GUEST REVIEW: BadAss by Sable Hunter
All right, so I may have gone overboard with the length of my last review. Smarminess levels were appropriate, but I freely admit I have difficulty shutting myself up sometimes.
To avoid a repeat of that tl:dr trauma, and because I am a Geek and a Nerd and a Dork with NO LIFE, I decided take the opportunity to use a social media site I’ve been dying to try. Because this is ALL. ABOUT. ME.
Read With Me Vicariously: Live-Tweeting & Storifying Badass by Sable Hunter
Prologue and Chapter 1
In which a Texas preacher’s daughter runs away to Shady Lady Ranch in Nevada for Self-Imposed Slutification under the tutelage of mentors Destiny, Desiree, Roxy and Claret.
In which newly-slutified Avery Rose Sinclair and her pink Miss Kitty sleeping bag and her pink Miss Kitty suitcase full of sex toys arrive back in Kerrville on a Harley Sportster. Bar fight, blow job in hotel room, ecstasy, hero leaves.
In which our heroine displays her Shady Lady Stripper Skillz, news of Slutification hits local headlines, deflowering occurs and our hero shows his true colors as a Manwhore McCoy.
In which our heroine outs herself as an erotica writer named SABLE HUNTER and then gets a microphone stuck in her mouth.
In which we enjoy granny panties, Braveheart, bacon and glitter.
In which we meet villain-bait stock characters, enter our hero’s Secret Basement Playroom, push up through the Valley of Delight, rejoice in our heroine’s expanded vocabulary, and get called up to the Big Leagues of Sex. Also, plot moppet puts Sub collar on family dog.
Chapters 7 & 8
In which I attempt to distract myself from Tuesday’s clusterf–k in North Carolina with a hermaphrodite, sex on a mechanical bull, ooey-gooey pumpkin butter cake, some unexpected and inexplicably good writing (!) which segues into bizarre POV switching with the family dog, then yet another Tebow kidnapping but this time foiled by family dog, and, finally, swelling organs during HEA.
I just saved you about 15 pages of narrative plot recap. You’re welcome.
I didn’t hate it. I even LIKED parts of it. I’m in Book Review Purgatory, actually considering a C- grade. But what if my enthusiasm is merely disguised relief that it wasn’t a FLAMING CESSPOOL OF CRAP like the last book? I need to think about this. My worldview has been disrupted. My personal paradigm has shifted. I might need a sabbatical in Kerrville, Texas, to reconnect with my Inner Bitch Goddess.
If my doctor does recommend Cowboy Immersion Therapy, my first shrine of worship will be Hardbodies Bar. If they don’t have Isaac’s black leather Dom hood with the Tebow Rockin’ T ranch brand embossed on the forehead on display, I’m going to be REALLY disappointed.
[Oh, sorry – that was a spoiler. I keep forgetting to despoilerize. You know, because of all the suspense.]
Also, I’m 99 percent sure that me and the mechanical bull should stay far, far apart. But what’s a mental health sabbatical without a visit to the emergency room?
Let’s make it a road trip. You know you want to come with me. No, wait, a bus trip. That way we can drink heavily and let someone else do the driving.
It’s going to have to be a D+. *sigh*
I wanted to give Isaac a C, I really did. He is by far the most evolved male in the family. We have the usual “baby” talk, but for the most part he treats Avery as an equal in the relationship, even conceding her power as a submissive over him in their sexual encounters. He thinks she looks sexy in her flannel granny nightgown. He teases her, but he respects her. I know, right???
Also, he feeds the dog under the dinner table, and I’m a complete sucker for that sort of thing.
Our heroine Avery Rose continues the painful Hell Yeah! tradition of naïve, childlike virgins. But in this case, her backstory actually makes sense – she’s a “church mouse” who’s been overprotected and repressed by her ultra-conservative parents. She might be a bit of a dumbass in stressful situations (see below) but she’s not a doormat:
“Do I need to remind you that just a couple of days ago; you couldn’t wait to see the last of me? Do you think I’m stupid? It doesn’t take a genius to know the only reason you want to marry me is because you feel guilty.”
For the first time in the Hell Yeah! series, I felt a real connection between the hero and heroine. Their struggles were much less manufactured than in the previous books – they’ve lusted after each other for years, and they both think they’re not good enough for the other. They’re both willing to adapt to make the relationship work, and not just in the bedroom.
The Bad Sex is considerably toned down in this volume, as is the rampant infantilization I found so appalling in the previous books. Oh, there’s misogyny all right, but only a small part of it comes from the hero or his brothers (see “Humiliations Galore” below).
