finish it to the end.  Because one of two things will happen: you will either find something in it to redeem it and make it have been worth your time, or, you will just get tons more shit to bitch about it with.”

Profound words from a guy who didn’t think Droopy the Dog was a real thing.

What he said stuck with me, and will continue to stick with me.  It’s why I will probably never have a “Did Not Finish” up here again.  Because it’s true — either you find something positive to say about whatever it is you’re not enjoying, or you’re just going to have tons more logs with which to stoke your rage fire.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel a little chilly up in here; let’s burn this motherfucker down.

(MOM: don’t click that link.  TRUST ME.)

So Some Like to Shock is a historical romance under the Harlequin History banner.  It stars the widowed Dowager Duchess of Woolerton, Genevieve, and her paramour, Lord Benedict Lucas, also known in some circles as “Lucifer.”  Ostensibly, Benny Luke wants to get with Genevieve as a cover while he spies shit for England or whatever.  Genevieve is a girl that just wants to have fun.  They start hanging out, and then of course they end up falling in love, and there really isn’t any  more than that.

Except that the book tries to make there be more of a plot.  So, backstory time: Genevieve was married to this old duke whose first wife had died, so for those counting, Genevieve is Wife Numero Dos.  Old Dude was creepy and disgusting, and their wedding night was a bit on the violent side.  (All kidding aside, while we do not see Genevieve and Duke’s wedding night in the present timeline, we only learn about it through Genevieve telling us the story, and it could borderline on being rapey.)  But then, in trying to whatever her, Old Duke has a stroke and becomes paralyzed mid-coitus.  I wish I were kidding.  And then! When he can’t ‘pleasure’ her or whatever (essentially his injury and/or God’s justice makes him impotent following the wedding night), because he can’t beat her, he makes his son do it for him.  So now Genevieve is a battered mother-in-law, and only escapes when the Duke dies.

Except the Duke’s Son still wants to have control over her, for some reason that I can’t really suss out.  Something about how this girl he wants to marry, the girl’s father won’t like it if he learns that the Duke’s Son’s ex-mother-in-law is parading around Town with a dude nicknamed Lucifer, and I’d say “like anyone gives a shit,” but then I remember that back in the 18whatevers that’s all anyone did — give shits about what other people were doing — so, let’s just end the Sad Tale of Lady Genevieve with another “whatever.”

And what’s Lord Benny Luke’s Sad Sad Tale of Woe?  Someone murdered his parents.  Even sadder?  He didn’t take that opportunity to become Batman.

So emotionally-damaged Genevieve is working through her intimacy issues with Benny Luke, and Benny Luke is apparently just trying to control his massive erection whenever he’s in her presence.  Gross.  When he wonders why she’s so inexperienced, she tells him, but it goes on and on and ON.

And look, duh – they end up getting engaged in the last five pages of the book.  No shit lady, did you think they were just going to order a fucking pizza?!  And my worst problem isn’t with the stupidity of the plot — it’s how the book is written.

Because here’s the thing: the actual telling of the story is awful.  Whenever Genevieve and Benny Luke have any conversation whatsofuckingever, this is basically, essentially, how it goes:

– Someone says a line of dialogue.  For instance:

“I am told, however,” Benedict continued scathingly, “that there is a very thin line between love and hate — and obviously you have not crossed over that line as yet with regard to your former lover.”  He arched a coldly derisory brow. [108-109]

Then, the other person reacts, but only in their head.  In great detail.  To continue with our example, we now hear Genevieve’s thoughts:

Genevieve became very still as she took in the full import of what Benedict was saying to her. He truly did believe that a previous lover had done this to her? That a man she loved, and who professed to love her in return, had done this to her after discovering she was now involved with Benedict and that she was remaining silent now in order to protect him?

Just an example. Because in addition to losing the flow of dialogue, the thoughts that Genevieve is thinking?  Are completely repetitive!  Guys, I picked a page at random, and I can guarantee you that the reader has heard these thoughts of Genevieve’s at least twice before, just in different word order.  But before Genevieve even answers Benny Luke, she thinks for an entire two more paragraphs of thoughts.

