The Fictional Hockey League

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Play the Man: Post 17

Chapter Eleven: Clean & Dirty Laundry

After breakfast, Jenna won’t let Nick take a nap yet so she has him sort laundry with her. Because the narrative thinks it’s clever, while they’re sorting clean laundry, Jenna eventually airs her dirty laundry (about Ryan) to Nick during this process.

But first, under the narrative guise of the Convenient Concussion, Nick finds one of Jenna’s bright red thong and waves it around. When I first read this, it irritated me. It doesn’t strike me as how a hero should act. But now that I’m thinking about it, it’s actually an interesting little scene. First, Nick’s choice is appropriate to his age (21)—teehee, women’s underwear, in particular the thong that belongs to the woman he’s lusting for. When Jenna admonishes him and says it’s like he’s never seen panties before, he responds crudely, which is a little out of character, in my opinion, but he’s flirting, I guess.

“I haven’t seen yours, Jenna,” he said with a smirk. “At least not on you. Then again, I’d rather see them off you” (69 emphasis original).

Granted, it’s irritating, frat boy style flirting, but I guess we can handwave it since he is 21 and surrounded by crude teammates. On the other hand, it doesn’t strike me as something that this supposedly serious and thoughtful young man would say to the object of his desires, but see again also ‘magical concussion.’

Better still, though, is Jenna’s reaction. She turned bright red even as soon as Nick started waving the thong about, and to his comment about seeing it on or off her, she admonishes him.

“Nicky!” Her mouth fell open. “You’re just as bad as Frazier! I can’t wait for you to recover from your concussion if this is how you’re going to act” (69).

Frazier being Alex, the teammate who pissed her off so often before by making similarly crude comments. I am delighted that Jenna reacts the same way here with Nick. Too often in romance novels characters will react differently to the behavior of their love interest even if it’s the same as the behavior of the villain. And sure, one is definitely bound to take similar behaviors more favorably from someone whose attention you want, but when it comes to something that makes a character like Jenna so downright uncomfortable, it’s excellent to see her be consistent.

From here, the two talk about the upcoming wedding, and, more importantly, the problems it’s causing Ryan and Jenna. During this, Nick’s thought processes mirrors my own as he wonders why the heck Jenna still loves Ryan.

Next up, douchebaggery. After practice, Ryan comes home and he brings Alex with him. Jenna gets mad about that to start with because she feels it’s hypocritical to bring Alex home when Ryan is already pissed that Nick is there (to witness their fights). I don’t necessarily agree to that, but I can see her point.

But Alex? Alex is a jackass. The first thing he says is “What’s up, Gollum?” And when Jenna asks for clarification, he cheerfully answers.

“Gollum. You know, like from The Lord of the Rings? ‘Precious.’ That ring’s turning you into a total bitch” (71).

Holy crap—Jenna’s got issues, perhaps, but asking for some concrete details like a guest list does not make her bridezilla, or worse. Furthermore, it’s none of Alex’s business; he’s not the one getting married. Not to mention, while I understand that Ryan needs to vent (everyone does) he ought to choose to do so to someone who, y’know, isn’t a total douchebag.

One point in Ryan’s favor, although it’s a minor one, is that he yells at Alex immediately for his comment; for once he doesn’t ignore Alex’s behavior or wait until Jenna is upset about it to do something. On the other hand, that is way too little too late, particularly from a guy who has been shown to have no positive features other than being a good looking hockey player. It’s pretty clear which direction this novel is going (Nick), but there’s not exactly a lot of conflict for the reader to decide who Jenna should choose. Ryan has no redeemable features. If all she likes about him is that he’s a good-looking hockey player, well, she has another one waiting for her in the wings. The only conflict I’m having as a reader is about why in the world Jenna is still with Ryan in the first place.

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