But before we address that issue – again – let’s take a look at an excerpt from the beginning of Chapter 8:
The scene: Bro # 2 Jacob (he who rescues naked pregnant virgins) confronting Bro #5 Noah (the Uptight Self-Righteous Accountant) about Noah’s knee-jerk condemnation of our hero Isaac:
Jacob: “Your brother is a damn good man. He may walk to the beat of a different drummer – but so do you. And I hate to tell you this, but I much prefer his cadence to yours….”
Noah: “Jacob, I…”
Jacob: “No, let me finish. I don’t often speak my peace – and this has got to be said. I love you and I have forgiven you, but I can’t completely forget that your reluctance to accept Jessie almost cost her life – and me my world. You push too hard, Noah. You’re too unyielding. You think you have all the answers and like black and white are the only two colors in the rainbow. Even you have to admit – you were wrong about Jessie, as wrong as wrong can be. And you’re wrong about Isaac and Avery. After Jessie was kidnapped, it was Isaac who stuck with me through thick and thin. He never left my side. I don’t discount what you did – you fixed up the nursery for her and you were the first on the scene and were wounded so that she could be saved. But – and this is a big but – it wouldn’t have happened at all, not like it did, if you hadn’t interfered and said things that made her believe I didn’t love her. Now, you’ve pushed Isaac away and he, in turn, has pushed Avery aside. What if they’re supposed to be together and what if your unyielding spirit and narrow-minded bullshit tears Isaac from our lives and destroys their happiness? How would you feel then?”
Where the HELL YEAH! did that come from? Except for the peace/piece thing and some odd punctuation, that right there is pretty damn decent writing. Stuff like that pops up out of nowhere in all four books – it’s like there are two different people writing them. Or maybe one person with multiple personalities.
Or maybe the author is teasing me on purpose just to fuck with my head.
Which brings me back to the downgrade to D+. Despite the much-improved characters and plot, and a few other flashes of good writing, the frequent applications of excruciating drivel completely ruin the credibility and likeability.
Ultimately, this book gets sucked back down into the author’s inevitable death spiral of insulting misogyny wrapped in cutesy twaddle. For example….
Self-Imposed Slutification: A Girl’s Guide to Gittin’ Girly
Step 1: Determine your goal.
The way she saw it – she had a choice. She could either give up on Isaac McCoy, forever, or she could attempt to transform herself into a woman he could be attracted to.
In other words, she’s Sandy from Grease!.
Step 2: Apply for admission.
“Operator. May I assist you?”
She took a deep breath and plunged in. “Yes ma’am, I’m looking for a number in Nevada for the Shady Lady Ranch.”
There was a pause and then the grandmotherly sounding operator had to put her two cents in. “Honey, you have a sweet little voice. I can tell you’re a nice girl. Do you realize you are enquiring about the number for a house of ill repute?”
Avery cleared her throat, stuck her chest out and stood up for herself. “Yes, ma’am, I am. I need that number, if you don’t mind. I’m tired of being the good girl. I want to learn how to bad.”
I learned that the Shady Lady Ranch [NSFW, obviously] is a real place. But the telephone operator? We had a teaser of that scene in Book 2, and I was sure it had to be a joke. It wasn’t.
Step 3: Complete an internship.
“That’s right. Now, suck the head like you’re eating a big ole juicy plum.” Three of Nevada’s finest ladies of the evening leaned over Avery as she yummed down on a pink plastic Jackrabbit.
…She stood up and wrapped the dildo in a paper towel, so she could remember to clean it properly when she got back to her room. It had been a new one, of course. They had allowed her to take it out of the plastic sealed container. The ladies had all been very nice to her, and she wasn’t a germaphobe, but she was cautious. Despite knowing the sheets were carefully laundered, Avery slept in the childhood sleeping bag she had brought from home. That sleeping bag had seen some action, lately. Even now, just thinking about Isaac made her nipples puff up and beg for attention. Last night, Avery had touched herself. After her bath, she had lain on her pink kitty sleeping bag and rubbed her breasts. It had felt so good. She hadn’t made herself come, but she had given kitty something to think about. Avery was determined that Isaac would give her that all-important first orgasm. Perhaps she was being sentimental, but it seemed necessary to her that she save all of those momentous experiences to share with him.
Her PINK KITTY SLEEPING BAG. In the WHOREHOUSE. Giving Kitty SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.
Who is the intended audience for this book? How is that romantic? I don’t understand. I honestly cannot comprehend how other readers can find this type of characterization endearing.
It’s like we’re in a weird existential erotica version of The Emperor’s New Clothes and NO ONE has the balls to tell the author that stuff like this isn’t just over the top – it’s FUCKED. UP.
Step 4: Graduate with honors.