THIS HAPPENS THROUGHOUT THE BOOK.  And maybe I’m just partial to banter and good dialogue – I am, I admit that wholeheartedly.  Han and Leia, Indy and Marion, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, Benedict and Beatrice, Margo Channing and Bill Sampson.  Banterers have imprinted on me from a young age.  So when dialogue pretends to be snappy, but chunks of stupid inner thoughts break it up, I get super pissed.

Let’s see, what else did I want to bitch about …

OH THIS PISSED ME OFF.  So, at the beginning of the book, Genevieve meets Benny at the wedding of a mutual friend.  The following is, I shit you not, actual lines of dialogue that Benedict says to Genevieve, in chronological order.  I have omitted Genevieve’s responses and narration; imagine reading just Benedict’s lines in a script:

“May I offer you a ride in my carriage, Genevieve …?”

“Sure a lady as … daring as you cannot be feeling nervous at the idea of travelling alone in my carriage, Genevieve …?”

“But I am sure it is not too late for you to remedy that particular omission, if you so choose …?”

“Unless, of course, you feel it would be too daring to travel alone with me in my carriage …?”

“Shall we …?” [various, all from Chapter 1]

SERIOUSLY. GOD. STOP FUCKING DOING THAT.  I can just see him smarming before lifting his voice and cocking his eyebrow and just being terrible.  It’s like the smile Prince Ali Ababwa gives Jasmine right before she gives him a piece of her mind and pushes him off the balcony.

Also, see the quote about a lady as … daring?  You should really italicize ‘daring’ there.  Because the ellipses without italics following it does nothing to show tenor change in the character’s voice, and also, you’re really pissing me off.

And, as Benedict was only too aware, this past week had seen both her close friends becoming entangled in relationships with his own friends Dante and Devil. [44]

OF COURSE.  OF COURSE his friends are nicknamed Dante and Devil.  And OF COURSE her friends (Sophia and Pandora, in case you’re wondering, and also, look at me, not making a bad joke about the Devil and Pandora’s box right now) are enamored with his friends.

Okay, I just took an inventory of what else I need to cover in this stupid  book, because true confessions: I’ve been writing this review for, like, four days, and I just need to be done with it now.  I have five things left to cover; I’m going to go in order of quickest discussion to longest.

I.

“You look as tired as I, Benedict,” she spoke in self-defense.

His mouth twisted derisively.  “It is after two o’clock in the morning.” [105]

This caused me to yell, “Nothing good ever happens after two a.m.!  Listen to Ted’s mom!”

II.

Benedict’s chin rose.  “And how do you intend to go about achieving that?”

“By persuading you to drink the contents of this vial in the tumbler of water at your side.”  He held up a glass bottle he had retrieved from the pocket of his pantaloons.  [266]

Okay, first of all: the way that sentence is written, it sounds like the second guy is going to make a Boilermaker out of a vial of something and a glass of water.  Worst Boilermaker ever.  But second-of-ly, something loses its capacity for terror when retrieved from pantaloons.  I mean, is pantaloons not one of the funniest words ever?  I seriously giggled a lot when I read that.

III.
In case you couldn’t tell, the conversation referenced above is between Benedict and the villain, who, in true James Bond Villain fashion, comes in in the last chapter and monologues over the whole joint.  Not that I’m going to talk about him more, but you know I’m calling the villain Syndrome for the rest of this review.

But seriously – monologuing?  Come on, son!  Why do you need to tell Benny Luke that you’re poisoning him?  If you were a real villain (who also happens to be Benny Luke’s godfather and the only person he trusted following the death of his parents, oh whoops, spoiler alert, not that anyone cares), you’d lean over his injury-bed (not quite deathbed yet), surreptitiously pour the contents of the aforementioned vial into the aforementioned tumbler of water on the aforementioned side table, and then walk away.  THAT’S ALL YOU GOTTA DO.  It’s like the dude never went to Villain School.

