The Fictional Hockey League

Critiquing hockey romance novels, of which there are many. Overthinking it is the point.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Play the Man: Post 16

Chapter Ten: TStL??

Nick’s Concussion of Magical Convenience has improved so much overnight that while he has a headache when he wakes, that’s the only symptom remaining other than some difficulty making decisions quickly. He’s not confused and he’s hungry. He even has the wherewithal to eavesdrop on the argument that Ryan and Jenna have about the Caravaggio. He sits down to breakfast and when she sees him looking at the notice about the painting, they start to talk about it. At Jenna’s query about when she might ever get to see it again, he suggests going to London, and she demurs, saying she can’t use Ryan’s money because she didn’t earn it. I guess she’s okay that “he pays the rent and he buys the groceries” but beyond that she’s uncomfortable using his money. (She doesn’t have a job. Who is paying for her graduate classes? Who is paying for her clothing?)

The text is suggesting that Jenna is not a gold-digger; she doesn’t want Ryan for his money. (I’m confused as to why she wants Ryan at all, but that’s beside the point.) Since Nick wants someone who wants him for himself, not someone who wants him for his fame or money, this point is probably here to prove just that, that she’s a proper candidate (which is good because he’s already head over heels for her.)

The justification the narrative gives for Jenna’s monetary choices is that she’d be fine with taking a trip to London if it were with Ryan, but since he’s not interested in art, and can’t get him to a museum in Chicago, then there’s no way she could get him to London. So, rent and groceries can be paid for with Ryan’s cash, travel without him cannot. I still want to know then who’s paying for all of her other things.

The narrative never shows Jenna buying or wearing flashy clothes, but she’s described as “classy” and her parents have “socialite friends” so I have to assume she’s also not shopping at Walmart. She may not be driving a fancy car, but she’s also not taking public transportation (she drove Nick places.) She’s very clearly not a teaching assistant in her graduate program, since the text makes a point of how busy she is with charity work that she can only take a few classes (meaning there’s no time for TA work), so she must be paying out of pocket for the her classes. Why is she even taking those classes, I wonder. As Ryan’s hockey wife, she can’t expect to use the degree in any meaningful way. I really don’t see Ryan letting his wife work, even if she had the time with the charity work she’d still be doing for the Blackhawks (or wherever Ryan could get traded). If she’s simply taking the classes for fun, which I totally get, then she shouldn’t be so stressed over them because grades wouldn’t matter. And she could put the degree on hold while she’s planning this (stupid) wedding.

I guess that this conversation seems like a slipshod way of telling (and not showing) readers that Jenna isn’t just sponging off of Ryan. Because she *is* just sponging off of Ryan, just to a slightly lesser degree than she could be. If she were truly concerned about it, she could get a job (instead of classes, perhaps, if timing is an issue). And while wives and girlfriends are certainly expected to partake in the charity events, I can’t imagine it’s mandatory. What would they do if she didn’t attend? Would Ryan be fired from the team for not making a good example as a captain because Jenna didn’t participate? Ryan is already a terrible example of a captain!

At any rate, Nick offers to take Jenna to see the Caravaggio, so that’s in the works.

Also, the perspective jumps (as per usual) so we also learn that Jenna is (finally!) having doubts.

Jenna wondered if it was possible to love someone and still not be able to make it work. The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” but maybe it took more than just love (68).

I understand wondering this kind of question when it comes to your own predicament. But really? Jenna is at least 25 or 26 (having lived in Chicago for 3 hockey seasons directly out of college, assuming 21 or 22 for graduation). Surely by this point in her life she has seen examples of couples who love each other but couldn’t make it work. Naïveté is one thing but this goes in the same category as the hockey coach’s daughter who couldn’t read a scoreboard (in Body Check).

There’s an acronym that romance readers tend to use when critiquing novels: TSTL. It means Too Stupid to Live and it almost always gets applied to heroines. I won’t, yet, go so far as to say that Jenna is in that category, but she is inching ever closer.

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