“I’ve stocked this with a bunch of goodies and a list of reminders of the new weapons you have in your repertoire. Remember, you now can do a mean lap dance, you know how to work a stripper pole, you are proficient in oral sex and seductive moves, and you know more sexual positions than the writers of the Kama Sutra.”
The sex toys and portable stripper pole are stored in the heroine’s little pink MY KITTY SUITCASE.
At that point, I threw up in my mouth. And then I decided I need some of whatever the author and her five-star fangirls are smoking.
But then I changed my mind again because that might weaken my defenses and I’d become ONE OF THEM. They would ASSIMILATE ME LIKE THE BORG.
Plus, recreational drugs probably wouldn’t be a good addition to all the Xanax and alcohol it takes to survive these books.
Step 5: Share your knowledge.
In the quiet hours of the night, she had penned her first erotic story and sent it off to her publisher before she could change her mind. It had been called, “Cowboy Heat” – and of course, Isaac had been the hero. All of the girls had downloaded the free eBook reader app and had bought her stories. A few had even asked for her autograph. She had to admit she sort of enjoyed the attention. It had been difficult never sharing that part of her life with anyone. One night they sat up until the wee hours of the morning talking and laughing. She told them the plots of several more novels she had in the works and showed them how to find her website and her blog.
A few key takeaways from this lesson:
- Our heroine makes the hookers pay for her books. She doesn’t give anything away for free.
- The title of our heroine’s first naughty romance book is Cowboy Heat. Sound familiar? [More on this below.]
- Our heroine publishes ebooks. She has a website. She has a blog. And yet she had to call directory assistance to get a phone number for a brothel? Is there a Google blackout in the Texas Hill Country?
Step 6: Conveniently forget knowledge when confronted with a REAL LIVE PENIS.
“Did you know there’s a wet spot at the front of your thong?” he asked gruffly.
What? That wasn’t the reaction she was expecting. Every bit of the bravado left her body. Cripes! “Sorry,” she crossed her arms over her breasts – now she was embarrassed. “I don’t understand…”
Avery might have missed the class on feminine moistness, but at least we don’t have to sit through the lecture and PowerPoint presentation.
Kinky Stuff: BDSM Info-Dumping Sponsored by Wikipedia
In the Texas BDSM world, he was known as Badass – and it was a title he had earned. Isaac was a badass. He liked his sex rough and hot, but most importantly he had to be in control.
If you’ve read my previous reviews, what’s coming next won’t be a surprise.
“I’m no DOM, ya flea-bitten varmint! I’m Riff-Raff Sam, the riffiest riff that ever riffed a raff!” – Yosemite Sam, Sahara Hare (1955)
“I ain’t no DOM. I’m a pirate – Seagoing Sam, the blood-thirstiest, shoot ’em first-iest, doggone worst-iest buccaneer that’s ever sailed the Spanish main!” – Yosemite Sam, Buccaneer Bunny (1948)
“Any one of you lily livered, bow legged varmints care to SLAP LEATHER with me? In case any of ya get any idears, ya better know yer dealin’ with. I’m the hootinest, tootinest, shootinest, bob tailed wildcat in the west.” – Yosemite Sam, Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981)
God, I love the internet. Yes, I took a few liberties with the original scripts. It’s called creative license. Where were we?
In this book, “rough and hot” sex means spanking and mild bondage. And giggling. Lots of giggling.
I guess inaugurating the brand-new mechanical bull could be kinky, but mostly it’s more of a “how exactly does that work?” kind of thing. And then of course I obsess about why they’re not cleaning it with hospital-grade antiseptic. Gross.
Anyway: Not sure what BDSM is all about? Here’s a helpful getting-started guided:
“What I’m telling you is that your penchant for being in control, especially with a partner who craves to submit – is no shame at all. No more so than those who prefer to drive a foreign car over a domestic.” He knew she preferred foreign cars, herself. [Kindle location 992]
Huh? What? That was a conversation between our hero Isaac and Nana Bogart, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, whom we met briefly in the previous book. Nana drives a Lexus.
Why…? Never mind. It doesn’t matter, because it’s filler.
Remembering what she had read in the very basic article on BDSM, Avery sank down in a classic slave position – on her knees, hands behind her back and head bowed. [Kindle location 2167]
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance, Chapter 20 (Page 217): Getting Wild and Kinky.
Isaac didn’t know what to say. But, he had to say something. “Don’t judge her too harshly. Food is good, but gluttony is bad. Beer is good, but an alcoholic’s life is miserable. The relationship between two people that enjoy a power exchange may be more beautiful than you realize, but even that can have its dark side. Any form of addiction or extreme overuse can be dangerous. Harper may not be able to control her craving for domination, that doesn’t mean she’s beyond help. [Kindle location 2662]
Bro #5 Noah’s ex-girlfriend Harper is the conveniently convenient S&M pain junkie in question. Because we need to read about a stock character being nearly beaten to death to understand The Dark Side of Kinky Sex.