IV.
How did Benny Luke get injured?  He got shot.  How did he get shot?  I DON’T FUCKING KNOW, THESE ARE ACTUAL QUOTES AND TRUFAX:

It was only when she fell down onto her knees beside him and was able to see the stain of red rapidly soaking through his waistcoat that she realized that sharp crack and whistling noise had been the sound of a bullet being fired and then fast approaching its target.

Which was when she began to scream … [NOT my ellipses, I swear]

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“Cook has prepared a delicious chicken broth and a milk pudding for your dinner, your Grace.”  Jenkins placed the tray down upon a small table beside the chair where Genevieve sat in quiet contemplation.

[these are my ellipses, but I’m only skipping two paragraphs: … ]

It had been days, Genevieve acknowledged.  Far too many days.  And nights.  Days and nights when she had sat at Benedict’s bedside, willing him to fight the fever that had beset him within hours of the doctor removing the bullet from his side … [240-241]

I can attest by swearing on any number of religious texts you place in front of me, whether they be the Holy Bible, the Torah, the Quran, or even the Necronomicon that worships the mighty Ch’thulu: I only omitted two paragraphs up there.  That is the actual sequence of events: Benny Luke gets shot, and then Jenkins serves Genevieve some dinner six days later.

WE DO NOT SEE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE SHOOTING.  I was so excited when Benny Luke got shot – for many reasons, but mainly because it meant there was going to be some action for once!  Things were actually going to happen!  We weren’t going to spend page after page after page conversing about the same damn topic!  And by that, I of course mean the fact that it takes these characters entire chapters to have a simple conversation about the weather, because we’re always returning to their inner mindbrains after every damn line of dialogue.

So Benny gets shot!  And I rejoice!  But then he’s just sleeping?  And Genevieve has been nursing him but we don’t see that?  We don’t see the doctor removing the bullet and telling Genevieve to stay out of here, this is no place for a lady?  And where are Genevieve’s friends during all of this?  Shouldn’t they be there to comfort her?  Where are the constables asking questions?  WHAT IS GOING ON AND IS THE CHICKEN SOUP MADE OF PEOPLE*

(*Hannibal season 2 trailer is released tomorrow.  OMG.  OMG.  O  M  G)

So that totally pissed me off and made me flip tables.

And now, before I discuss the final discussion point, I want to put up a warning y’all haven’t seen since I reviewed Decadent: the following paragraphs will consist of somewhat explicit language.  I’m assuming most of y’all have probably peeked at Fifty Shades of Gray, though I have not.  This language won’t be as explicit as that most likely is, but it’s a little racier than I’ve talked about in the past.  So, caveat lector and all that, and also, Aunt Amy?  Maybe Emily shouldn’t read this, and I am still sorry about giving her that book, that was an accident.

V.
Holy shit, the sex is bad.

Or, rather, the sex writing is bad.  Here, take a gander:

His tongue swept slowly, erotically across her lips, parting their softness as he groaned low in his throat before his hunger returned to deepen the kiss. [78]

That makes me think he’s licking her.  As in, he’s licking her face.  Like a dog would lick your face.  He’s licking things to claim them as his own.  And it’s disgusting and not sexy whatsoever.

But that’s not the worst of it!

“Have I not warned that you are in danger of finding your wings well and truly singed in a situation such as this one?”

“I already burn, Benedict,” she assured him huskily, holding the darkness of his gaze with her own as she pulled the last covering away from her breasts before leaning forwards to place those breasts enticingly close to his parted lips.  “I burn, Benedict!”  She sounded both distressed and fascinated that this should be so.  [79]

I … I can’t stop laughing.  And crying.  And neither are in good ways.  I mean, look, this scene could maybe be sexy, but she keeps saying his name!  When was the last time you were having sex and saying your paramour’s name all the time?  I mean, in a logical manner?  Or saying shit like “I burn”?  I mean – god, this book sucked.

