I did another chapter because the last one was so short.
Fair warning: this is an especially image-heavy post for those on slower connections. It’s also especially NSFW because sex.
Team Shit for Brains–or at least Gillian, Jenna, and Pavel, because who the fuck knows where everyone else went–arrive back at Rachlav Central. Everyone is super happy to see Gillian, god knows why, and Jenna lets out “what could only be described as a fangirl ‘squee’” at seeing Tanis.
Now, I feel the need to mention that Jenna and Tanis have never met. I went back and looked just now. Jenna surfaces in the last 1% of the previous book, well after Tanis has been rescued. I don’t even recall how they first came in contact via email. I’m not one to knock online romances, given that my four-year relationship began online, but when has Jenna even had time to pursue this romance? They’ve run hither and thither across Western Europe for god knows how long doing completely random shit.
Aleksei vampires over to Gillian, wearing all black, cape included, because of course he is. And… “What he did was take her breath away.” Jesus Christ, this is the kind of nonsensical phrasing I’d expect from my freshman-level college writing students. I don’t even understand why you would write something like that. He took her breath away. THERE.
So Aleksei kisses her and
Gillian forgot herself and was soon where she’d wanted to be since she’d met him over two years before, wrapped around him like a coat.
- TWO YEARS? What the actual fuck? The narrative gives the impression that it’s been maybe a few months since Gillian rolled into Rachlav Central. At some point toward the end of the first book, it’s mentioned that it’s been six months, and I didn’t buy that either. Now we’re supposed to believe it’s been a year and a half since they went to rescue Tanis? Did Gillian and the rest of Western Europe slip into its own pocket of the space-time continuum?
- This is the only thing that comes to mind when I read “wrapped around him like a coat.”
Aleksei carts her off into the woods so they can fuck. I’m already trembling in anticipation of what’s sure to be a superb sex scene. He carries her up to a “glade” in the mountains, which reeks of that scene from Twilight where Edward and Bella lay stiffly next to each other and stare for hours. I can only hope this will be more titillating.
While undressing her, Aleksei finds her surgical scars and is understandably concerned because “in her unique way of leaving out the important parts of a story, she hadn’t told him how close she’d come to death.” I really have to say that that is the trait I hate the most in her. She must be a compulsive, pathological liar. Half the time there’s absolutely no reason for her to not tell the whole story, and the other half there’s every reason for her to tell the truth because it affects other people: to wit, the fact that she’s on Dracula’s shit list, which she neglected to tell half of Team Shit for Brains.
Anyway, sex proceeds apace, and it’s pretty standard PNR fare. Not bad, not awesome.
Especially NSFW from here on.
He starts eating her out and she tells him to stop because she “owe[s] [him] one.” Can we put a moratorium on treating sexual acts like they’re debates about who’s buying dinner? This crawled out of the same bubbling cesspit as the rest of the gender politics in this book. For one, it implies (well, more than implies) that the relationship is built on debt, where the man demeans himself to give the woman pleasure, therefore the woman owes him something in return. Two, it takes away agency from both of them by prescribing some arbitrary set of rules for behavior. Like, what if he doesn’t care for blowjobs? What if she doesn’t? What if he just wants to eat her pussy and she just wants her pussy to be eaten?
Thankfully he says, “There is no scorecard.” I give the narrative props for this, but given his long-ass track record of hideous misogyny, it’s spitting on a wildfire.
This happens for a while…
…then plundering tongues…
…then stupid Italian endearments. In this scene alone we have carissma, bellisima, and piccola guerriera, which, as you may remember, Tanis called her first. Awkward. She gets on top and gets him into her “silken sheath,” which sounds like something you’d buy with your $40 katana you got from that store in the mall when you were sixteen. We also have “silken channel” and “silken place, past the tight bands of her canal,” both of which remind me more of industrial architecture than sex. But she does say g-spot, so kudos there.
But then comes this.
He felt his [body] empty into hers in hot jets.
The only hot jets in my life are the ones at the gym’s hot tub, and that is not very appealing.
This takes the cake.
He waited until the last shudders ran through him, the last of his seed being pulled into her with her own sucking caress.
Okay, so if you know a little about how orgasms work for those of us with factory-installed vaginas, this is not inaccurate. It is, however, the single grossest way I can think to describe that bodily function. I actually physically cringed.
So she wants to do it again but is hesitant to say so. He doesn’t have a problem with it and gets hard again but she says,
“My Gawd….How does an old guy like you do that?”
THIS IS NOT FACEBOOK OR YOUR IM CHAT WINDOW YOU DO NOT SPELL IT “GAWD” IN A PUBLISHED BOOK
Also on the subject of the space-time continuum, Aleksei reminds her that he’s not old because he was only 35 when he was turned into a vampire. Okay, one, 35 actually was kind of old pre-modern medicine, especially 400 years ago. Two, he’s now 400! By anyone’s estimation, that’s old.
He thinks she’s also 35 and she corrects him to say she’s 30.
At the beginning of the book, she was 25-26, I forget which. If we’re to believe that space-time has warped repeatedly and it’s been two years since then, she’s now 27-28. That is not 30. Again, where the fuck is her editor? If she can’t be trusted to keep track of this shit (PS, these books were published like five months apart, so it’s not like there was a huge gap where things might have been forgotten), someone should have.
She asks him if he prefers “generationally differential relationships,” which, aside from being super creepy, is pretty fucking obvious, and he replies, “I always prefer to have the upper hand where you are concerned.”
End of chapter.
In some ways, this wasn’t bad. Bog standard sex scene. For the briefest of moments I also don’t despise Aleksei’s entire being.
I just want to gawk for a moment over astoundingly bad this writing is. I’ve been writing most of my life, and I have written some absolute shit, as every writer has. But I honestly don’t think (and I’m not being egotistical here) that I have ever written anything as bad as some of the shit in this book. It’s not 100% noxious, but I have to stop several times in each chapter to squint or shudder or roll my eyes solely at the diction or cadence of the writing. Some of it I think is just a matter of trying to get words on the page and not caring how they come out, which is indicative of the laziest editor in the world. Some of it, though…you have to try to be that bad.
I’ll leave you with that.