He had never been one to collar a woman, but he knew what it meant. It was a visible, recognizable sign of possession, ownership and commitment. Among his kind, it was as meaningful and binding as an engagement ring – more so. [Kindle location 2979]
The scene: Master Isaac and his Dom-in-training Levi, are discussing a new acquaintance. [Kindle location 3041]
Isaac: “So what did you hear about the lovely Miss Baker? I saw quite a few cowboys checking her out. If you’re gonna throw your hat in the ring, you’d best do it in a hurry. Is she into kink?”
Levi: “Hell, she gives kink a whole new meaning.”
Isaac: “Well, don’t leave me hangin’.”
Levi: “That’s the whole problem – she’s hangin’.”
Isaac: “What are you talking about?”
Levi: “She’s pretty, you know – I mean real pretty. And I was attracted to her, big time.”
Isaac: “So, what’s the problem?”
Levi: “Man, I mentioned to Terence Lee that I intended to ask her out and he laughed at me…. He said that it’s rumored Pawnee has a . . . damn, a cock – a little one, but a cock, nonetheless. Supposedly everything else is there and all of it functions perfectly. It knocked me for a loop, I tell you.”
Isaac: “That beautiful woman is a hermaphrodite? I thought they were, you know, rougher looking. She seems so – normal – beautiful, I mean.”
…Isaac had seen a lot of things. He knew transsexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals, even some who claimed to be asexual, but never had he met someone with both male and female genitalia.
Isaac: “God, I bet she’s lonely.”
Yes, it’s actually handled quite sensitively. But why do we need a hermaphrodite in this story? We don’t. What does this have to do with the plot, the main characters or BDSM? Nothing. Do you feel insulted that the author felt it necessary to use this for a throwaway bit of unresolved melodrama? I do.
A Cry for Help: Inserting Yourself Into your own Romance Novel
Feeling insecure? Need to justify your own existence?
Or maybe you’re slightly on the narcissistic side and love to see your own (fake) name in print as often as possible?
For either case, try a little subtle self-reference in your next writing project:
Writing romance novels was fun as well as fulfilling. A tiny smile played over her lips. During the past year, she had become a pro at promoting her books. With meticulous care, she had researched the markets and what types of books were selling and which ones weren’t as popular. It amused her that the hottest, fastest growing market was erotic romances. [Kindle location 1113]
“I just hope it doesn’t get out that I write racy romance novels…. I write love stories, most of them are mild – but the last one was a bit risqué. But don’t worry, only the girls know my pen name – Sable Hunter.” [Kindle location 1721]
No time like the present – after all, they were sharing everything else. “I write romance novels. Most of them have been just contemporary, but I’ve started writing erotic novellas, and they’re selling like hotcakes. I’m a smut writer!” she announced proudly. [Kindle location 3012]
Turning, Avery opened a drawer on her nightstand and handed her friend a book. “There you go. I hope you enjoy it. Remember, it’s sort of risqué – not as spicy as my current WIP’s, but pretty racy, all the same.” “Sable Hunter, I like that name. Neat.” [Kindle location 3099]
Need another example of literary self-referentiality for comparison? Try this more ironic representation.
Sworn to Secrecy: Protecting Your Super-Dom Identity from Evil-Doers
Keeping his involvement in the BDSM world from his brothers hadn’t been easy. [Kindle location 2665]
“I have been known to wear a hood and a cape and gloves – it makes it rather medieval. Except, if you look closely – there is the McCoy brand in the middle of the forehead.” [Kindle location 2734]
NOW do you know why I want to go to Kerrville so badly?
“Do you have the hood? We need McCoy’s hood if this is going to work.”
“Yes, I have it.” He pulled it from the inside pocket of his jacket. “The last time I cleaned Isaac’s playroom, I took it. It wasn’t hard; he keeps it out in plain sight.”
“I knew he would. It was custom made. If you’ll look, their brand is in the forehead like the mark of the beast – damn rocking T. I had seen him wear it too many times – I knew he would still have it.” [Kindle location 3558]
Avery stopped in her tracks. “Isaac!” There was no one else he could be. He wore his costume. The one that he had shown her and told her it was reserved for special occasions. The cape and hood made him look dangerous and mysterious and when he lifted his gloved hand and beckoned her to him, she almost broke into a run. He was back! And he wanted to see her! [Kindle location 3650]
Logic, cleanup in Book 4. Stand by for further fuckups.
Me Likeum Squaw: Stereotyping for Fun & Profit
Last week someone rightfully called me out for a lazy and offensive analogy about developing countries. Consider me smacked.