I’m going to just write this bit of dialogue and leave where everything is going on to your imagination:

“Touch me there too, Benedict?  Give me the pleasure, all the pleasure, I have only ever dreamed existed until tonight, here with you!”  [80]

I hope that question mark was supposed to be an exclamation point; otherwise, I don’t know exactly what she’s asking.  Is she asking if he’s supposed to touch her there, too?  (“You’re touching me there, too?”)  Or is she asking him to touch her there? (“Please, will you touch me there, too?”)  I think it sounds more realistic if she just straight-up tells him where to touch her, but I guess that’s too modern of me.

And now, my final point (and I apologize for everything I’m about to say.  And quote.)

“Benedict …?  What is happening?”  She gasped suddenly, her eyes wide when he glanced up at her.  “Oh.”  Her eyes widened even further, her body tensing even as Benedict felt the first contractions of the muscles as she began to climax.  [81]

I’m not going to actually say anything for this scene.  What I want you all to do instead is think of the classic scene from When Harry Met Sally and imagine Sally ending that amazing demonstration with a simple “Oh.”

Would you still have what she’s having?

Grade for Some Like to Shock: No stars

Fiction: “Fury” by Elizabeth Miles

furyWell. After the interminable hell that was The Story of Ain’t, I still had four books from the library to read before December 12. This was the shortest with the biggest print (which also enabled me to finish it before November 30. Huzzah!).

Fury originally caught my eye when I was taking a stroll through Bull Moose in Scarborough. For the uninitiated, Bull Moose is the best record store this side of Empire Records. No, I’m serious. It’s a local chain of music stores that branched out into DVDs, video games, and now (thanks to Borders going under), the only place I buy books. For cheap! Anyway, Fury was on the “new and notable” pile. I read the synopsis on the inside of the cover, and it stuck with me.

It takes place in Ascension, Maine, and the star is Emily Winters. She finds herself in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Chase Singer, star quarterback, is finding himself in a stressful situation and his public persona is starting to unravel. And according to the synopsis, “In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls — three beautiful, mysterious girls — are here to choose who will pay.”

Sounds interesting, right?

WRONG.

Look, I don’t want to deride Ms. Miles. She hails from Portland, and the story is written beautifully, with deep, descriptive, evocative language. (I just realized I’ve been overusing commas, quite possibly erroneously. I’m sorry. I’ll try to curtail that impulse.) For me, the actual plot did not live up to the promise of what the cover described.

Because yes, Emily is in love with Zach, her best friend Gabby’s boyfriend. And while Gabby is vacationing in Spain with her family, Em and Zach fool around a bit. They call it ‘hooking up,’ but to my knowledge, ‘hooking up’ usually means ‘sex,’ and they never get farther than second base. Zach tells Emily that when Gabby gets back, he’s going to break up with Gabby so he can be with Em. Em’s best friend JD, the literal boy next door, doesn’t trust him and tells Em so, which causes her to run directly to Zach.

Except that Zach is a total tool and was only saying that to get into Em’s pants; of course he has no intention of breaking up with Gabby. Duh-doi. Em is heartbroken. In my head, I can only hear Archer: “Oh, ugly duckling. Bok bok!”

On the other side of town, Chase is trying to find a date to the football feast. There’s this gorgeous girl who’s new to town. She has flaming red hair, two equally-beautiful cousins, and crazy eyes. Ty (that’s her name) gets close to Chase, and he becomes enamored of her. There are a series of dates and near-dates that cause Chase to fall more in love with her and also cause him much embarrassment.

There’s also a subplot to Chase’s saga: his former friend, Sasha, jumped off an overpass and ended up in a coma. He experiences some guilt, but nothing serious enough to make him go visit her. Because see, she fell out of popularity last year, and if it gets out that he used to be friends with that type of trailer trash (he himself living in a trailer park), it’d be all over for him.

Ty and her two cousins, Meg and Ali, are quite obviously the Furies. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Greek names (and the only reason I was was because I was doing research earlier this year on Greek gods for a piece I’m attempting to write and came across the Furies while I was looking at gods about vengeance and death and other murky stuff), three beautiful girls who end up doling out death and destruction? Again: duh-doi. Although I suppose cases could be made that they could also be either Sirens or Fates.

