We’re back with Gillian, who is being enthusiastically greeted by Daedelus (who she calls Daed) and Kimber. And by “greeted” I basically mean “groped,” since Daed immediately starts rubbing her shoulders and a page later has her over his shoulder. It doesn’t even surprise me anymore when men just take their liberty in touching women, particularly Gillian. Daed calls her “princess” and “puddin” and generally treats her like a creepy uncle rather than one of her bosses. He repeatedly ignores her requests to go away and fuck off, acting like she never even said anything. Jesus Christ it’s gross.
Going back to nicknames, Kimber returns to “Kemo Sabe.” Now, out of all the characters in these books, Kimber is among those I mind the least, but the fact that she was introduced with the racist-ass Lone Ranger reference continues to gall me. For those who don’t remember, Kimber is of indeterminate-origin-but-not-white, and she thinks of herself as the Tonto to Gillian’s Lone Ranger. Because why not have your non-white sidekick take on the role of an unapologetically racist non-white character? Also, we’re reminded that Kimber, despite not being white, has light hair and eyes. Now, I’m light-skinned and have cousins on the non-white side who are blond, so I’m not dismissing that light-skinned people of color exist. But the narrative has gone to great pains to downplay Kimber’s acceptably-white appearance, and it’s just as gross as Daed’s behavior.
Oh, so Perrin is watching Daed harass and basically assault Gillian and has a reasonably upset reaction…right up until he’s “furious with Gillian for her seemingly calm reaction to that ruffian. Did she like that? Did she expect him to behave like that?”
Are…are you fucking serious right now? What on this planet would make him think she expects him to act like that? Even given his social isolation and ignorance, I don’t know why the fuck he’d go there. Actually, yes I do: more manufactured conflict that’s executed in the grossest way imaginable.
Perrin confronts Gillian with a tirade, demanding to know whether she wants him to act that way, presumably when they fuck. Predictably, he thinks Gillian and Daed are fucking, and he’s jealous. Gillian explains that it was “just friendly banter,” even though it didn’t objectively seem all that friendly. Have you ever been in a conversation with, say, Person A and Person B, and Person A is recounting an experience with Person B like it was fucking hilarious, and Person B clearly didn’t think it was funny, but they do that thin-lipped awkward smile? That’s pretty much this, and it icks me out.
…but not as much as what happens next. Perrin goes,
“That man is someone important in your life, yet he allows you to be here, with me?”
He allows her.
He. Allows. Her.
He allows her.
He allows her.
Can there not be ONE penis-owning being in these books who does not also come with some bullshit factory-installed schema of extreme misogyny? JUST ONE. IT’S ALL I ASK.
Gillian explains that Daed isn’t her lover and she doesn’t even like him, which immediately undermines the whole friendly banter thing from earlier. She informs him, as a reasonable therapist would, that if he’s unhappy with what’s going on or if he wants a new therapist, she can get him one. He reacts by asking if she wants to get rid of him.
Now, this isn’t an unrealistic reaction for someone in therapy for attachment issues, which Perrin clearly has. It might not make my eyes roll like they’re in a perpetual motion machine if this weren’t written solely for the purpose of manufacturing conflict, just like everything else in this fucking book. This is exactly what I hate about romance novels: the persistent misunderstandings that represent the only tension, and it’s stupid tension that could be worked out if the situation were discussed in a reasonable manner like fucking adults. This is worse, though, because there’s the addition of mental health stuff, which is just realistic enough to be offensive when it’s done poorly.
Oh, here we go. Gillian busts through professional ethics like the fucking Kool-Aid man:
“I will tell you something I have never told another patient….If I had met you outside of this situation, at the theatre or at a coffeehouse, just a man and a woman, meeting one night, I would have been attracted to you and I would not have hesitated to show you that interest.”
Well THAT’S NOT INAPPROPRIATE AT ALL. Can you imagine if your gynecologist or prostate doctor or whoever was like, “Hey, I just wanted to tell you that if we weren’t in my office, I’d still totally be into looking at your vag/in your ass.” Gillian is providing a professional service to Perrin that’s not any different; how utterly contemptible is it for her to suddenly cross that line? Oh, but then she’s quick to tell him that they can’t fraternize for at least a year after their therapeutic relationship ends. What the actual fuck! She’s going to hit on an emotionally vulnerable patient but then tell him they can’t even be friends? Jesus Christ.
But of course, despite his attachment issues, Perrin is perfectly understanding and doesn’t have whiplash from her hideous mixed messages. Now I’m getting whiplash, because now they’re making out. There’s some truly gag-worthy description of kissing that sounds about like this:
AUTHORS, STOP DESCRIBING KISSING. They kissed. It was hot. If you want to say they used tongue, fine, but please god don’t describe how wet the kiss is.
What would a Gillian makeout scene be without “erectile tissues” being involved? They move over to the couch and she’s straddling him “as though he were a horse,” which seems to be a thinly-veiled commentary on how hung he is, because there’s no such thing a dick that’s anything less than gigantic in this universe. He gets freaked out and tells her they have to stop…but ostensibly because he’s about to come too quickly, not because he’s actually freaked out.
I have so little to say about this chapter other than that it’s so fucking annoying on so many levels. I’m sure there’s meant to be plenty of sexual/romantic tension between them and it’s supposed to be sexy, but it’s about as attractive as a dead fish that’s been sitting out in the sun for hours. It’s so manufactured, but I’m not even sure how it was manufactured or why. Why does the sex scene need to be here, and how the hell did their little spat over Daed lead to them presumably going to fuck in the next chapter? One thing I do know about romance in stories is that the first scene is supposed to come at a climax (pun mostly not intended) of a relationship, not just some random conversation that’s an easily-resolved misunderstanding. If it’s going to happen after Perrin witnessing something and getting jealous, why can that thing not be Aleksei and not Gillian’s stupid asshole boss?
Oh, Avery, you know it’s because not one single person involved in the production of this book gives a single shit anymore.