For my plea bargaining, I will utilize the “Yes, I’m a dumb shit, but HEY LOOK OVER HERE >>>” line of defense:
“Skye is something else, Isaac. Hell, she’s just about fuckin’ perfect. I don’t know if it’s that Indian blood or what – but she makes my heart beat like a war drum.”
“So, paleface, is it okay if I tease your little Indian princess?”
If I was Skye the Indian Princess, I’d beat Noah the Uptight Self-Righteous Accountant with something a LOT harder than a war drum.
Shit My Dog Says: Baffling Your Readers with Bizarre POV Switching
Kindle location 3613-3643:
Lady was hungry. Not just for meat – that was good, but there was always meat to be had.
So the women get called “baby” and “doll-face” and “kitten,” but the DOG gets called LADY? Yeesh.
…The people were hopping around and holding on to one another – sometimes they seemed so silly. Oh, yeah. She could smell it – dessert.
…Time for a whine. Licking the lips couldn’t hurt.
“Are you hungry? Do you want some candy? I’ll share. It’s not chocolate, so it won’t hurt you.” She set down the treat and Lady grabbed it.
“She” being our heroine Avery. In case you were confused.
Wow! That was one of the best things she had ever had in her mouth. I want another one!
This time – the very next sentence – “she” is Lady the family dog. Then we get a double switch from third- to first-person voice.
“You have a sweet tooth, don’t you? Here’s one more, but that’s all. I don’t want to make you sick.” Avery gave her another tasty morsel.
…Lady opted to put a paw on her knee. Affection never hurt. “You’re a sweetie. Aren’t you?”
That was Avery asking the question, not the dog.
Yes, I’m a sweetie. And I want more candy. Maybe, if I set up and look cute.
…“Lady, do you want to walk with me?”
Yeah, why not. I like you, Avery. You’re nice. Lady followed Avery through the crowd hoping she’d drop one of those candies. That’d be nice.
First back to third back to first. Completing the full circle of literary hell.
…Where are you going? Lady kept up. Don’t go over there. We don’t know that man. And he doesn’t smell right. He has family smells on him, but he’s not family. Stop! “Woof! Woof!”
Who exactly is the audience for this book? I don’t understand. I’m confused. Again.
Ruining the Moment: From Dumbass to Kickass and Back in 0.3 Paragraphs
“You son-of-a-bitch!” Avery lashed out, hitting him in the face with her bound hands.
Ooooh, finally a Hell Yeah! heroine gets to kick some ass!
…She had never feared death, but she had assumed she would live to get married, have children – possibly pass away at an advanced age with some heart ailment or least get the chance to choke on strawberries.
Please don’t ask. I have NO clue.
“You are Ajax – the man who hurt Noah and Harper. Mostly, you’re a coward.”
Hostage negotiation protocol courtesy of CSI: Kerrville.
…”I may just fuck you before I carve you up. How would you like that?”
“No!” Being beat was one thing, being raped was entirely different. “I would hate it! Just the idea of your filthy body touching mine makes me want to throw up!
Yeah, that’ll stop him. He wouldn’t want you to hate him.
“Bitch – I’ll make you sorry you were ever born.”
“I can’t stop you from hurting me, but you can’t steal my memories. Isaac was wonderful to me, I love him and you can never make be sorry I was born. Loving him was worth it all.”
…Tears sprang to her eyes, but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of crying out. Instead, she made him regret he hadn’t chained her feet first, because she brought her knee up hard and tried to jam his balls up into his throat.
Oh, HELL YEAH!
“Isaac is a good man – you’re a sniveling eunuch. I’ll bet you can’t even get it up, can you? Is that why you do this? Is hurting women the only way you can get off?”
Never mind. *headdesk*
Another blow. But what he said stung worse. “You may love him, but does he love you? I know what kind of woman Isaac McCoy craves – a real submissive – and that’s not you. You’re not worthy to be McCoy’s woman.”
And suddenly our vicious bad guy turns into Dr. Phil and examines his victim’s feelings. W. T. F.
All the tenseness – all the fight left Avery’s body. “You’re right.” She submitted to the bonds that fettered her, and bowed her head.
My head is bowed too. Over the toilet.
Humiliations Galore: Demonstrating Your Utter Contempt for Women
Example 1: Women belong in the kitchen.
The set-up: Part of the ongoing engagement party festivities for Joseph and Cady (MCs of the previous book) include daily hunting trips. It’s like a Regency country house party but in Texas. Apparently women are actually allowed to handle weapons because Syke the Indian Princess bagged a big one.
“Skye, you sure did get a good deer yesterday. That buck dressed out at a hundred and a quarter. I saved the antlers for you – and I saved something else, if you want them.” He held his hand out – palm up – with those two round buckeyes lying in the center.