Here’s the thing: all the teenagers are awful. We’re supposed to sympathize with Emily, I guess, but she still willingly gets involved with a boy who she knows is involved with her best friend. Even if Zach wasn’t a tool, it’s still wrong. (Although I may have a higher sense of morality than teenagers today.) (And now I sound like I’m fifty. These teenagers today. Jesus, four months from turning thirty and I skipped two decades. Why don’t I just start telling the ‘four miles in the snow barefoot to school, uphill both ways’ story right now?) And Chase is no better, attempting to hook up with anyone who’ll have him, as long as she’s pretty and popular, and completely ignoring where he comes from on the whole popularity scale.

The Furies are just as bad, luring teenagers to their deaths as retribution for what are, in the grand scheme of things, relatively minor transgressions. In the end, Emily is spared from her fate by swallowing some seeds that tie her to the Furies. I’m not sure what their equivalent is supposed to be in the Greek, mainly because I don’t care and also, it’s clearly setting up the next book in the series, which I am not going to read.

For all that shoddy retribution crap, there were two things that either totally took me out of the book or made me truly not like it. The first – and more minor of trangressions – is this:

By the time she reached the doors [of the T, the Boston subway system], the announcer was ringing the bell. Please stand clear of the closing doors. She slipped through just as the doors started to clamp shut.

But she wasn’t all the way out. Her huge shoulder bag got cinched in the closing doors — and her arm was still entangled in its strap.

As the train chugged to a start, Em had to walk faster and faster, panic building inside of her, struggling to extricate her arm. [228]

NO. That doesn’t happen on the T. First of all, there are no bells on the T; there are tones and beeps. Secondofly, if someone can hear the conductor, then it’s a goddamn miracle. And thirdly, I have never EVER seen the T doors completely close on something that causes the owner to have to jog along with the train to keep up with it. They closly monitor that shit. Even the Green Line, which is notoriously packed all the effing time, doesn’t let that happen.

And this should have been where I shut the book and decided to never finish it, but at this point in the narrative, I had more curiosity than apathy and decided to keep going:

He stayed there, thinking about how beautiful she’d looked under the snowy streetlights, her skin translucent and glowing, even in the yellow-tinged hue of his crappy kitchen. He stood there remembering how close she’d stayed as he’d leaned over the stove.

She dazzled him. [122-123]

*facepalm*

Grade for Fury: No stars.

Non-Fiction: “The Story of Ain’t” by David Skinner

Has everybody heard the story about how Brad and I have fought, off and on, for five years, about the status of ‘irregardless’ as a possible word? No? Okay, in brief:

I fought vociferously that ‘irregardless’ is not a word. Brad maintained that it is a word. I said, again, that it was not. Brad threw a dictionary at me. IN HIS DEFENSE, it was a paperback pocket dictionary, and I caught it. It’s not like he threw a fifteen-pound book at my head. Anyway, he threw it at me because he said that since ‘irregardless’ was in the dictionary, that made it a word. I said that okay, sure, it was in the dictionary, big deal, but it stated that it was non-standard usage, which meant that it shouldn’t be used, therefore, it shouldn’t be a word, so DON’T FUCKING SAY IRREGARDLESS EVERYONE.

That would be our routine whenever anyone said ‘irregardless’ around the both of us. Jean especially thought it was hilarious, and would say it on purpose just to rile me. Because — God love him — he’s kind of a dick. 

Four weeks ago I went to the library because I was bored with my book selection at home. Ten boxes full of books I moved, and I didn’t want to read a single one. Anyway. At the library, on the ‘notable’ shelf, was something called The Story of Ain’t, which proclaimed itself to describe “America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published.” And because I’m a freak for grammar (oh yeah, I’m thatkind of freaky freak … freak!), I picked it up and then it took me four weeks to read it because as it turns out, it wasn’t that interesting, anyway.(A book about a dictionary. I thought a book about a dictionary would be interesting. Goddamn, I’m a moron sometimes.)

HOWEVER. There was an important passage that I need to make note of:

And whatever ain’t was — substandard or nonstandard — it was not standard. It was not “good.” This did not mean that ain’t was not a word, only that it was out of favor in standard English. [85] [my emphasis]

Dear Friends With Whom I Once Worked:

Odds are at least one of you guys reads this. Maybe not every time I post a review, and that’s totally okay. But I’m guessing that one of you will eventually see this entry, and I need one of you to do me a solid.

Could you print this entry out for Brad? Because I’m still not convinced he actually has internet, and I know he doesn’t read this blog on a regular basis [which is TOTALLY okay; I do not need him asking me why I thought Prelude to a Scandal was both hilarious and horrifying]. But he’s going to want to read this for the next few paragraphs alone.

Okay. Have you printed out a copy of this entry?
playbook jpg
Good!

*ahem*

Dear Brad:

You were right, and I was wrong. ‘Irregardless’ is a word, because it is found in the dictionary. Being designated as ‘nonstandard usage’ does not mean that it is not a word. As that was your central argument for the past five years, I must concede my point to yours, the superior, for in this instance, you were right, and I was wrong.

I figured you would like a printed-out version of this, because, as stated above, you don’t read this on the interwebs. Also, I expect you’d like to frame it, so you can always point to it and tell people that I was wrong about something and you were right about it. I fully expect you to break into your “I Told You So” dance when next I see you.

(And to be honest: who knows when this will happen again? Us fighting about something, I mean. Ten years and the only other big fight we’ve had has been about the fact that Droopy is a cartoon dog and not a figment of my imagination. [I was so right about that.])

Please don’t think I’m being facetious. Never again will I proclaim that ‘irregardless’ is not a word. Instead, I will yell at the top of my lungs “IRREGARDLESS IS NONSTANDARD USAGE.” So. Be ready for that.

OH WAIT I WAS ALSO RIGHT ABOUT BARNEY AND ROBIN SO YEAH THERE WAS THAT TOO

Alaina

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way…

In the end, I did not like the book. And no, it wasn’t because I lost the fight. It’s because it took me four fucking weeks to read 300 pages. It took me the same amount of time to read Great Expectations, and that book had longer sentences, more characters (though not by much), and much more difficult concepts to understand.

Mr. Skinner attempts to introduce all the characters who were somehow involved with the creation and editing of Webster’s Third International Dictionary, but in the end, they’re all very well-educated, old white guys, and I can’t tell them apart. Oh, this person was the head of the linguistics department at Harvard. This person headed up the College of Letters at the University of Chicago. And that person was another big muckety-muck about words and language and stuff. Whatever. Mr. Skinner does provide a biographical glossary in the back of the book, but — I’m lazy. When I read a book, flipping to the back to remind me of who that is is not the best use of my time.

And the way he starts chapters — it almost seems as if … hm. How do I explain it? You know how textbooks begin chapters? Where there’s a random anecdote, and then that ties into the main point of the chapter, with the vocabulary supporting the thesis. It honestly felt like I was reading a textbook. And I’ve been out of school for almost two years. But anyway. The chapters didn’t feel as if they went together. The whole feel of the book was very disjointed, and I did not enjoy that at all.

I feel that I was promised a fun romp through literary history: the making of a dictionary that legitimized such words as ‘ain’t’ and ‘irregardless,’ and the men that made those decisions. Instead, I get some backstory on some dude who didn’t even edit the dictionary, only lambasted it in his own magazine, and a lot of little stories about people involved, but no funny anecdotes about that one jackass that tried to sneak in their own definition for something. Because you know there was a jackass on the team, and he was always trying to sneak in their own definitions for things. Like, putting in Einstein’s definition for insanity. Or … dammit, I can’t think of anything else, because HOLY SHIT it’s 4 AM?! WHY ARE YOU STILL AWAKE, ALAINA?

You know what needs to happen next, though? The Oxford English Dictionary needs to recognize Cromulent as a real word. Please, dictionary people? I’ve been ever so good.