…she rolled them between thumb and forefingers. “These are very nice, but they don’t belong to my deer. These balls are a little small for my deer. Have you felt between your legs to see if you’re missing anything?”
See what I mean about the good writing popping up out of nowhere? She’s really really good with the funny stuff.
But then – *~*sigh*~* – we immediately fall backwards into the quagmire of drivel:
Jessie jumped up and took Skye by the hand and they began planning dessert for the evening.
Oh NOES. A GIRL is making jokes about TESTICLES! Quick, put an apron on her!
Example 2: Condoms are needed only when having sex with slutty women.
He took a condom from his nightstand drawer and sheathed himself.
“I’m on birth control,” she whispered.
Isaac didn’t say anything. There was no use hurting her feelings, but pregnancy hadn’t been his first thought – it was how many men she had given pleasure.
You know that classic Seinfeld episode called The Subway where Elaine is on the way to a lesbian wedding and her subway stalls in a tunnel and she’s counting “one banana two banana” trying not to freak out and then the lights go out out and she screams “MOTHER-BLEEEEEEP” internally? The exact pitch and intonation of that “MOTHER-BLEEEEEP” was my precise reaction to reading that.
If I didn’t love Frances (my Kindle) so much, she would have HIT THE MOTHER-BLEEEEEPING WALL. Fortunately, that bit appeared at the top of the page, and the next bit was visible at a glance:
“Damn.” She was a virgin! How in the fuck was that possible?”
He knows she’s a virgin because she displays all the symptoms of Hymen Mislocation Syndrome.
Example 3: Women still belong in the kitchen.
A brief set-up for this one: Our heroine Avery used some of her book profits to go into partnership with her BFF Tricia in a floral design business.
“You’re going to make bouquets with Tricia Yaeger? That’s what you want to do with your life? You’d rather do that than be with me?”
But before you judge our poor hero too harshly, you should know that Isaac said that only because…
“ – deep down – he questioned his value as a man.”
I believe the lesson here is that a heroine’s purpose in life is to stay at home and prop up the vulnerable ego of her man.
Example 4: The Microphone Mishap.
Kindle location 1881:
At this very moment, she was so mad at him she could spit. But – unfortunately – her mouth was otherwise occupied.
Her tall, broad-shouldered bad-boy was laughing at her. “How did you get your lips stretched around that big old thang, darlin?” He looked at her with a twinkle in his sapphire blue eyes.
There was no way she could talk with the broad, round head in her mouth – so she glared at Isaac for all she was worth.
My Kindle note: “WTF is going on here???”
Good gravy, he was trying to help her. Avery felt her face flame. “Can you open your mouth any wider, baby? I can’t seem to pull it out.” A loud guffaw from behind him made Avery clamp her teeth down on the smooth surface instead of trying to let go. It was obvious that Isaac’s double entendres were not going unnoticed. “Now, don’t you bite down on my Peavey, sugar.” Titters of amusement floated across the stage and Avery growled, making Isaac laugh all the harder. “What kind of engagement party can we have if you swallow the microphone, dumpling-doll?”
At this point Avery takes the name of Elvis Presley in vain, which gets her another BIG RED X on my Badass scorecard.
And the humiliation wasn’t over – oh, no. It just kept getting better. “You know, there are better things you could have between these lips. All you had to do was ask.” A knowing look from him told her that he knew he was pissing her off, royally. Arrgghh! With a gasp of indignation, her jaws opened just wide enough for Isaac to pull the microphone free. “That’s my girl,” he praised her.
And WHY did she attempt to swallow the microphone in the first place? Because she’s a Closet Smutographer, that’s why.
Avery couldn’t think of a believable lie, so she stuck with the unbelievable truth. “Before I came over, Tricia had teased me about how big my mouth was. She said I couldn’t keep my mouth shut to save my life.” What she wouldn’t tell him was the secret Tricia warned her to keep – about her erotic romance writing.
Is it just me, or did that explanation make absolutely NO sense whatsoever? Is it just me, or does it seem like the author grasped for any possible excuse to write about using a microphone as a sex toy?
After compiling all of that, I’m downgrading again. D with no +.
Example 5: The Glitter Incident.
“If you tell that story in mixed company, Aron, you will wake up tomorrow with your manhood all dressed up and nowhere to go. Do you understand me?”
The scene: Avery is being inducted into the McCoy Joy Club by her future sisters-in-law. No, really, the club was mentioned in the previous book, but I completely forgot to beat it to death with my mocking stick.