Grade for The Story of Ain’t: No stars.

Fiction: “Desire Never Dies” by Jenna Petersen

Hey, check it out! I finished a book today and I’m writing the post today! IT’S A MIRACLE.

So this is that book I started reading, then realized I needed to read the first one first, only to discover it wasn’t an homage to Archer, which made me sad. So.

This picks up about a year after the last one ended, and this title focuses on Anastasia Wittig, the … hm. I don’t have the requisite Charlie’s Angels reference to make, because I totally never watched that show, and I’m not sure which of those women was the quiet, intellectual type. Well, totally mixing my metaphors here, but Anastasia is the ‘Q’ branch of this little trio of spies. She spends her days in the basement building things and decoding other things, and pretty much being Tony Stark but without the Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist stuff. Or the arc reactor. Or the snark. Hm… maybe that was another failed metaphor.

The plot begins with Anastasia and Meredith’s cohort, Emily, getting shot in the line of duty. But don’t worry — she’s fine. (She’s the star of the third book, obviously.) Emily was investigating attacks of spies with th liaison from the War Department, Lucas Tyler. With Emily incapacitated and Meredith unavailable, it falls to Anastasia to help Lucas with his investigation.

Only Anastasia doesn’t want to work in the field – she wants to stay at home in her lab, working on … oo! I know — Anastasia’s not Tony Stark, she’s Bruce Banner! Only with even less emotion, because when she gets mad, she … well, she gets snarky like Tony, but still … no. Y’know, this Avengers thing just isn’t working. (Can you tell that all I want is to buy The Avengers on Tuesday? AND I’M OFF ON TUESDAY. SYNERGY! SUCCESS!)

ANYWAY. Can you see where this is going? Ana doesn’t want to work with Tyler because she doesn’t believe in her abilities. Tyler doesn’t want to work with Anastasia because he doesn’t want to carry her. And then he sees her passion for her friends underneath her mousy exterior, at which point he falls in love with her. But she’s a widow and still loves her dead husband, which is a whole ‘nother layer that Tyler tries to break through, until eventually Ana falls in love with Tyler, and —

And here’s my problem with this book, versus the first book in the series. In the first book, it was Meredith and Tristan Archer falling in love around the plot. Meredith was always actively investigating him, he was always trying to do what he needed to do … but in this title? The plot became secondary to the romance. And look, I admit that I read romances — some of which literally do not have a plot, and yes, unlike Joe Biden, I am using that correctly — but when I read a romance that purports to have a plot and then doesn’t deliver? I’m going to get pissed off. And when I get pissed off, it’s going to take me forever to read that book. And according to my Goodreads page, I started reading this back in early July.

Okay, what else? I laughed a couple of times at this, didn’t I? … Hm … there were a total of three dogears I’d made while reading this, and reviewing them, I have no idea why I marked two of those three pages.

The third one, though — oh, so the whole plot thing. You’re not going to be pissed if I reveal the stupid thing, right? No one’s going to yell SPOILER ALERT? Okay, good. Anyway. It turns out it was Tyler’s best friend, Henry, who was orchestrating the attacks on the spies, because he was getting paid to do it and he was greedy. Throughout the book, he’s made it look like he was crippled in one of the attacks, to throw the scent off of him. Anyway, he lures Anastasia to an abandoned warehouse and then stands up. And when she exclaims, “Henry! You can walk!,” I shouted, “Uh, duh and/or hello!”

(I may have also, the entire time I was reading this, inserted Ray Gillette for Henry. If Tyler had had to pick him up and carry him somewhere, you know I would have been snickering “Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.” Also, Ray is one of the best on Archer.)

So there was that. At first, I was inclined to read the entire series. But after this disappointed me so thoroughly, I honestly think I’m going to turn away from romances for a while and get back to things that never disappoint: violence, murder, and mayhem.

Although I may also be picking up the next Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter book. But at least when those are a funny disappointment.

Grade for Desire Never Dies: No stars.