ANYWAY, to welcome Avery to the family, Libby [heroine of Book 1, fiancee of aforementioned Aron] shares her latest most giggly blushing moment. I have to use a complete and un-ellipsed excerpt [Kindle location 2493-2513] to make sure I do this justice:
“I’m waiting to hear the story of what you did, Libby.” Jessie [Book 2] had sat patiently while the niceties had been taken care of.
“Me, too,” Avery admitted shyly. She sat out cups and arranged tea bags and sugar and cream for everyone to help themselves.
As the kettle hissed – Libby entertained them. “I made a fool out of myself, that’s what. Cady – this party is going to be great, but I’ve gone overboard, I guess. You know I was making those individual place cards with everybody’s name done in glitter.”
“I told you that you were going to too much trouble,” Cady [Book 3] was emphatic. “I am the happiest woman in the world to be marrying Joseph – I didn’t need any fancy decorations.”
Jessie shooed Cady, “We know – we know – Joseph is a sex god. They all are. Let her finish the story.” Granny Fontenot whooped at the sex part. She might be old, but she wasn’t dead.
“Anyway…” Libby continued. “I had been working down in the craft room and I had scattered glitter everywhere. As I was trying to clean up, the phone rang. I had been wiping down the counters and when I ran to our bedroom to get this checklist for the caterer, I had that washrag in my hand. I laid it down on the vanity counter next to the sink. When Aron got it in his head that I had to keep the doctor’s appointment, I did a quick wash up just to make sure I was clean . . .” her face fell, and she looked sheepish. “I used the wrong rag.”
“Oh no,” Jessie yelped. “I can see where this is going.”
Yes, so can we, god help us all.
“Yes,” Libby leaned over and held her head in her hands. “When the doctor got me all spread out like a filleted pork chop, he cracked up and said – ‘Well, hello there. This is the first time anyone’s ever decorated it for me.’ I had glitter everywhere.”
Stay seated…. We’re not done yet….
“You were Vajazzeled!” Avery laughed. “When I was out at the Vegas cathouse, I heard all about it.” Now all eyes had turned on Avery.
“What were you doing in a cathouse, pray tell?” Jessie was having the time of her life. She loved being in this family. There was never a dull moment. The giggles and the titters grew to mammoth proportions as Avery explained what she had been up to and Libby continued describing the doctor’s red face and Aron’s shock that she had presented her lady parts in full glitter glory.
Angrish: A character [or READER] is so angry, PISSED OFF, or shocked that he or SHE is LITERALLY UNABLE to form a coherent sentence. Other strong emotions are sufficient to render a person [READER] unable to speak proper English (or whatever language is being spoken at the time), but shock, ANGER, and PURE RAGE are the most common. It usually takes a little while for him or HER to recover, at which point he or SHE explodes into rage normally. The technical name for this rhetorical device is “aposiopesis”.
I don’t care how many people I piss off with this statement, but if you think that scene is a humorous depiction of female solidarity, YOU ARE WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. You and ^THAT BULLSHIT^ and the author are so F’ING WRONG that I am already having another SPASM of APOSIOPESIS.
It’s demeaning. It’s belitting. It’s patronizing. It’s condescending. It’s bullshit.
Now, let me be clear that I’m not condemning the Vajazzeling. If you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. Take pictures and post them on ratemyvajazzle.com. And then send us the link so we can vote. [Seriously – I am *wildly* curious about this, because all I can think is “OMG, itchy. Getting itchier. I need to scratch. RIGHT NOW.”]
I can respect a glittery hoohah only if it’s a choice.
If, however, you’re an author who inflicts unsolicited Vajazzling for the sole purpose of demeaning even further an already marginalized female character, you will receive a Flailing of Angrish that will rival the infamous Tapestry of Obscenity produced by Old Man Parker that has been hanging in space over Lake Michigan since 1949.
I’m so full of APOSIOPESIS I have no idea of that sentence I just wrote is grammatically correct. That’s how Angrish I am.
I’m adding the Accidental Vajazzling AND the Microphone Mishap to the Falling Head-First into the Bubble Bath episode from the previous book as proof that a female author can indeed be revoltingly misogynistic.
And now I’m DOWNGRADING AGAIN to a D-. The only thing saving this book from an Big Fat EFF (F) is the fact that it wasn’t nearly as painful as the last one.
Now let me tell you what I REALLY think….
I think I’m going to change my mind yet again and track down one of those fan-girl squee bongs before Hell Yeah! Book 5: Skye Blue is released.
For now, I’ll just take my ANGRISH and APOSIOPESIS (my new favorite words) back to my Mean Girl Cave of Righteous Indignation and let the author herself enlighten you on the State of Modern Erotica. If you like FULL GLITTER GLORY, you’ll find lots of it on Sable Hunter’s website.
The following is an excerpt from her blog post in early January. Punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors and ALL CAPS are hers; bold and [ANGRISH] are mine.
I cant seem to write a story where the heroine is a woman with experience. So far, it just hasnt worked for me. I cant really explain it…but I thought I would delve into the possibilities, just to see if I could work it out. Im not sure about my motivation…after all, Im not a virgin and I havent been for a long time. Maybe, I wish I were. Thats a strange thought.
I tend to write my romance novels with the hero in mind. For some reason, Im more sympathetic to his viewpoint and I love to tell whats on his mind and how he is feeling. That may be because Ive never met a hero (in the flesh, anyway) and every time I write a story, I create the man of my dreams. Holding out for a hero is more than a song…its a life…long yearning for some women. So, I tend to write my romance novels, delving into the heros psyche. But what kind of hero have I created? I formulate the men in my stories to be honest, strong, possessive, faithful…all qualities of a good dog…plus gorgeous and sexy as hell. They have never breathed a word that they expect their chosen woman to be an innocent. But I tend to reward their good behavior and sterling qualities with a pure woman.
[Drop dumb fratten house stickle fifer!]
I got amused as I planned this article. It made me think some wild thoughts about why a man would want a virgin…get this…ala William Shatner…TO GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE.
[Note to other authors who may be reading this: If William Shatner ever pops into your head while you’re writing a sex scene, please seek professional help ASAP.]
Or every man loves to explore VIRGIN TERRITORY. Or the value of a woman increases if she is AS PURE AS THE DRIVEN SNOW. After all, said hero would get to initiate her, wow her, train her in his likes and dislikes and know that no man had ever enjoyed what he had claimed as his own. I actually used the term in a novel I just released he POSSESSED WHAT HE HAD ALREADY CONQUERED.
[Grout shell fratten house stickle fifer! Lame monger snaffa shell cocker!]
Something is terribly wrong with me.
[Oh, now that’s just not fair. That door is WIDE OPEN and you expect me to restrain myself for the sake of not attacking the author personally? Just this once. Pretty please? Fine then.]
Now, Im kidding here…for the most part. I guess the truth is…I love to write about virgins. And sometimes I go to great lengths to make my heroines virgins. Although every scenario is possible…some of them I had to work to get them to sound plausible…
[Numerous examples of implausible virginity given, including Jessie the Homeless Orphaned Dyslexic Pregnant Virgin…]
I write about virgins…I am compelled to write about virgins. And not only are they virgins…but by the end of the books most of them end up pregnant. So…the hero gets to conquer, and stake his claim in the most enduring way possible…by fathering a child.
[…stood there, quivering with fury, stammering as [I] tried to come up with a real crusher. All [I] got out was… Naddafinga!]
I think this stems back to the time when I read sweet romances. While I was growing up I inhaled romance novels. Sometimes I read two a day. My school backpack was always full of Harlequins and Loveswepts…I had one teacher that condemned by reading choice…so for her I would read thick, brainy novels and discuss them in depth with her…but at night, under the covers…with a flashlight, I would visit worlds where love conquered all, right prevails over wrong, and holding out for a hero is not an impossible dream. I guess Im an incurable romantic.
[I think we have very different interpretations of that phrase. Having an oppposing viewpoint is OK. But in this case, my opinion is right and hers is wrong. Actually, that happens a lot more than you might think.]
My readers like my virgins…and they like the fact that they usually end up pregnant. I know this because theyve told me so. My books usually can make you laugh, cry, and sweat.
[I’m sweating, but not in a good way.]
I try to weave humor in with poignancy and spice it up with sex hot enough to make you sleep in a bathtub full of ice. I know the sex is hot…it turns me on…if it didnt, I would be doing something wrong.
Bottom line, I write what I like to read. There is something about an innocent woman placing her faith and trust in a macho, alpha male who teachers her that she is his perfect woman…that just turns my heart inside out.
[You want some teachering? I’ll give you some teachering.]
Final (and this time I mean absolutely finally final) grade: D-.
A shamelessly self-serving footnote that wasn’t actually cited anywhere in the above text and therefore really isn’t a footnote, it’s more like a P.S. and I told DA Jane she could edit it out so if you see this and think it’s obnoxious blame her not me:
Our blog mistress Jane apparently doesn’t understand sarcasm when she sees it on Twitter, so now a lovely little m/m “romance” called Red Knight Rising is plugging up my TBR queue. The author’s name is Alex Ironrod. Ironrod. Alex IRONROD. I’m pretty sure the publisher is deliberately fucking with me. Go ahead and read the excerpt – I triple dog dare you. Except if you’re at work, because it’s so very very Not Safe For Work. But even if you only look at the description page, don’t stare at the cover too long; it would be like the eyeball equivalent of getting your tongue frozen to a metal flagpole.